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Parable of the Talents (Earthseed #2)

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  8,532 ratings  ·  524 reviews
It is 2032 and Lauren Olamina's daughter Larkin narrates the story of her mother's life as she spreads the word of her Earthseed philosophy. Yet as Larkin describes how Earthseed's followers attain their goal of reaching the stars, she denounces the authority that her mother has become.
Paperback, 365 pages
Published April 1st 2000 by The Women's Press Ltd (first published 1998)
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God is change.

Thus is presented Octavia Butler’s brilliant and brutally powerful 1998 Earthseed novel Parable of the Talents.

Taking its title from the Biblical parable from St. Matthew, Butler describes a near future dystopian American society that has been decimated by apocalypse, The Pox, and is unraveling along socio-economic and theological lines.

Religion as power

Some religious critics will see this novel as an attack on religious fundamentalism, most specifically Christian extremism, as hor
May 28, 2015 Elizabeth rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: kari m.
Shelves: fiction
Grim, bleak, and intellectual read about the near future. This is the first book I have read by Octavia Butler and I enjoyed her simple (yet elegant) writing style. This particular novel is a dystopian story that is TOTALLY prescient. Christian America finally gets a candidate into the oval office and the consequences are terrifying. The US heads to war with Canada and Alaska (who has dared to secede). Citizens who are not good Christians, poor, or homeless are prey to Crusaders and their reeduc ...more
I don't feel capable of adequately putting down my thoughts on this book quite yet. But I'll write some stuff. Parable of the Talents and Sower before it are both grand accomplishments in inspiring deep self reflective thought while also entertaining the reader with deep and relatable characters. For many years now I have been struggling with how I should determine my attitude toward religion and belief. Though my inquiry into understanding the true nature of faith and religion is far from over, ...more
May 10, 2010 Zach rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Zach by: Joy, who was annoyed by my negativity
There are times when I wish I believed in hell-other than the hells we make for one another, I mean.

These are tough books to review, and I'll just use this space to talk about both of them.

Butler unflinchingly looks at the effect the steady deterioration of society would have on women and the economically marginalized- I love this.

She also has a strong female character making her way through this world in a believable way- I love this too.

This female character slowly gathers a band of survivors
This book is even harder to read than the first one was, but it's difficult to go into why without being a festival of spoilers. So I'll just say a few things -- I noticed some people complaining in their reviews of Parable of the Sower that while Butler did go into some of the ways that minorities are hit harder during difficult times, she didn't go into much into how they fall harder on women. (But wait a second, really? Not with the two sisters who are prostituted by their own father? Not wit ...more
This book is the sequel to Parable of the Sower, but it stands up pretty well by itself, though I would definitely recommend reading the first book, because Butler is that good and these books are very powerful. In Parable of the Talents, Lauren Olamina, the protagonist of the first book, continues trying to build a community and a following devoted to her new religion, "Earthseed." Unfortunately, she is trying to found this new religion just when America, in the grip of a near-apocalyptic econo ...more
God, I was so into this - even more than Parable of the Sower. I've never experienced a narrator like this - a young black woman founding a new religion in a post apocalyptic world. In this book, she's up against the Christian America movement, whose leader is elected president and whose Crusaders are given a free hand to destroy or enslave "heathens" and other undesirables. Some of the early rhetoric of the Christian America movement was eerily reminiscent of that which surrounded George W. Bus ...more
I loved the first book, but could hardly bear to finish this one. The first half is really boring, and then there's a brief but extremely horrible and violent section, where evil, white Christian men rape, torture, and murder people who don't agree with their views. It's way over the top. Then it's boring again until the end.

Part of the boredom stems from the way this book is written. Unlike Parable of the Sower, which steeps the reader in the middle of the drama, this book consists entirely of
Jul 28, 2007 Elena rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes fiction
I learned about Octavia Butler by reading Linda Haroway's Modest Witness@Second Millenium. FemaleMan Meets OncoMouse: Feminism and Technoscience. Octavia Butler writes fantastic, interesting stories. You should not be scared away by the "science fiction" title. Octavia writes exactly what science fiction should be- exploring what it means to be human, gendered, sexual, organic, alive. It is not stupid tazers/3rd penis/deep space science fiction masturbation. This is my favorite of all of her boo ...more
Alan Chen
N.B. Review has spoilers.

