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Clay's Ark (Patternmaster #3)

3.86  ·  Rating Details ·  3,377 Ratings  ·  259 Reviews
In a frightening near future, an alien disease is poised to become a devastating global epidemic—unless someone can stop it

Blake Maslin and his two daughters are driving to Flagstaff when bandits swarm their car. At gunpoint, the marauders kidnap one of Blake’s children, promising to keep her safe in return for medical care. Warily, the doctor goes with them, not realizing
ebook, 224 pages
Published July 24th 2012 by Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy (first published 1984)
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Mel It helps if you've read them all--makes the story a bit more accessible--but with the exception of the second in the series, Mind of My Mind, all of…moreIt helps if you've read them all--makes the story a bit more accessible--but with the exception of the second in the series, Mind of My Mind, all of the books in the series can be read alone and understood.(less)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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I enjoyed the purity of this science fiction tale on the theme of alien possession. In this short novel of less than 200 pages, we are subjected to an intense story of survival of a single family with the fate of the human race at stake. The terrible choices they must make put it over the line into the territory of psychological horror. What makes this book stand out is its use of the story as a doorway to larger themes of what it means to be human and to be part of a community.

Written in 1984,
Clay's Ark: An alien disease transforms a portion of humanity
Originally published at Fantasy Literature
Clay’s Ark (1984) was written last in Octavia Butler’s 4-book PATTERNIST series, but comes third in chronology. It takes place after Wild Seed (1980) and Mind of My Mind (1977), in the post-apocalyptic California desert. Society has collapsed into armed enclaves, marauding ‘car families’, organ hunters, and isolated towns. It’s along the lines of Mad Max, with fuel sources depleted and social i
This was the most disturbing book by Octavia E. Butler that I have read yet, further inspiring my desire to have a conversation with her to find out just how that brain worked. Her concepts are fascinating, even when as disturbing as this one.

Perhaps it was the violence against young children that has me troubled. The ending, certainly, is not for the faint of heart. However, I did not dislike this book because of this. My dislike comes, perhaps from a bias regarding its place as part of the See
Sep 20, 2016 Lynn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
This could easily be read as a brief standalone novel. Rather than fly, a wealthy family from a rich area takes a drive on the violent, dangerous roads between enclaves and gets kidnapped. Butler's series theme of genetics this time concerns an alien microbe that mutates human hosts. Fascinating always.
Dec 02, 2007 Sean rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Where Butler gets it right—always gets it right—is in the fascinating premises she builds her novels on. Where she occasionally gets it wrong is in the development.

Butler published Patternmaster in 1974, and then spent the next eight years filling in the history of the far-future world she had created. This produced Wild Seed, which became one of her best novels, but it also produced Survivor, which she later disowned, and Clay's Ark.

Clay's Ark has the usual Butlerian sexual, racial and xenophob
Paul Eckert
Mar 17, 2013 Paul Eckert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is the third book I've read in the Patternist series, going in the order they are collected in Seed To Harvest. I previously read Wild Seed and Mind of My Mind, and those two books were directly related, with a few of the same characters 200 years down the road. However, I didn't notice any direct links between Clay's Ark and Mind of My Mind, but maybe I missed something.

Anyway, here's the plot in a nutshell: an astronaut has crash landed on Earth, carrying with him a contagious disease-or
Oct 09, 2012 Dorothea rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
At first I expected Clay's Ark to have more ... human interest? for me than Mind of My Mind.

Both novels concern a sort of new development for humanity -- Mind of My Mind has people with psychic abilities who are gaining power by working as a group, and Clay's Ark has an isolated set of people infected by an alien disease which changes them completely. All of the major characters in Mind of My Mind were part of the in-group of psychics; there was no real voice for the ordinary humans whom the psy
Alan Chen
Nov 07, 2015 Alan Chen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This is an odd book in the patternmaster series. It has nothing to do with telepathic powers or even the body shifting powers featured in the other books which had a continuity of characters. This book deals with Elias, an astronaut that went on the first faster than light mission to the centauri constellation. He is the only survivor of his ship and is infected with an alien organism that gives him faster speed, super strength and night vision. The disease kills many of his crew but for those t ...more
Jan 03, 2016 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't realize as I was reading this that it's part of a series, but I gather it has little or nothing to do with the other three vols and certainly I was at no time made aware that it was other than a standalone. Moreover, the (1984) blurb makes no mention of this status; I wonder if it's a case of the novel being retrofitted into the series?

