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Imago (Book Three of the Xenogenesis Series)…

Imago (Book Three of the Xenogenesis Series) (original 1989; edition 1997)

by Octavia E. Butler

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8171311,139 (4.12)28
Title:Imago (Book Three of the Xenogenesis Series)
Authors:Octavia E. Butler
Info:Aspect (1997), Mass Market Paperback, 224 pages
Collections:Your library, Read 2013
Tags:Library Book

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Imago by Octavia E. Butler (1989)

Recently added byAltheaAnn, BlackAsh13, private library, SaraMSLIS, Amelsfort, Cora-R, Superenigmatix, bwanab, Jentastic



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The last volume of the mind blowing, thought provoking Lilith’s Brood series (I prefer the original name Xenogenesis myself, it has a nice sci-fi ring to it).

Jodahs the protagonist of this book is another offspring of Lilith Iyapo. The least human of the series' central characters, especially after its first metamorphosis. As Jodahs is neither male or female, and certainly not a hermaphrodite, the pronoun it is the only appropriate one for referring to characters of the “ooloi” gender; he third sex of the alien Oankali race.

The story of Imago is basically a Bildungsroman, centered around the adventures of Jodahs. As if being an ooloi is not alien enough he (I'm slipping back into using he instead of it again, old habits) is even more alien than the average ooloi, being the first of this third gender to have human gene as well as Oankali. This necessitates that he goes into exile until he can control his genetic manipulation abilities; as the other aliens are concerned that he will inadvertently contaminate them, their biotech habitat, food sources etc. Fortunately he has his family going along with him to back him up. After straying in the woods with his family for a whole he soon wanders off on his own and soon encounters a couple of humans who he seduces to become his mates.

That is probably the longest synopsis I have ever written, I normally avoid writing these like the plague but sometime I find a synopsis to be an unavoidable component of the review. Perhaps because there are so many bizarre concepts which need to be mentioned in order to proceed with the review. As with the other books in this series weird biotechnology is the main sci-fi aspect. While amazing the sci-fi fans with her wild inventions Ms. Butler is subtly making us ponder what it means to be human and whether it is worth preserving our humanity at all cost. The problem with being human, according to the Oankali’s observation, is that “the human biological contradiction” dictates that we will eventually self destruct because we can not refrain from hierarchical behavior. Basically being human is not what it is cracked up to be.

The theme of xenophobia is also more prominent in this volume, how an open mind is required to achieve racial harmony. While conveying her ideas and themes Butler never forget that she is telling a story, more importantly a science fiction story. The novel is rich in subtext which can be inferred from reading between the lines, but reading the lines themselves is always entertaining, thrilling and involving. As with all her works the characters are very well developed and believable, and the writing is powerful. The book is also weirdly erotic in places without ever becoming sexually explicit or titillating.

As my friend Michael kindly pointed out to me there is also an element of alien invasion in this trilogy. However, from the Oankali’s point of view the invasion is for our own good. They believe they are saving us from self destruction (“the human biological contradiction”), even if it means taking away our freedom to choose. The story so far, from their initial rescue of the few remaining humans in [b:Dawn|60929|Dawn (Xenogenesis, #1)|Octavia E. Butler|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388290339s/60929.jpg|1008111], would indicate that they may be right. However, mating with the Oankali would lead to hybrid offsprings and eventual end of the original human race.

After reviewing the two previous volumes of this series I am almost out of hyperbole. One bold statement I can make is that Lilith’s Brood series (or Xenoegenesis) is my all time favorite sf series, and I have read all the greats, Dune, Foundation, Hyperion etc. Thank you Ms. Butler. ( )
  apatt | Dec 26, 2015 |
Another great if disturbing book by Octavia Butler. I love her writing style, understated and matter-of-fact. Her worlds are amazing, her aliens life-like. Their different way of thinking is disturbing, but also what makes the book so good. ( )
  zjakkelien | Mar 4, 2015 |
The conclusion of the Xenogenesis series focuses on Jodahs, the child of humans, Oankali, and the sexless Ooloi. Many Resisters still do not believe that there are fertile humans on a new colony on Mars. On Earth the aliens and the humans with the Ooloi will merge to form a new race. However, despite the feelings of many Oankali, humans have been given the chance to reproduce on Mars and are trying to find all of the remaining humans and give them the choice: Mars or stay on Earth and become a part of a new race. ( )
  creighley | Aug 12, 2013 |
Imago is the third novel in the Lilith’s Brood trilogy (or Xenogenesis Series) by Octavia E. Butler.

Plot [with slight SPOILERS for Dawn]:
Jodahs is Lilith’s youngest child and as it hasn’t gone through transformation yet, it’s not clear yet what sex it’s going to be. But it turns out that despite precautions taken that it wouldn’t happen yet, Jodahs is going to be the first Human/Oankali ooloi – the third sex the Oankali have. Jodahs is deeply confused by the situation, and entirely overwhelmed by a craving for human mates. But will the Oankali accept it as it is or will it turn out to be flawed?

