Tag: Octavia Butler

Apr 26

The Xenogenesis Trilogy by Octavia Butler

Science Fiction 11

Howdy Bookworms,

Can we talk about how brilliant Octavia Butler is for a minute? I refuse to discuss her in the past tense, despite her having shuffled off this mortal coil a little over a decade ago. I have read quite a chunk of her body of work at this point, and I am blown away every time. She never leans on a formula; every topic from time travel to dystopian societies and even vampire lore is fresh and innovative. Which is why I OBVIOUSLY had to dive into her trilogy on aliens. Because ALIENS!

Don’t be fooled by the attractive woman’s cleavage on the cover. This book is about aliens full of tentacles.

The Xenogenesis Trilogy (sometimes known as Lilith’s Brood) consists of three installments, Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago. The premise of these novels is that humanity has finally gone and done it and destroyed the Earth and themselves in the process. Big giant war, probably nuclear, wipes out all the things, and is horrible. Lilith Iyapo along with the other human survivors plucked from the wreckage of our now uninhabitable planet have been rescued by a mysterious alien race called the Oankali. The Oankali are motivated by two things. First, they feel compelled to heal any suffering they encounter. Second, they have a desperate need to merge with other species on a genetic level. While Lilith and the other survivors are given another chance at life, it’s nothing like the life they used to know.

I really don’t know how someone could NOT be intrigued by that story line. I mean, aliens cast not as aggressors, but rescuers? Complicated morality? SCIENCE? It’s as delicious and complex a series as anything else I’ve read by Butler and it’ll get the old noodle working big time. If you’re in the mood for a truly bizarre and innovative journey, you can’t beat The Xenogenesis Trilogy.

Alright Bookworms, who’s got Alien book recomendations for me?

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Oct 19

Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia Butler

Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic Fiction 12

Greetings Bookworms!

I’ve been on an Octavia Butler kick lately. After I read Fledgling (review) wherein Octavia Butler turned vampire lore upside down, I decided it was time to tackle dystopian/post apocalyptic Butler. When an author totally blows your mind in multiple genres (because Kindred too!), it only makes sense to explore their entire backlist of titles, right? Enter Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents.

parable-of-the-sowerParable of the Sower opens with a world rocked by environmental and economic crises. The US has devolved into complete social chaos wherein even gated communities cannot be guaranteed of their safety. Food prices have skyrocketed, crime runs rampant, and emergency services are available only to those who can afford to pay the fees. Lauren Olamina lives in Southern California with her family when their relatively safe existence behind walls goes down in flames. Literally. In an attempt to survive in the aftermath, she flees northward, hoping to find a safe haven in which to explore and establish her newfound faith. Parable of the Talents continues Lauren’s story as she tries to establish a community and eek out an existence in what is left of society. Her efforts at rebuilding some semblance of life are hard won, but making headway. Unfortunately, shparable-of-the-talentse must contend with slavery, human trafficking, religious fundamentalists, and nightmarish political leaders. Suffice it to say that things don’t go particularly smoothly.

I won’t sugar coat it- these books scared the ever-loving crap o
ut of me. I hadn’t had a book related nightmare in ages (and I read Joe Hill this summer!) but these novels were chilling. CHILLING. There were so many terrifying and startling parallels to current political cycle, I can’t even. DOWN TO THE CAMPAIGN SLOGAN, YOU GUYS. I can only hope Butler is simply an insightful genius and not an actual oracle, because I am fifty shades of
freaked out. I’m not saying that a certain candidate’s presidency would bring about an apocalyptic hellscape, but, I HAVE CONCERNS.

Despite the nightmares, these books were phenomenal, insightful, and generally awesome. I would recommend that all of humanity (and probably a few extra terrestrial species) read these books. I apologize in advance for your bad dreams, bookworms, but these books are SO GOOD.

What is the last book that gave YOU bad dreams? 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Aug 15

Fledgling by Octavia Butler

Science Fiction, Vampires 7

Greetings Bookworms!

I know I whine from time to time about how often I get bitten by mosquitoes because it is very unpleasant to be itchy. It’s not just mosquitoes, though. I’m really, really delicious to all blood-sucking insects (they ALL make me itch, the jerks.) This has led to my hard and fast belief that vampires cannot possibly exist because I would have perished long, long ago. Until, that is, someone comes along and turns vampire lore upside down. That’s right, kids. We’re talking about the incomparable Octavia Butler today. I decided to pick up Fledgling after some twitter discussions reminded me how freaking amazing Kindred (review) was. I wasn’t in the mood to pick up a series at the time (though I’ve heard some fabulous things about her series which are obviously on the endless TBR pile), so I went for Fledgling, a standalone novel. It was an excellent decision, if I do say so myself.

