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Lilith's Brood by Octavia E. Butler
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Lilith's Brood (edition 2007)

by Octavia E. Butler

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1,450375,168 (4.26)65
Member:sturlington
Title:Lilith's Brood
Authors:Octavia E. Butler
Info:Warner Books (2007), Trade paperback
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Rating:****
Tags:Apocalyptic, Black American, Xenogenesis, women writers, omnibus, read in 2007

Work details

Lilith's Brood by Octavia E. Butler

  1. 10
    Kindred by Octavia E. Butler (jlparent)
    jlparent: Although not hard sci-fi like Lilith's Brood - this is Butler's most popular work and is a great read!
  2. 00
    Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (sturlington)
    sturlington: The aliens in Binti reminded me quite a bit of the aliens in Lilith's Brood.
  3. 06
    The Host by Stephenie Meyer (infiniteletters)
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Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
In Dawn, the first book of Octavia E. Butler’s Xenogenesis Trilogy published as one book with the title, Lilith’s Brood, Lilith awakes surprised to find herself alive. The world was ending, dying in the aftermath of nuclear war before she fell asleep and now here she was in a blank room, a cell where she was provided food and clothing, but little else. She slept and woke and slept and woke and eventually was joined by a creature so impossible that it must be alien, even though she rejects the idea. In time, she comes to understand who they are and what they expect of her.

It cannot be coincidence that her name is Lilith, the same as Adam’s first wife who abandoned him to lay with the unclean animals or demons. “Wildcats shall meet with desert beasts, satyrs shall call to one another; There shall the Lilith repose, and find for herself a place to rest.” Lilith is expected to waken and teach the other humans so they can resettle the earth and populate it again, though with xenogeneic offspring of humans and Oankali, the aliens who rescued humans and are rebuilding Earth for them.

But humans contain The Contradiction, the fatal flaw of both intellect and a need for hierarchy, a need to dominate that led to their destruction and, in the view of the Oankali, always will. No matter how many chances they get, human will destroy themselves. The Oankali hope to save them through xenogenesis, eliminating the Contradiction. The importance of the Contradiction and how that effects humanity’s chances to survive as a distinct, non-hybridized species is the central theme of the second book in the series, Adulthood Rites which focuses on Lilith’s son Akin.

Akin is stolen from his family by resisters, humans who refused the hybridized family life of the Oankali and live in isolated settlements. They are sterile and steal the Constructs, the xenogeneic children of humans and Oankali. His time with resisters gives him an understanding of their need to resist, their drive to survive as distinct, and understanding of the horrible pain of having no children. This persuades him that humans deserve another chance to have human children, another chance to survive their Contradiction.

Imago, the final book in the series focuses on two more of Lilith’s children. Oankali come in three genders, male, female and ooloi, the non-gendered generative glue of the five person Oankali/Human family unit. When they mature and go through metamorphosis, they discover who they will be and what gender they will have. Contrasts are always male or female. However, shockingly, Jadohs, the narrator of the third story, becomes ooloi and so does his sibling. Because ooloi can not only read genetic material but also manipulate it, the Oankali think it is too dangerous for Construct ooloi to be on the planet, but they do not want to be exiled to the ship. In this last book, they look for a new way forward for them and for humanity.

Lilith’s Brood is fascinating, one of those books that draw you in so that you resent interruptions like sleeping or eating or anything that interferes with reading. It took me a while to get into it, perhaps because Lilith was learning and so was I and for two long, the book was just about Lilith and the few Oankali who interacted with her, but when more characters were introduced, then it became more interesting and ultimately, captivating.

There are several themes explored in Lilith’s Brood. The central dilemma is the different understanding of survival that the humans and the Oankali have. The Oankali know that the human species will eventually destroy itself in warfare. They won’t learn from destroying themselves already. That they are only surviving because the Oankali saved them and rebuilt their planet will not change their propensity for violence and destruction. To the Oankali, they only way they can survive is through xenogenesis with the Oankali, producing this new hybrid that preserves both human and Oankali genes that will survive forever without that fatal Contradiction. To many humans, that is not survival, that is extinction. Oankali cannot really comprehend this concept. It can be explained, but not internalized emotionally, it makes no sense to the Oankali whose species is driven by the desire to accumulate new genes and change over time.

Gender plays a big role in Lilith’s Brood. That the Oankali have three genders would have been more revolutionary in the 1980s when the trilogy was written, but now college application forms have nine gender options. Of course, today there are still plenty of humans who insist there are only two, but they’re wrong and they’re losing. To me, the discomfort and dismay humans expressed over their emotional attachments seemed overblown. I think if they are mating in threes with a tentacled ooloi as the nexus, I think its neutral gender would be the least shocking thing. Butler also leaves no room for culture in the fostering of violence. Nature rules, sure, but nurture guides and directs. We are not fully products of biological determinism.

Xenophobia is also a central theme of the book, the constant fear of the other. Humans fear the Oankali, are repulsed by them. Yet, even with aliens controlling the planet, some humans still have time for race-based bigotry, an English village chasing a Portuguese man from their village because of his dark skin, for example. Humans really do quickly go back to tribalism and warfare. It’s all a very negative and depressing view of humanity, whose only hope is alien intervention. Given the state of the world, there may be some people who are hoping they will hurry.

