Octavia E. Butler

Octavia E. Butler

I read a lot of science fiction as a kid but not very much since. Sadly, that means I missed the work of Octavia E. Butler, most of whose novels were published in the 1980s and ’90s.

I have just remedied that oversight by reading Parable of the Sower (1993), the first book in Butler’s two-part Earthseed series, which also includes Parable of the Talents (1998).

I must quickly add that it’s misleading to call this book science fiction. More accurately it’s dystopian fiction or, better yet, simply fiction, for this is a strong, harrowing, inspiring novel that can’t be limited by a label.

Fifteen-year-old Lauren Olamina lives in a ravaged but clearly recognizable Los Angeles as Butler imagined the city might become in 2024(!), with walls around neighborhoods, dangerous drugs and violence outside, and, over it all, a raging pandemic.

Lauren and a ragtag gang of friends must set out on a journey to safety, if they can find it, and their adventures are beautifully told and thoroughly engaging. The character of Lauren Olamina is memorable, and I’m eager to read more about her.

Parable of the Sower
Parable of the Talents


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