Parable of the Sower
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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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Hugo and Nebula Award-winner Butler's first novel since 1989's Imago offers an uncommonly sensitive rendering of a very common SF scenario: by 2025, global warming, pollution, racial and ethnic tensions and other ills have precipitated a worldwide decline. In the Los Angeles area, small beleaguered communities of the still-employed hide behind makeshift walls from hordes of desperate homeless scavengers and violent pyromaniac addicts known as "paints" who, with water and work growing scarcer, have become increasingly aggressive. Lauren Olamina, a young black woman, flees when the paints overrun her community, heading north with thousands of other refugees seeking a better life. Lauren suffers from 'hyperempathy," a genetic condition that causes her to experience the pain of others as viscerally as her own--a heavy liability in this future world of cruelty and hunger. But she dreams of a better world, and with her philosophy/religion, Earthseed, she hopes to found an enclave which will weather the tough times and which may one day help carry humans to the stars. Butler tells her story with unusual warmth, sensitivity, honesty and grace; though science fiction readers will recognize this future Earth, Lauren Olamina and her vision make this novel stand out like a tree amid saplings.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Olamina's spiritual philosophy has deeply influenced mine. "Why does God exist? To shape the universe. Why does the universe exist? To shape God," is one of the koans she writes in her Earthseed journal, and this seemingly paradoxical concept becomes her central strength as she faces dangers that will feel uncomfortably familiar to the reader.
I think this book serves not only as an insightful meditation on the nature of reality and an exciting adventure novel, but as an urgent warning. We are shaping our universe and it in turn is shaping us, and the changes we are creating are not the ones we would necessarily desire. I think everyone should read this book at least twice and give it some deep thought.
If all that, then you have the scenario for this sad book. It's frightening as heck, that's for sure, but it's implausible.
It seems that Ms. Butler was possibly trying to inject some metaphysical philosophy into the book by having her protagonist, Lauren Olamina (her surname is Yoruban, so we're told), keep chanting the refrain "God is change." But as her father-figure lover, Bankole (it's Yoruban), tells her: those are only words.
I guess the idea was that in a frightful society, nobody could possibly remain a Christian, much less adhere to any other "traditional" religion.
Bankole asks at one point: "Would Jesus be Christ if he were here today?" Puleeez, don't let the Rapturists hear you talking like that!
This book will frighten, anger, and depress, and to that extent, it certainly creates emotion, if, that is, you can finish it. Don't try to read it in one sitting. Have another book with a little lighter and happier tenor on hand to alternate from time to time.
By the way, I live in South Central Los Angeles, and what Butler describes in this book is really not too far off from what we have in South Central, but without the pyromaniacs and the bad water situation, thank goodness for that. IF such a drug were invented, getting off sexually on fire-starting, then POSSIBLY Butler's scenario could become plausible.
"Parable of the Sower" is an engaging read on so many levels. The narrative is highly symbolic and open. The story is framed in the biblical tradition yet it calls to question our notions of God and religion as they relate to the survival of the individual spirit and community. Although futuristic in setting, the story renders an immediacy that was at times uncomfortable for me to fully digest. In the year of 2003, 2025 doesn't seem that far off. Although I found the prose clear and concise, I wasn't able to devour the book with the eager anticipation that I would typically apply to a novel as well developed as this one. I didn't understand this self-imposed resistance to surrendering myself completely to the story. It became clear to me midway through the text that - unlike most really great novels that I've read - with "Parable of the Sower", I didn't necessarily want to know what would happen next. The unfolding of the story generated more angst in me than curiosity. On a subconscious level, had I slipped into a comfortable denial of what could occur to a people who have been failed by their religion, their governments, family, neighbors, and friends.Read more ›
It's a smart, engaging book, with an edgy, unpredictable plot and her most compelling heroine. Lauren Olamina is a crazy genius, and it is her self-confidence in her own genius that makes her come off so lifelike. Her voice is chilling in her ruthlessness, yet warm and engaging in her determination and empathy. The fire and ice combination works, and telling the story in the first person was a very smart move.
Much like her heroine, Butler's vision of the future is astonishingly bleak, yet curiously without despair. There are some very nice touches, like the feral dogs and the terrifying water stations (which evoke much of the same panic as war-torn Lithuania in Jonathan Franzen's "The Corrections"). The book's only missteps are the flat side characters (especially the drug-crazed homicidal punks), and the Earthseed religion, which comes off as rather half-baked.
Nonetheless, a very compelling read.
Most recent customer reviews
With barely-there sci-fi and a deep understanding of character and the sophistication with which it tackles issues of race and gender, Parable of the Sower is an excellent read no... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Jonathon Lynn Graham
Parable of the Sower is a vivid, often harrowing, story of survival, loss and companionship, set in a United States in the near future, where the environment and society have... Read morePublished on Feb. 27 2008 by A. J. Cull
Everyone's already mentioned that the book is depressing, morbid, cruel and has no redemptive qualities. Read morePublished on Feb. 20 2008 by T. Kharitonova
This book is simply amazing. Though it's listed as science fiction, a more appropriate genre would be horror. Butler's vision of a destitute U.S. Read morePublished on June 14 2004 by Caradae Linore
Parable of the Sower is a look in to the future. Octavia E. Butler imagines a world of rampant crime and endless homelessness. Read morePublished on May 26 2004 by Andy
This book takes the reader to places where they don't want to go. It assumes that the future will be total anarchy where humans and animals are reduced to mere survival. Read morePublished on Jan. 28 2004
I read this book probably in 1994. I still remember now how blown away I was by this book. It's one of the greates works I've ever read. Read morePublished on Nov. 19 2003 by Todd Sullivan
"Parable of the Sower" is a great book for all the science fiction lovers out there. The plot, the characters, everything gets molded by Butler into a masterpiece. Read morePublished on Oct. 14 2003 by Lucas Snider