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Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
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Parable of the Sower (edition 1993)

by Octavia E. Butler

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,909831,985 (4.03)158
Member:sturlington
Title:Parable of the Sower
Authors:Octavia E. Butler
Info:Aspect (2000), Trade paperback
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:SF - Black, Earthseed, fave author, climate fiction, dystopia, women and girls, novel, reread in 2006

Work details

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler (Author)

  1. 30
    The Postman by David Brin (infiniteletters)
  2. 31
    The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (wonderlake)
    wonderlake: IMO Year of the Flood is a much superior book
  3. 31
    Into the Forest by Jean Hegland (GCPLreader)
  4. 20
    The Fifth Sacred Thing by Starhawk (espertus)
    espertus: Another post-apocalyptic feminist novel, although unlike in Parable of the Sower, the religion/magic is real, not symbolic.
  5. 31
    The Girl Who Owned A City by O. T. Nelson (infiniteletters)
  6. 10
    Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler (sturlington)
    sturlington: Sequel to Parable of the Sower
  7. 22
    When She Woke by Hillary Jordan (ellbeecee)
    ellbeecee: Near-future dystopian fiction that makes you consider what's going on and the various paths that could be taken.
  8. 11
    Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany (thesmellofbooks)
    thesmellofbooks: A very different dystopia written by a very different African-American science fiction writer. Yet the intensity and humanity of Parable of the Sower are present as well in this much older book.
  9. 00
    Galveston by Sean Stewart (amberwitch)
  10. 22
    How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (wonderlake)
    wonderlake: Strong female teenagers traverse war-torn environments in the near future
  11. 00
    Mara and Dann: An Adventure by Doris Lessing (amberwitch)
    amberwitch: Both featuring young female protagonists of colour, traveling north looking for a place to live after her society disintegrated, partially due to climatical changes.
  12. 00
    Morne Câpresse by Gisele Pineau (Dilara86)
  13. 00
    Mind-Call by Wilanne Schneider Belden (infiniteletters)
  14. 12
    Bel Canto by Ann Patchett (the_awesome_opossum)
    the_awesome_opossum: Both novels are about human connections formed in the face of unusual crises. Very competent and well-written, both books had much the same vibe about them
  15. 23
    World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks (storyjunkie)
    storyjunkie: Both are tales of how to survive a world gone mad, though there are no zombies in Butler's. Both works' treatment of the human questions are equally nuanced, variable, and detailed.
  16. 26
    Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (amberwitch)
    amberwitch: Both told as diaries written by young women growing up 'under siege'.
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» See also 158 mentions

English (81)  French (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (83)
Showing 1-5 of 81 (next | show all)
"I stared down the hill from our camp where just a glint of water was visible in the distance through the trees and bushes. The world is full of painful stories. Sometimes it seems as though there aren’t any other kind and yet I found myself thinking how beautiful that glint of water was through the trees."

There is only one word to describe the world that Butler built in Parable of the Sower and that word is

BRUTAL.

I recently read a review of one of her other books, Kindred, in which the reviewer used the same word, and I was wondering if that really could be an appropriate description because, after all, a book is just words on a page right? What could possible be so bad about that?

And then I started reading The Parable of the Sower, Butler's story set in California in 2024, where communities rely on walls to keep them safe from wild animals, robbery, rape, and murder. But of course, walls are made to crumble. Communities disperse or are erased, and all that is left is a dog eat dog world.

"Civilization is to groups what intelligence is to individuals. It is a means of combining the intelligence of many to achieve ongoing group adaptation."

What made this book special for me was its immediacy. The book was published in 1993, but is set in a 2024 that is not all that futuristic. There are no clocks striking thirteen. The only thing that has advanced are drugs. I was going to add 'human atrocities' but they have remained the same throughout time, they just disappear from focus, are kept outside the walls of social order. In this sense, The Parable of the Sower, tears down the illusion that social order is ever stable and that social constructs that are based on ideologies or intangible ideas are of any use to man when faced with a battle for survival.

I guess from the setting, the description of looting and arson, and the depiction of the police as corrupt and untrustworthy, that Butler may have drawn some inspiration from the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Remembering the images of the time and having seen similar events unfold in more recent years, Butler really captures the volatility of society in this novel.

Fortunately, however, in her motley crew of main characters, Butler also captures some of that human spirit that fights against this brutality and that has compassion for its fellow beings and draws strength from the support of and belief in mankind. There may be few of them, but given a chance they are set to thrive, much like the seeds that hit a fertile ground.

