Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: The Parable of the Sower

Parable of the Sower (Earthseed, #1)Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lauren Olamina has grown up in a walled neighborhood in Robledo, CA her entire life. As the daughter of the neighborhood preacher & as an empath herself, Lauren struggles between living compassionately & trying to be prepared for any catastrophe that might break through the walls of her neighborhood. The United States are crumbling & the old laws & social conventions are no longer a proper safeguard. Lauren’s journal is her sanctuary as she tries to make the right choices & articulate her blossoming philosophy–an ambitious set of beliefs she calls Earthseed.

3.5 instead of 4 mainly because of the anti-climactic ending. All of Butler’s thematic concerns are here: a burgeoning new belief that strives to marry science to the metaphysical, a driven protagonist with an odd-yet-seductive ability, an environment meant to test & refine her character’s knowledge & remake her. Sower is not just a familiar retread of Butler’s previous tropes, but is also something that still conveys the essence of problems we’re currently facing in 2016. The extreme social division, the struggle to survive against the flux of global changes, even the theatrical yet meaningless rhetoric of the political leadersin the book are just a measure or two away from our current society. Which makes the development of Earthseed in the story a refreshing & inspiring change. The idea that moving forward scientifically or in other ways that would advance human capabilities is not a way to “escape” our problems but a way of pushing the human race forward into a maturity above our petty conflicts. I can now see this book’s influence on The Galaxy Game.

Lauren is a fascinating character & its very easy to be swept up in her ideas. The last few chapters of the book, however, seems to set up much that doesn’t come to immediate fruition. Lauren begins to gather a community around her & they arrive at a stopping place, prepared to create a place for themselves. And then the book just ends. I couldn’t totally believe it when I reached the last page–trials, separations, the beginning of Earthseed’s germination & then. . . ? What happens? Can’t wait for Parable of the Talents!

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