Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Lilith's Brood Paperback – June 1, 2000
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
"SHOWS THE AUTHOR AT THE HEIGHT OF HER IMAGINATIVE AND WRITING POWERS". -- Essence
From the Back Cover
The acclaimed trilogy that comprises LILITH'S BROOD is multiple Hugo and Nebula award-winner Octavia E. Butler at her best. Presented for the first time in one volume, with an introduction by Joan Slonczewski, Ph.D., LILITH'S BROOD is a profoundly evocative, sensual -- and disturbing -- epic of human transformation.
Lilith Iyapo is in the Andes, mourning the death of her family, when war destroys Earth. Centuries later, she is resurrected -- by miraculously powerful unearthly beings, the Oankali. Driven by an irresistible need to heal others, the Oankali are rescuing our dying planet by merging genetically with mankind. But Lilith and all humanity must now share the world with uncanny, unimaginably alien creatures: their own children. This is their story...
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
And now that we're past that tortured sentence, some ground rules. No, if you've never read science fiction before, it's not like what you THINK science fiction is like: check out Ursula LeGuin, Gene Wolfe, Samuel R. Delany, Harlan Ellison, James Tiptree Jr., Marge Piercy, or the many other SF writers who use the genre as a literature for deep exploration into what it is to be human and what it is NOT to be human. If you're trapped in the genre ghetto and fear (as I once did, shamefully, long after I had a million reasons to know better) that there's something cheesy or wishy-washy about Butler, what with her other books about new religions and African myths and whatnot, all I have to say is GET OVER IT, because her speculative thinking cuts you like a knife and leaves you shivering, and because unlike most SF authors and most mainstream authors, she has an overwhelming sense of the realities of everyday people building relationships (and breaking them) in adversity. The conflicts between people are very real, no one is motivated just by a single issue, and a lot of things come down to slightly unpleasant compromise.
Now, to Butler's work, and to the novels at hand. Her books almost always have an intense fascination with the dynamics of power in ordinary relationships, but because this is SF, those "ordinary relationships" become something very strange indeed. Can love exist not just between unequals, but in an inequality that is never going away or even shifting into the background for an instant? What power do the dominated have over those who control or coerce them? What happens when someone needs you more than you need them? Can assimilation ever be fair? Are our choices in these areas even our own? Now, the kicker is this: whatever grotesque-seeming (yet strangely appealing) relationship exists in a Butler book, you suddenly realize that _every_ relationship, no matter how forcefully you try to make it equal, has at least a hint of these issues unacknowledged, bubbling beneath the surface. Butler simply uses every trick of SF to expand them to fill your whole field of view, so you CANNOT turn away. And for that she's a great thinker, and a visionary, and a great writer.
Finally, to the books themselves, which are still my favorite Butler and the epitome of all I've just talked about:
DAWN introduces the Oankali, a three-sexed race of beings that finds the burning husk of planet Earth (nuclear war) and decides to bring us back to life. We see this all through the eyes of Lilith Ayapo, a woman remade by them and who, of any humans, does the most to work with the Oankali. She learns that the Oankali have decided we are too destructive for our intelligence, with a kind of behavioral suicide built into our genes; the only solution is to tack on some Oankali genes and produce a race different enough to survive. (Over the series, we learn that the resultant species is far more Oankali than humans ever expected, and that actually the Oankali have an overpowering lust -- and I mean that literally, because this one of the only books ever to treat alien, and alien-human, sexuality in any way other than laughable -- to merge with every species they meet. But these are slow revelations.)
The novel follows Lilith as she serves as a kind of ambassador to the rest of the humans, and it follows her alternate interest and disgust as the level of control the Oankali intend have over us becomes ever more apparent, and how much control they already have used on Lilith to predispose her to get with the program.
Now most series like this would lead to a rebellion, and while there IS a rebellion, the work is never from their point of view. The pure humans are genetic dead-ends, left sterile by the Oankali but given long life to ease the transition. The other two novels follow children of the merging -- the first male born, and then the first ooloi, the third sex -- letting us see both their own struggles of self-definition in a divided world, and guiding us through an ever-more Oankali-shaped Earth, the only shape that can survive. Our human dilemmas give way to Oankali dilemmas, both practical ones and the moral problems of dealing with us humanely and honestly. Again, this is a common Butler theme: we as humans cannot survive long-term as we are, and what COULD survive might frighten us even more than just giving up. But those who do will have their own wants and needs, and they will have a whole universe in which to satisfy them. Unnerving, yes. But also entrancing, seductive, and a powerful look at the price of assimilation and the terms of survival.
This is a collection of three novels that make up the Xenogensis Trilogy. Readers interested in the trilogy should read the series in order: Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago.
