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Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Parable of the Sower (edition 1993)

by Octavia E. Butler

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2,560622,350 (4.07)138
Title:Parable of the Sower
Authors:Octavia E. Butler
Info:Aspect (2000), Trade paperback
Collections:Your library, Favorites, Key books
Tags:Dystopia, Feminist SF, African American, Women, Quests, 1990s, 2006

Work details

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

  1. 40
    The Girl Who Owned A City by O. T. Nelson (infiniteletters)
  2. 30
    The Postman by David Brin (infiniteletters)
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    The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (sturlington)
  4. 30
    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. 20
    The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (wonderlake)
    wonderlake: IMO Year of the Flood is a much superior book
  6. 31
    Into the Forest by Jean Hegland (GCPLreader)
  7. 21
    How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (wonderlake)
    wonderlake: Strong female teenagers traverse war-torn environments in the near future
  8. 10
    Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler (sturlington)
  9. 10
    Soft Apocalypse by Will Mcintosh (sturlington)
  10. 21
    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.
  11. 10
    Galveston by Sean Stewart (amberwitch)
  12. 21
    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.
  13. 10
    Mind-Call by Wilanne Schneider Belden (infiniteletters)
  14. 10
    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.
  15. 11
    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
  16. 01
    Morne Câpresse by Gisele Pineau (Dilara86)
  17. 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.
  18. 16
    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 138 mentions

English (61)  French (1)  All languages (62)
Showing 1-5 of 61 (next | show all)
When I read The Parable of the Talents before reading this book, I was afraid that I would be a little disappointed when I went back. I am, a little, but I wonder if I would have liked them better if I had read them in the correct order.

There is much of what I liked in The Parable of the Talents here, including how prescient it still seems fourteen years later. However, something about it seems less unified. Possibly it's because the bad times are really just beginning. Things have been going downhill for years with the climate and water shortages, and Lauren has been living in her walled neighborhood because of it, but the head of what will become known as Christian America is just becoming the president, and company towns run under slave-like conditions are just emerging. In general, the dangers Lauren and the rest of her group face are more in the way of random encounters along the road than a strong, centralized system. This might be what gives the entire story more the feeling of a series of events than a story with a beginning and an end. (Of course, it was not the end, but Butler didn't mean for The Parable of the Talents to be the end of the series, either, and its ending still felt satisfying.) ( )
  Unreachableshelf | Oct 19, 2014 |
Very interesting. She didn't delve into the political which is what brought this book up from 2 stars to 3. The story was a little flat, but the events are vivid and it really makes one think about what one might do in similar circumstances.

I can tell I would hold Ms Butler's political views in revulsion, but the fact that she chose to just tell a compelling story (albeit rather flatly)without getting into why, to me was a teastment to her story telling ability.

It's too bad I found the underlying premise a little lame.

( )
  DanielAlgara | Sep 26, 2014 |
Warning. Contains spoilers. But no more spoil-y than what is already on the back cover of the book.

I was having a conversation with Matt Peters about non-white-male voices in science fiction, and was quite embarrassed to have to admit that I'd never read any Butler. He recommended Kindred and Fledgling, but as I already had both of the Parables books on my shelves, I started here instead. I had previously tried to read one of these, but couldn't get into it, but now it was high time to give her a second try.


Okay, so the beginning is a little grim and depressing. It's dystopian! Like that's scared me off before? It certainly didn't this time. I was entranced, in love, almost from the first page. I love it so fiercely that it's hard for me to talk about intelligently.

What is terrifying about Butler's dystopia is how close, how possible, how real it is. There probably are people living in communities as Lauren's walled community, right now. It's just not the United States. Not yet. But in this future, no one big thing pushed the United States of the now into the United States of this vision. It's a slow slide of climate change, privatization and the erosion of the public sphere -- until people find themselves imperiled unless they are behind a very high wall with razor wire. Wit h no schools, jobs disappearing, no police presence that does any good. And the slide is still happening -- whole towns sold off to corporations and people rushing in to become debt slaves because at least it's a job, with a roof over your head.

