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Dawn (1987)

by Octavia E. Butler

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Xenogenesis (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,8791094,060 (4.02)162
An alien race calls on one woman to revive mankind after Earth's apocalypse in this science fiction classic from the award-winning author of Parable of the Sower.   Lilith Iyapo has just lost her husband and son when atomic fire consumes Earth--the last stage of the planet's final war. Hundreds of years later Lilith awakes, deep in the hold of a massive alien spacecraft piloted by the Oankali--who arrived just in time to save humanity from extinction. They have kept Lilith and other survivors asleep for centuries, as they learned whatever they could about Earth. Now it is time for Lilith to lead them back to her home world, but life among the Oankali on the newly resettled planet will be nothing like it was before.   The Oankali survive by genetically merging with primitive civilizations--whether their new hosts like it or not. For the first time since the nuclear holocaust, Earth will be inhabited. Grass will grow, animals will run, and people will learn to survive the planet's untamed wilderness. But their children will not be human. Not exactly. Featuring strong and compelling characters and exploring complex themes of gender and species, Octavia E. Butler presents a powerful, postapocalyptic interplanetary epic, as well as a ray of hope for humanity.   This ebook features an illustrated biography of Octavia E. Butler including rare images from the author's estate. … (more)
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» See also 162 mentions

English (102)  Finnish (2)  Catalan (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (106)
Showing 1-5 of 102 (next | show all)
Good story, good narration. One book of the trilogy was enough for me. ( )
  captc2000 | Aug 18, 2022 |
What makes us human? Is it our physiology? the way we interact with other humans? other species? Or is it something else? If you change one or more of these things, will we still be human?

Butler mixes these questions with ruminations on how to rebuild after apocalypse. The result doesn't really provide answers, which I like. Some of the gender politics seem caught between progressive and regressive ways of thinking (are there really no queer characters in this after-earth? There seems to be an asexual character, so there's no argument that the heteronormativity here is part of the Oankali's plan). Anyway, I really enjoyed the experience of reading this regardless.

( )
  J.Flux | Aug 13, 2022 |
Once again I am giving a Butler book 5 stars. No one is surprised.

Damn! How do I even start expressing my feelings about this book? Depending on the rest of this trilogy this will probably be my favourite work by the author so far. I’ve read “Kindred” and the two Earthseed books and even though I love them and find them spectacular none of them made me feel so conflicted and made me question my thoughts at every turn like this book did. In the other books I had a clear opinion about the topics being addressed. This one was a bit of a rollercoaster.

I will start by saying that I would have never read a book with this synopsis if it had not been written by Octavia E. Butler. The synopsis didn’t seem at all up my alley. I am very picky with scifi that is not dystopian (this book turned out to be that in a way though) and I usually don’t like to read about aliens and some of the tropes that come with it. After reading three books by the author and loving them all I decided that I trusted her enough to give this a try. I figured that if it was Butler she would probably address the subject I don’t like with intelligence and care. She did! However, I would not recommend this to every fan that enjoyed her other works that seem to be more popular. This book is very uncomfortable and reads more like a slow built horror story.

What is “Dawn” about? This is the first book in the Xenogenesis trilogy and follows a woman called Lilith Iyapo as she wakes up in a spaceship and encounters an alien for the first time. Humanity is close to extinction due to a big war and the Earth is getting restored by the same alien species that saved the few humans they found alive. These aliens call themselves Oankali and they kept the humans sleeping for centuries while they learned about them and the Earth. Their plan is to make Lilith lead them and a few other humans back to her home world to start again.

The Oankali live aboard a big ship and have no idea what happened to their original planet. They survive by genetically merging with primitive civilizations and they want to reproduce with humans, creating children that will be different and this will lead to the end of the human race. That is the exchange they seek for saving humanity.

From that, one can assume already that consent will be a problem addressed in this narrative, but Octavia E. Butler makes it more interesting by contrasting humans with this alien society. The Oankali have no eyes or nose, they have a human shaped body with something similar to tentacles and a mouth. They express themselves through body language (their tentacles), which means that they don’t fully understand consent and when humans say one thing they ignore it if the body language is perceived to be in opposition to what is being said. Plus, they do things like curing cancer without a warning to the human because they see it as being for their own good. The problem is that they apply this to everything. When it comes to consent it contrasts with the few men that attempt rape in this book given how Lilith feels about it in comparison to how she feels about the Oankali.

The Oankali have three genders: male, female and ooloi; and they usually form families of three. Lilith is presented to an ooloi called Nikanj before puberty so they can learn from each other and this makes their relationship very complex and complicated. Lilith learns about the Oankali while maintaining her humanity. She logically understands the situation she is in is messed up but she comes to like Nikanj, just like the Oankali planned. The situation is very manipulative while at the same time Nikanj also cares a lot for Lilith in it’s own alien way (ooloi’s pronoun in the book is it). We are shown the logic of the Oankali and sometimes they can come off as sympathetic, which makes Lilith’s conflicting feelings seem more real.

