- Series: Earthseed
- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Updated edition (January 1, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0446675504
- ISBN-13: 978-0446675505
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (480 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Parable of the Sower (Earthseed) Paperback – January 1, 2000
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Octavia E. Butler, the grande dame of science fiction, writes extraordinary, inspirational stories of ordinary people. Parable of the Sower is a hopeful tale set in a dystopian future United States of walled cities, disease, fires, and madness. Lauren Olamina is an 18-year-old woman with hyperempathy syndrome--if she sees another in pain, she feels their pain as acutely as if it were real. When her relatively safe neighborhood enclave is inevitably destroyed, along with her family and dreams for the future, Lauren grabs a backpack full of supplies and begins a journey north. Along the way, she recruits fellow refugees to her embryonic faith, Earthseed, the prime tenet of which is that "God is change." This is a great book--simple and elegant, with enough message to make you think, but not so much that you feel preached to. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Hugo and Nebula Award-winner Butler's first novel since 1989's Imago offers an uncommonly sensitive rendering of a very common SF scenario: by 2025, global warming, pollution, racial and ethnic tensions and other ills have precipitated a worldwide decline. In the Los Angeles area, small beleaguered communities of the still-employed hide behind makeshift walls from hordes of desperate homeless scavengers and violent pyromaniac addicts known as "paints" who, with water and work growing scarcer, have become increasingly aggressive. Lauren Olamina, a young black woman, flees when the paints overrun her community, heading north with thousands of other refugees seeking a better life. Lauren suffers from 'hyperempathy," a genetic condition that causes her to experience the pain of others as viscerally as her own--a heavy liability in this future world of cruelty and hunger. But she dreams of a better world, and with her philosophy/religion, Earthseed, she hopes to found an enclave which will weather the tough times and which may one day help carry humans to the stars. Butler tells her story with unusual warmth, sensitivity, honesty and grace; though science fiction readers will recognize this future Earth, Lauren Olamina and her vision make this novel stand out like a tree amid saplings.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
Amid all this two leaders arise: one, a demagogue playing on the nation's fears and religious sensitivities promising to 'make America great again' (the author's words in 1993, mind you) convinces a large swath of the population to turn against those who don't conform even as his 'Crusaders' commit atrocities in his name (but never of course with his *official* sanction).
The other is a young, very precocious black woman with a vision to transcend human misery and build a community to seek humankind's Destiny. Barely escaping with her life when her once solid middle-class neighborhood is overrun by a violent gang, she sets off on a trek through a country that is much like ours if things were just a little more desperate, a little more divided, and a lot less caring. It is a stark portrait made even more ominous by being entirely possible and exposing a lot about us as a society we may not care to confront. These books aren't so much a portrait as a mirror.
If there is a weak spot, it's that Olaimina is too obviously an author avatar, but then again this *is* Butler's philosophy and much of her personal experience laid bare. It is the closest thing to an autobiography of the notoriously private author as we are likely to see nearly 10 years after her death. It provides a warning...and, perhaps, a pathway out.
Also loved the pacing. Chapters sometimes skip forward in time--each chapter is an important and interesting vignette that moves the story forward, and in this way Parable is one of the few books that I was always looking forward to picking up and reading when I had a spare minute, as opposed to those books you finish out of duty and half-interest.
I'm not sure if I'll read the second book or not. One thing that Butler does very well is to make this book stand alone--a clear goal develops throughout, and when this project is concluded, you can tell that the characters will embark on a completely new chapter of their project in the next book. At the same time, lack of a cliffhanger means that if I read the next book, it probably won't be for a few years, or whenever I'm in the mood to read Octavia Butler again. She's such a titan, with such a unique style and mind, that I know I *will* have a craving for more Butler again, and when that time comes no other author will satisfy it.
Plausible storyline (President Donner - ugh) of disaster capitalism carried further out towards its stark conclusions amidst the worsening impact of climate change and the breakdown of society and the dollar (privatization and shortages of water and food; indentured servitude; slave labor camps) and predictable human behavior in survival / panic / desperation mode (theft, arson/violence, exploitation) narrated with excellence by Lynne Thigpen.
My curiosity is piqued as to its trajectory from the start of the main character's mature and steady assessment of the times and what they mean for her family and community, as well as what is being stirred within her (Earthseed - The Book of the Living) nevertheless, I later find myself trudging through just as the characters do on their journey. Perhaps it's that I'm exhausted by engaging the themes presently at work in reality that could technically lead to the state of things found in Butler's depiction of California and the United States generally that make it difficult to get through at times; other reviewers find it hopeful while it strikes me as depressing.
I do find it refreshing for the perspective to be that of this serious, thoughtful and growing-wise young Black woman, Lauren, with a straightforward approach to the dangerous uncertainty in her surroundings and the inevitable future she keenly senses and for which she's made it her aim to be prepared. Very interesting aspect of this main character to have a condition of biological empathy to render her vulnerable amidst her otherwise clear strength. Of particular note is when she considers if the condition could curb the darker inclinations of human nature if everyone shared, as she does, in the pain and suffering of others around them.
Earthseed is not fleshed out to the degree I expected in this first of two books. I will read the second story of this series and certainly other works by Octavia Butler.
Most recent customer reviews
I liked Lauren, and I love that writing is a source of strength and...Read more