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Wild Seed (Patternmaster #1)

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  7,544 ratings  ·  641 reviews
Doro is an entity who changes bodies like clothes, killing his hosts by reflex or design. He fears no one until he meets Anyanwu. Anyanwu is a shapeshifter who can absorb bullets and heal with a kiss and savage anyone who threatens her. She fears no one until she meets Doro. Together they weave a pattern of destiny (from Africa to the New World) unimaginable to mortals.
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 1st 2001 by Grand Central Publishing (first published 1980)
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This book is one of the best stumbled upon moments in years. I was reading a book review by Orson Scott Card and he was waxing lyrical about Octavia Butler in general and this book in particular. Wild Seed is science fantasy as opposed to science fiction as a lot of the fantastical elements are scientifically improbable, though biology plays an important part in the story also. The story is about two immortals, a man and a woman; while they are both immortals the nature of their immortality is v ...more
I really don't know where to start with this review. Wild Seed is unlike anything I have ever read before but yet it was still very accessible and easy to read. I would say this book is a combination of urban fantasy, horror, historical fiction and fantasy. Butler addresses slavery, gender roles, racial issues, sexuality, and class issues so subtlety you can miss the commentary if you want to and she does this all through the lens of a fantasy world involving supernatural beings that are seeming ...more

As Woolf once said Middlemarch is one of the few English books written for grown-ups, so too is this one of the few pieces of science fiction written for the real world, not marketing and academia. Of course, so chock full is this work with critical engagement and unflinching history that the cries of 'polemic' and 'bias' would not be an unlikely reaction. If that doesn't work, 'prosaic' could always be used as a strong condemnation via completely arbitrary standards of institutionalized re
Dear Goodreads friends,

If you like to read science fiction / fantasy you should get to know Octavia Butler.



Butler’s 1980 novel Wild Seed is the first chronological book in her Patternmaster series. This details the beginnings of the sub-race of humans that will, in Patternmaster, be set in the far future. Butler begins her narrative in 1390, in West Africa, where her protagonist Anyanwu meets a strange young man named Doro.

So begins a centuries old relationship, often rocky, between two
[Name Redacted]
Butler's sci-fi classic has so much to recommend it. She is a very talented writer, and she creates a mythology and cosmology which are, if not unique, then arguably the best-developed of their kind. "Wild Seed" is beautiful and lyrical and powerful, but the rampant misandry and peculiar romanticization of pre-colonial Africa mar it -- infect it like a virus.

There is neither subtlety nor nuance in Butler's representation of the two sexes. No woman is ever a criminal or a monster or a villain --
Most of us don't believe in gods and spirits and devils who must be pleased or feared. We have Doro, and he's enough.
What can I say about Wild Seed that could come anywhere close to doing it justice? This is the story of how Doro met Anyanwu, the only living soul on Earth who could possibly match his will; test his patience, endure his passive cruelty, and time and again defy him in ways even she could not possibly understand.

And forever is a long time to endure one another when you are two of
Mar 16, 2008 Rona rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fantasy and sci-fi fans, women of color, history buffs
This is one of my favorite books ever, for its superb blending of atmosphere/landscape, characterization, politics, history, race/gender/sexuality, politics, and plot. Ms. Butler (may she rest in peace) created some of the most memorable characters in my mind in Doro and, of course, Anyanwu/Emma. I could read this book over and over. Just doing a text analysis of the opening 7 paragraphs is such an education to an aspiring novelist like me. Didn't like 'Mind of My Mind' as much, but wonder if an ...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
My first foray into the unique world of Octavia Butler's imagination does not disappoint. Terrify, yes, and fascinate in an almost grotesque way, but it's oh so worth it. It is also a good example of speculative fiction and what you can do with it.

For over three thousand years Doro has wandered the Earth, gathering together those born special, with latent potential or abilities, usually mental, that can endanger themselves or others. Born human, Doro died during his own "transition" as a boy, ye
A great book, I can’t believe that I just discovered Octavia Butler this year. She has been one the gems that I have encountered while reading through the NPR list of classic science fiction and fantasy. This novel could easily be a stand-alone novel, but I was intrigued when I realized it was the first in a series—I will be very interested to see where Butler takes the story from here.

