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Seed to Harvest Paperback – January 5, 2007

4.8 out of 5 stars 142 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Octavia E. Butler (1947 2006) was an American science fiction and fantasy writer, one of very few African American women in the field. She won both the Hugo and Nebula Awards and was the first science fiction writer ever to receive the MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant in 1995.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; First Edition edition (January 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446698903
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446698900
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (142 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #161,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Prestina Thompson on January 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
Think Sherri Tepper at her height (not the preachiness she's descended to). Think Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. Think the moral dilemna's and characterization of Robin Hobb. When you think of these things you're close to understanding this series by Octavia Butler. Being a black woman I was initially intrigued by the idea of afro-centric science fiction. But this is soooo much more than that. Octavia Butler is one of the most talented sci fi writers I've read in god knows how long. Her characters may be racially African-American (and sometimes just African, and usually a mix of a lot of different races) but this book has nothing really to do with that. It does lightly explore racial inequalities, but focuses more on social inequalities, the plight of the impoverished. Even better than that the REAL focus of the book is the science fiction. It's not just a social commentary with a touch of the extraordinary. It's true hard core sci/fi fantasy, and it is extraordinary.

The book follows a race of mentally gifted individuals of all ethnicities forward in time from the pre-slavery era to around 2225. These individuals are breed like cattle to be the companions, family, science project and ultimately FOOD of the scariest super villian you ever want to read about....Doro. Doro is a superbeing, a soul-vampire. He is immortal in that he jumps bodies but not like the rather kindly Lestat in Anne Rices series. He has to jump bodies, it's how he feeds. He likes it. And the more mentally talented the person is the better the food tastes to him. He also has the ability of tracking a person that he's met anywhere, across continents and across time. You cant escape him, and the last thing you want to do is kill him. That would only precipitate him jumping into YOUR body.
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Format: Paperback
I found this title while browsing around Amazon's New in Fiction January list, and was quite excited about the prospect of a new Butler book. Unfortunately, it is a compilation of books I've already read...bummer! I echo the comment left before me -- if you're new to Butler, great series to read.

Compilation includes the following novels: Wild Seed, Mind of My Mind, Clay's Ark, and Patternmaster.
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Format: Paperback
I was extremely excited to learn that Octavia Butler had written a final book before her departure, and as she was my favorite author I rushed out to get this last work. Unfortunately, its a trick because its only a compilation of her pre-existing work and contains NO NEW MATERIAL! So, unless you're new to Butler, don't bother picking this one up. If you are new to Butler, its an excellent read and saves room on the bookshelf!
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I can say without hesitation that this is one of the best hard sci-fi series that I have ever read. The concepts are breathtakingly ambitious - the birth of two new species of humans burst over 1,000 years - with wonderfully complex and realistic characters. I have read each of these novels separately several times, with great enjoyment, but this is the first time I have read them in sequence. The quartet is enthralling and, as with the best sci-fi, believable because scientifically plausible.

The first novel is perhaps my favorite. Doro, a seemingly immortal vampire-like mutant who is attempting to breed a race like himself, senses another powerful mutant (Anyanwu). Her follows her "scent" and compels her to accompany him, for breeding purposes. The result is a battle of wills like none that I have ever encountered in fiction: Doro is a cold and implacable killer, but Anyanwu is a healer that respects life. Over the course of over 300 years, they fight, through the lives of Doro's people, her escape and recapture, to a compromise. It is as exquisite as it is bizarre, full of historical imagery and unusual concepts.

In the second novel, Doro in a sense achieves his goal, but the result is not at all what he expected. The surviving mutants exhibit a range of powerful abilities, growing from the destructive side effects of Doro's many semi-failed experiments. There is a new battle of wills, as a new human species emerges. There is also the emergence of a new kind of social organization, a dependency between the two human species. Again, fascinating ideas and characters that evolve with great realism in fantastic situations. It takes place more of less in the present.
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I have been re-reading Octavia Butler recently and decided to tackle all five books of the Patternist series, yes, including the out of print Survivor that the author herself didn't like. When I first read these books, I read them as a straightforward adventure in evolution, but there is so much more between the covers. In many ways, it is a history of original sin and asks the question, common to all Butler books, 'Will we manage to overcome our flaws as a species/". As we all know, the answer to that isn't easy for the individual or the collective.

The novels are presented in the order the author decided served the storyline, rather than the order of publication, so keeping that in mind is important. We begin, with Wild Seed at the height of the Middle Passage with woman and a being, formerly a man, who have evolved into something beyond human. The man, the villain of the piece is determined to create a new telepathic and immortal race to keep him compnay over the long millennia. The woman provides the immortal aspect of the project as when Doro finds Anyanwu, she has been alive for 300 years and is capable of cellular healing and changing the shape of her body. We follow these two as they fight and as both are bred repeatedly to achieve the desired mixture. Is forced breeding for a noble cause immoral? When the species evolves, who is human? And of course, what would happen if some of the African diaspora had been able to magically escape slavery in the United States.

Next, in Mind of my Mind, centuries of breeding have finally produced the desired results, but will the offspring be more powerful than their creator? And what defines freedom and humanity? Are the strong destined to always subdue and use the weak?
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