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!

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!



Octavia E. Butler: Lilith’s Brood (Xenogenesis Trilogy)

Here I was thinking I’d only missed one week, but looking at my stats, it’s been 21 days since I posted about Kindred. So sorry. Between job applications, writing a book, and starting my own homemade bath products, time just kind of zooms by. Anyway, let’s talk about one of my favorite Butler books: Lilith’s Brood.

Originally, the three separate books—Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago—were published as The Xenogenesis Trilogy, but the series was republished as Lilith’s Brood in 2000. The definition of the word Xenogenesis, according to, is “the supposed generation of offspring completely and permanently different from the parent.” Think about that for a second before you read on, and see if you can guess the plot of this series.

The first book, Dawn, introduces Lilith as she wakes from stasis on an alien ship. The United States and the Soviet Union had engaged in a nuclear war that all but obliterated the planet, and the few remaining humans were rescued by the Oankali and put into stasis while the aliens work to make Earth habitable again. Lilith is repulsed by the creatures she finds upon waking. The Oankali have three sexes: male, female, and ooloi (they are born “unsexed”, and develop an affinity for what they will become after a few years); they have no eyes, ears, or noses, only sensory tentacles that cover their bodies. They can sense the world to this most minute level. Not only can the ooloi manipulate genetic material, but they have the ability to evolve other living things, as well as create offspring gene by gene.

The Oankali want Lilith to help train the other surviving humans to live on the remade Earth without their previous dependence on technology. The Oankali are fascinated by the human cellular structure, and they want to convince the humans to interbreed with them to create a new hybrid Human-Oankali race. Despite being appalled by their alien captors, the ooloi are sexually enticing to humans. Lilith struggles between wanting to please them to survive, and trying to maintain her humanity.

The second book, Adulthood Rites, chronicles the conflict between the Oankali, the humans who have accepted their lives with them, and the resister villages—groups of humans who do not accept the Oankali. The Oankali have made all humans sterile in order to prevent any children who are not hybrid (called ‘constructs’). The main character in this book is Akin—Lilith’s hybrid son, and the only male construct born to a human mother. He is taken by a resister group as an infant, and instead of forcing his return, the Oankali allow him to remain with the group to better understand his human nature. Unfortunately, Akin and his closest paired sibling, Oankali-born Tiikuchahk, had not been bonded properly because of his absence, and they are sent to Chkahichdahk—the main ship (but more of a living creature)—to see what healing could be done before each of them reached metamorphosis.

There is so much nuance, and I get a little frustrated that I cannot communicate the complicated beauty of this series. Anyway, during his time on the ship, Akin realizes that human needs are greater than the Oankali give credit for, and convince them to give the resister colonies a new planet to live on. The Oankali agree, even though they are sure that the new colony will destroy itself the way humans destroyed Earth, and a modify Mars to give the bare minimum support for human life. This book ends as the group of resisters head towards Lo (city) to board their transfer ships to Mars.

Before I tell you about the last book, I just wanted to mention that each of the books have multiple sections with multiple chapters in each section. The development of which is so difficult to summarize.

The last book, Imago, is the shortest of the three and follows Jodahs, the first ooloi construct. Imago shows manifestation of what the Oankali hoped for in their Human-Oankali hybrid race. Jodahs, by its nature, unlocks the complete genetic potential of both humans and Oankali. There isn’t much to summarize in this book, as it is better experienced. (I know, I talk about it like it is the greatest work of all time even thought it’s about aliens). This book shows more of the nature of the Oankali and what they want for their own future.

I’m thinking about reading this one again. Just skimming through the pages to write this post yanked on me to dive back in. I had to keep myself from starting at the beginning and reading the whole thing through.

If you end up acquiring a copy and reading it, tell me what you think!

In my next post I will introduce you to the incomplete Parables series. Butler was working on the third book just after the passing of her mother, and had six or seven more planned, but she scrapped the series after becoming exhausted with the work of writing the third book. So we have Parable of the Talents and Parable of the Sower, and we’ll never know what she had planned for those characters. It’s kind of sad, actually.

I will try not to let another three weeks pass by before getting the next post out to you guys. Thanks for sticking with me!

Happy Reading!!