Although this is another book about extraordinarily long life, Butler examines it from a very different view po
This book wasn't as good a match for my mood as N.K. Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, but it didn't suffer for being read immediately after it. It's an interesting concept: a being that might as well be a god, moving from body to body, amoral and utterly self-serving, trying to breed others like him so he won't be alone, and a being who is also immortal, or close to it, nurturing families so she won't be alone. The two of them are entirely different: Anwanyu loves the people she finds an ...more
Jan 14, 2011 Kane rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: would-be writers
Striking and unique. Where do I begin? Maybe at the beginning. The first few paragraphs of Wild Seed are a lesson on exposition. From a careful reading we get a developing picture of a very odd character. We're encouraged to look further. We're repulsed. We're drawn back. We care.

This is the story of the meeting of two strange beings, Doro and Anyanwu. Both have incredible powers; but use them very differently: one kills coldly and easily and one is a healer. Their evolving and complex relations
Octavia E. Butler's women are incredibly strong characters. One of her themes is that people are either masters or slaves but occasionally there is a person who refuses to be either and that person becomes persecuted for their refusal to be labeled. The main protagonist of Wild Seed is one of those persons. She is a mutant who has lived 300 years, both feared and respected in her African tribe yet always living on the outside for her protection. She meets another non-human that is much older and ...more
Zen Cho
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Synesthesia (SPIDERS!)
Doro just needed a copy of Sims, but not Sims 4 because it sucks. Then he could breed people, manipulate them all day and have himself a good time without causing suffering and misery to actual people.

But, it would have been harder for him to find a body.

Somehow he gets drawn to Anyanwu living in some African town in the time of slavery. He ensnares this powerful woman in his web of control, dominance and general assholery as he tries to breed people he can fit in with.

And control. Because that
Zachary Jernigan
One of the most emotionally effective science fiction novels I've ever read, Wild Seed succeeds triumphantly because it manages to work on so many different levels. It is at once a fantastically speculative novel, a revelatory examination of power relationships, and a searing criticism of human family structures and assumptions.
Kate Sherrod
It's been too long since I immersed myself in one of Octavia E. Butler's magical-biological-genealogical-alien-witchcraft-historical-futuristic-mind-blowing series. I always forget, until I'm deep into one, how much I love them, love her way with language, with imagery, with storytelling, with poetry, with imagination.

Wild Seed begins a series I've long had my eye on but had long avoided because my local public library didn't have all of it: the Patternmaster series, a late entry in which (Survi
Ezinwanyi~the Impish Angel  (Oh My Shelves)
Normally, I am not a science fiction fan, but the cover seemed really intriguing. I decided to read it and I was not disappointed. This book was so engaging that I just couldn’t put it down.
The story was about two immortal beings, Doro and Anyanwu, and began a journey together. Anyanwu was a healer and a matriarch, whereas Doro was a parasitic patriach obsessed with creating the perfect civilization who would worship him. Doro was fascinated by humans and descendants who exhibited supernatural g
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 20, 2007 Sean rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: lovers of feminist science fiction; non-boring people
Even after her death in 2006, Octavia Butler remains one of the foremost voices in science fiction. Wild Seed is wonderful embodiment of her work: in it, she tackles such disparate themes as dominance and submission; race and culture; the morality of genetics; feminism, femininity and femalehood; mortality and immortality; family, loyalty, love, friendship and hatred; and endurance at all costs. On top of this, the book is tensely plotted and full of strong, vibrant characters. Do not let the he ...more
Jul 05, 2015 Allison marked it as try-again-someday  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Allison by: Kindle Daily Deal
I'm going to invoke my 50 page rule on this one and move onto something else. I know I've really only read 45 pages, but skimming to get to 50 isn't going to help. I'm just not into it.
Sometimes you find something amazing in the most random ways. I first discovered Octavia Butler while waiting in a mall. I haven't really been a mall person since I was about 17, but it was Christmastime, and I suppose malls are unavoidable. While listening to a band play holiday tunes in the center of the mall, I noticed a small bookstore I had never noticed before. Well, the band was pretty good, but they had nothing on a store full of books. Walking in, right on the first shelf I saw, was the ...more
I honestly didn't expect to like this book much but surprisingly I did. Once I got over the shape-shifting, gender changes, breeding/constant reproduction, et. al., I discovered it to be a much more complex book that dealt with familiar themes of race, gender, loneliness, healing, nurturing, power, manipulation, get the drift. It was also fascinating to follow the journey Anywanwu & Doro had to travel to get to the point they did. This was my first Octavia Butler novel and ...more