Later when more humans are introduced it’s not only shown the problems between humans and aliens, but also the ones among humans. There is a very interesting theme of men not liking to not have the control in a relationship since they are vulnerable to the ooloi.

When I first read the synopsis I thought this book was going to be violent and full of rape scenes, but thankfully it’s not. It is still an uncomfortable and creepy read, but it’s more like a psychological horror story.

As always Butler put a lot of biblical references in this work. The main character is named Lilith and she keeps seeing herself with disdain as some sort of Judas since in a way she is helping the Oankali in order to survive and help most humans she can, etc. This book also reminded me of Earthseed and Lilith is the Lauren here, but not preaching her own beliefs so much; more in the way of leading the people.

I loved the characters, the themes, the atmosphere. It has been a while since I last had so much to write about a book. I am trying not to give away many spoilers, but I could write an essay about this first book alone. That ending! It ended with a bang and I really want to continue. I will start the second book tomorrow only because it’s late and I need to go to sleep. ( )
  elderlingfae | Aug 11, 2022 |
Who knew that aliens, the apocalypse, and reforming humanity could be so boring and annoying?

The main character is annoying and whines throughout the entire book. What development she does get is forced upon her literally. She doesn't really learn or change and her reactions, after a time, don't follow any coherent psychological state. She's a character who is not relatable or have any really redeemable qualities. The reason she was chosen makes little sense and is weak.

The aliens are also boring and at times read more as Stockholm syndrome rapists than respectable aliens. The reaction they cause in people is more than just initial shock where it incapacitates people for days at a time. The reason isn't physiological but because humanity is so xenophobic. Ya, probably not.

The story barely has a three act structure. Act 1 - main character meets aliens and complains a lot. Act 2 - main character interacts with aliens and complains a lot. Act 3 - main character interacts with other humans and complains a lot.

I read other reviews because this book does have a majority of positive reviews. People claim it's great sci-fi - barely. It's thought provoking - like how am I still reading this? It explores human nature - how much complaining can one person do for 260 pages without ever changing on her own.

The characters are all unappealing, the plot line is mostly explanation-> complain-> observe-> complain-> repeat, and the aliens are so bland you can't root for them or against them. Final Grade - F ( )
1 vote agentx216 | Aug 1, 2022 |
I’ve only read two of Butler’s books (this one included) but her mind was so vivid. This isn’t just highbrow alien smut. The whole post-apocalyptic world abducted by curious aliens is believable. One of the scary things about her work is everything is so plausible; I feel like it could happen like with The Parable of the Sower.

There’s still an overall sci-fi core with the alien freakiness, space, new technology, and regenerative food. And there’s an emphasis on language-learning, which I love. I enjoyed Lilith so much. I felt her emotions, her frustration, confusion, and determination. She was put in a binding plight, but she made the best of it.

Also, I love how racially diverse Butler’s work is. Usually, the black people die first in those horror/sci-fu worlds but not here. The fate of the world doesn’t come down to the usual chosen one. Fight or flight is in full effect here as well, because—well, human nature when confronted with something scary or repulsive.

Ending spoiler: I really wanted to rip Nikanj's tenacles/sensory arms off. Who told you to do that!?! Forced impregnation by a freaky alien! ( )
  DestDest | Jul 24, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 102 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Octavia E. Butlerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Enric.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Palencar, John JudeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Underwood, GeorgeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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An alien race calls on one woman to revive mankind after Earth's apocalypse in this science fiction classic from the award-winning author of Parable of the Sower.   Lilith Iyapo has just lost her husband and son when atomic fire consumes Earth--the last stage of the planet's final war. Hundreds of years later Lilith awakes, deep in the hold of a massive alien spacecraft piloted by the Oankali--who arrived just in time to save humanity from extinction. They have kept Lilith and other survivors asleep for centuries, as they learned whatever they could about Earth. Now it is time for Lilith to lead them back to her home world, but life among the Oankali on the newly resettled planet will be nothing like it was before.   The Oankali survive by genetically merging with primitive civilizations--whether their new hosts like it or not. For the first time since the nuclear holocaust, Earth will be inhabited. Grass will grow, animals will run, and people will learn to survive the planet's untamed wilderness. But their children will not be human. Not exactly. Featuring strong and compelling characters and exploring complex themes of gender and species, Octavia E. Butler presents a powerful, postapocalyptic interplanetary epic, as well as a ray of hope for humanity.   This ebook features an illustrated biography of Octavia E. Butler including rare images from the author's estate. 

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Haiku summary
Lilith kidnapped,
probed by aliens (nice!)
plans to restock Earth
(DarrylLundy)

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Hachette Book Group

2 editions of this book were published by Hachette Book Group.

Editions: 0446603775, 0445207795

 

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