Survivor Mass Market Paperback – May 1, 1979
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- Item Weight : 5 ounces
- ISBN-10 : 0451086732
- ISBN-13 : 978-0451086730
- Mass Market Paperback : 187 pages
- Product Dimensions : 7 x 1 x 5 inches
- Publisher : Signet (May 1, 1979)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,796,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The story takes place within the Patternist universe, but off-world. The story focuses on Alanna, who is a young woman of color who is caught between two fighting alien tribes (the Garkohn and Tehkohn). She was a raised on Earth in a No Man's Land of sorts: She isn't a part of the Pattern, isn't affiliated with any of the servants/slaves that the Patternist hold, nor is she a Clayark. She's constantly having to adapt to survive her situations, which is a main focus for Octavia Butler.
As stated before, I really enjoyed reading this novel. I enjoyed it because it answered some of the questions that I had about the humans who are neither Clayarks or Patternist.
The prices for the book are outrageous! I've found several PDF versions that were either free or a few dollars.
The only problem I had with it was the changing narrator. She went from 1st person with a human, to 1st person with an alien, and then to 3rd person. It was a bit jarring at times. Sometimes she would label the chapter with the narrators name but then she would change to 3rd person with just a couple lines of space.
As with her other books, this is sturdy work, well written and harsh. No hi-tech gadgets but some pretty cool aliens with a fully developed culture that reminded me of -Speaker for the Dead- in their alien-ness. The difference is that she writes shorter stories so her characters aren't as well developed as Card. So I like her stuff but it hasn't blown me away yet. Maybe the Xenogenisis trilogy will, I'm going to try to read that later this year.
Top reviews from other countries
It's a shame that Octavia Butler disowned this novel and asked for it never to be reprinted. And an even greater shame that, now that she has died, her estate still won't allow it to be republilshed. This really ranks as one of her better novels (not the best, but still right up there!)
It's part of what has been called the Patternist or "Seed to Harvest" novels, and in the 'internal chronology' of the stories it would fall after Clay's Ark but before Patternmaster, even though the novels were written/published in a different order. So internally, the storylines would run: Wild Seed, Mind of My Mind, Clay's Ark, Survivor, Patternmaster.
"Survivor follows the early contact between the Missionaries, a group of human colonists fleeing a plague on Earth, and the Kohn, intelligent natives of the planet on which the Missionaries have arrived. In particular, the novel focuses on Alanna, the adopted daughter of the Missionaries' leader, as she attempts to prevent the Missionaries' destruction or assimilation at the hands of a dominant local culture. During the course of the novel, Alanna's experiences assimilating and negotiating with the Kohn draw upon her earlier, similar experience joining the Missionaries themselves, and Alanna's ability to interact with the various cultures becomes the key to their survival."
I find Alanna one of one of Butler's best heroines, Diut one of her best heroes -- and their relationship is up there in strength of writing, believability and characterisation with Doro and Anyanwu in Wild Seed. Fans of that book and the Doro-Anyanwu relationship will really appreciate 'Survivor'.
And Butler's world building and society building in this novel are superb -- I am fascinated by the Kohn and their interrelations with this rogue group of religious humans landing in the midst of their home and their wars... the only thing I didn't like about the book was that it felt a bit rushed and could have been a bit longer, taken some more time to explore this world and the people in it.
Sadly, this book is so expensive now (because of the 'disowning' and the controversy that caused + it never being reprinted) that it's hard to get hold of a copy under $100 USD. I was lucky to get an ex-library copy in decent condition. I will hold onto it for dear life! It's now a treasured addition to my Octavia Butler book collection -- I just wish, in her lifetime, the author had liked this book as much as I and many other of her fans do.