Parable of the Sower

Parable of the Sower

by Octavia E. Butler

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Overview

Parable of the Sower is the Butlerian odyssey of one woman who is twice as feeling in a world that has become doubly dehumanized. The time is 2025. The place is California, where small walled communities must protect themselves from hordes of desperate scavengers and roaming bands of people addicted to a drug that activates an orgasmic desire to burn, rape, and murder. When one small community is overrun, Lauren Olamina, an 18 year old black woman with the hereditary train of "hyperempathy"—which causes her to feel others’ pain as her own—sets off on foot along the dangerous coastal highways, moving north into the unknown.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446675505
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 01/28/2000
Series: Parable (Earthseed) Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 17,439
Product dimensions: 5.24(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.94(d)

About the Author

A writer who darkly imagined the future we have destined for ourselves in book after book, and also one who has shown us the way toward improving on that dismal fate, OCTAVIA E. BUTLER (1947–2006) is recognized as among the bravest and smartest of contemporary fiction writers. A 1995 MacArthur Award winner, Butler transcended the science fiction category even as she was awarded that community’s top prizes, the Nebula and Hugo Awards. She reached readers of all ages, all races, and all religious and sexual persuasions. For years the only African-American woman writing science fiction, Butler has encouraged many others to follow in her path.

Read an Excerpt



Chapter One

All that you touch
You Change.

All that you Change
Changes you.
The only lasting truth
Is Change.
God Is Change.

—Earthseed: The Books of the Living


SATURDAY, JULY 20, 2024

I had my recurring dream last night. I guess I should have expected it. It comes to me when I struggle—when I twist on my own personal hook and try to pretend that nothing unusual is happening. It comes to me when I try to be my father's daughter.

Today is our birthday—my fifteenth and my father's fifty-fifth. Tomorrow, I'll try to please him—him and the community and God. So last night, I dreamed a reminder that it's all a lie. I think I need to write about the dream because this particular lie bothers me so much.


I'm learning to fly, to levitate myself. No one is teaching me. I'm just learning on my own, little by little, dream lesson by dream lesson. Not a very subtle image, but a persistent one. I've had many lessons, and I'm better at flying than I used to be. I trust my ability more now, but I'm still afraid. I can't quite control my directions yet.

I lean forward toward the doorway. It's a doorway like the one between my room and the hall. It seems to be a long way from me, but I lean toward it. Holding my body stiff and tense, I let go of whatever I'm grasping, whatever has kept me from rising or falling so far. And I lean into the air, straining upward, not moving upward, but not quite falling down either. Then I do begin to move, as though to slide on the air drifting a few feet above the floor,caught between terror and joy.

I drift toward the doorway. Cool, pale light glows from it. Then I slide a little to the right; and a little more. I can see that I'm going to miss the door and hit the wall beside it, but I can't stop or turn. I drift away from the door, away from the cool glow into another light.

The wall before me is burning. Fire has sprung from nowhere, has eaten in through the wall, has begun to reach toward me, reach for me. The fire spreads. I drift into it. It blazes up around me. I thrash and scramble and try to swim back out of it, grabbing handfuls of air and fire, kicking, burning! Darkness.

Perhaps I awake a little. I do sometimes when the fire swallows me. That's bad. When I wake up all the way, I can't get back to sleep. I try, but I've never been able to.

This time I don't wake up all the way. I fade into the second part of the dream- -the part that's ordinary and real, the part that did happen years ago when I was little, though at the time it didn't seem to matter.

Darkness.

Darkness brightening.

Stars.

Stars casting their cool, pale, glinting light.

"We couldn't see so many stars when I was little," my stepmother says to me. She speaks in Spanish, her own first language.

She stands still and small, looking up at the broad sweep of the Milky Way. She and I have gone out after dark to take the washing down from the clothesline. The day has been hot, as usual, and we both like the cool darkness of early night. There's no moon, but we can see very well. The sky is full of stars.

The neighborhood wall is a massive, looming presence nearby. I see it as a crouching animal, perhaps about to spring, more threatening than protective. But my stepmother is there, and she isn't afraid. I stay close to her. I'm seven years old.

I look up gt the—stars and the deep, black sky. "Why couldn't you see the stars?" I ask her. "Everyone can see them." I speak in Spanish, too, as she's taught me. It's an intimacy somehow.

