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Parable of the Talents (1998)

by Octavia E. Butler

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Earthseed (2)

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2,859814,020 (4.05)187
It is 2032 and Lauren Olamina's daughter Larkin narrates the story of her mother's life as she spreads the word of her Earthseed philosophy. As Larkin describes how they attain their goal of reaching the stars, she denounces her mother.
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» See also 187 mentions

English (78)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (80)
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
This is the second book in the Earthseed duology and it’s as good as the first one and well worth reading. Even though the third book was never completed, these two stand on their own and the ending is good enough even if it is a bit open. In the case of this book, Asha Vere’s arc feels a bit incomplete, but the character work is good enough for the reader to imagine with some level of accuracy what happens to her after there are no more pages left to read.

The first book is about Lauren Olamina that invented a new religion. In this one we follow her daughter as she reads her mother’s journal entries about the events that happened after the first book. So, this book has two narrators, but we mainly continue Lauren’s story.

Like in the first book, there are many clever observations about society, politics and religion. This book feels so real that I hesitate to call it a dystopia. It addresses homophobia, children being taken from their parents in order to be educated as christian, rape, the hypocrisy of the church and other such topics. It’s an heavy read, but a necessary one.

The only complain I have about this book is that there is a lot of telling instead of showing. This is an issue I have with the second half of the first book too, but it’s even more noticeable here. Due to this, a lot of the secondary characters were forgetable even though there are some really complex and strong ones in this text.

Overall, the good outweights the bad by a lot so this is still an excellent book that more people should read. ( )
  elderlingfae | Aug 11, 2022 |
Butler setti þessa framtíðarbók í náinni framtíð þar sem lesendur þekkja mörg vandamálin og hætturnar sem hafa yfirtekið samfélagið. Kristin öfgasamtök hafa náð völdum í Bandaríkjunum og réttindi annarra eru fótum troðin. Aðalsöguhetjurnar úr fyrri bókinni sem flúið höfðu eyðileggingu samfélags síns eru fönguð og þrælkuð þar sem þau stunda ekki rétta trú.
Við þekkjum þessa vá nú þegar og Butler tekur hana skrefi lengra í þessari fantafínu framtíðarhrollvekju. Frábær bók. ( )
  SkuliSael | Apr 28, 2022 |
Summary: The growth and heartbreaking destruction of Acorn, the Earthseed community founded by Lauren Olamina, and how Earthseed rose from the ashes.

In Parable of the Sower (review at https://bobonbooks.com/2020/04/03/review-parable-of-the-sower/) Octavia Butler creates a leader, Lauren Olamina, of a new religious movement in a dystopian America, and describes how she gathers a band of refugees into Acorn, a community formed around the principles of Earthseed. This work continues that story through the narration of Lauren’s daughter, who eventually, with the help of her uncle found her mother’s religious writings and journals, after being abducted as an infant by the extremist wing of a Christian nationalist group.

The chapters of the book begin with an Earthseed verse, then a section in bold print by daughter Asha Vere (born Larkin) followed by journal entries of Lauren that tell the story of the growth and heart-breaking destruction of Acorn, and what followed. Acorn was the place where Lauren and her husband Bankole built a community of refugees on his land and formulated the teachings of Earthseed, gradually drawing convinced adherents. Everyone worked and contributed, children were taught, and products of quality were sold in neighboring towns. She began to think about how they could send people out to teach Earthseed elsewhere. Amid this, the child they hoped for so long was born, who they named Larkin.

Meanwhile, Christian America, a church-based nationalist movement with political aspirations gained increasing sway in a country that wasn’t working. They brought order, housed the homeless, and their leader, Jarrett, became president on a platform of restoring American greatness by cleansing the country of all “heathen” beliefs. Her half-brother Marcos, rescued from slavers, refuses to join Earthseed, drawn by Christian America and his desire to preach. Bankole sees what is happening and wants to take Lauren and Larkin to a quiet town. Lauren refuses, convinced of the truth of Earthseed and the potential of a movement that would eventually take the human race to the stars.

Until, that is, the Crusaders, a radical arm of Christian America come, seize Acorn, imprisoning the men and women separately, and taking all the children away, placing them with adoptive parents, including Larkin. The adults were all “collared” with electronic collars. Bankole dies during the attack as does Olamina’s close childhood friend Zahra. They are supposedly being “re-educated” but no one succeeds in being released. Women are assaulted by their Christian captors and expected to be submissive.

