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Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Parable of the Sower (edition 1995)

by Octavia E. Butler

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2,711702,176 (4.06)150
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

  1. 30
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    The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (wonderlake)
    wonderlake: IMO Year of the Flood is a much superior book
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  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.
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    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.
  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. 00
    Mind-Call by Wilanne Schneider Belden (infiniteletters)
  10. 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
  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. 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.
  13. 00
    Morne Câpresse by Gisele Pineau (Dilara86)
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    Galveston by Sean Stewart (amberwitch)
  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. 16
    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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Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
I have read many dystopic post-apocalyptic novels, some of which are classics. Some of those, written before Parable of the Sower, include I Am Legend, A Canticle for Liebowitz, The Stand, and The Postman. I did not find anything that made this book stand out from all the rest of those that I have read. The protagonist, Lauren Olamina, is appealing except for her need for religion. And not the religion of her parents (her father was a Baptist minister), but a new religion that is described this way by a character, Bankhole, who has become her closest friend:
"It sounds like some combination of Buddhism, existentialism, Sufism, and I don't know what else, he said." (p 261)

By this point in the story Lauren has escaped from her besieged home and, joining with a small like-minded group, been on a journey from southern California to some point north of Sacramento. Along the way, and even before, she has been developing a new religion called Earthseed that provides the belief system that she appears to require to support her quest for peace and freedom. She describes the religion this way:
"The essentials are to learn to shape God with forethought, care, and work; to educate and benefit their community, their families, and themselves; and to contribute to the fulfillment of the Destiny." (p 261)
She goes on to make the claim that Earthseed is what "kept her going." I will leave it to other readers to find out if that will be the case.

The bulk of the story is about avoiding the terrors of gangs of marauders that seem to have taken over most of California. It is told in the form of a journal, the journal of Lauren Olamina. Civil society has reverted to relative anarchy due to resource scarcity and poverty. Notably there is no plague, no invasion, no war. Things get a little bit worse each day, people get a little more desperate, the first few breakdowns are fixed, and then it becomes harder and harder to fix everything. Missing is an explanation why this is happening and how widespread it may be. There is also an inexplicable lack of real change as the novel proceeds toward its end. Lauren is her same empathetic self (she has a special gift for extreme empathy) and she is surrounded by a group of peaceful like-minded people. Her religion has not seemed to make a difference and wile the group is relatively safe for the moment, one is not sure how long that moment will last.

This is not a typical dystopia. It is the first-person journals of a teenager and then a woman who saw that things were getting worse, prepared herself as best she could, and went on a journey in order to survive. The book is successful, if it is that, in only a limited way for this one group of survivors. The rest of the world may or may not continue to implode. ( )
  jwhenderson | Nov 23, 2015 |
Discussed on the A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast, episode 55.

  ScottDDanielson | Oct 23, 2015 |
The novel begins in a small walled compound of about 12 houses in Robledo, a suburb of Los Angeles, in July 2024. The compound is walled because the world outside has become desperate and dangerous. California suffers from a prolonged drought: there are few jobs to be had; any semblance of a social safety net has crumbled and gangs roam the streets; everyone has guns in their houses; towns have been taken over by companies and debt slavery has been legalized.

Lauren Oya Olamina, 15 years old, the daughter of a professor/Baptist minister has learned the arts of survival from her father, step-mother and books. Quietly she has renounced her father's religion and created her own based on the idea of constant change. Coming to the realization that things are getting worse, she has packed a knapsack with emergency supplies, plantable raw seeds and her savings.

When the inevitable disaster comes, she heads north, gathering a small band of fellows with her. Butler's tale is a dystopian fable told by a young woman with a determination to survive. Parable of the Sower is followed by Parable of the Talents -- which I shall read as I found the first novel absorbing, while no dazzling as literature. ( )
  janeajones | Aug 8, 2015 |
Slow paced yet provocative story about Sci-fi and religion. Apocalyptic conditions give rise to religious thoughts from a YA perspective. The story takes place in a California that is suffering drought, drug epidemics, economic and social breakdown. An eighteen year old woman escapes from her firebombed gated community to start a trek and build a community of Earthseed based on the idea that "God is Change." ( )
  joeydag | Jul 23, 2015 |
One of the most powerful and depressing dystopian novels I've read.

The biblical parable of the sower referenced in the title is included late in the book - it draws the threads of the plot together after the fact, inviting the readers to see the various characters as seeds thrown by chance and change ('God', as the narrator understands God) into the various circumstances of the plot. Or perhaps the gatherings of characters are seeds, rather than the individual characters themselves. But the term 'parable' also captures another quality of the book: it is a kind of fable, with aspects of the story-world exaggerated or downplayed to let the book's themes show more strongly. For example, characters in the narrator's circle are far more likely to show kindness or mercy than characters outside. That's not particularly plausible - in fact, the vision of human nature in the book is relentlessly grim except for people in the narrator's semi-charmed circle - but it heightens the impact of the dystopia and the collapse of civil society and family that drives the plot. Similarly, the narrator is far too articulate and well-read to be convincing as a 15 year old in the early journal entries, but that's not really the point; the voice carries a wonderful depth of analysis, and doesn't need to be strictly plausible to be effective.

I can also see why readers love this book for its racially diverse characters, and for its affirmation of a multiracial society. Over and over, the narrator notes that interracial couples or groups face greater suspicion or hostility from other groups in the book's post-apocalyptic setting. And yet, the characters stay together, doing what they can to find a new future for themselves. ( )
1 vote bezoar44 | Jul 9, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

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.
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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.

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