"City lights," she says. "Lights, progress, growth, all those things we're too hot and too poor to bother with anymore." She pauses. "When I was your age, my mother told me that the stars—the few stars we could see—were windows into heaven. Windows for God to look through to keep an eye on us. I believed her for almost a year." My stepmother hands me an armload of my youngest brother's diapers. I take them, walk back toward the house where she has left her big wicker laundry basket, and pile the diapers atop the rest of the clothes. The basket is full. I look to see that my stepmother is not watching me, then let myself fall backward onto the soft mound of stiff, clean clothes. For a moment, the fall is like floating.

I lie there, looking up at the stars. I pick out some of the constellations and name the stars that make them up. I've learned them from an astronomy book that belonged to my father's mother.

I see the sudden light streak of a meteor flashing westward across the sky. I stare after it, hoping to see another. Then my stepmother calls me and I go back to her.

"There are city lights now," I say to her. "They don't hide the stars."

She shakes her head. "There aren't anywhere near as many as there were. Kids today have no idea what a blaze of light cities used to be—and not that long ago."

"I'd rather have the stars," I say.

"The stars are free." She shrugs. "I'd rather have the city lights back myself, the sooner the better. But we can afford the stars."

Table of Contents

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Parable of the Sower 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 57 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read Wildseed and and was horrified and hooked at the same time. This author has an imagination like no other. I was saddened to read she died and so there will be no more books from her. I read her books for entertainment but she has much to offer in social commentary. Check out all her books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am in 8th grade and was given a list of books for a project I have to do. The list was called 'Outstanding Books for College Bound,' and as I looked through this list the only one that stood out was Parable of the Sower. I believe anyone looking for a challenging yet exciting book to read should choose this one! It's one of those books that you forget you reading and you end up reading it for hours!
ChocBot300 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Octavia Butler covers an amazing range of personalities all thrown into a cataclysmic time in the world. Reading this book felt she was the sower giving the world a parable about all the destructive things we're dealing with right now. She deals with everything straight up, from the way people de-evolve under pressure to how we discover the best within us in the same way. The different levels of prose mixed with metaphysical poetry make this one of the most amazing novels I've ever read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book my freshmen year, and although it took offguard at how visual it was, it definetly was a favorite. The hidden messages and idea of pursuing so strongly something you believe in, yet have contrived all yourself was altogether intresting. Insightful, and if your willing to open your mind and take a different look at things, I think you'll enjoy it. I did. But if your not into graphic visuals, this probably isn't for you.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I, at first, hated this book because it sounded too preachy, but it has a good point. Cultures have fallen all throughout history. What's to say that it won't happen to us? Are we ready?
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book not only in the ways it signifies upon other African American texts, but also because of what it says about the state of our present society and what it could lead to. Everyone should read it!
VisibleGhost on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The title refers to the biblical parable of Saint Luke. The book also has some parallels to The Book of Job. Fifteen year-old Lauren Olamina is living in near-future southern California where society is crumbling and disintegrating day by day. Her father is a preacher and community leader but she can't bring herself to believe what he believes. She writes her thoughts in diaries and slowly a nascent religion comes into being. She calls her book Earthseed: The Books of the Living. Each chapter starts with a verse from Earthseed. It's a stark religion with no empty promises. Stark but beautiful.Lauren is beset with one calamity after another. She has an iron-strong determination to not only survive but create something from a position of powerlessness. Survival takes most of her energy but as time progresses she also takes baby steps in forming Earthseed. She's as tough a protagonist as they come. When most people would have given up in sheer exhaustion she determinedly forges ahead. Butler knows how to write tough women. There is nothing florid or fancy about Butler's writing. It is simple, concise, and clear. It is powerful and unforgettable. It's also a reminder that most societies are balanced on an edge of progression or regression.
ragwaine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Actually closer to 3.5 stars. I liked this one a lot but I didn't like the whole sharer idea. It just seemed like a random sort of fantastic element that was thrown in. It was interesting but there didn't seem to be a purpose to it. Maybe that will all come out in the next book? I also thought the ending was too short. It could have been a complete book all by itself if the ending had been drawn out a bit more. Instead it kind of came off to me as a stepping stone to the next book.The "Earthseed" idea of her starting a new "religion" to help save the country (world?) also seemed like an idea that up to this point was just filler or a focus for philosophical writing. So I'm hoping to see that better developed in the next book too.She really does write dirty, gritty, hopeless, suffering very well and it was even better in this book because she didn't also have to fit in an alien cultures (Xeno trilogy) or mental powers (Survivor, Clay's Ark etc...).
