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Parable of the Sower (Earthseed, #1)
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Parable of the Sower (Earthseed #1)

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  18,238 ratings  ·  1,501 reviews
When unattended environmental and economic crises lead to social chaos, not even gated communities are safe. In a night of fire and death Lauren Olamina, a minister's young daughter, loses her family and home and ventures out into the unprotected American landscape. But what begins as a flight for survival soon leads to something much more: a startling vision of human dest ...more
Paperback, 345 pages
Published January 1st 2000 by Grand Central Publishing (first published November 1st 1993)
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I am going to start this review off by asking a theoretical question. There is a huge wave coming, it will wash you and everyone you love out to see. What do you do? Do you back up away from the water? Move to higher ground? Build a boat to ride it out? Or do you turn your back on it, play on the beach and pretend that it isn’t coming? Now imagine that it isn’t a wave of water, but a wave of violence, crime and people that will be unstoppable. No wall will hold them back. You may have nowhere id ...more
For a long time I had naively held on to the notion that Octavia E. Butler is the African American counterpart to Ursula K. Le Guin - an assumption begotten out of the commonality that both their creations despite being shoehorned into the genre of science/speculative fiction epitomize realities of institutionalized sociopolitical inequities. Not only has my first foray into Butler's literary landscapes altered that idea greatly but compounded my respect for Le Guin's masterful way of letting th ...more
I read this book in its entirety on the bus from New York back to Baltimore. It's a strange thing reading a dystopian novel on public transportation. After every chapter I paused and looked around: at the cars traveling in both directions, obeying commonly accepted rules of the road; and at the forty five strangers sitting around me, all adopting a social contract in which we sit quietly for three hours, keep our own personal space, and leave others to their seats, their money, their food, their ...more
Parable of the Sower isn't the easiest book to read. The prose is clear and uncomplicated, but the content can be hard to take. This is a close-to-home dystopia, one which I found hard to dismiss as improbable. And the world that it depicts is cruel and ugly. Even the well-meaning must do ugly things to survive.

This is science fiction only in the most technical sense. Sure, it's set in a hypothetical future, and the main character, Lauren, has an uncanny/(super)natural ability to feel the pain o
Jennifer (aka EM)
Jun 23, 2010 Jennifer (aka EM) rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jennifer (aka EM) by: jo
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
When I started reading this book I immediately felt inclined to rate it five stars even before finishing the first sentence. Hardly fair or reasonable I know, but that's love. I have loved Octavia Butler since reading Wild Seeds a couple of years ago, I went on to read Kindred and the Lilith's Brood trilogy which only solidified my love for this dear departed lady and all she stood for.

Having said that, I initially felt a little disappointed with the first chapter of Parable of the Sower beca
Sep 05, 2014 David rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: preacher's daughters, "post-racial" Americans, hyper-empaths
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
3.5 stars, but I expected better.

This should have been the must-read dystopia of the 90s. Perhaps it wasn't because Butler tried too hard. Or readers couldn't see past the obvious shortcomings.

Dystopias have been with us since 1948 and Brave New World, and Utopia's since Mores and even Plato's Timaeus. But Parable of the Sower may well have been this generation's dystopia. A really engaging, challenging story of believable, empathetic characters. Great social commentary.

What's wrong? One, her pr
I just skimmed a few other Goodreads reviews of Parable of the Sower and felt confused about why difficult subject matter seems to be a weakness to many readers. If anything, I wish Octavia Butler were around so I could thank her for that. She wrote about survival, change, and power with incredible insight; she grapples with some Big Stuff but her novel, ideas, and genre also manage to be accessible. Butler's clarity is a strength and perhaps a stylistic weakness, but mostly I think there's some ...more
 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja)
For this pleasure reader, there wasn't much pleasure in reading this book. Even still, I was compelled and drawn in. Octavia Butler was a very good writer, and I am glad I did get a chance to finally read one of her books. The narrator, the actress Lynne Thigpen, did an incredible job. Now, when I think of Lauren, I will picture her voice, feminine but strong and rich. I also liked the way she varied her voice to reflect the different characters speaking.

Lauren was a protagonist that rubbed me t
4.5 stars. A brilliantly written and extremely poignant story of a young girls struggle to find her way in a dystopian future. Highly recommended!!

