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

4.18  ·  Rating Details  ·  9,821 Ratings  ·  622 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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Jul 09, 2016 Lyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 03, 2016 Matthias rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-reviews
The Bible's Parable of the Sower talks about seeds. Seeds need to fall on good earth in order to grow into majestic trees.
Butler's Parable of the Sower told a similar tale: The seeds of a new religion need to find fertile minds.

The Bible's Parable of the Talents talks about talents that get buried in earth. These hidden talents don't grow but become pointless and represent a significant waste.
Butler's Parable of the Talents told a seemingly totally unrelated tale.

"Parable of the Talents" conti
Jun 17, 2016 Apatt rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
“We learn more and more about the physical universe, more about our own bodies, more technology, but somehow, down through history, we go on building empires of one kind or another, then destroying them in one way or another. We go on having stupid wars that we justify and get passionate about, but in the end, all they do is kill huge numbers of people, maim others, impoverish still more, spread disease and hunger”

The above passage is the essence of what Octavia Butler wanted to communicate with
May 28, 2015 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  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
May 10, 2010 Zach rated it liked it  ·  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
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
Jun 14, 2015 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
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
Two major problems lead to this book getting the rating it did
--The first one was completely the book's fault and that was extremely mediocre dialogue. Like its been a while since I've read dialogue this colorless.
--The second was that this is the second book in a duology...and i didnt read the first book. Bare in mind that you absolutely don't need to read the first book to read this one. But since i review books more from a writers standpoint than that of enjoyment, i noticed a lot of bug
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
May 12, 2010 Jamie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Jul 28, 2007 Elena rated it it was amazing  ·  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
May 15, 2009 Andrew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
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
Nov 22, 2012 Melinda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Mar 12, 2009 Jen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jun 14, 2011 Jenn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
"All prayers are to Self
And, in one way or another,
All prayers are answered.
But beware.
Your desires,
Whether or not you achieve them
Will determine who you become. "
Dec 01, 2015 Sunil rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2015
Parable of the Talents picks up five years after the end of Parable of the Sower ...but also many years after the end of Parable of the Sower.

Octavia Butler frames the story as a reconstruction by Lauren's daughter, sometime after Lauren's death (uh, spoiler warning). I liked her perspective quite a bit and wished for more from her, honestly, especially since she was sort of a vision into the future. It was fascinating to see how she viewed the characters I'd met in the previous book, some of w
Apr 22, 2016 blakeR rated it it was ok
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
May 18, 2009 Rachel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: good-stuff
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
Oct 14, 2015 Jillian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This book was so gut-wrenching in parts, the things the main character goes through so terrible, that I had a hard time putting up with parts. Butler does a fantastic job showing both the depths of evil humans can sink to when they're afraid and fanatic and hate-filled, as well as the incredible bravery in people. But mostly it's the selfish and depraved side. She shows how women and children bear the brunt of oppressive religious regimes.

The main character was so cool too. She's young,
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
Oct 11, 2015 Melissa Morgan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Apr 21, 2016 Kayt rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: People who want to be disappointed
At first, Octavia Butler appears to have time-traveled to 2016 and mashed Donald Trump and Ted Cruz together to create a Texas senator running for president who says, I kid you not, "HELP US TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN."

But then once I got over her time-traveling abilities and actually read the book, it went downhill. So fast. So completely.

The mediocre worldbuilding from the previous book [my review] does not improve. It's hard to get a grasp of exactly how broken this place is--lawlessness rei
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
David Haws
May 05, 2016 David Haws rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
The allusions to African slavery and the Middle Passage (“justified” through its Christianizing influence) were interesting, but Jarret and the CA feel like strawmen. Surely there must have been someone whose religious beliefs were less cynically professed. Surely there must have been opposition to Jarret—if only local—which would use the described oppression as political capital. Butler wrote well, but I felt that the rape and pillage was a little overdone. Of course, the rape and pillage of Af ...more
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Comparisons Between God's Gardeners and Earthseed 2 16 May 16, 2015 02:15PM  
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  • The Falling Woman
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  • Slow River
  • The Moon and the Sun
  • Powers (Annals of the Western Shore, #3)
  • Stations of the Tide
  • Moving Mars (Queen of Angels, #3)
  • Brown Girl in the Ring
  • Rite of Passage
  • The Terminal Experiment
  • Camouflage
  • Seeker (Alex Benedict, #3)
  • Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora
  • A Door Into Ocean
  • The Einstein Intersection
  • A Time of Changes

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…