Whatever . . .

Around about now (although Butler was casting forward some decades from her own time), human civilization has degenerated grossly, with vas
Enjoyable, but certainly not the best of the Patternist series. The characters are thin even for Butler, and I never could fully suspend my disbelief in their motivations and subsequent actions. Without giving too much away, the only character I did have any affection/empathy for (I'll let you guess) ended up dying gruesomely haha. Oh well!

However, Butler does a tremendous job of describing the insidious and terrifying symptoms of the Clay's Ark disease, i.e. the physical changes, the urges, nee
Aug 14, 2010 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Spider the Doof Warrior
Many bad decisions were made in this book. So many. You can't just use a mind controlling organism group. Butler sucked me in with this normal, average father and twin daughters, one of which with Leukemia is just crossing a desert, minding their own business until they meet skinny, creepy people.

The skinny, creepy people turn out to have a disease. You get flashbacks to how that spread which are a bit confusing.

Then you follow this father and his daughters through their horrible plight which
A family is abducted into an enclave infected by a powerful, virulent alien symbiont. The book tracks two timelines: the initial outbreak of the symbiont, and the family's experience related from three points of view. The narratives constantly overlap, creating redundant plot and worldbuilding that slows the pacing. Butler's books often have a distinct push/pull, troubling dynamics and biology played against seductive interpersonal dynamics--but here, the pull is lacking: it's purely reproductiv ...more
Having read Wild Seed and Mind of My Mind, this was not at all what I expected of a book set in the Patternmaster series. It seems only peripherally attached to the Patternmaster series courtesy of something Clay, whom we meet in Mind of My Mind, developed.

Still, the book deals with some of the same preoccupations as are developed in the first two books, in particular how people manage go live under compulsions and especially how that impacts on sex and relationships and children. It was interes

3 stars

The sole survivor of a scouting trip returning from a far star, Eli, host to a powerful and contagious alien symbiont, tries to satisfy its demands without infecting the rest of the Earth.

It's finally clear to me that this is a 'series' in the sense of shared universe, not a continuing plot line. (I guess I might have been served better by a little research, rather than plunging in blindly. It seems Ms. Butler started with the fifth book and added the others somewh
Jul 28, 2015 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first discovered Octavia E. Butler, it was about 25 years ago—or more-- I read this book and found it creepy, disturbing and disgusting. I think. I haven’t reread it since then.
But the first few chapters of this novel were attached to Mind of My Mind, on Kindle, and I thought I’d try it again.

I see what squicked me then, but that plot point no longer has that power. Butler often writes about different kinds of slavery and compulsion, in this novel it’s to a disease from Proxima Centauri
Clay's Ark is set in a dystopian world similar to that of Parable of the Sower or Margaret Atwood's The Heart Goes Last: "...turn-of-the-century irrationality-- religious overzealousness on one side, destructive hedonism on the other, with both heated by ideological intolerance and corporate greed."

Butler sets up morally impossible situations and uses them to shape characters with competing, personality-driven shades of ideology. These ideologies are recognizable despite how strange it feels to
Apr 05, 2015 Inda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 20, 2013 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So, this is the first book by Octavia Butler I've ever read. I have felt recently like I should just give up on fantasy/sci-fi in general since most of what I've encountered over the past few years has been disappointing at best. But in reality, the urge to read these genres will probably never let me go. Maybe it's an alien virus I contracted as a youth, and is the reason why, whenever I avoid the fantasy/sci-fi aisles at the bookstore or library, I get the shakes and sweat profusely.

Octavia B
First off Clay's Ark has almost nothing to do with Wild Seed and Mind of My Mind. I have yet to read Survivor or Patternmaster, but from what I know, Clay's Ark provides explanation for the events in Survivor.

Anyway, with that in mind, Clay's Ark should almost be viewed as a stand alone novel. Granted, all the novels in this "series" are, since everything the publication order does not fit with chronological order.

Graphic scenes are abundant in Clay's Ark. I think they fit along with the plot, b
Leslie Reese
This book was riveting although I can't explain why! Maybe it is the combination of concepts such as hunger, survival, and difference; or the fact that there is no relief from the tension of the story's events.

