- Series: Earthseed (Book 2)
- Paperback: 424 pages
- Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Reprint edition (January 1, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0446675784
- ISBN-13: 978-0446675789
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 271 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #25,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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.
The Parable cycle tells the tale of Lauren Oya Olamina Bankole and the Earthseed belief system she created in the midst of a violent and chaotic American future. In the midst of our collapsing civilization—a period known as “the Apocalypse” or “the Pox”—a demagogue named Jarrett is elected President. His followers, reminiscent of the Ku Klux Klan, rampage throughout the country, imposing their racist and intolerant “Christian America” faith through wholesale murder and reeducation camps. In “Earthseed: The Books of the Living,” Lauren reflects:
Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought. To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears. To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool. To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen. To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies. To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.
This passage, written more than 20 years ago, could as easily have appeared in 1920s Italy, 1930s Germany, 2000s Russia—or 2017 America. So could this one, too:
Beware: All too often, We say What we hear others say. We think What we’re told that we think. We see What we’re permitted to see. Worse! We see what we’re told that we see.
In the first volume of the cycle, The Parable of the Sower, 15-year-old Lauren hides from the deteriorating society around her to write day by day the poetic passages that grow into Earthseed. Lauren narrates the events of the next several years through her journal. The Parable of the Talents takes up the story following Lauren’s death at an advanced age. The principal narrator is Lauren’s estranged daughter, Larkin. Her brief commentaries alternate with passages from what remains of Lauren’s journal and the recollections of her younger brother, also estranged.
Lauren explains what Earthseed is about: “Change is the one unavoidable, irresistible, ongoing reality of the universe. To us, that makes it the most powerful reality, and just another word for God.”Along the way, her daughter Larkin extends the explanation: ‘”God is Change,’ she says and means it. Some of the faces of her god are biological evolution, chaos theory, relativity theory, the uncertainty principle, and, of course, the second law of thermodynamics. ‘God is Change, and, in the end, God prevails.’ Yet Earthseed is not a fatalistic belief system. God can be directed, focused, speeded, slowed, shaped. All things change, but all things need not change in all ways. God is inexorable, yet malleable. Odd. Hardly religious at all. Even the Earthseed Destiny”—that humankind will populate new worlds among the stars—”seems to have little to do with religion.” Doesn’t this read like a religion that a science fiction writer might create? And of course it is.
The title, The Parable of the Talents, refers to “the twenty-fifth chapter of Matthew, quoting the words of Christ: ‘For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto One he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one. . .” As you may recall, the word talents does not refer to human abilities. Rather, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a talent is any of several ancient units of the weight of gold or silver. Perhaps I’m dense, but it’s difficult for me to see the relevance to this novel other than that it reflects Lauren’s youth as the daughter of a Baptist preacher.
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."