Fledgling kicks off with a little girl who seems to have lost her memory. Though she remembers nothing about her life prior to waking up in fledglinga cave, she displays some startlingly inhuman abilities. This, eventually, leads to her discovery that she is, in fact, a 53-year-old genetically modified vampire. I’ll let that last sentence sink in for a second. I’ve found that the story lines that sound the most ludicrous out of context tend to fuel the best books when in the right hands, and Butler is a master craftswoman. Because seriously. 53-year-old genetically modified vampire? That’s quite an ambitious starting point!

I absolutely LOVED Butler’s take on vampire lore. Most vampire stories feature vampires laughing off at least a couple of vampiric stereotypes, but Butler’s take was easily the most creative I’ve ever read. Where other authors will dismiss one or two tropes, Butler just SMASHED the dominant narrative. I want to give you all the details but that would be super spoilery and that’s not a nice thing to do. I will tell you that although the main character was significantly older than she appeared, I did get pretty weirded out by her, um, extremely mature behavior. Largely because for a decent section of the book neither she nor her companions were aware that she was, in fact, 53 years old. But you know how it is when you’re reading awesome science fiction/fantasy. You fully commit to the characters and the narrative and it’s not too hard to let your pesky real world hangups slide away.

If you have ever enjoyed a vampire novel, you need to pick up Fledgling post haste. Trust me on this one, okay?

Talk to me, Bookworms! What’s your favorite vampire superstition? I find the garlic thing fascinating myself. But, fun fact? Taking garlic pills does jack to keep mosquitoes from biting. Just an FYI right there. 

*If you make a purchase through a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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Dec 30

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Time Travel 31

Hi Ho there, Bookworms!

I hope everyone’s holidays were spectacular! I know I enjoyed myself, but now ’tis the season to get back in the swing of things. Shall we?

I spend an inordinate amount of time daydreaming about how I would cope if I were sucked back in time. I blame Diana Gabaldon for my obsession, but the concept is pretty universal. What would you do? My biggest concern is the fact that I wear contacts. I can’t believe that people back in the day had significantly better eyesight that the current population, which makes me wonder how they coped with the blurriness… Of course, I can afford to focus on trivialities like eyesight because that because my ancestor weren’t enslaved simply based on the color of their skin. Slavery was THE WORST.

kindredKindred by Octavia Butler explores the story of a woman named Dana. Dana lives in the 1970s in California with her husband. She’s African American and he’s a white dude, but aside from the occasional bigot with an attitude problem (who are sometimes family members), they’re able to live a fairly nice life… That is, until the day when Dana is mysteriously transported back in time and space and winds up in antebellum Maryland.

Time AND space! How much does that suck? She was totally living in California in the 1970s, but back when it became a state in 1850? Slavery wasn’t legal. Still sucked to be black because civil rights were awful, but at least you weren’t OWNED. Poor Dana is linked to this redheaded kid who lives on a frickin’ plantation in Maryland. She gets yanked back across time and space every time his life is in danger, which for this kid is a LOT. Time travels a lot faster in the past than in the present, so five years in the antebellum South is little more than eight days when coming back to the here and now. Oh yeah. That’s the other part. In order to GET back? Dana has to nearly die herself. Sooo, that sucks.

I really enjoyed this book and the concept of time travel being linked to a specific person. Dana’s struggles as a modern woman encountering slavery are stunning. She comments over and over again on the ease of accepting the most outrageous sorts of dehumanization. It gives a unique perspective to a modern reader who simply cannot fathom how slavery ever existed. I do, however, have one small complaint. The ending was a bit abrupt. I felt that Dana’s “straw that broke the camel’s back” moment should have come earlier, but that’s just a tiny objection intermixed with a whole heap of love. If you have any interest in fiction involving time travel or the antebellum period in history, I highly recommend you check out Kindred by Octavia Butler.

So, Bookworms. If you were to be carried back in time (let’s leave out the SPACE part for the sake of argument), what would be your biggest concern? Spectacles? Pestilence? Lack of deodorant? Tell me!

*If you make a purchase of Kindred using a link on this site, I will receive a small commission.*

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