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Parable of the Talents (Earthseed) Paperback – January 1, 2000
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"ENTHRALLING...COMPELLING AND TRULY ORIGINAL".
-- DENVER POST
From the Back Cover
Lauren Olamina's love is divided among her young daughter, her community, and the revelation that led Lauren to found a new faith that teaches "God Is Change". But in the wake of environmental and economic chaos, the U.S. government turns a blind eye to violent bigots who consider the mere existence of a black female leader a threat. And soon Lauren must either sacrifice her child and her followers -- or forsake the religion that can transform human destiny.
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I suggest reading them both, but first read the first book in this story, The Parable of the Sower. It's a separate book, but gives us all the background to this one.
Now Ms. Butler's books are not an easy couple of hour read. No, far from it. But they are brilliant in their composition, brilliant in their foresight, and brilliant in their story telling. The characters are completely drawn, and as you read you truly get to know them as well as care for them and love them.
This novel won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards, the top honors in Science Fiction. It will change your thoughts. Just remember, that according to Earthseed, God is Change, and reading these books will change your life.
Okay, so this creeped me out, in a dystopian novel set in the 2020's - 2030's, published in 1998. There was a LOT that creeped me out: religious fanatics persecuting "heathens" who don't follow the Christian American party line. Beatings, murder, enslavement, rape, stealing of their children... It's an excellent book, very well-written, a classic, but make sure you have emotional support to get through, if these issues trigger you. I found it a difficult read because I couldn't convince myself this would never happen in America, right now.
I found these sections particularly insightful, about this character:
"The working poor who love Jarret want to be fooled, need to be fooled. They scratch a living, working long, hard hours at dangerous, dirty jobs, and they need a savior. Poor women, in particular, tend to be deeply religious and more than willing to see Jarret as the Second Coming. Religion is all they have. Their employers and their men abuse them. They bear more children than they can feed. They bear everyone’s contempt." and
"And the thugs see him as one of them. They envy him. He is the bigger, the more successful thief, murderer, and slaver."
The story is told from the points of view of the Earthseed founder, Lauren Oya Olamina, and her daughter, Asha Vere, and comes to a fairly satisfying conclusion. This is the second in what was meant to be a trilogy, but you don't have to read the first book to understand or appreciate this one.
I particularly relished and saw modern day parallels in this: "In less than a year, Jarret went from being our savior, almost the Second Coming in some people’s minds, to being an incompetent son of a bitch who was wasting our substance on things that didn’t matter."
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.