Nominee: Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1995)
Nominee: Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1995)
Lauren Olamina lives with her family in a locked, walled community at a time of economic, environmental, and social crisis. Parable of the Sower is written as a journal of the intelligent black teenager in the years 2024-2027 in an area outside Los Angeles. In this dystopian future, water and other resources are scarce. Violence is rampant so people only venture outside the walls in a group armed with weapons. Because her mother took a certain drug when she was pregnant, Lauren has a condition c ...more
This was a compulsive page-turner for me.

Compared with at least one contemporary USian perspective, say, that of the low waged service worker, Lauren lives in one version of utopia: a close-knit community, like a village, shaped by an ethics of care and mutual support. She does not have to work, except to share the unalienated labour of social reproduction (childcare, food preparation, education of the young) which leaves her time to pursue her own preoccupations*. The person in her family who p
this is my first Octavia E. Butler book.

i kept contrasting Parable of the Sower with Cormac McCarthy's The Road and to a lesser extent with McCarthy's Blood Meridian. where McCarthy's The Road failed Butler succeeds extraordinarily--feminist perspective, social commentary that doesn't fly in your face but is also not completely opaque and mysterious. I felt that much of the social commentary (re: the process of social decay) took root in the front half of the book and then was fleshed out as the
I definitely liked aspects of this book, but I'm not sure how to distinguish it all from the idea of change as religion. I probably would have liked the book even more if I'd ignored the parts about religion, but in looking at only the title it's obvious that the new religion of Earthseed is meant to be a major part of the story. I would have been fine that if instead of founding a new religious community, they established a new government with the same ideals.

We had our tough female character w
Sep 06, 2007 Aberjhani rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of thought-provoking sci fi.

Octavia E. Butler's PARABLE OF THE SOWER is one of those rare, dangerous novels that succeeds as both fascinating fantasy and uncompromising social commentary. Within its first dozen pages, we encounter members of a typical family, armed with guns, on their way to church, a headless corpse, a naked homeless woman, a community walled in by terror, and a young woman dreaming of stars.

The dreamer is 16-year-old Lauren Oya Olamina, the would-be sower
Linda Robinson
Bumped into a British website that listed who the writer chose as the 5 women writers who best "write like a man." You know I had to look, grim-lipped and ready for battle. And I found Octavia E. Butler. Her character in this book, published in 1993, lives in a world so closely akin to what ours might become soon, it's uncanny. When I was an early reader, I was convinced that SF writers knew the future, that insights into what was to come were delivered directly into their writing neural synapse ...more
I saw the Book of Eli and it put me in the mood to read some end-of-the-world stories, so I got a list of the highest rated post-apocalyptic books from Goodreads and grabbed a bunch at the the library. I read a few pages of each till I came to Parable of the Sower and knew immediately I wouldn't be able to put it down.

I finished reading it that day and slept good; scary books have that effect for me. Its like, its a RELIEF to know there are lots of other pessimists out there like the author.

Parable of the Sower is the collected diaries of a young black woman called Lauren Olamina, living in california in 2025, in an almost apocalyptic time. Lauren is a hyperempath, a inherited condition that causes her to feel the pain of other people she sees. Lauren and her family live in a walled community, in fear of thieves and gangs and rapists, and 'paints', people with painted faces addicted to a drug called pyro, that makes them set fire to things for the pleasure of watching it burn. Life ...more
Parable of the Sower?

More like "Parable of the RAPEYRAPERAPERAPE!" What Gospel is this again? Where exactly is the good news? "A rapist scattered rape on a rapescape, and some rapes caused unending trauma, and other rapes caused unending despair, but still other rapes created Strong Female Protagonists, and they would never let any man take Advantage of Them Again."

Mindnumbingly stupid and insulting to actual real assault victims everywhere.

I stopped reading 40 pages in.

Hooray, another "gritty
I have no idea where to begin with my praise of this book. There is so much to it. So much.
Lauren Olamina makes this story. She basically is the story. Life, society, during Lauren's time is falling apart. The government structure still exists but does and can't do much again the ever growing chaos that's eating one neighborhood after another.

