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Parable of the Talents Mass Market Paperback – November 1, 2001

4.4 out of 5 stars 158 customer reviews
Book 2 of 2 in the Parable Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Octavia Butler tackles the creation of a new religion, the making of a god, and the ultimate fate of humanity in her Earthseed series, which began with Parable of the Sower, and now continues with Parable of the Talents. The saga began with the near-future dystopian tale of Sower, in which young Lauren Olamina began to realize her destiny as a leader of people dispossessed and destroyed by the crumbling of society. The basic principles of Lauren's faith, Earthseed, were contained in a collection of deceptively simple proverbs that Lauren used to recruit followers. She teaches that "God is change" and that humanity's ultimate destiny is among the stars.

In Parable of the Talents, the seeds of change that Lauren planted begin to bear fruit, but in unpredictable and brutal ways. Her small community is destroyed, her child is kidnapped, and she is imprisoned by sadistic zealots. She must find a way to escape and begin again, without family or friends. Her single-mindedness in teaching Earthseed may be her only chance to survive, but paradoxically, may cause the ultimate estrangement of her beloved daughter. Parable of the Talents is told from both mother's and daughter's perspectives, but it is the narrative of Lauren's grown daughter, who has seen her mother made into a deity of sorts, that is the most compelling. Butler's writing is simple and elegant, and her storytelling skills are superb, as usual. Fans will be eagerly awaiting the next installment in what promises to be a moving and adventurous saga. --Therese Littleton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Lauren Olamina, a black teenager, grew up in a 21st-century America that was tearing itself apart. Global warming, massive unemployment, gang warfare and corporate greed combined to break down society in general and her impoverished southern California neighborhood in particular. A victim of hyperempathy syndrome, a disorder that compels its victims to believe they feel others' pain, Lauren found herself homeless and alone in a violent world. Escaping from the urban jungle of Los Angeles, Lauren founded Acorn, a hard-working, prosperous rural community based on the teachings of Earthseed, a religion she herself created and centered on the ideas that God is Change and that humanity's destiny is to go to the stars. Butler's extraordinary Parable of the Sower (1996) detailed the aforementioned events. In this equally powerful sequel, Acorn is destroyed by the rising forces of Christian fundamentalism, led by the newly elected U.S. president, the Reverend Andrew Steele Jarret. A handsome man and persuasive orator, seemingly modeled in part on Pat Robertson, Jarret converts millions to his sect, Christian America, while his thugs imprison, rape and murder those they label "heathens," all the while kidnapping their children in order to raise them in Christian households. The narrative is both impassioned and bitter as Butler weaves a tale of a frighteningly believable near-future dystopia. Lauren, at once loving wife and mother, prophet and fanatic, victim and leader, gains stature as one of the most intense and well-developed protagonists in recent SF. Though not for the faint-hearted, this work stands out as a testament to the author's enormous talent, and to the human spirit.. Author tour. (Nov.) FYI: In 1995, Butler received a MacArthur Foundation ("genius") Award.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Aspect; Reprint edition (November 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446610380
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446610384
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (158 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,544,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I've read reviews of this series that have criticized Ms. Butler for having such a bleak view of the future and I agree that her vision for the next 50 years isn't easy to swallow. She tends to focus her work more on societal deterioration and not so much on technological advances like so many other sci-fi writers. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy novels like Neal Stephenson's "Diamond Age" but it didn't encourage me to run out and get a Computer Science M.A., reading this book by Ocativia Butler made me think about my community and scrutinize the things I wasn't doing to improve it. Yes, at times "Parable" is hard to read, but it has a big enough dose of reality to serve as a much needed wake-up call to humanity. There is definitely more to life than IPOs and open source software! As a Black woman I also enjoyed that Butler is the ONLY sci-fi writer I've read that knows the meaning of the word DIVERSITY. The main characters in her books are always Black women but they don't live in an all-Black world. Butler is always careful to include characters of all hues and nationalities. I can't recommend this book enough. Go for it!
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Format: Paperback
I read Parable of the Sower and I felt overwhelmed with thought and visions of the future and I didn't want it to end. I was so happy to follow up with Parable of the Talents. Wonderful book. Octavia Butler does an excellent job at forcing us to view our patterns and choices and the way we are currently dealing with human and social conditions. I strongly recommend this book to everyone but especially if you are looking for a read that will feed your mind and stimulate you intellectually.....
One complaint since the main character Lauren was creating a new way of thinking via Earthseed at times I felt as if I were reading one of those "power for living type books" and it got to be a bit much at times.... Enjoy
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Format: Hardcover
Like many others I anxiously but patiently (if that is possible) awaited Octavia's latest novel, this follow-up to her "Parable of the Sower." Knew I wouldn't be displeased and was correct. Strangely, however, it took me 4 weeks to read, partially because it is a painful rendering of a very plausible future and partly because my life does not allow for much leisure reading. She takes you down and down and down with always glimmers of hope through Earthseed which is a perfect description of human beings struggle to understand life and spirit and hope and what the future holds. A necessary multiple read as there are so many parables and parallels with other literature and real life events. I appreciate the integrity she apparently puts into the writing . A must read!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
The book is set in the post-SHTF world, action taking place in the Pacific Northwest/Northern California. It describes United States in a such a way that Germany leading up to the Second World War comes to mind. Violence, poverty, unemployment, inflation and a general sense of despair pervades the world of this book. Simple existence and the sense of humanity is not taken for granted, as characters in this book are forced to fight for their place under the sun.

Protagonist of this novel is a remarkable woman striving to establish her own identity, and community in a world that seems very scary to us, yet hauntingly plausible. She is a visionary, able to influence those around her through her writings and through preaching of her own religious/moral views.

During times of despair, tough, fanatical leaders often emerge and people tend to follow them blindly, while creating even more havoc in the process. (Hitler and Stalin come to mind) This book is no exception. A militant Christian preacher is elected to be the President of the United States, with disastrous results to follow: more war, persecution and poverty.

Many times I have read posts and emails with their main line of reasoning going something to the extent of: "When SHTF, I will head for the hills and tough it out with my buddies and weapons..."
After reading this book, I realized that it is not going to be an easy task by any means. Even if you manage to establish a community of like-minded individuals. Even if you are well armed and self-sufficient, you are still not going to be safe from heavily armed fanatics bent on enforcing the "Will of God".

This is a painful book to read. Main character and those around her go through some hellish events in the course of this book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of those rare sequels that is better than the original (which itself was amazingly good), Butler continues the story of Lauren Olamina and her attempts to establish Acorn, a self-sufficient community in a nightmarishly dystopian world. Many of the elements of the previous novel are here--Lauren's genetic ability to feel the actual pain of others' experiences, the collapse of the U. S. government and its economy--but there is much new. Alaska has seceded from the nation, the U.S. is a war with Canada, and religious fundamentalists threaten what remains of the American way of life.
The sequel is told from three points of view. While much of the conflict is between Lauren and the brother she frees from slavery, Lauren's daughter provides a retrospective and balanced look at the eventual and inevitable hostility between the two siblings. The first half of the book portrays Acorn and its attempts to bloom in a hostile world. When the community comes under attack from the newly elected fundamentalist government that promises to restore law and order, the novel recalls--in a good way--Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale," especially in the portrayal of the hypocrisy of those in power and their attitude toward women. Part social commentary, part adventure story, the second half of the novel concerns Lauren's often desperate search for her daughter and her persistent desire to reestablish Earthseed, the religious system she has created which believes that humankind's ultimate destiny is to establish itself on other planets.
As usual, Butler is best when depicting intra- and interpersonal conflicts and when detailing the unusual specifics of her imagined world.
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