kexline on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is riveting. It's the story, told by a hyperempathetic California teenager, of American society in 2024, about ten or fifteen years after ecological collapse. We meet Lauren, the narrator, when she's about fifteen years old. She's a bright, contemplative preacher's daughter, who has decided that she has found her own God: change. The book is sprinkled with discussions of her beliefs, which she's named Earthseed, and free verse from her "Book of the Living". By her eighteenth birthday, terrifying new synthetic drugs and an "eat the rich" mentality have taken hold outside Los Angeles, and the American government has relaxed business laws to the extent that debt slavery has become more common than ever. Lauren is a wise, clever, and sympathetic protagonist, and the world she inhabits is engaging and perhaps a little too plausible. I plowed through this book in just a few hours, always eager to find out what would happen next, who'd make it through to the next chapter, and what was on each new character's mind.(One further note -- I know plenty of folks who require a touch of the fantastic in their reading. If you're one of those people, you may as well know: This is NOT sci-fi. It takes place in the future and there's one mention of an improbably tiny radio. That's all you get.)
sturlington on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A reread of Parable of the Sower reveals a dark vision of the near future that is eerily reminiscent of the pictures we all saw on TV following Hurricane Katrina, a frighteningly realistic portrayal of poverty and anarchy that is all too easy to imagine following on the heels of global warming¿s devastation. The follow-up, Parable of the Talents, is even more grim and harrowing than its predecessor in its depiction of an America plunged into chaos. Butler deftly picks up the threads of the major issues facing us today ¿ climate change, the widening gap between rich and poor, the privatization of education and social services ¿ and follows them to the inevitably disastrous results if these problems aren¿t addressed. Most frightening of all is the depiction of an America in the grips of Christian extremists who murder and enslave people and separate children from their parents, just because they do not hold the same beliefs.But Butler¿s story is one of hope too: of a prophet leading her people toward a better future, following a spiritual practice that makes more sense to me than most organized religions I know of, and of a goal ¿ to sow the seeds of humanity throughout space ¿ that I have always believed held the key to our survival as a species. God is change, indeed, but instead of fighting it or surrendering to it, just recognize it and use it to make your goals a reality. This message is contained within a work of fiction that paint a frightening picture of the future, but it rings very true to me.
readingrat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A beautifully written, compelling, dystopian tale. I'm looking forward to reading the sequel.
the_awesome_opossum on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
According to the new religion of Earthseed, God is change, and the only thing that stays the same is change. In the post-apocalyptic world in which Lauren lives, acceptance of change is a valuable virtue and coping method. After her community is destroyed and her family is gone, she travels up north with a group of disciples, in a sense, to find refuge away from all of the destruction. In addition to the standard challenges, Lauren also has hyperempathy - she can feel the pleasure and pain of others, and there is plenty of pain to go around. Parable of the Sower is a very grim, but also very thoughtful, piece of dystopian literature, and a good read
dancingwaves on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was probably one of the best books that I have read this year so far. I enjoyed the main character, Lauren Olamina, and her understanding of the world around her. I've been describing it as a dystopian novel, rather than post-Apocalyptic book. There are still humans living in the United States, but living in communities that are under siege. Safety is nearly a commodity. Clean water and guns are hard to come by, and you have to keep watch all of the time. She joins up with people along the way, as she's traveling northwards.The other aspect of this novel that was intensely compelling for me was Earthseed, the new "religion," or ideas of faith that Lauren discovers within herself. She wants to create a colony of Earthseed followers, to help bring the world some sense of balance. The ways that she describes Earthseed, and the snippets of "doctrine," or closest that there is in the book, are compelling, saying that God is change, and that change is inevitable, but also changeable and malleable.Butler deals with issues of sexuality, race, and class in compelling and very subtle, but powerful ways. There is no two ways around the topics, as they are part of daily life for Lauren. But, the way she does them is so beautiful that all I could think is "I wish I could write that way."The book gave me a lot to think about, was well written, and compelling.
genevalove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Disturbing look at an all too believable future. One young woman faces the future with the strength of prophecy and watches as the world disintegrates around her. I'm looking forward to reading the Parable of the Talents as soon as I can get my hands on it.
