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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
2,837792,052 (4.04)155
Member:sturlington
Title:Parable of the Sower
Authors:Octavia E. Butler
Info:Aspect (2000), Trade paperback
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Rating:*****
Tags:fave author, dystopian-apocalyptic, diverse reading, empaths, African American, Earthseed sequence, California, reread in 2006

Work details

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

Recently added bydaeverett, raignn, rnbwpnt, Mingomadness24, cmllibrary, private library, juripakaste, phoenixseventh, cynrtst
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» See also 155 mentions

English (77)  French (1)  All languages (78)
Showing 1-5 of 77 (next | show all)
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 |
Compelling. I might read it again. ( )
  deckla | Apr 5, 2016 |
No one will be more surprised than I was that I enjoyed this novel at four stars; I read it for a group read, and at the beginning was sure it would rate no more than two stars. For one thing, the premise is not my cup of tea. For another thing, it took me quite some time to root for the protagonist, Lauren, since I didn’t warm up to her immediately. For the final reason, it was written in 1993 and set about ten years from where we are now, so already this won’t happen as written, because things would have to be different even now; it is usually a bit irksome to read novels like that, at least for me, although sometimes it can be rather interesting to think back on why someone would think that and set it now.

The book is set from 2025 to 2027 in California. Society is rapidly turning to anarchy; drought, poverty, a police force that charges fees to do nothing of any value, lack of education, jobs, a drug that turns people into pyromaniacs, murder, rape, starvation; virtually nothing is good. Lauren lives with her father, a Baptist minister, her step-mother and her younger siblings in a community that has been walled off to keep out arsonists, looters, rapists and so on. Her father still has a job as a college professor as well. From the start of the novel, Lauren is developing her own religion (this book goes from shortly before she turns 16 to the age of 18) and plans to help who she can even though she can see things are only going to become worse.

When her community is finally destroyed, she sets out on the road north from her neighbourhood near Los Angelos, with the one other survivor of her neighbourhood she sees. In addition to the struggles all are having, she suffers from hyperempathy, which means she feels both the pain and joy of others around her, making survival much more difficult since she will buckle with the same pain as that of an attacker she is fending off. There wasn’t anything about this book I would actually call science fiction, but it may be that later on in the series that will happen. But then, Octavia Butler didn’t set out calling her fiction scifi, either.

This book failed to get five stars from me due to the reasons I first thought it would get only two. But several things brought it up, not the least of which is that Butler could certainly write well and spin a story that kept me reading longer than I’d planned. The protagonist may be a teen, but this is not a young adult novel. While it is not extremely graphic, it still shows the brutality of many and doesn’t euphemize any of it. ( )
  Karin7 | Mar 21, 2016 |
Well deserved reputation as a fine SF novel. No real ending, but it was about the journey (I suppose). Liked it well enough to pick up another one of hers. ( )
  ndpmcIntosh | Mar 21, 2016 |
On second reading, I think Butler's riff on post-apocalyptic travails hit me harder than the first time. After seeing the devastation in New Orleans on television and talking to friends and others whose relatives made it out of the city, the concepts of civilisation falling apart and humanity's worst nature coming to the forefront seem a lot closer and more likely... events in general since I first read the book have certainly not reached anywhere close to what Butler predicts in this novel - (which is the United States falling into total economic collapse, with violent drug addicts and criminals preying on anyone weaker than themselves, citizens forming walled communities which are only temporary havens from the inevitable tide of violence, debt slavery growing, as rich corporations and exploiters from richer countries come in to use Americans as a disposable third-world workforce....) - but it seems more and more every day that this is a nation in decline.

Most post-apocalyptic tales feature some gigantic catastrophe - a nuclear attack or an asteroid hitting the earth, etc... but in Parable..., although global warming has rendered the south of the US a desert, and water is a precious commodity, there has been no single, sudden catastrophe - and other parts of the world, and even the USA's rich - are still doing fine... companies are coming out with new advances in entertainment technology, the government is even completing missions to Mars... it's been a gradual decline, with the masses left to fend for themselves if they can... and this makes it that much more terrifying a vision....

However, against the horrific backdrop of a cautionary tale, Butler's parable, which refers to the Biblical parable, but can also work as a parable for today, is a tale that is ultimately hopeful, as her heroine, Lauren Olamina, struggles to find a life for herself, along the way gathering to herself a group of decent people and persisting in trying to start her own religion/spiritual path called 'Earthseed,' still believing that humanity may have a great destiny among the stars. ( )
1 vote AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 77 (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.
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 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)

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