Book: Parable of the Sower / Parable of the Talents


By Octavia E Butler. Note, spoilers

When I read fiction, I primarily read sci-fi. Some of my favourite authors include Iain M Banks, Terry Pratchett, Steven Baxter. I also enjoyed Frank Herbert’s original Dune series, and some of Issac Asimov’s short stories (particularly I Robot).

‘Parable of the Sower’ stood out to me in my local library’s tiny sci-fi section; I’d not previously read anything by Octavia E Butler. It doesn’t tread lightly: racism, sexism, violence, abuse and slavery are core themes, in a story where North America is tearing itself apart over a generation through crime, fear, and disorder. The protagonist Lauren Olamina suffers immensely, and yet she holds onto a dream of not only improving her own situation but changing the whole outlook of humanity; setting us on a course for the stars. The epilogue of the latter book sees an elderley Olamina watch the first starships launched through her organisation’s work.

I enjoyed the story immensely, although the brutality made it difficult to enjoy the book. Butler herself said at interview that the research for the novel was ‘overwhelming’, and her writing took a more light-hearted turn rather than continuing this series.