Parable of the Talents Paperback – Jan 1 2000
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Octavia Butler tackles the creation of a new religion, the making of a god, and the ultimate fate of humanity in her Earthseed series, which began with Parable of the Sower, and now continues with Parable of the Talents. The saga began with the near-future dystopian tale of Sower, in which young Lauren Olamina began to realize her destiny as a leader of people dispossessed and destroyed by the crumbling of society. The basic principles of Lauren's faith, Earthseed, were contained in a collection of deceptively simple proverbs that Lauren used to recruit followers. She teaches that "God is change" and that humanity's ultimate destiny is among the stars.
In Parable of the Talents, the seeds of change that Lauren planted begin to bear fruit, but in unpredictable and brutal ways. Her small community is destroyed, her child is kidnapped, and she is imprisoned by sadistic zealots. She must find a way to escape and begin again, without family or friends. Her single-mindedness in teaching Earthseed may be her only chance to survive, but paradoxically, may cause the ultimate estrangement of her beloved daughter. Parable of the Talents is told from both mother's and daughter's perspectives, but it is the narrative of Lauren's grown daughter, who has seen her mother made into a deity of sorts, that is the most compelling. Butler's writing is simple and elegant, and her storytelling skills are superb, as usual. Fans will be eagerly awaiting the next installment in what promises to be a moving and adventurous saga. --Therese Littleton --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Lauren Olamina, a black teenager, grew up in a 21st-century America that was tearing itself apart. Global warming, massive unemployment, gang warfare and corporate greed combined to break down society in general and her impoverished southern California neighborhood in particular. A victim of hyperempathy syndrome, a disorder that compels its victims to believe they feel others' pain, Lauren found herself homeless and alone in a violent world. Escaping from the urban jungle of Los Angeles, Lauren founded Acorn, a hard-working, prosperous rural community based on the teachings of Earthseed, a religion she herself created and centered on the ideas that God is Change and that humanity's destiny is to go to the stars. Butler's extraordinary Parable of the Sower (1996) detailed the aforementioned events. In this equally powerful sequel, Acorn is destroyed by the rising forces of Christian fundamentalism, led by the newly elected U.S. president, the Reverend Andrew Steele Jarret. A handsome man and persuasive orator, seemingly modeled in part on Pat Robertson, Jarret converts millions to his sect, Christian America, while his thugs imprison, rape and murder those they label "heathens," all the while kidnapping their children in order to raise them in Christian households. The narrative is both impassioned and bitter as Butler weaves a tale of a frighteningly believable near-future dystopia. Lauren, at once loving wife and mother, prophet and fanatic, victim and leader, gains stature as one of the most intense and well-developed protagonists in recent SF. Though not for the faint-hearted, this work stands out as a testament to the author's enormous talent, and to the human spirit.. Author tour. (Nov.) FYI: In 1995, Butler received a MacArthur Foundation ("genius") Award.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
"We are God's people or we are filth! We are God's people or we are nothing! We are God's people! God's people!"
If that's not a portent of "You're either for us or for the terrorists," I'll eat my bathrobe.
Lauren Oya Olamina is a prophet who dreams of building a network of communities bound together by Earthseed, a belief system of her own creation (largely culled from Buddhist, pagan, and other nature-based religions with a little bit of Christianity thrown in). Ultimately these seed communities will work toward building communities in outer space, what Olamina calls "the Destiny". Among the ruins of a post-apocalyptic America, Olamina and her multi-ethnic band of believers live relatively quiet lives while working to spread the "truth" of Earthseed.
Olamina and her band of followers are captured by rogue practicioners of "Christian America" (CA), the political/religious sect led by President Jarret. The Earthseed settlement is repurposed as an internment camp for vagrants, thieves, drug dealers, and anyone who isn't a CA follower. Olamina and her followers are separated by gender and enslaved for a period of seventeen months, and their children are taken away from them under the guise of saving them from an un-Christian life.Read more ›
To me Parable of the Sower had a greater feeling of urgency. Wondering how Olamina would survive propelled me through the pages. Parable of the Talents feels slower and more repetitive. I lost count of how many characters were raped or molested. The majority of characters feel so flat and insignificant, it's hard to be concerned when tragedy finally catches up with them. But I don't think that hurts the novel. At heart it's an examination of what could happen after an economic collapse, how different classes struggle to maintain what they have, and how opportunists try to take even more for themselves. More importantly it looks at how religion can become a trap for the desperate or a tool for setting them free.
While individual characters feel flat, the society Butler shows us feels very real. Clearly she's a well educated author, alert to the trends in modern politics and where they might be leading us. If you have any interest in anthropology, sociology, or politics you'll enjoy Parable of the Talents.
Most recent customer reviews
The Parable of the Talents is the story of a woman attempting to maintain stability in a world of anarchy. Read morePublished on Feb. 3 2003 by dummy
I'm a huge Octavia Butler fan but this is not one of my favorites of hers.Published on Jan. 29 2003
One of those rare sequels that is better than the original (which itself was amazingly good), Butler continues the story of Lauren Olamina and her attempts to establish Acorn, a... Read morePublished on Nov. 27 2002 by D. Cloyce Smith
I love this book. It shows all of human nature: the good, the bad, the chaos, the order-- and how one community can survive anything together. Read morePublished on May 29 2002
This is one of the very best novels ever written; it ranks right alongside Edgar Pangborn's "Davy." The sequel to "Parable of the Sower," it is that rarity: a sequel even better... Read morePublished on May 23 2002 by watzizname
I can see why a black female author can have it in for the white, right, Christian fundamentalist movement. Read morePublished on April 30 2002 by firstname.lastname@example.org
This is a book in a by now well-known format, with Octavia Butler's Xenogenesis trilogy and Suzette Haden Elgin's Eartsong trilogy the parallels that come to mind immediately. Read morePublished on Jan. 19 2002