3.5 stars

Doro, who has the power to take the bodies of others, meets Anyanwu as he wanders the world gathering stock for his efforts to breed humans with special powers. Both immortal, they each suffer setbacks and disagreements as they forge an uneasy and uneven alliance.

I first ran across Octavia Butler's books in the stacks at Powell's, a couple of decades ago. I didn't buy any. I'd heard her name, and the feeling I got from that and from the books themselves was o
Having previously read two of the three Lillith's Brood novels, I must admit I am slightly disappointed in Wild Seed for its conscious effort to maintain a safe distance from the truly strange. This may sound a bit ludicrous, considering the novel's plot: Doro, an immortal spirit originating in Nubian antiquity, is obsessed with genetic engineering of humans, and strives for millenia to "breed" an X-Men type of human society in the hopes of eventually creating other immortals like himself. Just ...more
Sep 12, 2009 Ariel rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Ariel by: Lambert
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 16, 2014 Kaethe marked it as abandoned
This just wasn't working for me. I couldn't bring myself to carry it to work with me today, because I didn't want to have to read it. Not a good sign. I'll comfort myself that similar ideas are used in both Fledgling and Lilith's Brood, and that those books were a delight to read.

Inter library loan.
Moira Fogarty
This was a terrific, fast read. I was glued to it for a whole day and even when parts were very disturbing, I had to know what happened next. Such a great brain-cleanse after reading Heinlein; this is sci-fi with a decidedly black, feminist, woman-centric bent. If you like the X-Men, or the Bene Gesserit sisterhood in Herbert's Dune, I suspect you will love the ideas behind this novel. The two main characters are so complementary and so tied together by bonds they would like to break - I couldn' ...more
Mark Oshiro
(Sorry for all the updates in one day. I haven't had time to update Goodreads!)

This is... fantasy? Science fiction? Alien invasion? Who cares, because HOW DID OCTAVIA BUTLER KEEP WRITING SUCH BRILLIANT BOOKS? I decided to read the Patternmaster series in the order of internal continuity, not publishing date, since this is apparently how Butler preferred the series to be read. I admit that this was the hardest Butler book for me to get into, as the opening is a slow burn. But the payoff? Emotiona
Paul Eckert
I’ve never read Octavia E. Butler before this book, so I didn’t know what to expect. I am actually reading the collected Patternist series, Seed to Harvest, which has all 4 novels in one volume. Wild Seed is the first of these books. The premise described on the back cover sounded promising if not vague: gods and goddesses breeding generations of weirdoes with strange abilities which are eventually used to protect earth from an invasion.

Wild Seed is the story of Doro, a 3,700 year-old spirit-man
I can't believe I hadn't read this before. Part of the reason of course is I didn't know who Octavia Butler was until a year or so ago. Wild Seed is a strange and compelling read, one that at times echoed with ideas and narratives that made me think of other books but in the end it is unlike anything I've read. At one point, I wondered if Neil Gaiman has been influenced by Wild Seed when writing American Gods. (I don't know if he has read Wild Seed. Just wondering.) At another, the questions Wil ...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

Patternmaster (4 books)
  • Mind of My Mind (Patternmaster, #2)
  • Clay's Ark (Patternmaster, #3)
  • Patternmaster (Patternmaster, #4)
Kindred Parable of the Sower (Earthseed, #1) Fledgling Dawn (Xenogenesis, #1) Parable of the Talents (Earthseed, #2)

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“In my years, I have seen that people must be their own gods and make their own good fortune. The bad will come or not come anyway.” 19 likes
“Civilization is the way one's own people live. Savagery is the way foreigners live.” 16 likes
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