DAWN introduces the reader to a fascinating alien race that intends to save a post-nuclear holocaust earth by repopulating it with half-human, half-alien beings. The concept of crossbreeding through genetic engineering with an alien race to create a new species is a truly innovative storyline. The Oankali intend to take a number of humans they saved from a nucleated earth, cross-breed with them, and reintroduce them and their alien offspring to the earth. The highly negative reaction of the humans to this idea is very realistic and their interactions with the aliens are conceivable. The main character, Lilith Iyapo, is a strong willed African-American woman who learns to accept the aliens for what they are but never fully comes to accept their plans for the human race.
The Oankali are an imaginative race with three genders, the third being a necessary intermediary between the male and female Oankali during intercourse and for procreation. Therefore it is not surprising that the "third" gender (it is not really neuter) is the dominant gender of the race. They travel in an interstellar ship that is entirely made of living tissue and the Oankali physically interact with the ship to produce food, dispose of waste, and reproduce other needs. The Oankali travel about the universe and cross breed with other sapient beings out of necessity. Humans are just another of their "victims" or "beneficiaries", depending on one's point of view. The new species is ostensibly better than its parent species.
Part two of the Xenogenesis Trilogy, Adulthood Rites is much more engaging and well thought out than its precursor, Dawn. The first half-human, half-Oankali male becomes the focal point for the Oankali attempt to cross-breed with humans. According to the Oankali, the human male is very dangerous and prone to violence. Indeed, the human male is the embodiment of the so called human contradiction that leads to self destruction. If this human/Oankali "construct" is flawed and prone to destructive tendencies, the whole genetic "trade" or cross-breeding would be jeopardized. Indeed, the Oankali themselves would be jeopardized.
Akin, the half-human, half-Oankali male child is kidnapped by human "resisters" who have refused to mate with the aliens at the price of their own fertility. The Oankali, while lengthening the life and health of these human survivors of nuclear holocaust, plan to allow them eventually to become extinct. The best human genetic traits would then be carried by the new species of Oankali whose genes were mixed. The aliens decide to allow the kidnapped child to remain with the resisters for some time so he can learn about his human side. The novel centers around Akin's rectifying his conflicting loyalties to his human and alien selves.
Adulthood Rites expands on the alien Oankali and leads the reader to an understanding of why they must cross-breed with other races. Their raison d'etre is to collect and expand upon all life forms and become a better race through adapting the better traits of races they come into contact with. They view life in a more holistic fashion, as consisting of the cells and even sub-atomic particles of living matter. Every being is genetically engineered to function for a purpose. The purpose of the Oankali is to collect and expand upon life forms, including their own. We can surmise that at their origin, the Oankali looked nothing like they are currently described as they have continued to metamorphosis genetically over the ages.
Bulter does an excellent job of portraying human reaction to the aliens who want to cross-breed with them but allow the human race as they know it to become extinct. We can both empathize with Lilith who has, more or less, accepted the fate of the human race and has born human/Oankali children and become a member of an alien community. While she does not fully accept the fate of her species she is resigned to it and does what she thinks best to preserve what is left of humanity. Conversely, we also empathize with Tate, who would rather die than be disloyal to the human race by giving in to the alien predators. The Oankali are a truly fascinating and ingenious creation.
The most dismaying aspect of the book is the big "contradiction" in human genes the Oankali keep proclaiming is the reason humans should be allowed to become extinct. This contradiction is "intelligence and hierarchical" behavior. It seems that males are particularly prone to this trait . There is no explication as to why this is such a contradiction or why hierarchical behavior necessarily leads to self-destruction in the human race. This was a very unsophisticated attempt to explain human tendency toward violence and destruction. It greatly detracted from an otherwise excellent novel.
Part three of the Xenogenesis Trilogy, Imago completes the creation of a new species via Oankali and human cross-breeding. Imago deals with the creation of the first "construct" (half-human, half-Oankali) ooloi, the third Oankali gender. Ooloi are necessary for reproduction and the creation of construct ooloi represent the ability of the new species to procreate and become independent of its parent species. The ooloi are explained in fuller detail in Imago than in the previous novels. Here the reader more fully understands the healing and manipulative abilities of the ooloi. The ooloi bind their mates to them through a chemical and psychological process and are equally bonded to their mates. The major difference in the new ooloi species is their ability to metamorphosis or shape-change, which they derive from their human genes' ability to regenerate new types of cells. The construct ooloi tend to take on the shape of their mates, thus the title Imago. Imago is the story of Jodahs, the first construct ooloi, and the struggle to gain acceptance into both the human and Oankali community.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The story was engrossing, the characters were lovable yet also quite realistic.Read more