delta351 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I can't believe how good a writer Octavia Butler is, and how her works remain relatively unknown. This book was much better than I thought, as I had expected the Earthseed aspect to get more emphasis than it actually did. I would describe it as an abbreviated "The Stand". Substitute studly grandpa for grandma. Good post apocalyptic fiction with a bit of survivalist info.
ReginaR on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am going to start this review off by asking a theoretical question. There is a huge wave coming, it will wash you and everyone you love out to see. What do you do? Do you back up away from the water? Move to higher ground? Build a boat to ride it out? Or do you turn your back on it, play on the beach and pretend that it isn¿t coming? Now imagine that it isn¿t a wave of water, but a wave of violence, crime and people that will be unstoppable. No wall will hold them back. You may have nowhere ideal to go. But you have access to books, learning materials and you have time to prepare, pack. Octavia Butler speculates that most people would ignore the coming onslaught and attempt to go about their daily business, not prepare and not learn. It is scary to move forward and change behavior and scary to imagine the world as we know it is ending. But change is necessary to survival, according to Butler. This is what Parable is about ¿ change, adaptation and working together in a community to accomplish the change in order to survive. The main character in Parable, a teenage girl named Lauren, is an agent of change. Lauren is unwilling to turn her back on the huge wave she knows is coming; instead she teaches herself through books everything she can learn and she prepares for what she knows and fears is coming. Lauren is inspired from inside herself and is somewhat of a prophet of a new religion and philosophy. Her belief is ¿God is Change.¿ And she goes out to preach it. The creation of the religion is a vehicle for Lauren¿s story to be told and for hope to be seeded among her followers. Octavia Butler published her book in 1995, so many apocalyptic novels have come after hers have incorporated elements that are present in this book. It is interesting for me that Butler appears to have less acclaim but she is the predecessor of so many well-known novels. There are books that tell the story of the world ending by an apocalyptic event and then there are books that show you what the world would be like during an apocalyptic even ¿ without holding back. Parable of the Sower is the latter. The images of lives being destroyed and violence being wrought on people just for living and just for having something, anything that is wanted by those who do not have anything ¿ these images are described in details. They are not described, I think, for the delight of reading gore, but to serve as a marker of how far society has fallen. And it is a scary world that Butler describes; scary and realistic. Despite that I have absolutely no point of reference for the scenes described in this book, while reading I felt as though it could have been happening right outside my door. There is nothing about this apocalyptic world that is romantic. In Parable, much of society¿s downfall appears to have been caused by environmental devastation, which has in turn caused economic and political devastation. Polluted water, toxic chemicals, failed pharmaceutical and science experiments resulting in dangerous addictive drugs. Butler¿s book is a scary warning of pushing consumer and corporate demands to the extreme. Reading this book created questions in my mind. Is this book really about an apocalyptic event? It does take place in the US (California) and the society that is disintegrating is American society, but is this an apocalyptic event or the failure of one society? So many apocalyptic books describe world changing events; but in Parable, it is shortages ¿ gas, water, food, governmental collapse (or increasing ineffectualness) but some infrastructure remains. There are police, but they investigate and then charge user fees; there are property taxes and there are colleges; there is electricity and there are entertainment outlets (like televisions, etc.); there are insurance companies and resources --- but everything for an elevated price and most people do not have the ability to pay for these items and services. What happens is
julie10reads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Content-rich story of post-apocalyptic America featuring a young African-American woman as the hero. Lauren Oya Olamina is a "hyperempath" who actually shares the pain of others in her own body. When her Los Angeles gated community is destroyed by violent anarchists, Lauren escapes. Dressed as a man,Lauren travels north meeting other refugees who, like her, search for a safe place to live. What sets Parable of the Sower apart is Lauren's philosophical take on the collapse of society: she is inspired to found her own community, named Earthseed, which will not try to recover what was lost, but instead will prepare for a new society among the stars. The novel is studded with pages from Lauren's Earthseed journal: Books of the Living:"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.