I am sorry if I have waffled my way through this review but The Parable of the Sower was one of those books that just provides so much food for thought. For all its brutality and distressing scenes and descriptions, it was a gripping read and I am looking forward to reading more by the author. ( )
  BrokenTune | Aug 21, 2016 |
In a disturbingly plausible near future where government services have faltered and people are basically left to fend for themselves, Lauren, a teenage girl, has a realistic view of her future and is preparing for the worst. While she's honing her survival skills, she also creates a new religion which she calls Earthseed. The main tenet of her religion is that God is change.

From what others have told me, this book should not be sold as a stand-alone - apparently all of the complaints I have about the first book are resolved in the second.

So having said that, here are my complaints.

My biggest problem is that Lauren's religion is completely implausible. Lauren does not have the charisma or the power of a prophet. She comes across as just a girl who thought of some stuff and wrote it down. It does not seem believable that so many people would follow her leadership and start to believe in her religion.

Lauren's empathy also bothered me, but mostly because it is mis-named. When she called it "empathy," I assumed it was an emotional connection with the people around her. Instead, it is entirely physical, and only works with people she can see. So if she sees someone with a wound, she feels their pain. This is treated rather inconsistently throughout the book, like Butler didn't really think through all the implications of it.

Unfortunately, this book didn't leave me wanting more, so I don't have any plans to read the second book, even though that might change my opinion. ( )
  Gwendydd | Jun 16, 2016 |
I'm glad I finally read [Parable of the Sower]. It was published in 1993, but it's so timely now: It's set it a world of runaway global warming, a wrecked economy, eroding labor laws, police corruption, and hostility towards migrants. The protagonist develops her own worldview while learning how to build and maintain a community when everything's falling apart. I cared about the characters and hope everything works out for them. I look forward to seeing what happens next in [Parable of the Talents]. ( )
  lavaturtle | Jun 3, 2016 |
Parable of the Sower – Octavia Butler
4 stars

Imagine you live in Southern California. It’s the year 2025. Global warming has devastated the environment; the economy has collapsed. Drug abuse has created roving bands of dangerous lunatics. Police and fire protection is limited and costly. Only one adult in four has a paying job. Compulsory public education is gone. Travel out of fortified communities is dangerous. Food is scarce; water costs more than food. And things are getting worse. Welcome to the world of Lauren Olamina.

Octavia Butler has created a scary, scary future. I find dystopian literature to be very depressing. Not my favorite genre. This book was no different for me. Personal feelings aside, the writing is brilliant. Lauren Olamina is a compelling character. She is a gritty, unrelenting realist. She is also a compassionate, determined visionary. The book is worth reading for this character alone.
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
Well-written with many of the same themes present in Butler's other books. Empathy and healing play major roles as well as indoctrination and violence. ( )
  kristina_brooke | Apr 15, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 81 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Butler, Octavia E.Authorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gyan, DeborahCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Palencar, John JudeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Puckey, DonCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Prodigy is, at its essence, adaptability and persistent, positive obsession. Without persistence, what remains is an enthusiasm of the moment. Without adaptability, what remains may be channeled into destructive fanaticism. Without positive obsession, there is nothing at all. -- EARTHSEED: THE BOOKS OF THE LIVING by Lauren Oya Olamina
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
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I had my recurring dream last night.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Set in a dystopian future, Parable of the Sower centers on a young woman who possesses what Butler dubbed as hyperempathy – the ability to feel the perceived pain and other sensations of others – who develops a benign philosophical and religious system during her childhood in the remnants of a gated community in Los Angeles. Civil society is near collapse due to resource scarcity and poverty. When the community's security is compromised, her home is destroyed and her family murdered. She travels north with some survivors to try to start a community where her religion, called Earthseed, can grow.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0446675504, Paperback)

Octavia E. Butler, the grande dame of science fiction, writes extraordinary, inspirational stories of ordinary people. Parable of the Sower is a hopeful tale set in a dystopian future United States of walled cities, disease, fires, and madness. Lauren Olamina is an 18-year-old woman with hyperempathy syndrome--if she sees another in pain, she feels their pain as acutely as if it were real. When her relatively safe neighborhood enclave is inevitably destroyed, along with her family and dreams for the future, Lauren grabs a backpack full of supplies and begins a journey north. Along the way, she recruits fellow refugees to her embryonic faith, Earthseed, the prime tenet of which is that "God is change." This is a great book--simple and elegant, with enough message to make you think, but not so much that you feel preached to.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:06 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

In 2025 California, an eighteen-year-old African American woman, suffering from a hereditary trait that causes her to feel others' pain as well as her own, flees northward from her small community and its desperate savages.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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