Lauren is one of the few who sees what is happening and doesn't look away. She is determined to be prepared, to not be a victim. And when her little gated community is burned to the ground, she is one of the few who survives. But she isn't interested in mere survival. She has a vision. Of God as Change, and a potential for humanity that she is determined to see won. But how can one person, homeless, with only the pack on their back, bring about such change?

I loved, loved, LOVED this book. And was very glad that the sequel was immediately at hand so that I could dive right in. ( )
  greeniezona | Sep 20, 2014 |
I like how Octavia Butler writes. It’s almost a non-style, crisp and honest, evenly paced and matter of factly. It is what it is, like. For a story like this, a pre-apocalypse, relying on events themselves hitting the reader, it’s extremely effective.

Lauren grows up as the daughter of the minister in a walled community outside Los Angeles. The United States is crumbling fast – global warming is eroding the coastline and burning away the crops, the last scraps of welfare are all but collapsed. The gap between those who have, however little, and those who don’t. is getting more and more acute. Police and fire department are privatized and corrupt. The states up north are closing the borders. Inflation is huge, and bartering is taking over as the means of trade. It’s the last twitches of an imploding capitalist nation.

This, coming into the story as the apocalpyse is about to happen, strikes me as refreshingly unusual. It reminds me of ”Things we didn’t see coming” by Steve Amsterdam, but without the same scope in time. Stylistically and storywise, it’s impossible not to think about ”The Road”.

For of course Lauren’s community breaks down, stormed by hateful hungry looters in the night, and she is forced out in the world on her own. With her she carries just the emergency supplies, a few other saurvivors and the slivers of a new faith. For Lauren has had a revelation of sorts, a blasphemous idea, and she can’t help but thinking that it makes sense.

The book then deals with her travelling north, following the streams of refugees on the highways, meeting more people and starting a community of sorts. It’s often hard reading, in a horribly calm sort of way. This world is incredibly tough, especailly for children, and any reader should be warned of that. But there is more hope and dignity here than in ”The road” for instance, a hope of humankind actually being able to learn something. Occasionally, it’s subtly beautiful.

Written in 1993, this, sadly, feels incredibly visionary. This is pretty close to where the western world is heading if we don’t make some very radical changes very soon, I’m sure. Parable of the sower serves as both a robust alarm clock and a small injection of hope. I’m both eager and a little scared to read the sequel. ( )
4 vote GingerbreadMan | May 27, 2014 |
200 Billion Stars

Lauren Olamina isn't like the other kids in her neighborhood, a walled-off city block in Robledo, just twenty miles outside of Los Angeles. Born to a drug-addicted mother, Lauren is afflicted with hyperempathy - the ability to share in the pain and pleasure of others, whether she wants to or not. This makes her an especially easy target for bullies - brother Keith used to make her bleed for fun when they were younger - so Lauren's weakness is a carefully guarded secret, one shared only with her family. In this crumbling world, a near-future dystopia that's all to easy to imagine, humans already devour their own: literally as well as figuratively. Lauren won't make herself an easy meal.

As if her hyperempathy isn't alienating enough, Lauren has another secret, one that she only shares with her diary. The daughter of a Baptist preacher, Lauren no longer believes in her father's god. Instead, she's cultivating her own system of belief - Earthseed:

All that you touch
You Change.

All that you Change
Changes you.

The only lasting truth
Is Change.

Is Change.

Lauren gathers these verses into a book that she comes to think of as "The Books of the Living." Her new religion? Earthseed. Its destination? The stars.

Parable of the Sower is Lauren's journal (of a sort). Begun on the eve of her 15th birthday and concluding more than three years later, through her diary we witness the collapse of Lauren's fragile world. In a country wracked by poverty, climate change, mass unemployment, homelessness, drug abuse, class warfare, and unspeakable violence, Lauren's small community is a fortress of sorts. Though they're far from well-off, the diverse neighborhood manages to produce enough food and goods (and occasionally for-pay labor) to sustain itself. The residents put personal animosity aside to protect and care for one another: rotating night watches keep would-be thieves at bay; when one resident's garage catches fire, everyone becomes a firefighter; and Lauren's step-mom Cory schools the neighborhood kids in her own home, since it's too dangerous to venture outside the walls.