Clay's Ark was a space mission contaminated by an extraterrestrial organism whose sole survivor, Eli, is returned to earth where he infects others, and fathers a colony of this new, highly sensed, highly sexual, and physically strong breed. The earth in the western U.S. seems bleak and si
Cécile C.
Aug 23, 2012 Cécile C. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
A rather fascinating development on the tenuous links between agragian utopias and utter dystopias, and how humankind could easily reverse into barbarity given the right context. The premise is simple (an illness, of extraterrestrial origin, alters the behavious of those contaminated); but the main interest of this books lies in the exploration of the struggle between the human side and the animal side, and the reorganisation of a whole community around the illness.

The characters are illustratio
Julie Decker
Jul 20, 2014 Julie Decker rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A disease of sorts--or rather, a sort of alien possession--is threatening to sweep humanity, changing the people it touches so they can no longer call themselves human. Should those affected exile themselves, or is a cure possible?

In another book in this series, Patternmaster, the descendents of those affected here are called Clayarks, and they're regarded as disposable, dangerous, subhuman entities. This book explains how the Clayark disease happened and what exactly it is. As for the story it
Excellent. Now Octavia Butler is a magnificent dystopia author, who creates such credible images of societies falling apart but, more importantly and more interestingly, investigates the intense moral/ethical dilemmas of her characters as they are confronted with whatever it is that is going wrong in society.

In Clay's Ark, there is a microscopic organism that develops a parasitic/symbiotic relationship with humans. Its desire to survive and propagate is insatiable, and the infected humans have t
Turns out Clay's Ark is my favorite Patternmaster book. Probably because it is less like the other Patternmaster books, and more like Fledgling, in that it focuses on how families can be chosen and created, relationships, sex, sort of polyamory, infection, invasion, and living in a small community in a hostile world. Page-turning and well-written and possibly one of my favorite Butler novels yet.
Jan 06, 2012 Pilouetta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
just the other day i was cruising down a lonely texas road, the low sun making waves and shadows long and mysterious in places. i thought of fast moving beasts - hybrids, part human, part extra-stellar. i checked my doors to see if they were in the locked position, and eyeballed my chihuahua in the rear-view. and though i love my dog, i knew the beings would go for him first, doubly useful as bait. did i make this up, did i read about this recently? and that is the thing i love about octavia but ...more
Not the best one but....

This one was ok. I wasn't crazy about the story but it had its perks I suppose. It just threw me off with the patternist theme
Jonathan Weiler
Nov 16, 2015 Jonathan Weiler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow, the final book (in written order). I throughly enjoyed every single book in this series. You MUST read these in written order and not the fake "chronological" order publishers packaged them in. If you can get your hands on survivor (wasn't republished and doesn't touch on the core story really at all) I recommend it as well.

There is something to Octavia's writing style that keeps a perfect pace without losing any details of the plot and environment. I'd describe her works as feature length
William Crosby
Mar 04, 2015 William Crosby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What does it mean to be human? Is a human who has been infected with an alien microorganism which causes various compulsions and alternative thought processes still human?

Fascinating concept.

Delves into issues of societal norms, religion, race, psychology, biological compulsions, perceptions of aliens.

The chapters alternated between a "present" and a "past." That was okay. But then the present also had the past mixed in with the present so that I would read about an event and then the story wou
Jesse Lehrer
Dec 17, 2014 Jesse Lehrer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my favorite book so far in the series. It was so weird and uncomfortable and disturbing. Aka: classic Butler. I still like the Xenogenesis series's much more cohesive and flows better, but this series is definitely very enjoyable and thought provoking as well. This one veers off a lot from the prior two books so I'm interested in seeing what happens in the last book. To be honest, I'm not even really sure why it's a series beyond the first two books, it jumps around so much. ...more
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The Blerd Book Club: Clay's Ark Discussion 10/6/13 - Spoiler Alert! 1 17 Oct 14, 2013 07:18AM  
The Blerd Book Club: Clay's Ark by Octavia Butler 3 30 Sep 24, 2013 08:59AM  
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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

Patternmaster (5 books)
  • Wild Seed (Patternmaster, #1)
  • Mind of My Mind (Patternmaster, #2)
  • Survivor
  • Patternmaster (Patternmaster, #4)

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