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Wild Seed Paperback – April 1, 2001

4.6 out of 5 stars 190 customer reviews
Book 1 of 4 in the Patternist Series

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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: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (April 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446676977
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446676977
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (190 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,437 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on October 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
"Wild Seed" is one of a series of superb science fiction novels by Octavia E. Butler. This story begins in 1690, and spans Africa and America. At the heart of "Wild Seed" is the enigmatic relationship between two powerful, and seemingly immortal characters: Doro, a sort of energy being who transfers from one host body to another, killing his hosts in the process; and Anyanwu, a shapeshifter who can assume forms of any species, and of either gender.
"Wild Seed" is both a psychologically perspective character study and a profound meditation on power and desire. Butler's philosophical canvas takes in such controversial issues as slavery, race, reproduction, and gender. In addition to being a superb example of the science fiction novel, "Wild Seed" is a stunning historical novel which expands the boundaries of African-American literature. As such, it would make a compelling companion text to such "canonical" novels as Toni Morrison's "Beloved." Also recommended: any of Butler's other outstanding novels, and her collection "Bloodchild and Other Stories."
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am not normally a science fiction fan, but this book gripped me from the start and I couldn't put it down. Butler's lean, spare style of writing helps keep the story tightly under control and moving briskly. In addition, her skill at constructing multi-dimensional characters is at it's best in this novel. It isn't easy to make individuals as powerful as Anyanwu and Doro seem like believable people with genuine human emotions, but Butler pulls it off, showing startingly empathy with her characters, especially Anyanwu. The relationship between Doro and Anyanwu is so skillfully done you can't help but think of them as real people. The book is rich with both historical and sci-fi detail and gives the reader an almost overwhelming sense of epic scope while basing the story around a small, intimate cast. Butler is an excellent writer and this is arguably her finest effort -- a good book to start with if you haven't read her before.
--Teri
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the first Octavia Butler book I read, recommended by a friend who is a fan of hers. I was not disappointed. Her "speculative fiction" contains ideas which are only a few degrees removed from our current reality. At the rate humanity is evolving, there may come a time in the future when psychic gifts, immortality, supernatural healing abilities and astral travel are innate characteristics, as opposed to legend or the rare, often disputed examples that exist today.
In this story, Doro and Anyanwu, two powerful beings, cross paths. The core story of Wildseed is the developing and deepening relationship between these two beings, and their relationships to lesser evolved, but still powerful, beings like them. Doro "farms" these poweful beings with rare gifts; he engineers them. Anyanwu just is; she is "wildseed," and occasionally out of Doro's control. Although Anyanwu is female and Doro male, their power, sensitivity, passion, and determination transcend; they are portraits of the most powerful, the most full, that a human spirit can be. Seen as metaphors for human spiritual development, Anyanwu and Doro are the fantasies many of us carry in ourselves, the fantasy of ultimate power, a power of Creation that borders on the divine.
Butler's writing is strong, supple and gorgeous. She's the type of writer than can turn a phrase so beautifully, that you'll read it over several times, letting her insight and creativity sink in. Butler's imagination is wide open. Only a mind totally open could dream up characters such as these.
Although I haven't read any other Butler books, I did buy "Earthseed" to read next. Butler's writing is a gift, a magnificent talent that cuts to the heart of the matter.
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By A Customer on February 9, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In his book _How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy_, the famous writer Orson Scott Card says about _Wild Seed_ that "nobody handles exposition better than Butler...it's a terrific novel that you ought to read for the sheer pleasure of it." I'm with him--this book is one of my very favorites. Octavia Butler is not nearly as outstanding for being an African-American woman writing speculative fiction as she is for the sheer quality of her writing, especially in this book. It has everything. Sure, in terms of the genre, it has great "hooks": the reader can speculate about the genetic basis for the abilities of the soul-stealing Doro and his "seed"--shapeshifting Anyanwu, telekinetic Isaac, and many others; and the novel has a grand scale, since Doro is two or three thousand years old, and the action starts in Africa and crosses to the young America. But this is far more than your ordinary science fiction novel. It has appeal for a wider audience. Doro, Anyanwu and the other characters have deep, complex personalities--you will care about them deeply, with love and hate and pity. When Butler writes violence, it's like real-life violence: sudden, shocking, sometimes fascinating but usually sickening. Butler's language is beautiful, but it's her plot, characters and imagination that put you in a mindlock. I only rated _Wild Seed_ 9 out of 10 because I know that some people find the ending a bit unsatisfying. Personally, I think it's perfect: the main conflict is between Doro and Anyanwu, so once that gets worked out, the story has to end. If I were to be completely subjective, I'd give it a full 10.
And by the way--yes, it is nice to have a (convincing) black woman playing the lead.
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