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Clay's Ark

(Patternmaster #3)

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  5,087 ratings  ·  428 reviews
An innocent familiy, carjacked on a desolate highway, is abducted to a bizarre new world. A world being born in the Californian desert.

They discover Earth has been invaded by an alien microorganism. The deadly entity attacks like a virus, but survivors of the disease genetically bond with it, developing amazing powers, near-immortality, unnatural desires - and a need to sp
Mass Market Paperback, 213 pages
Published December 1996 by Warner Books (first published March 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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3.83  · 
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 ·  5,087 ratings  ·  428 reviews

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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
May 10, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Dec 02, 2007 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
Jun 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Leslie Reese
Mar 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 sensient, highly sexual, and physically strong breed. The earth in the western U.S. seems bleak and
Rachel (Kalanadi)
Nasty, short, brutish. The weakest and most unpleasant I've read by Butler so far, particularly in that the intensely uncomfortable elements (graphic violence, rape, infectious Stockholm Syndrome) do not seem worth it for the plot.
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I've never read a book that was so different from the other books in its series! The connection with the first two books wasn't made until the last four or five chapters, and I think that's pretty neat. I actually forgot that I was reading Patternmaster for most of the book and kept having to remind myself that I was still in the same series.

Besides that, great story, exceptional character development (naturally), and Octavia's signature emotionally intelligent writing style. Highly recommend.
Apr 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars.

This book definitely makes a lot more sense and gives a feeling of continuation if it is read AFTER the fourth and final book of the Patternmaster series. Herein the development of the other social group from "Patternmaster" is explained and it is very loosely connected to one of the characters from "Mind of your Mind".

But be warned. This book is probably the most disturbing and brutal of Butler's works. And Butler being Butler this means a lot! There is rape, mutiliation and horrible
Aug 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 03, 2016 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

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 somew
Spider the Doof Warrior
Oct 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 26, 2018 rated it liked it
I really need to start learning context around books, especially in series, before I start reading.

Clay's Ark is chronologically third in the series but was apparently published later to provide some background on one of the groups in Patternmaster that hadn't been introduced in the previous two books. Without that context, the connection to Mind of My Mind was unclear until more than halfway through the book, and then is only a brief mention of a relatively minor character from Mind of My Mind
Mar 01, 2018 rated it liked it
This one didn't feel at all like a part of this series, it lacked all reference to previous characters and events, and from what I saw, included nothing that would connect the story itself to the first two; while I think that strange, it is not, necessarily, a deal breaker, and I am also hopeful that the final book can tie them all together.

This one actually seemed a lot more like a zombie story; a virus hits that spreads impulsively and affects nearly everything in the host, but it was maybe mo
Samantha (AK)
So, this book was a little bit of a letdown. Up till now, I've enjoyed what I've read by Octavia Butler, but this novel was just kind of... meh.

Clay's Ark is only distantly connected to the rest of the series (that I've read to date) by the side character of Clay Dana (introduced in Mind of My Mind). Clay does not directly appear in this book, but he did design the ship used in the expedition that brought back the disease at the core of this book's plot.

Ultimately, it reads as a mediocre side-ad
Really interesting premise about an extraterrestrial microbe that will mutate the future of the human race. It was very violent and tension filled, so not exactly a fun read. Fast-paced, though, and makes me intrigued to read the rest of the series. This also worked perfectly as a stand-alone. It was a complete, whole story.
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Meh. I dunno how it went from mutants to alien microbes taking over people. It's a much quicker read because so many people die in this one and I don't need to think too hard when I read it o.o;;
Craig Flint
May 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am not an avid science fiction reader but after seeing an exhibit on Octavia Butler at The Huntington I was inspired to read one of her works and was not disappointed. Clay's Ark invokes a familiar theme remenicient of The Adromeda Strain or Body Snatchers. We humans always seem to be anxious about the possible alien take over of our bodies. I anticipate trying another one of her stories.
Jan 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this installment of the Patternist series. But I struggle to see its connection to Doro, Anyanwu, etc al., beyond Clay Dana’s connection.
Jan 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Content warnings: graphic murder, suicide, gratuitous sexual violence, mentions of disease/illness/infection
Sep 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
It is so hard for me to admit that I didn't like an Octavia Butler book. This year one of my reading resolutions was completing her catalog by filling in the gaps of the 5 or so things I hadn't read yet, this series being a big chunk of that. Wild Seed and Mind of My Mind are the first two books in the Patternist series, followed by Clay's Ark. Either of the first two books would work on its own, and Mind of My Mind is brilliant. I'm not sure what is happening with Clay's Ark. It seems to have n ...more
Jul 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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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.

Other books in the series

Patternmaster (5 books)
  • Wild Seed (Patternmaster, #1)
  • Mind of My Mind (Patternmaster, #2)
  • Survivor
  • Patternmaster (Patternmaster, #4)
“He saw her as she had been when he met her at UCLA. He was going to fight diseases of the body and she, diseases of a society that seemed to her too shortsighted and indifferent to survive. She preached at him about old-fashioned, long-lost causes—human rights, the elderly, the ecology, throwaway children, corporate government, the vast rich-poor gap and the shrinking middle class. …She should have been born twenty or thirty years earlier.” 0 likes
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