I literally stayed up all night finishing this book and I can't remember the last time I was so absorbed in my reading but I managed to complete it at 4:30 am and I woke up remember dreaming about it. Yes, it's that good. When last we left off Olamina had fled her community and crossed treacherous terrain filled with thieves, rapists, and opportunists to reach a piece of land that her husband Bankhole owns. Along the trail she collected a rag tag group of followers and b
I liked Butler's historical time travel novel Kindred, but was disappointed with this dystopian SF. Some of her ideas have merit. I liked the idea of society's "leftovers" coming together to build a new community, and I'm a fan of the woman as leader. I didn't like the simplistic way most Christians in the novel were portrayed as evil, sadistic hypocrites. And what's up with Olamina confessing, in the last 100 pages of the book, to wanting to sleep with a woman? And then throwing in that her hal ...more
Found this title in a free box in our apartment's laundry room. I read it just as the bush admin was quietly shriveling to its long awaited end and I was feeling hopeful that Obama could actually bring some positive change. This book resonated with some of those feelings. Butler's characters and voice spoke clearly to me, but more than that her vision of a post slowpocalypse (i think i just made that word up - i want to communicate apocalyptic society altering disaster(s) that did not come about ...more
Spider the Doof Warrior
So, this book is excellent, but horrible stuff happens in it. Simply HORRIBLE which is why politics and religion don't mix. Keep them separated.

So, Lauren continues to try to keep Earthseed alive. Earthseed is awesome. It's all about adapting to change while at the same time not letting change drown you. No matter how hard it gets, you don't give up hope. You keep trying. You keep striving to build a better world. It's inspirational. Things could become this bad in the real world. If it does, w
I'm kind of torn about this one. I loved Parable of the Sower but this is a very different book with a very different focus. I'm not a fan of Christian Fundamentalism, but I think the texts criticism of what that movement is or what it could be was a bit much. Really? All the captors were Puritanical sadists and secret rapists and child molesters. Man, it was just too much to take at times. Which I thought it was unique to give us the next big dystopia as a theocracy, the way she made Fundamenta ...more
Octavia E. Butler’s books are not for the squeamish and most certainly not for people who want happy, Hollywood endings. Things work out in the end – but never in a nice neat package. There is always a lot of loss in all of its most painful forms. Her works are very realistic in that matter. In fact, her works are realistic in all matters. They are a reflection of life and of the human spirit. They don’t allow you to escape into science fiction and fantasy as easily as other books in the genre m ...more
Lauren Olamina's vision of Earthseed continues in this sequel to the "Parable of the Sower". It's slightly less powerful than the first book but still, a very worthy read. [return][return]Olamina's first Earthseed community, Acorn, is thriving and slowly growing when extremists come in and destroy it. The adults are made slaves and children are taken. Eventually she and others escape and she attempts to find her stolen infant daughter (Larkin). At the same time, she still wholeheartedly believes ...more
Mike Shultz
Sometimes, I start thinking about what I would write in a review before I even finish a book, and this was one of them. In this case it was because one particular element grated on me, even though the book had other things going for it. I read and much enjoyed one of the author's short stories, so I came in expecting philosophical depth, and it was there. I cared about the characters, the plot was compelling, and the writing itself was solid.