After Lauren's neighborhood falls to the hands of the crazy drug addicts (whom I can't help identifying with Reavers from Firefly) and her entire family g
I finally read Octavia Butler’s The Parable of the Sower but I was underwhelmed. The book is a decent coming of age story framed through a heroine’s journey told in unremarkable prose. I liked the premise of a near-future California dystopia as the consequence of current policies of cutting social services and regulations to the point that people need to fend for themselves in a nightmarish society of privately armed garrisons, water shortages, violent gangs and nimble adaptation to life’s unpre ...more
Why add a review when there is already hundreds out there and the book is nearly twenty years old and the author is dead? Well there is a time and space angle to this because this book has more of a resonance now than it had twenty years ago. We are at the beginning of the end stage of global warming. The positve feedbacks are starting up with methane being exhaled in the permafrosts of Siberia. This is the beginning of runaway climate change. It is also a time of hysterical fossil fuel producti ...more
Althea Ann
On second reading, I think Butler's riff on post-apocalyptic travails hit me harder than the first time. After seeing the devastation in New Orleans on television and talking to friends and others whose relatives made it out of the city, the concepts of civilisation falling apart and humanity's worst nature coming to the forefront seem a lot closer and more likely... events in general since I first read the book have certainly not reached anywhere close to what Butler predicts in this novel - (w ...more
Beth A.
Jul 09, 2009 Beth A. rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Beth A. by: Laura Dotson
What if Global Warming truly devastated our environment, and that destroyed the economy and made government useless, and homelessness the norm? What if water was a rare, expensive commodity? Add in a drug that makes people set fires for pleasure.

Octavia Butler creates all of this in her book Parable of the Sower.

This isn’t my usual book. I normally try to avoid the kind of violence and language that occurs within. It was –barely- within my tolerance levels but confirms that I still don’t enjoy r
Natasha Oliver
If you're fanatical about Christianity (or as my mother would say 'simply a good Christian'), then this book is not for you.

Octavia challenges the contemporary thinking of what/who God is and even goes one step further to create her own religion. One of the reviewers (luckily only 5 of the 100 reviewers didn't like this novel), called the author and this story "heresy"... which I think should warn those who would use such a term in 2008, to stay away from this award winning tale.

For those of you
Revisiting an old favorite via audio. This is a tale of a near-future dystopia which seemed much less likely when it came out than it does now. It's also an exploration of religion, and how an ordinary young girl can become the head of a new religion called Earthseed. Parts of this seem a bit fuzzy to me now, which is why I'm knocking it down one star from my original review. It's still an edge-of-your-seat ride, with an engrossing plot and interesting characters. Butler was a good writer who di ...more
Julie Davis
Scott's choice for the next A Good Story is Hard to Find podcast. It is my introduction to Octavia Butler. Despite the rather off-putting description that the author likes to focus on feminist and racial issues, luckily I have found none of those yet, just an interesting dystopian world as told by a young woman who has known little else.

I liked this book though I preferred the "road" sequence to the "community" sequence, which went on too long I thought. I also appreciated the "classical" style
A week ago I had never heard of this book. Today I just finished reading one of the more powerful, provocative, and poignant (forgive the unintentional alliteration) works of literature I've ever come across. Parable of the Sower is an example of everything a well thought-out and well executed dystopic work can be; it succeeds in every way other dystopic novels fail. Octavia Butler is a stunning talent.
I finished this in two days. Dystopia + process theology + women of color = <3

I am on to the Parable of the Talents... and I got three more of her books from the library today. Hello, End of the Semester!
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  • The Birthday of the World and Other Stories
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  • China Mountain Zhang
  • The Fifth Sacred Thing (Maya Greenwood, #1)
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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 Talents (Earthseed, #2)
Kindred Dawn (Xenogenesis, #1) Fledgling Parable of the Talents (Earthseed, #2) Wild Seed (Patternmaster, #1)

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“There is no end
To what a living world
Will demand of you.”
“The child in each of us
Knows paradise.
Paradise is home.
Home as it was
Or home as it should have been.

Paradise is one's own place,
One's own people,
One's own world,
Knowing and known,
Perhaps even
Loving and loved.

Yet every child
Is cast from paradise-
Into growth and new community,
Into vast, ongoing
More quotes…