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Seed to Harvest by Octavia E. Butler
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    Survivor by Octavia E. Butler (scholz)
    scholz: Survivor is the novel in the Patternist series missing from this collection. Note that Butler herself didn't like Survivor, which might explain why it was not included in the omnibus.

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The first book I read by Butler was “Fledgling.” I enjoyed it a lot, but it was Lilith’s Brood (Xenogenesis) that truly blew me away and made me a fan. Butler crafts some of the most compelling, and in-depth science fiction I have ever read.

Seed to Harvest includes four related novels in the Patternist series: Wild Seed, Mind of My Mind, Clay’s Ark and Patternmaster. First, I have to say I am grateful for this omnibus edition because otherwise I might have read them in published order, whereas this collection is done in chronological order. I think it’s better this way. Patternmaster was the first book Butler published, and it throws readers directly into a very different and strange world than the one we know. The other three books show how we got there and I think it makes for a better reading experience.

WILD SEED is the tale of Anyanwu, an African woman who can heal herself of any injury and is seemingly immortal. She is discovered by Doro, a being who has lived for millennia but at the expense of countless lives. He intends to create a master race of humans through careful breeding. He finds those gifted with psychic abilities and brings them together, and he wants Anyanwu as part of that plan. The two of them are at odds, but also drawn to each other- living embodiments of life and death. Butler’s characters are fully developed and come alive off the pages.

MIND OF MY MIND introduces Mary, who may be the key to creating Doro’s master race. Mary is the first powerful telepath born who is not driven insane by her gift. She uses it to create The Pattern, which binds her people together. Only, Doro may have gotten more than he bargained for when he realizes he’s not part of that master race. I think this is the best book of the four – I read it straight through because it was so creative and the characters so interesting.

CLAY’S ARK is where things get a little…weird. Wild Seed and Mind of my Mind were tightly connected stories, tied together by Anyanwu and Doro. Clay’s Ark introduces brand new characters and a new story-telling structure which swaps between present day and the past. The book appears completely unrelated to the two books that come before it, but is a critical bridge to Patternmaster. A father and his two older teen daughters are accosted on the highway and taken prisoner. Eli calmly informs that that he is carrying a disease that they now have, and will come to accept. Naturally, they don’t want to accept it and try to escape, with global consequences. In the prior two books, Doro hinted that his master race is going to be needed for a purpose. One that is finally revealed in the final book.

PATTERNMASTER opens with a surprise attack on Rayal, the Patternmaster, by Clayarks. These two species have been at war for decades, and the Clayarks realize killing Rayal is the key to winning. The story then moves to Teray, one of many sons of the Patternmaster His mental abilities are very strong, perhaps even strong enough to allow him hold The Pattern one day. This is something Coransee cannot allow, for he wants the Pattern for himself.

Overall, I didn’t find Seed to Harvest to be quite as good as Lilith’s Brood, mainly because of the conclusion. Lilith’s Brood has more closure while Seed to Harvest is left more or less in a stalemate. It’s almost as if Butler intended there to be another book (and perhaps the long out of print “Survivor” is that book). Still, I thought this was a brilliant, rich saga that pulls a reader in and keeps them long after the final page. Highly recommended. ( )
  jshillingford | Feb 8, 2016 |
Wild Seed and Patternmaster are the strongest novels in this omnibus and serve as interesting bookends (pun intended!) for the series. And yet, if you don't read the 2 books in the middle, it would be really hard to figure out how the two of them relate. A book by book breakdown in order:

I was sucked into Wild Seed from the first few pages and it is probably my favorite in the series. Anyanwu is an engaging and sympathetic protagonist and the intermingling of history and science-fiction here is just amazing. I don't think I've ever read any sci-fi that bothers to engage with the American/European slave trade and Butler just takes that and colonialism on in really amazing ways while weaving an engaging tale and following characters that are hard to let go of.

That in turn, is the weakness of Mind of My Mind, which is probably the weakest book in the series. I loved Anyanwu and I couldn't stand what was left of her in the second book. Her character seemed vastly reduced, her choices incoherent. And Butler's attempt to write in 70's slang seemed half-hearted at best. The "man" tacked on at the end of every utterance in the first few pages was tedious and really made the dialogue sound contrived. I also could not stand Mary as a character--her personality seemed only partially developed and disjointed from the opening of the book. The book was more interesting for me for what it signified about Doro than anything else.

Clay's Ark is intensely gruesome. Some really interesting sci-fi things going on with the extraterrestrial disease but by the end the book's dystopic vision of what human society has devolved into is so unrelentingly bleak and violent, I found it emotionally hard to finish.

