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Clay's Ark (Patternmaster, #3)
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Clay's Ark (Patternmaster #3)

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  2,586 ratings  ·  184 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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Greg So far I don't think it's totally necessary. I had heard good things about Butler's writing so I went to the library looking for nothing in particular…moreSo far I don't think it's totally necessary. I had heard good things about Butler's writing so I went to the library looking for nothing in particular and picked Clay's Ark. It was an older copy so had no indication it was part of a series. I recently picked up Patternmaster and it also gives no indication that it is part of a series, let alone the last. (less)
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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,
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
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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
Synesthesia (SPIDERS!)
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

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
Paul Eckert
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
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
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
MeiLin Miranda
The last-written--and least--of the Patternist books. Butler's almost parasitic alien life form is frighteningly believable, as is the fate of the people it infects...and the story is so very bleak. I don't do bleak well. That's not why this is the least of the Patternist books. Butler was filling in the gaps, splicing the last thread in the story she began weaving with Patternmaster, and that's exactly how it reads.
Baal Of
It's difficult to see how this grim, violent book fits in with the rest of the patternmaster books, since there appears to be no connection with Doro and his cultivated family of mutants. There was the briefest mention of a particular victim of the disease having been better able to cope with the disease, with implication that this survivor might have been connected to Doro, but since I didn't make a note of the passage, I can't find it now, so who knows if I'm just making that up. The alien pla ...more
Logan Christian
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Aug 27, 2008 Erika rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Erika by: Todd
There are a lot of books and movies about a post apocalyptic world. Count on Octavia Butler to write about the events of the apocalypse instead and to invoke a complex mix of feelings that leave you thinking about your humanity for days.
That being said, this was my least favorite of her books so far. I found it gritty and raw in a way that I personally find uncomfortable. I also felt that there was much less of the character development that I have come to expect and enjoy.
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I have no idea why this is supposed to be linked to the last two Patternmaster series books. The only link is one that was obviously contrived, and is completely irrelevant to this book.

In this book and the last, one of Octavia Butler's patterns becomes clear. She reuses names from novel to novel. For example, there is a family surname Larkin that figures fominently in the second of this series, and the name Asa in this novel. Both names reappear in the Earthseed series written many years later
Julie Decker
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
This is probably my least favorite of the Patternist books, but it was definitely important in understanding a certain perspective in the related book Patternmaster, not to mention that it was interesting to see how the Clayark disease began.
Zanetta Robinson
The writing is fine, but so far, the story is boring the crap out of me. I dont care about ANY of these people. AT. ALL.

How can an author write one book and make me love EVERYONE, then write a different book in that same series that makes me give less than a damn? I dont know.

Update 5/5/14: I felt supremely guilty, so I finished the entire book. Clay's Ark was...interesting, I guess. I didnt give a hoot about any of the characters, except for maybe the astronaut guy, whose name I dont remembe
Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali
I loved this however it doesn't feel at all connected to the two previous Patterist books.
This books feels like a stand alone.
I'm in awe, as I am with much of Butler's writing, at the sheer simplicity of both writing and idea. Despite the simplicity Butler serves up intelligent, layered, unique, ethically and socially, throught provoking stories.
Clay's Ark is a very sad story from beginning to end. I think the brightest point I was able to take away from this is that in the midst horror, when
Okay, so I don't know how to rate Octavia Butler's work. This book was fantastic but also horrifying. 3 isn't enough stars but I don't know yet if I can say I really "liked"it.
Jim Brucker
Excellent, compact story that reads fresh and current. All of these zombie-outbreak fanatics could learn something from Butler's amazing combination of humanity and brutality.
My least favorite of the "Patternmaster" series, it has little to do with the narratives of the other books and feels disconnected from them. I kept reading hoping for a clearer connection or understanding of the book's role in the larger series, but was disappointed.

I enjoyed the reflection on what constitutes humanity and human values- the community of people infected with an alien sickness that strips them and their children of the genetic markers of human-ness and compels them to infect othe
Margaret Carmel
After the final confrontation between Mary and Doro in Mind of My MInd, I was really excited to start this next book in the Patternist series to find out the implications of that. However, instead this book is about an apocalyptic future and a small enclave of people trying desperately to keep a space disease from infecting the planet.

It's my understanding that this story is a prequel that explains some things in the final book, but i'm not entirely sure it needed telling. It's definitely obvio
William Crosby
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
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
Doesn't make much sense as part of the Patternmaster series when read in order except in the most peripheral way (the developer and source of the name of the ship is a character in the previous book in the series). However, when you know that the last book chronologically was the first written by the author, it makes much more sense as an important element of the backstory, even if the humanity of the infected doesn't follow through the final book. Taken on its own, this is the best, meaning mos ...more
Adam Shields
Short Review: This is a one off book from the series. It feels different from the rest (but I guess all the book in this series feel different from the rest). It is a meditation on slavery like all others, but this time it is an alien control story where the alien is a microbe and we become enslaved to our changed biology. Of the books that I have read by Butler, this is the closest to a horror story, although it is not quite that. It feels a bit like Cormac McCarthy's The Road, but with a bit m ...more
Butler is such a glorious pessimist. Here the pessimism most evident in Parable of the Sower shines through. This is a dark dismal tale that we all know from the beginning can only end badly. I was constantly wondering if she was going to be able to rescue a smidgen of hope from the decay of humanity. What’s most striking is that she tells this dystopian tale without using any bang of an apocalypse, just a slow whimper. Chilling!
Still an interesting book, its place inside the series felt off until I read the final book. This is partly because the first and second book have the same sub-main character and the same viewpoint, but this one mentions nothing of the first two books. I was also deeply frustrated by a sense that there are no really good male characters. Like...there are non-rapist men in the book who try to be good, but ultimately they refuse to listen to and order around the women in their lives. Plus there ar ...more
Parts of this reminded me of the unpleasantness that kept me from continuing with Parable of the Sower. It's only loosely connected to Wild Seed and Mind of My Mind.
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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 29 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 (4 books)
  • Wild Seed (Patternmaster, #1)
  • Mind of My Mind (Patternmaster, #2)
  • Patternmaster (Patternmaster, #4)
Kindred Parable of the Sower (Earthseed, #1) Fledgling Dawn (Xenogenesis, #1) Parable of the Talents (Earthseed, #2)

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