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Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler

Parable of the Talents (original 1998; edition 1998)

by Octavia E. Butler

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1,637404,412 (4.06)98
Title:Parable of the Talents
Authors:Octavia E. Butler
Info:Aspect (2000), Trade paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:Clarke finalist 01, sequel, Parables

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Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler (1998)


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Showing 1-5 of 40 (next | show all)
Olivia Butler is so brilliant at creating quality post-apocalyptic fiction. Seriously, she's a queen. I preferred this installment because it offered up the perspective of Lauren Olamina's daughter, who is not a fan of Earthseed. Lauren's obsession with her religion kind of annoyed me, so it helped with that. ( )
  wildrequiem | Jun 14, 2017 |
Trigger warning: Sexual assault

Parable of the Talents somehow manages to be even darker than the first book, Parable of the Sower. Of course, I knew it’d be dark. Octavia Butler’s work is always intense. But even prepared for it, Parable of the Talents was difficult to read in places.

Like it’s predecessor, Parable of the Talents follows Lauren, a young woman driven by her religious revelations of something she calls Earthseed. At the end of Parable of the Sower, Lauren had formed Acorn, a small community based around Earthseed. Six years later, the world is a less chaotic place than it was during Parable of the Sower. Things are still bad, but they’re bad in a different way. Mobs of arsonists and looters are no longer the main threat to Acorn. The danger is instead in growing religious intolerance and the rise of a far right Christian group, Christian America, that wants to make “America great again.” And by “great,” they mean their type of Christianity.

“Jarret condemns the burnings, but does so in such mild language that his people are free to hear what they want to hear. As for the beatings, the tarring an feathering, and the destruction of ‘heathen houses of devil-worship,’ he has a simple answer: ‘Join us! Our doors are open to every nationality, every race! Leave your sinful past behind, and become one of us. Help us to make America great again.”

In the growing climate of intolerance, Acorn is a target. Lauren and her community may face more danger than ever before.

After the election, I started hearing that Octavia Butler had written a book that felt eerily similar to America’s current events. At first I thought that it was Parable of the Sower they were referring to. Turns out it’s Parable of the Talents. Fanning the flame of intolerance is Jarret, a presidential candidate who’s supporters attack non-Christian groups. The populism, anger, violence and bigotry that Octavia Butler presents in her version of American during the 2030’s does have some similarities to the current day. This only makes her message more powerful. A good dystopia should act as a warning of what our society can become and encourages readers to change the course before its to late.

“Jarret’s supporters are more than a little seduced by Jarret’s talk of making America great again. He seems to be unhappy with certain other countries.”

I already mentioned that Parable of the Talents is a very difficult book to read. Among other things, it involves slavery, rape, violence, sexism, and homophobia. Probably the worst moment for me involved a f/f couple being tortured by the aforementioned Christian America. Parable of Talents is a book that will make you heart sick. While the scenarios Butler presents are gruesome, they are also disturbingly plausible.

Parable of the Talents is framed similarly to Parable of the Sower, with the majority of the book being told through Lauren’s diary entries. However, in this book, the entries are bridged by writing by Lauren’s daughter, who is skeptical of Earthseed and her mother’s obsession with it. I thought including the daughter point of view was a good choice, since it provides a larger perspective and keeps the novel from feeling too didactic when it comes to Earthseed. I kept skipping the Earthseed poems. They don’t do anything for me.

This duology is a couple of books that I’m going to remember for a long time to come. They are science fiction classics and rightly so. Octavia Butler is a true master of her craft.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page.

I received an ARC in exchange for a free and honest review. ( )
  pwaites | Jun 14, 2017 |
Tough but worth it. ( )
  Jon_Hansen | Apr 4, 2017 |
This was a good book although I liked Parable of the sower better. I hated the narrator of this book she was extremely selfish and didn't try to see her mother's perspective so it made me not enjoy the book as much as parable of the sower. ( )
  LaBla | Feb 6, 2016 |
“We learn more and more about the physical universe, more about our own bodies, more technology, but somehow, down through history, we go on building empires of one kind or another, then destroying them in one way or another. We go on having stupid wars that we justify and get passionate about, but in the end, all they do is kill huge numbers of people, maim others, impoverish still more, spread disease and hunger”

The above passage is the essence of what Octavia Butler wanted to communicate with her Earthseed duology — of which Parable of the Talents is the concluding volume — I think. The previous book Parable of the Sower sets the dystopian — almost post-apocalyptic — scene for the two books; it depicts the decline of civilization and the heroine Lauren Oya Olamina’s struggle to survive and find a safe place to settle down and build a community that will help revive human civilization and also move it forward. At the end of [b: Parable of the Sower|52397|Parable of the Sower (Earthseed, #1)|Octavia E. Butler|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1442169447s/52397.jpg|59258] Lauren has founded a community called Acorn, which she intends to form the foundation of her “Earthseed” project with an ultimate goal of space colonization for mankind. Parable of the Talents continues directly with this state of affairs. The year is now 2032 and the Acorn community continues to grow with new hungry and homeless travelers drifting in, and the community has begun trading with nearby communities. The Earthseed project is beginning to take root with Lauren’s leadership and business acumen when it is suddenly invaded by government sponsored religious fanatics called “The Crusaders”, a tacitly approved faction of “The Church of Christian America” ruling the US.