It's not much, but it's home. But even at the tender age of 15, Lauren can see it unraveling: "We'll be moved, all right. It's just a matter of when, by whom, and in how many pieces." (page 136)

After a series of blows - the disappearance of Lauren's father; several successful infiltrations by thieves; a fire that claims all but one member of its household - Lauren's community finally falls. Drugged out on "pyro," a group of painted arsonists torch the neighborhood, killing and raping its residents. Lauren is just one of three to escape. Along with Zahra - the youngest of Richard Moss's wives - and fellow teenager Harry, they hit the road in search of water and work. A safe place to pitch their (proverbial) tent. And, for Lauren, a safe haven in which to establish the very first Earthseed community.

Parable of the Sower is a must read. A straight-up masterpiece. Originally published in 1993, it's still painfully relevant - and painfully realistic - today. (Even as the gap between present and future has narrowed to a scant ten years; Parable of the Sower takes place between July 20, 2024 and October 1, 2027.) Butler weaves together myriad social and environmental justice issues into a powerful social critique that feels neither forced nor preachy. Antebellum slavery, indentured servitude, police abuse, sundown towns, the underground railroad, the conflict between security and privacy, the privatization of public resources, polygamy, human trafficking, sexual slavery, child rape, border wars, water scarcity, passing as male - all of these and more merit a mention (or sometimes many mentions) in Parable of the Sower.

Butler's also created a cast that's not only incredibly diverse - but also mostly lacking in white protagonists. (How refreshing!) In this future America, racism is alive and well: neighborhoods often segregate themselves according to race, making Lauren's mixed-race home an anomaly. (Lauren is black, with half-brothers who are of African American and Mexican American descent.) As her mixed-race, mixed-gender group of refugees/would-be converts trek through California, they earn more than their fair share of suspicious stares. In a world where people distrust those who don't look like them, Lauren's community's principle of "we all look out for each other" is a source of confusion - and not a little hostility.

After finishing Parable of the Sower, I was pissed - pissed that I wasn't taught Butler in high school, right alongside Atwood and in lieu of the half dozen+ works of Shakespeare I labored through. (Someone please tell me this has changed?) My first Butler book was Lilith's Brood, which I loved; Parable of the Sower is even better! I think I was more easily able to relate to the characters and the situations in which they found themselves minus the alien elements of Lilith's Brood. Parable of the Sower is just a more accessible and easily-imaginable story.

I was worried that I might be put off by the more religious aspects of the Earthseed series, which is one reason why I put off reading it. Instead, I found Lauren's new religion rather enchanting, and well in keeping with my own beliefs. (Two words: starstuff and dust.) More of a philosophy than a religion per se, Earthseed posits that the ultimate truth is change: everything changes. Change is constant. Change is unstoppable. Sometimes we can mold change; other times, change molds us. Rather than fight change, shape it when you can; when you can't, bend to its will as needed. God is not a person; rather, God is change personified. Because a humanoid deity is what people have come to expect from their religion, Lauren makes the tactical decision to give it to them. Fellow traveler Bankle describes Lauren's new religion as a blend of Buddhism, existentialism, and Sufism.

Just as God is change, Heaven is the stars: it is Earthseed's destiny to travel to the stars and settle other planets in the universe. Humanity's past is here on Earth; its future is there in the stars. As much as I love the idea, this is where I must part ways with Earthseed: humans have already destroyed one planet, and I'd rather not see it do the same to any others.

Parable of the Sower gets 200 billion stars: one for each star in the Milky Way.

http://www.easyvegan.info/2014/05/14/parable-of-the-sower-by-octavia-butler/ ( )
  smiteme | May 3, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Octavia E. Butlerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gyan, DeborahCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Palencar, John JudeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Puckey, DonCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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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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.
Haiku summary

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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:04:36 -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.

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