★★★★
http://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpress.com/2016/12/03/liliths-brood-by-octavia-e... ( )
  Tonstant.Weader | Dec 3, 2016 |
Damn, this was good, and unlike anything I've ever read. Dealt with almost every social issue possible, and also with the questions of what it means to be human as well as questions of free will. Also just a really well written SFI-fi story. Have read "Kindred" and can't wait to read more. ( )
  abbeyhar | Nov 8, 2016 |
I've come to "science fiction"/ speculative fiction late in life, and so am still catching up on the "classics" such as the Lilith's Brood trilogy. I had previously read Butler's "Kindred," which is still my favorite, but the Lilith's Brood books are complex and written with her trademark visual richness, easily transporting you to these future worlds while retaining a grounding in the world (with its issues of race, gender, class, environmental degradation, militarism, violence) from which she speculates. I finished this book with a sense of hope (that we can overcome the tendency to hierarchical organization of our lives that is the central flaw the non-human Oankali are trying to help the surviving humans get past: "...the conflict in their genes--the new intelligence put at the service of ancient hierarchical tendencies."). It is the same sense of hope you get from reading Octavia Butler's "children"--the present day authors of Octavia's Brood. (Brian) ( )
  ShawIslandLibrary | Jul 29, 2016 |
This trilogy, (Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago - collectively known as Lilith's Brood), is a remarkable piece of work. Labeled as science fiction, it really transcends the genre. Set against a future tapestry where humanity has all but destroyed the Earth and itself, these stories are, at their core, an exploration of the human condition. Subtly shifting from a human perspective in the first book to an alien perspective in the third book, we find an examination of the unwilling integration of one species with another. An assimilation of those without power or choice by those who hold an overwhelming technological and physical advantage.

Unlike most stories about alien invasion, this is not a hostile takeover tale. The fact that the assimilation is performed in the spirit of 'trade', and with empathy and love, makes it ultimately that much more horrifying. ( )
  ScoLgo | Jun 15, 2016 |
This series is amazing. I am glad that I stumbled upon this series for my Modern and Contemporary Literature course. The series was first published as a three volumes of Xenogenisis: Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago. This set is out of print and was reprinted in 2000 as Lilith's Brood. Well worth anyone's times and I would highly recommend. It truly grasps the parallels of what the World Wars created in the ideas about modernism and the decline of humanity.

The series takes place in a World War III with nuclear weapons making the Earth uninhabitable, but at the time of our extinction, an alien race finds out planet and has hopes to save us from our destructive ways. The story primarily focuses Lilith, a human, through her journey of life changes with the Oankali. They have no plan on harming the humans, but do wish to separate out anyone who will continue their destructive ways. Most are stored in a "hibernation" until they can learn everything about humanity and the planet.

Lilith becomes the teacher of the humans, providing them knowledge on how to provide and live off the land. They are returning to primitive ways with no weapons in hope that they can learn lessons from their mistakes. The twist in the plot is when the Oankali inform the humans that they will breed with them to help genetically obtain peace within their population.

Both species need each other to survive. The Oankali find new planets and split their population into thirds allowing an unchanging group, one to breed with humans and continue searching the universe, and the last group to stay on Earth and continue their aid there. The humans do not openly accept this idea, especially since it means that they cannot conceive in the "natural" way that they see fit. Over the course of the series, this is a pivotal point in the alliance and peace between species.

There is love, loss, and new adventures, but also a hidden understanding that as humans we have a natural instinct of hierarchy that only continues our destructive impact on our history. It is full of twist and turns, engaging the reader into the book feeling like they are part of the story as well. I would give this overall set a 4 star rating since I did find that I enjoyed the first two books (5 Stars) more than the final (3 Stars). ( )
  Literature_Owl | May 27, 2016 |
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Epigraph
Dedication
In memory of Mike Hodel who,
through his READ/SF campaign
for literacy, sought to share
with everyone the pleasure and
usefulness of the written word.

(preceding Dawn)
To Lynn--
write!

(preceding Adulthood Rites)
To Irie Isaacs

(preceding Imago)
First words
Alive! (Dawn)
He remembered much of his stay in the womb. (Adulthood Rites)
I slipped into my metamorphosis so quietly that no one noticed. (Imago)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Lilith's Brood is a collection of three works by Octavia Butler: Dawn, Adulthood Rites and Imago. The three volumes of this science fiction series were previously collected in the now out of print volume, Xenogenesis.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0446676101, Paperback)

The acclaimed trilogy that comprises LILITH'S BROOD is multiple Hugo and Nebula award-winner Octavia E. Butler at her best. Presented for the first time in one volume, with an introduction by Joan Slonczewski, Ph.D., LILITH'S BROOD is a profoundly evocative, sensual -- and disturbing -- epic of human transformation.

Lilith Iyapo is in the Andes, mourning the death of her family, when war destroys Earth. Centuries later, she is resurrected -- by miraculously powerful unearthly beings, the Oankali. Driven by an irresistible need to heal others, the Oankali are rescuing our dying planet by merging genetically with mankind. But Lilith and all humanity must now share the world with uncanny, unimaginably alien creatures: their own children. This is their story...

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:05 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

All of humanity must share the world with uncanny, unimaginable alien creatures after war destroys Earth, in an omnibus edition containing three class science fiction novels--Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago. The acclaimed trilogy that comprises Lilith's Brood is multiple Hugo and Nebula award-winner Octavia E. Butler at her best. Presented for the first time in one volume, with an introduction by Joan Slonczewski, Ph.D., Lilith's Brood is a profoundly evocative, sensual--and disturbing--epic of human transformation. Lilith Lyapo is in the Andes, mourning the death of her family, when war destroys Earth. Centuries later, she is resurrected, by miraculously powerful unearthly beings, the Oankali. Driven by an irresistible need to heal others, the Oankali are rescuing our dying planet by merging genetically with mankind. But Lilith and all humanity must now share the world with uncanny, unimaginably alien creatures: Their own children. This is their story.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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