Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: Parable of the Talents

Parable of the Talents (Earthseed, #2)Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

4 years after the events of Parable of the Sower, Lauren Olamina is nurturing her fledgling Earthseed community, called Acorn. She tries to figure out what the next steps of her philosophy are & celebrates the ups & downs of life with her people–events that include the birth of her daughter with her husband Bankole. But, the community is ultimately destroyed by evangelical Christians encouraged to hurt & enslave anyone with different beliefs than them & the current United States president. Separated from her child, Lauren & the remnants of Acorn endure the horrors of the labor camp & eventually escape & regroup.

The tension left over from Sower shifts from all-inclusive problems like food shortage, climate change, and persistent conflict to the growing pains of an American society that has decided that only certain people get by while all others can either fall in line or suffer the consequences. Despite some of the drop-off of the action, the timeliness of Butler’s portrayal is still very canny in 2016 & will satisfy those of us readers who were left hanging at the end of the first book. But there is still a lot of story left to be told & we will have to be satisfied with the conflicting voices of Lauren as she tries to rebuild her community & her daughter who reunites with her mother too late to fully understand her purpose. Butler herself calls this book ‘a novel of solutions’ (not all properly planned out) & this may guide readers into a more forgiving perspective toward even the most despicable characters.

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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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Books, Thoughts

Book Dork: Confession & Penance

First off, I would like to go on record as saying I tried.  I had every intention of keeping to my no new books resolution.  Even when I accidentally purchased a book within a few months of making my promise.  But, my will is weak so here’s my confession–I’ve bought books.  Gasp!

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