TadAD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book pulled off a delicate balancing act¿while thinking that a couple of the central elements were only mediocre, I enjoyed reading the story. My complaints are two and both are in the area of consistency. The first is the setting of the story: America of about 15 years in our future (35 from when the book was written). Environmental and economic collapse, coupled with rampant drug use and a failure of police forces, has turned entire states into violent ghettos, while others—marginally more stable¿institute border patrols to turn back or kill those attempting to enter. Yet, at the same time, we¿re told that the federal government is still functioning, that the National Guard is still operational but, for some reason, not really being used even though the rich and powerful are also getting burned out by the mobs. It was a jarring inconsistency.The second was the in the character of the protagonist, Lauren Olamina. Her destitute family had banded together with others like it who wanted a bit of sanity and safety inside a walled community, shooting intruders. Yet, when the community is finally overrun and she must flee, a lifetime of caution and distrust is abandoned as she becomes a Pied Piper, picking up disciples for her nascent religion/utopian community. The lack of continuity linking old Lauren with new Lauren made this book read as two separate stories that felt separated by years rather than days.So, what made this book work? There are two things and, somewhat paradoxically, they are Lauren and Butler¿s vision of the future. In just a few pages Lauren goes from being the poor little black girl with a crippling psychosomatic condition to someone who feels real and whose fate concerns us. Her determination not to sink into the depths of barbarism and to establish some kind of foothold for a viable society is in the best traditions of post-apocalyptic fiction but it¿s done with more than the usual amount of intimacy and human-ness.And, setting aside the inconsistency mentioned above, Butler¿s vision of the future feels scarily possible. Unlike many near-future dystopic visions that predicate some radical shift in society that doesn¿t pass the gut check of plausibility, Butler took the trends of the late 1980s and extended them. What if we continued pumping pollutants into the environment, particularly greenhouse gases?...Might we, as some scientists claim, reach a tipping point where the temperature shifts radically and irrevocably? What if we continue to widen the gap between the rich and the poor?...Might we reach a point where we don¿t have a sustainable economic base? What if we continue a blind eye toward corruption?...Might we reach a point where our societal protections become unreliable? The cautionary tale that Butler gives us was, for me, equally as fascinating as the spiritual pilgrimage of the protagonist.I¿ll read the sequel, The Parable of the Talents, in anticipation that Butler continues to capitalize on the strengths and that the inconsistencies will fade into irrelevance as the story moves into the future.
DivineMissW on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Really good book. Not so much a christian book as a religous book (developing religion?). Wonderful story and realistic characters.
kaionvin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The most interesting thing about Parable of the Sower is how clear it makes Octavia Butler's central theme of survival through the main character's religious writings of "Earthseed": "All successful life is Adaptable, Opportunistic, Tenacious, Interconnected, and Fecund." In the year 2027: oil is rare, water is expensive, and food a precious commodity. Many are homeless and/or jobless, police are crooked, and pyromaniac druggies roam the streets. Lauren, who has superempathy, grew up one of the lucky ones, relatively safe inside the gated community her father conceived. But after her home is attacked and scavenged--and her family killed-- Lauren joins the hordes who walk north, in search of work and land, while she dreams up "Earthseed". While I respect what Butler was trying to do with Parable of the Sower, I didn't feel like she was particularly successful. The narrative lacks real vitality. Butler takes the narrative at an overly slow clip, particularly in the first half when we already know Lauren will be chased out of her home. The horrors of Butler's pre-apocalyptic world are never described into visceral presence, nor the scope of her vision large enough for the reader to get a sense of how the world got this way (and why it so needs a religion like Earthseed). Earthseed itself never faces any real challenging by either Lauren or the people she ends up preaching it to, rendering it mostly mumbo-jumbo. It's really unclear what use it offers the survivors-- if anything, the plot really preaches the use of guns. To be fair, the other characters don't appear to offer much resistance to anything, being particularly thin, somewhat interchangeable creations that offer no conflict to Lauren's natural leadership-taking. There's really no conflict that drives the plot at all, to be honest, not even within Lauren herself. Her super-empathy plays almost no part, and all this lack of drive in the narrative really shows up as stagnancy in the novel. "Idea"-books are common in science-fiction, but Parable of the Sower lacks the conflicts that really illustrate the worthiness of its idea.
beserene on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Octavia Butler was one of the most extraordinary science fiction writers of the modern age, and one of the least known. Though not as prolific as many of the 20th century sci-fi authors, she did leave a body of work that is consistently excellent; thoughtful and unabashedly political, Butler's novels offer up a rare perspective in the genre: that of the African-American woman. In this particular novel, as in most of her novels, the main character and narrator is a young black woman in a not-so-distant future. This particular future is bleak and terrifying; citizens with jobs in this future America must blockade themselves inside walled neighborhoods and try to fend off the thievery, murder and mayhem committed by the masses of "street poor" -- homeless, jobless, drug-addicted gangs stripped bare of sense and humanity. The very rich abide in well-defended compounds, but those less affluent must hold back the tide as best they can with what little they have. Our narrator, Lauren, is in this latter position -- she and her family are struggling to keep their community together.SPOILER (sort of) ALERT:It should surprise no one, despite the above warning, that Lauren's community cannot last forever, and the second part of the narrative begins on the eve of loss and destruction. The novel then becomes a post-apocalyptic road novel, as