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Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Parable of the Sower (edition 1995)

by Octavia E. Butler

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,006841,899 (4.02)173
Title:Parable of the Sower
Authors:Octavia E. Butler
Info:Aspect (1995), Edition: Reprint, Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Your library
Tags:science fiction, hers

Work details

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

  1. 41
    The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (wonderlake)
    wonderlake: IMO Year of the Flood is a much superior book
  2. 30
    The Postman by David Brin (infiniteletters)
  3. 30
    The Girl Who Owned A City by O. T. Nelson (infiniteletters)
  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
    Into the Forest by Jean Hegland (GCPLreader)
  6. 10
    Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler (sturlington)
    sturlington: Sequel to Parable of the Sower
  7. 21
    How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (wonderlake)
    wonderlake: Strong female teenagers traverse war-torn environments in the near future
  8. 10
    The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (MyriadBooks)
  9. 00
    Morne Câpresse by Gisèle Pineau (Dilara86)
  10. 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.
  11. 00
    Galveston by Sean Stewart (amberwitch)
  12. 00
    Mind-Call by Wilanne Schneider Belden (infiniteletters)
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  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. 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
  17. 17
    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 173 mentions

English (82)  French (1)  Italian (1)  All (84)
Showing 1-5 of 82 (next | show all)
“All That You Touch,
You Change.

All That You Change
Changes You.
The Only Lasting Truth
Is Change.

is Change.
'Earthseed: The Books of the Living”

In this dystopian future set in 2024, society has slowly disintegrated due to increasing social problems as well as climate problems brought on by pollution. Only a lucky few still have jobs. The poor are starving and desperate, and murderous drug driven gangs control areas outside of fenced compounds. It's too dangerous to go outside the compound alone, so trips outside are carefully planned in groups with guns.

Everyone will be glad to know that box stores still exist as safe havens of capitalism, with gun guarded checkpoints to get in and nests of automatic weapons watching shoppers' every move.

Lauren lives with her family inside a fenced compound that used to be her middle class neighborhood.

Lauren is a deep thinking teenager. Her mother took designer drugs while pregnant with Lauren and, as a result, Lauren is hyper-empathetic, literally feeling others' physical pain. She's strong, reflective and wise beyond her years; spending time understanding and preparing for events she believes will come. She also questions what she knows about God and find he falls short in current religious philosophies, thereby creating her own new religion which she calls Earthseed.

Lots of thorny questions are addressed in the natural unfolding of the story. Is freedom more precious than safety? Where do race and age and children fit into this society? What kind of God exists in such misery?

I'll definitely be reading the sequel. ( )
  streamsong | Jan 19, 2017 |
This isn't a review so much as it is my emergent thoughts on this book, which I read for a genre fiction challenge in one of my groups, where the eligibility characteristics were that the author had to be a woman and had to be deceased.

I'm not sure what to rate it, but it certainly had a "wow" factor for me, especially given its publication date of 1993, which seems to predate the resurgence of post-apocalyptic lit by close to a decade. I also thought it was pretty interesting that, like Orwell's 1984, it's set in the near-term future - society seems to begin its collapse with the presidential election of 2016, which may make the book worth reading for that reason alone.

I have so many remaining questions about Butler's world - what is it like in the rest of the world? There are no references to a big apocalyptic event - no war, no plague, no zombies (thank God - I hate zombie books), no nuclear winter, no asteroid hitting Earth. It seems it all just fell apart. The world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper. I don't mind that the questions went unanswered, in a way, it is like Doctor Zhivago, a story centered on a single ordinary person living through big events but only seeing what is within her immediate purview because mass communication seems to have collapsed. But I still have the questions.

I feel like Lauren's hyperempathy is really just a distraction, adding little to the story. I loved the Earthseed theme, though, and thought Butler used it really well. It would have been sort of cool if she had actually published Earthseed: The Book of the Living as a prologue to the book. I thought that the use of the poems to begin the chapters was pretty effective. Lauren is a seer, and maybe that is a side effect of the hyperempathy, but I don't think so. I think she's just one of those people who sees because she is paying attention.

Anyway, I read very little sci fi because I don't really like it, and even less dystopian, because I am usually irritated by it. I don't think I can say I "loved" it, because it really isn't my thing. But as far as books that are not my thing go, this one was terrific. I'm engaged enough to want to read the sequel, and I will definitely read more Octavia Butler. ( )
  moonlight_reads | Dec 11, 2016 |
I so regret not reading this when I was an actual young adult. This blows all the apocalyptic books that millennials read these days out of the water. It's realistic, not cliche, has an extremely diverse cast of characters, and is unapologetic. Even though I'm an Atheist, the religious aspect didn't bother me at all.

It's kind of scary that the socioeconomic chaos that the United States is in in this book is not so far off from where we could end up especially considering the book's apocalypse began in 2016 after the elections. ( )
1 vote wildrequiem | Dec 3, 2016 |
My first time reading anything by Octavia Butler. What took me so long?!!

Parable of the Sower is a frightening depiction of civilization's decline in the aftermath of environmental and economic crises. From page one I was ready for the worst, on edge the entire journey. The night Lauren's home was invaded was horrific. Yet underneath the brutality was hope.

Lauren is now in my top five female protagonists in a post-apocalyptic / dystopian setting. Her hyperempathy intrigued me: the notion of being extremely sensitive to the feelings of others, to the point of bleeding if others are injured, has been one I've always wanted to see explored more often in fiction. Lauren is also exactly the kind of friend I would want: smart, straightforward, loyal unless you break her trust, rational, resourceful, and not overly sentimental or emotional.

The only aspect of the story with which I did not connect was Earthseed, the new religion that Lauren created. However, I respected her for sticking to her beliefs while at the same time building a community with the strangers she encountered on her mission. She didn't force Earthseed on these newcomers but she also didn't shy away from a discussion with naysayers.

Addresses (still current) issues like race, gender and class as well as the environment, privatization, and digitization. This book would be an excellent discussion starter. For example, I kept thinking about people of color who have already suffered in real life what the fictional Lauren and the people of her gated community experienced: their loved one leaving home for work or school to have them "vanish," never seeing them again, never knowing what happened to them, having to assume they'd been killed...

This is not a fun read but it's fast-paced, filled with real people, and explores a world we should all take a closer look at.

4.5 stars ( )
  flying_monkeys | Oct 19, 2016 |
"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


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 |
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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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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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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)

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