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Dawn (Xenogenesis, Bk. 1) Mass Market Paperback – April 1, 1997

4.3 out of 5 stars 307 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Xenogenesis Trilogy Series

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Amazon.com Review

In a world devastated by nuclear war with humanity on the edge of extinction, aliens finally make contact. They rescue those humans they can, keeping most survivors in suspended animation while the aliens begin the slow process of rehabilitating the planet. When Lilith Iyapo is "awakened," she finds that she has been chosen to revive her fellow humans in small groups by first preparing them to meet the utterly terrifying aliens, then training them to survive on the wilderness that the planet has become. But the aliens cannot help humanity without altering it forever. Bonded to the aliens in ways no human has ever known, Lilith tries to fight them even as her own species comes to fear and loathe her. A stunning story of invasion and alien contact by one of science fiction's finest writers.

About the Author

Octavia E. Butler (1947 2006) was an American science fiction and fantasy writer, one of very few African American women in the field. She won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards and was the first science fiction writer ever to receive the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant in 1995.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Aspect; Reprint edition (April 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446603775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446603775
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (307 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,568 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kevin W. Parker on February 22, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is an extraordinary accomplishment, combining mind-blowing science fiction concepts with a very personal perspective.
It's several hundred years in the future. Human civilization has been all but destroyed through vaguely described but clearly self-inflicted wounds. Aliens have arrived with the goal of restoring human civilization as part of their drive to trade genetic and other information with other species. They've snatched a bunch of humans and effectively put them in storage until they can figure out what to do with them. Our main character, Lilith, is one of the first to be awakened as the aliens start to put their scheme into place. She must deal with the (initially terrifying) aliens at first, then, as she's selected as one of the leaders of the restoration, deal with her fellow revived humans as they are awakened as part of what's to be the first colony on the restored earth.
Though the initial conceit is remarkable, Butler focuses on Lilith's reactions to her situation, giving the story a remarkably personal, down-to-home feel despite the extraordinary occurrences. And there are no simple solutions. The aliens are doing good in restoring humanity but also have their own agenda, involving significant genetic manipulations of the restored humans. Lilith has misgivings about this which she much try to conceal while she awaits an opportunity to escape from their control. She must also deal with the similar concerns of her fellow humans without giving too much away.
All that being said, despite my admiration I somehow didn't find the book as gripping a read as one might think from the description. I'm definitely interested in reading the rest of the books in the series, but without the sort of urgency a devoted reader comes to expect when he or she makes a new "find." Still, I am impressed by the book and perhaps the series will grow on me.
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Octavia Butler recently died in Seattle. Her passing is a great loss to literature in general and science fiction in particular. She once said that she didn't really write `Science Fiction' as such because she did know much about science. In fact her books do tackle some of the big themes of SciFi, but are not in the `hard science' genre. Her themes were race, sexuality, and the nature of `reality.'

Ms Butler was dyslexic, above average in height, African American, and a genius. She lived as a hermit in the middle of a major city and created a body of work which stands with the very best. She won both Hugo and Nebula Awards several times and the MacArthur Foundation `Genius' Award in 1995. I think she is one of the few SciFi writers to have received this recognition.

I am posting this review on each of the Xenogenesis Trilogy (Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago) sites as well as the volume where they are collected; `Lilith's Brood.' All are excellent and recommended.

In this series Ms Butler took on sexuality and the nature of `humanity' in a startling new way. She gradually takes the reader from the perspective of a `human,' specifically an Earthling who encounters an alien race to the perspective of the `alien,' specifically the descendent of interbreeding between humans and aliens who is now the `human' and sees Earthlings as the aliens.

Ms Butler skills are so great that this change in perspective goes so slowly that the reader is largely unaware until it has been accomplished. While some will dither about which of Ms Butler's novels are her `greatest,' few will argue that this series is superb. I have read nearly all of Ms Butler's works and enjoyed them all. I think she was one of the finest writers of speculative fiction in recent history and will miss her work.
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I finished the book several days ago, and Im still disturbed by it. In a sickly kind of way, I'm still curious about the story and keep revisiting parts of the book to settle wether I got it wrong, wether the author meant to write the story the way I interpreted what I read.

The superiority of the aliens, in every way, the "bystanderish" attitude of the protagonist, even while watching rape of the person she cares for the most, and a sort of passive acceptance of the end of the human species, where those who object are also described as violent juvenile and backwards when dealing with their new situation. Pretty much every person not on board with what was going on, had no redeeming features when their characters were described, and that was very disturbing to me. The most violent of the humans, were those who most staunchly defended the survival of the species, In the ensuing fight I wanted them to win so badly, eventhough I knew they wouldnt. Usually my favorite authors are those who dont judge their characters, but I felt this author judged every character, and that I was in disagreement with her all the time - It bothered me a great deal, since while reading, I not only wanted to kill the aliens, but also severely beat some sense into the protagonist after she allowed "her" alien to rape the man she was with, eventhough he clearly said no to the act. - The alien replied with: your body says yes! while she was there and proceeded with the act. - To my knowledge, it is the fact that some rape victims feel their body betrays them, that they carry a sense of self loathing and deep shame far worse than any bruising they made have incurred. I was revolted.
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