Patternmaster was my second favorite here and I could not help wondering what the experience of reading this book as a stand alone would be like. It features Clayarks, but you get no more than an intriguing hint about their origin. It hints at Doro's past as in Mind of My Mind and Wild Seed but was written before all of these. It was the only one of these that felt incomplete in that I wish the story had continued so I could see where Teray and Amber end up. ( )
  endlesserror | Jan 9, 2015 |
I have read several of Octavia Butler's books and count myself as a fan of her work. This particular series is not a favorite of mine but I was never bored. This omnibus contains four novels: [b:Wild Seed|52318|Wild Seed|Octavia E. Butler|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1170386908s/52318.jpg|1330000], [b:Mind of My Mind|1356350|Mind of My Mind|Octavia E. Butler|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1224463596s/1356350.jpg|111957], [b:Clay's Ark|1022045|Clay's Ark|Octavia E. Butler|http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51mBNXQtXHL._SL75_.jpg|1008173] and[b:Patternmaster|116256|Patternmaster|Octavia E. Butler|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1171721728s/116256.jpg|1119636].
Wild Seed begins in Africa during the time of the slave trade and introduces the seemingly immortal characters of Doro and Anyanwu. Doro has survived thousands of years by jumping bodies and has been carefully breeding humans to cultivate and strengthen their telepathic abilities. Anyanwu is a healer and shape shifter. She has complete control over her body and is unlike anything Doro has ever seen. The book follows their relationship over many generations. The later books focus on their descendants, a powerfully linked group of telepaths, and their conflict with humans mutated by an alien disease. I am in awe of how Octavia Butler was able to take this story from it's roots in Africa all the way to a distant and disturbing future in America. The title is so fitting.
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  diovival | Oct 14, 2013 |
These books are excellent. I very much enjoyed the first two books, in which the psychic abilities of a group of people increase due to enforced selective breeding. The person doing the enforcing, Doro, is amazingly understanding of his subjects yet cold. This particularly shows through contrast with Anyanwu, the woman who causes him such struggle. The third book I found disappointing. I didn't understand what link it had to the previous books. In a way, I suppose it didn't have one: it had a link to the fourth book. Where in the first two books the patternists appear, people with psychic abilities that are tied to each other in a psychic pattern, in the third book their antagonists are explained, the so-called Clayarks. The Clayarks are based on humans as well, but through a disease are impervious to most of the patternists abilities. The fourth book, which I understand was the first one written, ties both groups together in a struggle for resources. On top of that, the patternists struggle amongst themselves, when their leader is about to die...

I thought Butler's characterization had something distant about it, since a lot revolved about an almost rational struggle. This by no means stopped me from being engaged in the story. In this way, it reminds of John Wyndham's writing. The stories were most intriguing and raised a lot of issues surrounding slavery and free will that are relevant to this day. ( )
  zjakkelien | Mar 3, 2013 |
Grand Central Publishing has been reissuing Octavia Butler's novels in attractive trade paperbacks, which I think is a great thing. It enables readers -- meaning me -- to catch up on Butler's work, particularly her series, which are each collected into one volume. Seed to Harvest is comprised of all of the novels in the Patternist series, including Butler's first published novel, Mind of My Mind. The only Patternist novel that is omitted is Survivor, which Butler herself disowned.

The novels are all rather short, so it makes sense to read them through in one long volume. They are also presented in chronological order in the collection, rather than in the order in which they were originally published in the 1970s: Wild Seed, Mind of My Mind, Clay’s Ark and Patternmaster. They relate a secret history spanning all of human history, from ancient times to the far future when humans have evolved to a nearly unrecognizable state. The novels follow two immortal telepaths, struggling to co-exist while one attempts to create an evolved version of humanity through selective breeding.

I was already a fan of Butler's when I picked up Seed to Harvest, and I found this series to be the weakest of her works, which makes sense, considering they were her earliest publications. Clay's Ark, set in a near-future similar to that of Parable of the Sower, was my favorite of the lot: dark, violent and ultimately rather hopeless. Still, none of the novels felt really complete on its own. It was clear that Butler was honing her chops with these early efforts. All that being said, even her mediocre books are fast and entertaining reads, with lots of interesting concepts to chew on, and I can recommend them. I'm also glad that these reissues can bring Butler to the attention of a whole new generation of readers. ( )
  sturlington | Mar 13, 2009 |
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Doro discovered the woman by accident when he went to see what was left of one of his seed villages.
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The Patternist series (also known as the Patternmaster series) is a group of science fiction novels by Octavia E. Butler that detail a secret history continuing into from the Ancient Egyptian period to the far future, involving telepathic mind control and an extraterrestrial plague. Patternmaster, Clay's Ark, Wild Seed, and Mind of My Mind were published in a single volume, Seed to Harvest.
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The Patternist series, originally published from 1977-1984, details a secret history continuing into from the Ancient Egyptian period to the far future that involves telepathic mind control and an extraterrestrial plague. A profile of Butler in Black Women in America notes that the themes of the series include "racial and gender-based animosity, the ethical implications of biological engineering, the question of what it means to be human, ethical and unethical uses of power, and how the assumption of power changes people."--Wikipedia.Wild seed: Doro is an entity who changes bodies like clothes, killing his hosts by reflex -- or design. He fears no one -- until he meets Anyanwu. Anyanwu is a shapeshifter who can absorb bullets and heal with a kiss...and savage anyone who threatens those she loves. She fears no one -- until she meets Doro. From African jungles to the colonies of America, Doro and Anyanwu weave together a pattern of destiny that not even immortals can imagine.Mind of my mind: A young ghetto telepath launches a psychic struggle against the four-thousand-year-old immortal who has been her father, lover, master, and creator to free her fellow telepaths.Clay's ark: Asa Elias Doyle and her companions encounter an alien life form so destructive that they exile themselves to the desert to avoid contaminating others, but their compulsion to infect others is overwhelming and, in a desperate plea for help, kidnap a doctor and his two daughters.Patternmaster: A telepathic race is ruled by the strong mind of the Patternmaster, but his ruthless son craves the ultimate power of the position and has murdered everyone who stands in his way except a final victim--his younger brother.… (more)

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