The problems I had with Adulthood Rites started to annoy me in this book, so I didn’t like Imago quite as much as I liked Adulthood Rites. But it’s still a very interesting read.

Read more on my blog: http://kalafudra.wordpress.com/2012/07/11/imago-octavia-e-butler/ ( )
  kalafudra | Jul 26, 2012 |
I'm not sure why, but it took me over a year to get around to reading Imago, the final book in Octavia E. Butler's Xenogenesis trilogy, after finishing the previous volume. I absolutely loved the first two books Dawn and Adulthood Rites; it's almost as if Butler wrote these novels with me in mind. The series is smart and sexy science fiction; it is possible to be read for pure entertainment value but more satisfactorily on a deeper level. The books were originally published separately between 1987, 1988, and 1989 respectively, but in 2000 they were released in a single volume called Lilith's Brood by Grand Central Publishing. I believe there was also an earlier omnibus called Xenogenesis, but if so it is out of print. The novels are relatively short so it makes sense that they would be collected together.

Jodahs was an accident--the first ooloi, a third sex neither male nor female, to be born from a Human mother. It wasn't until Jodahs entered metamorphosis that the mistake was caught. A Human-Oankali ooloi was not planned to appear for several more centuries at least. Jodahs is either a fluke or the unintentional start of a new species, but either way is considered to be a danger to itself and the living things around it. In order to minimize the impact it has on its environment and still maintain some degree of freedom, Jodahs and its family choose exile in the wilds of Earth. There Jodahs must learn to control its abilities of genetic manipulation, both voluntary and involuntary, prepare for its second and final metamorphosis, and prove that it is not a danger. It is a daunting task and even with the support of its family, Jodahs may fail.

Jodahs has a physical need, a hunger, to be with people beyond even the need the Oankali have. Its intense desire for acceptance and understanding make it a very sympathetic character despite its very alien mindset. The pain of being rejected simply for being what it is and what it never wanted to be is heartbreaking. The Oankali have no pretensions--they are not concerned with preserving Humankind, they are preoccupied with protecting Life. The ooloi are not the only thing that make the Oankali totally alien and Butler captures their strangeness marvelously. By telling the story through the eyes of Jodahs, who is different from anyone else, she is also able to explore the inherent strangeness and contradictions of Humans as well. And because the book is written in the first-person, Jodahs' observations and experiences with Humans, Oankali, and fellow constructs are acutely personal.

I had forgotten how amazing Butler's work is. Just like the first two books in Xenogenesis, I absolutely loved Imago--it was sensual, emotionally charged, erotic, and disconcerting. Although Imago is the third book of the trilogy, it actually stands alone quite well. The ending does seem to come a bit suddenly (Imago is the shortest book of the three) but it was a very satisfying conclusion to the series. Understandably, some people are going to be uncomfortable with these books--they do have quite a bit do with interspecies sex and challenging gender conventions, after all. The Oankali are the unarguably the species that holds the power. The Humans can't help that they are physically attracted to the Oankali even while being repulsed by them. This conflict makes them dangerous as the Humans fight against the sense they are betraying themselves and their species. Even I as a reader felt simultaneously drawn to and repelled by the Oankali. Xenogenesis is a compelling and challenging work, a fantastic series, and one that I would highly recommend.

Experiments in Reading ( )
  PhoenixTerran | Sep 17, 2010 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Octavia E. Butlerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Barlowe, WayneCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kannosto, MattiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Underwood, GeorgeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0446603635, Mass Market Paperback)

This conclusion to the Xenogenesis series (Dawn and Adulthood Rights) focuses on Jodahs, the child of a union between humans, alien Oankali, and the sexless ooloi. The Oankali and ooloi are part of an extraterrestrial species that saved humanity from nuclear oblivion, but many humans feel the price for their help is too high: the Oankali and ooloi intend to genetically merge with humanity, creating a new species at the expense of the old. Even though the Oankali have--against their better judgment--created a human colony on Mars so that humanity as a species can continue unaltered, many human "resisters" either have not heard of the Mars colony or don't believe the Oankali will allow them to live there. Jodahs, who was thought to be a male but who is actually maturing into the first ooloi from a human/Oankali union, finds a pair of resisters who prove that some pure humans are still fertile. These humans may be his only hope to find successful mates, but they have been raised to revile and despise his species above all else.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:01 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Child of two species, but part of neither, a new being must find his way Human and Oankali have been mating since the aliens first came to Earth to rescue the few survivors of an annihilating nuclear war. The Oankali began a massive breeding project, guided by the ooloi, a sexless subspecies capable of manipulating DNA, in the hope of eventually creating a perfect starfaring race. Jodahs is supposed to be just another hybrid of human and Oankali, but as he begins his transformation to adulthood he finds himself becoming ooloi—the first ever born to a human mother. As his body changes, Jodahs develops the ability to shapeshift, manipulate matter, and cure or create disease at will. If this frightened young man is able to master his new identity, Jodahs could prove the savior of what’s left of mankind. Or, if he is not careful, he could become a plague that will destroy this new race once and for all. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Octavia E. Butler including rare images from the author’s estate.… (more)

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