Lauren walks the path toward a better place, as well as the path to true adulthood. What colors and structures the novel most is the idea of "Earthseed", the religion that Lauren is constructing and disseminating as she walks her road. The story unfolds in a sequence of journal entries, but each section is headed with a passage from "The Book of the Living", which Lauren is also writing as she travels. The central belief of the religion is that "God is Change" -- and this idea sits uncomfortably with some of the characters, as it may sit uncomfortably with some readers. For myself, I enjoyed the philosophical element that these religious excerpts added to the text, as well as the critiques of corrupted religion that emanate from the frequent religious discussions within the story itself. Though some readers may grow frustrated with this focus, I feel that the beauty of the spiritual and social ideas elevate this beyond the typical post-apocalyptic road narrative and allow the reader to feel more connected to the characters and their future.Though some of the novel's social and racial perspectives are a little dated, many -- I must admit, with some shame -- are just as pertinent today as when the novel was written. So too are the warnings inherent in Butler's vision of a future America, where that oft-discussed gap between the haves and the have-nots has engulfed the entire nation. Many of the details of Butler's world will resonate with painful familiarity. As with many of the genre, this book is not always easy to read, but it is fascinating and, I believe, still incredibly important. The novel ends openly, facing the future and the sequel the Butler eventually did write. I am planning to read the sequel almost as soon as I am finished writing this review. That might tell you something about this novel.
bohemiangirl35 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This novel is scary and hopeful at the same time. I could not put it down and I know I will reread it. Octavia Butler is one of my favorite authors and this has become one of my favorite books. It's not sci-fi along the lines of Kindred or Fledgling. This story seems all too possible.
saltypepper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is on my desert island list. Although it is not cheerful it is full of hope and truth and beauty. Despite the 1993 publication date, it looks disturbingly prescient today, 15 years later. Let's hope things things do indeed change, and not in the way Butler describes.
jlparent on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I hesitate to call this post-apocalyptic, as the world Lauren knows is still crumbling. Dystopian will work; society is fragmented, neighborhoods protect only their own, mob rule and survival lof the fittest are dominant, there are no jobs and water is more expensive than food. A 15 year old girl who has hyperempathy (she feels the pain of others - literally) is our narrator; she watches everything and everyone around her and she uses that to develop a new faith, Earthseed. The essence of her faith is "God is Change". When her small neighborhood of safety is devastated, she starts north, in search of a new life - and as she travels, others join her. She tells them of Earthseed and gains converts. Eventually they find a place where they decide to try and start the first Earthseed community.Butler's writing is simple yet delivers punches. The society she describes is not unimaginable at all, in fact it's easily imaginable and frighteningly recognizable. Lauren, the central character, is intriguing - she's only 15 but comes across as an old soul - a very old soul. The story is simple, covering several years in an a journal format - but very engaging. I really enjoyed it and will be reading more.
nbmars on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is the purported diary of teenager Lauren Olamina from 2024 through 2027. In writing about future America, the author said she wanted to "consider where some of our current behaviors and unattended problems might take us." The escalation of drug use, crime, corporate greed, global warming, the rich/poor gap, inattention to literacy all lead to a United States that has become "through the combined effects of lack of foresight and short-term unenlightened self-interest, a third world country." Burned out of her home with her family dead, Lauren sets out with other stragglers to find a place to live. They include Harry and Zahra from her old neighborhood, a young couple Travis and Natividad and their baby Dominic, abused sisters Allison and Jill, former doctor Taylor Bankole, and the former slaves Emery and her daughter Tori and Grayson and his daughter Doe. Lauren's survival instincts are impeded by "hyperempathy syndrome" caused by her mother's drug use: when she sees another in pain, she feels it also. The former slaves are also "sharers." The dark vision of Butler's future America (which includes pyromania, parasitism, random violence, gang warfare, and cannibalism) is not without hope. Lauren starts a new religion - Earthseed - that says "God is change." God changes us but we can also change God; that is, one can in fact learn, adapt, and grow.Lauren finds love with Bankole, a man one year older than her father had been. He has some land in northern California, and they all make their way there to start a new community that will "live according to Earthseed" - the essentials of which are for people "to learn to shape God with forethought, care and work; to educate and benefit their community, their families, and theselves; and to contribute to the fulfillment of the Destiny [populating other planets]." The group symbolically bury their dead, plant an oak tree for each dead family member, and decide to call their new community Acorn. Butler ends with the Parable of the Sower from St. Luke 8:5-8:"A sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And others fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bore fruit an hundredfold."