The bad guys--and this was no ambiguous can't-tel
This book is super good. It is brilliant and even more than I was expecting based on the first one. It's more complex than the first in the series, more to think about. And there was a lot for me to think about. It kept me up at night (unusual for a book), thinking about the scenarios in these books, how things have played out in the past, how things are playing out right now. As other reviewers have noted, scenarios like the ones posed in this book can't be easily dismissed, since they have hap ...more
My husband likes to point out that characters can only be as intelligent/insightful/eloquent as their author. This truism can be devestatingly limiting (see Diane Setterfield's The 13th Tale, in which The Greatest Writer in the World is a psuedo-Regency hack, because, frankly, so is her author.)Sometimes, however, the brilliance of a character illuminates the genius of an author. The attendant risk is that the genius character often becomes a thin mask over the author, and fiction turns into phi ...more
I like this book. So far it is my favorite Octavia Butler book. I like that the ending was not taken for granted, that the lines of good and bad weren't so clearly drawn that you felt you didn't have to actually read the book. The book contains horrors and violence and stares them in the face clearly. The book has great commentary on religion, slavery, and gender. It is told from a creative narrative structure that shows the writings of different characters. It allows a layered story to develop ...more
Melissa Morgan
I liked Parable of the Sower more but the dynamics introduced here between families are really great. As are the building of settings through old letters.
Melanie Griffin
I'm not usually a fan of sci-fi, so this was a change for me. Pretty well done - lots of food for thought, but somehow it felt a little dated. So much of what she envisioned happening isn't that far-fetched, it seems. I liked how her protagonist -- a young African-American woman who founds a religion based on the tenet that God is Change and with a goal of populating outer space -- was a mixed bag. We see her through her daughter's eyes, when she is reading her mother's journals years later. So ...more
After loving Parable of the Sower (see my review) I was frustrated by this one. No the 1st wasn't flawless, but for 2/3 of its length it was nearly so. This one, on the other hand, is more defective than perfect, and despite a brilliantly realized, realistic dystopia -- an all-too-rare feat that I would otherwise be slobbering over -- my overarching feeling after finishing Talents was disappointment.

Butler still did certain things very well here. The necessary shift that Olamina undergoes in her
This is the follow up to the Parable of the Sower and a book that won the Nebula Awards back when it was released.
I very much enjoyed it. We follow the story of Laureen ( Olamina, Shaper) from the first book with small windows into the life of her daughter.
It's at time brutal, but moving to and without concession to what human can and will sometime do. But it's an optimistic book too.
Following the first book, the followers of EarthSeed have established a small community but a new american presid
2015 Reading Challenge: A book set in the future.

Yet again, Octavia Butler proves that she can do no wrong when it comes to writing female characters that are complicated, strong, adaptable, and flaws.
If you read Parable of the Sower (the previous book in the series), this is similarly gutwrenching but far more complex and more richly detailed. Also more ambiguous - I don't know what I'm supposed to think of any of the major characters though I sympathize with all of them - which you may not consider a virtue but I do. As usual, Butler's prose is so unmannered and plain-spoken that it's difficult for me to understand how she creates the effects she does with it. If you didn't read Sower, you ...more
Amber Dunten
I absolutely loved Parable of the Sower, and yet it took me a long time to get around to reading Parable of the Talents. Now, I wonder why. Probably because I heard that bad things were going to happen to Lauren Olamina and her followers in the second book, and I didn't know if I could face that, even knowing that bad things have to happen to good people to have drama. Probably also because I sampled the beginning of the book, and it opened with Olamina's adult daughter, and the first thing that ...more
Mark Oshiro
This was the first series I'd read of Butler's, having gone with her two standalone novels first before reading the first Earthseed. I wasn't expecting to be disappointed, mind you, but it was great to see how well Butler handles a sequel. This book as some similarities to Parable of the Sower, but it differs in vital ways. From the multiple points of view to the honest and challenging way Butler critiques the very religion she's created by using a certain character's POV, this is a massive nove ...more
yeah, so far it's just .... well, it's kind of boring. about one-third of the way in and there isn't much to say ....

i don't know anything about Octavia Butler - her politics or her religions affictions. er.... i mean affiliations - but Talents has even more of a 'soapbox' feel to it than the Sower did. i actually agree with a lot of the Earthseed creed Butler quotes at the beginning of each chapter, but this is suppose to be a novel. a story. go ahead and raise questions, provoke thought ... bu
Baal Of
For the first 200 pages of this book, I wasn't sure if I was going to like it as much as Parable Of The Sower. It had a lot of community establishment, and everyday life, and then the Christian Americans came along and made everything horrible and interesting. What's particularly scary, is that it seems like a completely plausible scenario. The Christian rhetoric coming from these thugs was exactly the same as that used in the current political climate in the US, and the excuses for their behavi ...more
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Octavia Estelle Butler was an American science fiction writer, one of the best-known among the few African-American women in the field. She won both Hugo and Nebula awards. In 1995, she became the first science fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant.
More about Octavia E. Butler...

Other Books in the Series

Earthseed (2 books)
  • Parable of the Sower (Earthseed, #1)

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“In order to rise
From its own ashes
A phoenix
“Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought.
To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears.
To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool.
To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen.
To be led by a liar is to ask to be told lies.
To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery.”
More quotes…