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Parable of the Talents (Earthseed, #2)
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Parable of the Talents (Earthseed #2)

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  7,679 ratings  ·  463 reviews
Parable of the Talents celebrates the classic Butlerian themes of alienation and transcendence, violence and spirituality, slavery and freedom, separation and community, to astonishing effect, in the shockingly familiar, broken world of 2032. Long awaited, Parable of the Talents is the continuation of the travails of Lauren Olamina, the heroine of 1994's Nebula-Prize final ...more
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published November 3rd 1998 by Seven Stories Press (first published 1998)
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Elizabeth
Mar 05, 2014 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
Lyn
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
...more
Sean
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
Zach
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
...more
Jennifer
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
Jessica
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
David
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
Elena
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
Jamie
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
...more
Jen
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
Andrew
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
Jenn
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
Melinda
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
Amy
SPOILERS BELOW

This is another great book by Octavia Butler. I have come to believe she can do no wrong. This is the sequel to Parable of the Sower, and was just as interesting and exciting as that book. My only issue with this book was that the end felt rushed and a little sloppy. One of the brilliant things about this book is the three perspectives: Olamina's, her daughter's, and her brother's. While the first book is presented exclusively from Olamina's viewpoint, the sequel shifts between the
...more
Wendy
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
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.

But.

The bad guys--and this was no ambiguous can't-tel
...more
Paige
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
Rachel
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
Wizzard
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
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
blake
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
...more
David
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
Sooz
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
...more
Sara
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stefanie
An excellent and fitting, if not perhaps completely satisfying, sequel to its predecessor.

We fast forward five years from the end of Parable of the Sower, and from there we learn what happens to Lauren Olamina for the rest of her life- through passages from her journal selected by her estranged daughter. Thus, we have something of a problem of unreliable narrator. Lauren's daughter (Larkin) forms an image of what Lauren is, and many of her selected writings support this image. Classic conformati
...more
Leslie
Parable of the Talents is the second installment of the "Earth Seed" series that was unfortunately cut short by Octavia Butler's untimely death. So, if you think it would drive you crazy to know that the story could continue and didn't because the author perished, DO NOT read these books. If, however you would like to read a dystopic novel centered on realistic human conflict please, please read this novel, and its predecessor Parable of the Sower.

Butler does a fantastic job of portraying the ki
...more
Beth
Another phenomenal book by Ms. Butler. As a sequel to Parable of the Sower I found that the only problem I had with this book was that, unlike Sower, it was told in different voices, which became a bit confusing once in a while. But the story was great, frightening and yet filled with all the hope of its main character, Lauren. She is not a person blinded by blind optimism. She is a person of determination and strength, both physical and of character. I was constantly made to think of how tragic ...more
charlotte
When you really come to love a group of characters and want things to work out well for them, it can be tough to read a sequel, because a sequel essentially requires that things have not worked out -- that the people you loved in the first book did not live happily ever after, and there are more trials and tribulations ahead. I had this experience reading the sequels to Vinge's The Snow Queen, and I had it reading this, sequel to the excellent Parable of the Sower. This one is as good as the fir ...more
Teel
I cannot recommend this book to anyone; it's mostly just torture porn. The formulaic plot and obvious resolution served only the constant barrage of terrible experiences written in an emotionally manipulative fashion to force the reader to "share" (in a parallel with the protagonist's condition (important in the first book and nearly forgotten here)) in the harshest situations the sadist-author could dream up (or copy/paste directly from history) to make her readers suffer. The book isn't poorly ...more
Nicholas Whyte
http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/1960895...

When I first read it, shortly after publication, the dystopian setting of a near-future USA torn apart by social conflict and religious extremism seemed a bit far-fetched; in these days of the Tea Party, Rick Santorum, the Citizen's United ruling and today's anticipated judgement on healthcare, it doesn't seem so unrealistic after all. I must say that the detail of the philosophical ideas of Lauren Olamina, the central character, rather sail past me - it's
...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)
Kindred Parable of the Sower (Earthseed, #1) Fledgling Dawn (Xenogenesis, #1) Wild Seed (Patternmaster, #1)

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“In order to rise
From its own ashes
A phoenix
First
Must
Burn.”
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“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.”
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