This happens around the middle of the book and begins the second phase of the storyline where the Acorn residents are captured, enslaved, and tortured by the Crusaders zealots. This section of the book is a harrowing read due to the vivid depiction of the Acorn people being violently abused by the Crusaders, they are forced to wear which can cause tremendous pain at the touch of a button on a remote control. All the women — including Lauren — are raped by their captors. How Lauren and her friends end their imprisonment will have readers cheering. Then we move on to the final section of the book which I won't elaborate on at all. Suffice it to say that the book ends very well and should leave most readers fully satisfied.

I really want to rate parable of talents 5 stars because it is an excellent novel and a well deserved the Nebula Award winner, but I can't do that in good conscience as I do have one minor issue with it. Lauren’s Earthseed religion is fine as an idea, it differs from most religions in that it has no supernatural elements in its teaching, a sort of atheistic religion if that is not an oxymoron. Still it does require a lot of faith from its followers with its long-term goal of interstellar emigration. The issue I have with this book is with the frequent litany of “God is Change” and several less than convincing passages from Lauren’s “Earthseed: The Books Of The Living” which is basically their bible. My issue probably has more to do with my aversion to litanies than any misstep on Butler's part. Her prose is as powerful as ever.

Octavia Butler’s ability to develop believable characters in just a few paragraph is as impressive as ever. For example:

“Len is a likable person to work with. She learns fast, complains endlessly, and does an excellent job, however long it takes. Most of the time, she enjoys herself. The complaining was just one of her quirks.”

In just a few lines this Len is made to seem like a real living and breathing person. Lauren is, of course, badass, even without any martial arts skills, her indomitable will practically jump off the page. With her baby daughter stolen by The Crusaders and being beaten and raped:

“It was all I could do not to fold up among the rows of plants and just lie there and moan and cry. But I stayed upright”.

Curiously I tend to picture Lauren Oya Olamina as looking rather like Octavia Butler herself — based on the author's photos — with her strong features, intelligent and kind face.

Parable of the Talents is a riveting, thought-provoking, and at times harrowing read, it should be read after [b: Parable of the Sower|52397|Parable of the Sower (Earthseed, #1)|Octavia E. Butler|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1442169447s/52397.jpg|59258], though if you insist on reading this second volume first you should have no problem following it but it's a bit like reading [b:The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn|2956|The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn, #2)|Mark Twain|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1405973850s/2956.jpg|1835605] before [b:The Adventures of Tom Sawyer|24583|The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Tom Sawyer & Huckleberry Finn, #1)|Mark Twain|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1404811979s/24583.jpg|41326609] you just won't get the full effect. If you have already read [b: Parable of the Sower|52397|Parable of the Sower (Earthseed, #1)|Octavia E. Butler|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1442169447s/52397.jpg|59258] — and like it — I would recommend that you don't leave too long a gap before starting on Parable of the Talents, not more than, say, 3-4 months. This is so you don't lose your familiarity with the characters and the emotional investment you may have made in their story. Whatever you do, read them both. Come to think of it read all the [a: Octavia Butler|29535|Octavia E. Butler|https://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1242244143p2/29535.jpg] books you can get your mitts on because there are only a few of them and she is no longer with us. Her soul was too beautiful for this world :'(

4.5 stars rating then, half a star knocked off for the litany. I still rounded it up to 5 graphical stars though because Octavia Butler is my sci-fi queen!

Butler planned quite a few more volumes for this series which would have dealt with space colonization — and no doubt a lot of heartaches. Unfortunately she never got around to it :_(

In this interview with Amazon Ms. Butler talks about the two Earthseed books and her other works.

YA Dystopian fiction is — for some reasons — all the rage these days, but for me a great dystopian novel should be about more than good looking teens hacking and slashing. In all fairness [b: The Hunger Games|2767052|The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)|Suzanne Collins|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1447303603s/2767052.jpg|2792775] probably has more depth than what I have gleaned from the first book (I haven't read the others) but this is all that have taken from it. The nuances — if they are there — did not reverberate with me. As for the numerous Hunger Games knock-offs I have no time for them. The two Earthseed books are much more substantial, the adventures, slicing and dicing are there, but there is so much more to it, and it even rings true. ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Octavia E. Butlerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Palencar, John JudeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Here we are—
Shaping life,
Shaping Mind,
Shaping God.
We are born
Not with purpose,
But with potential.

by Lauren Oya Olamina
To my aunts Irma Harris and Hazel Ruth Walker, and in memory of my mother Octavia Margaret Butler
First words
They'll make a god of her.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Parable of the Talents (the sequel to Parable of the Sower) tells the story of how, as the U.S. continues to fall apart, the protagonist's community is attacked and taken over by a bloc of religious fanatics who inflict brutal atrocities.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0446675784, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:51 -0400)

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Laura Olamina's daughter, Larkin, describes the broken and alienated world of 2032, as war racks the North American continent and an ultra-conservative religious crusader becomes president.

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