How they escaped, overcoming their captors, and how Earthseed arose out of the ashes occupies the later part of the book. It comes down to Lauren’s “talents,” her abilities to lead and persuade people to follow, not blindly, but willingly. It also has to do with her “magnificent obsession” that she pursues, even when her brother won’t follow, or face the evils Christian America had perpetrated. Likewise, she seeks her daughter for years, but ironically, it is Marcos who finds her, misleads her about her mother and educates her, showing her love her adoptive family never did and her mother never could.

There is so much here. Butler presciently anticipates the Christian nationalism and demagoguery of our own day and its appeal, as well as the xenophobia of anything that is “other” and the subjugation of women. That is chilling. Equally interesting is her exploration of what it means to be a founder of a religious group, to know to the core of one’s being that a revelation is true, and how one cannot do other than pursue what one knows in one’s being is true. Persecution, the loss of family, and arduous work are all part of it, but also the forming of a community of the convinced.

Butler is a compelling but uneasy read. There are brutal and heartbreaking passages, but also much to provoke thought. In a sense, these books might also be parables that might come with the words of the greatest parable-teller, “Let the one who has ears, hear.” ( )
  BobonBooks | Apr 25, 2022 |
Shit, y'all got to read this. Written twenty? or so years ago and SPOT ON political precognition. The populist demagogue running for president has a slogan you'd recognize. Once in power (that's not a spoiler), he institutes a child separation program tearing babies from the arms of nursing mothers. The parallels are amazing and chilling.

That's not the story though. The story is big, practically multi-generational, and you know what? I bet Jemisin was really strongly inspired by this series (duology?) I see so many threads, moods, plot devices mirrored between this and the Broken Earth trilogy. And it's great. ( )
  Luminous-Path | Mar 26, 2022 |
Sequel, not as personally enthralling as Parable of the Sower but still very good. Having her granddaughter's commentary interspersed, while adding some missing elements of Lauren's life, was somewhat interruptive. And with the reiteration that the true purpose of Earthseed was to leave the earth, this novel loses its power as a model to reform our society on earth.
Reviewed over a month from reading, I can't provide more reaction. Donating to a Little Free Library--not powerful enough to keep in my collection, but may inspire others. ( )
  juniperSun | Feb 9, 2022 |
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Butler, Octavia E.primary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blackford, JohnCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Flaster, AnnetteCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnson, Sisi AishaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Palencar, John JudeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Puckey, DonCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sutherland, CharlesDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tate, IawaTraductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Van Ryn, AudeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Here we are—
Energy,
Mass,
Life,
Shaping life,
Mind,
Shaping Mind,
God,
Shaping God.
Consider—
We are born
Not with purpose,
But with potential.

From EARTHSEED: THE BOOKS OF THE LIVING
by Lauren Oya Olamina
Dedication
To my aunts Irma Harris and Hazel Ruth Walker, and in memory of my mother Octavia Margaret Butler
First words
They'll make a god of her.
Quotations
Information from the French Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Au fil des siècles, nous n'avons cessé de retomber dans les mêmes ornières. L'univers physique nous est de plus en plus familier, les progrès accomplis dans la connaissance du corps humain sont prodigieux, sciences et technologies ne cessent d'avancer à pas de géant, pourtant notre histoire résonne du fracas d'empires édifiés dans la violence, puis détruits à leur tour. Les enfants s'enflamment au sujet de guerres absurdes, de plus en plus meurtrières, qui sèment la famine, la maladie, sans perler des germes du conflit suivant. Jetant un coup d'œil rétrospectif sur ces désastres en cascade, les hommes se contentent de hausser les épaules. Ainsi va l'Histoire, disent-ils, fataliste. Depuis l'aube de la création, et nous n'y pouvons rien.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

It is 2032 and Lauren Olamina's daughter Larkin narrates the story of her mother's life as she spreads the word of her Earthseed philosophy. As Larkin describes how they attain their goal of reaching the stars, she denounces her mother.

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Book description
Parable of the Talents (the sequel to Parable of the Sower) tells the story of how, as the U.S. continues to fall apart, the protagonist's community is attacked and taken over by a bloc of religious fanatics who inflict brutal atrocities.

Accelerated Reader Level 5.9, 21 pts.
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