Thoughts on Parable of the Sower

I finished Parable of the Sower about a week ago, but haven’t yet started on Parable of the Talents. There’s a lot going on in my head and in my life and I just haven’t been able to pick up another book this past week. I’m not going to recap what Parable of the Sower is about, you can find that here. Instead, I’m going to give you my thoughts. Simple thoughts at that.

As much as I love Octavia Butler’s writing, this series isn’t a favorite. I wanted to dust off my literary theory hat for this, but I’m honestly not that invested. Something about reading Lauren’s story and “watching” her create (or discover, as she says) this new religion as she travels north, collecting people as she goes along, just doesn’t connect for me. The way her father disappears, her relationships with her brothers…maybe it’s because the story is told through her journal entries. Maybe if I were reading about Lauren Olamina and the things that happened to her and those around her instead of reading her perspective of herself and those around her, I would’ve been more invested.

You see, I want to know what happened to everyone from the beginning, and we only get the pieces and parts that Lauren is told. I want to know the other characters’ stories from the creator’s perspective. The all-knowing, the complete story. I want to know what happened to Lauren’s brother outside the wall, I want to know what happened to her dad, I want to know what happened to her stepmother and her other two brothers. I want to know what they saw and heard and experienced. Even the group she amasses on the road going north…I want to know what they’ve experienced and what they really think of Lauren. I want to know things Lauren can’t possibly know, and I think that’s why I’m frustrated.

I’m just as confused about Earthseed as every new person who enters her group, and although they come to a basic understanding enough to accept it, I haven’t. And not that it’s for me to accept, but I want to understand it better. I want to be part of the conversations she talks about having with the group. I want to know what questions they asked and how she answered them. I want more knowledge.

I don’t remember book 2. I will get to it soon, though, and I’m hoping that it will bring about more understanding for me. Book 1 is a teenager’s story. Maybe I enjoyed it more when I first read it because I was closer to her age at that time. I want to see her grow, and I’m pretty sure she grows up in book 2, but, like I said, I don’t remember book 2. Suddenly, I also have the desire to read Fledgling again. I haven’t talked about that book here yet, but I read it a long time ago. I still have it, so we’ll get to it sooner or later. Maybe sooner, though I haven’t even cracked open the books I bought in September for my birthday.

I’ll let you know if I end up liking Parable of the Talents more or less this time around. It looks like I didn’t write about book 2 previously, so I’ll make sure to let you know how the story goes.

Until then…

Happy Reading!

Re-reading Parables

Sooo…I’ve decided to jump on the Parables bandwagon!

If you’ve been here for any period of time you know that Octavia Butler has been my favorite author for years! Maybe a decade. Honestly, I don’t even remember when I picked up Kindred the first time. Anyway, you also may know that I have re-read two of my favorite Butler series this year—the Xenogenesis Series in the form of Lilith’s Brood and the Patternist Series in the form of Seed to Harvest.

Due to recent events, many people have been reading Butler’s Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents which I wrote about several years ago (find that post here). People are finding the similarities between the events in Parable of the Sower to be uncomfortably similar to the events that are taking place in the States now.

I didn’t intend to re-read this series when I was planning my reading list for the year, but with so much buzz around it, I can’t help but to want to join in on the conversations that are being had, and to do so I need a refresher. So I’ve decided to re-read both books.

I want to take my time digesting the events in each one, so I’m going to read slowly and deliberately. I’ll be spending the month of October reading Parable of the Sower and I’ll read Parable of the Talents in November. And although I’ve written about the series before, I’m curious to see how my perception of it will change in light of personal experiences over the years as well as the current societal climate. I will definitely come back at the end of the month and let you know.

Until then, Happy Reading!

Octavia E. Butler: Parable of the Sower

Hi there! I hope you’re enjoying this Holiday season. I know it’s a busy time for all of us, and I just want to extend well wishes to you and your families.

With that being said, let’s talk about Butler’s never completed Parables series. Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents are the only two books in the series that were ever written. It is said that Octavia Butler had plans for seven more books in the series, but had such a difficult time writing the third book (due to grieving her mother’s death) that she scrapped the rest of the series.

Parable of the Sower is the first of the two-book series. In it, the reader is introduced to the main character, Lauren Olamina, who lives through a tragic experience and goes on a journey that leads to the development of an entirely new faith. It’s the year 2024. Lauren is the daughter of a Baptist minister, but she no longer believes in her father’s God. Even so, she allows herself to be “initiated” into that church through baptism because, she says, she is a coward. She wants to please her father.

They live in a community surrounded by a wall. Some adults still have to go outside the wall once or twice a week to work, but none of the children go outside the wall to school any longer. Outside the wall is dangerous. The cost of water is going up—several times as much as gasoline—and water peddlers, who sell water to squatters and people who have kept their homes, but can’t pay their utilities, are being murdered.Only the arsonists and the rich purchase gasoline, but it’s impossible to completely give up water.

Lauren Olamina is left alone when her community is set on fire one night and she loses her entire family along with her home. She has to leave the previous safety of her wall, and journey out into the chaos left behind after environmental and economic crises change the social landscape of the US.Making things more difficult for Lauren is her Hyperempathy Syndrome, a congenital disease she contracted due to her mother’s drug use. Her illness creates in her the delusion that she feels the pain, and pleasure, of those around her. Throughout her journey she discovers things and settles upon ideas that lead her towards the development of a new system of belief called Earthseed. “The Destiny of Earthseed is to take root among the stars” she says, and that is the future she works toward in this first book.

Parable of the Sower is set in the not-too-distant future—less than ten years to be exact. It is said that Butler came to this vision of the future by imagining what would happen if the current woes of the United States progressed, unchecked, to their logical ends. There is caution written between the lines of the narrative, and we should take heed.

Have you ever seen an episode of The Outer Limits? It is by far my all time favorite show. Each episode is completely science-fiction, but underlined with a lesson. At the end, a warning to the present generation about where we will end up if we continue on the path we’re on. If you have never seen it, find it. Another option: Black Mirror, currently on Netflix. There is no narrator at the end telling you what lesson you should’ve learned, like with The Outer Limits, but if you pay attention to what you’re watching, you should be able to gather that lesson all by yourself.

Obviously, I’m not really reviewing the book as much as giving you a little teaser about it. Reviewing requires an unbiased opinion of the work, and you’re not going to get that from me when it comes to Octavia Butler. However, if you have any specific questions, feel free to ask.

In my next post we’ll continue the Parables series with Parable of the Talents. Until then…

Happy Reading!