Guardian Newspaper 1000 Novels discussion

Kindred
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Monthly Book Reads > Kindred - June 2018

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message 1: by Darren (new)

Darren (dazburns) | 760 comments Mod
Welcome to the discussion thread for the group's June 2018 selection in the Sci-Fi & Fantasy category:
Octavia E. Butler's Kindred
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler

who's up for this one...?


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm planning on grabbing this from the library asap!


message 3: by Fay (new) - added it

Fay Roberts | 363 comments When I knew this was coming up I used an Audible credit on it and couldn’t stop listening so I’m all ready to discuss :-)


Dennis Fischman (dfischman) | 162 comments Of all the Octavia Butler books I’ve read, I liked this one the best. Her themes are clear, unmuddied by literary ambitions, and the historical sections felt closer than the present day.


Phil J | 11 comments Dennis wrote: "Of all the Octavia Butler books I’ve read, I liked this one the best. Her themes are clear, unmuddied by literary ambitions, and the historical sections felt closer than the present day."

Some readers prefer her books that are more purely sci fi. I've only read this and the Earthseed duology, so I don't have too many books to compare it with.

My take on Kindred is that it is a great read and an important entry into the sci fi genre. Here's my review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Jackie | 88 comments I'm in. They had this one on kindle for 99p!


Jackie | 88 comments I liked this a lot. I especially appreciated the way her crisp, clear style of writing enabled the book to pick up the pace as it continued and not get bogged down in the extremely complex issues that arose as the plot unfolded.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

Finished this yesterday. I found the time travelling unbelievable but was still hooked. I was amazed how it was still gripping to read even though the detailing of slavery was so horrific. Butler’s writing was respectful that it was part of the culture of the time and that’s what made it even more harrowing. It’s like we were time travelling alongside Dana. I think it’s a very important book - the closest we could possibly get to understanding that part of history.


message 9: by Fay (new) - added it

Fay Roberts | 363 comments Dennis wrote: "Of all the Octavia Butler books I’ve read, I liked this one the best. Her themes are clear, unmuddied by literary ambitions, and the historical sections felt closer than the present day."

Doesn't Dana "mention" a couple of times that she felt that the past was "realer" to her because of the hardship? I found the historical parts clearer too. I was surprised by how Dana's 1970's wasn't all that different from today. It was almost timeless within itself making it a book that can last the ages.


message 10: by Fay (new) - added it

Fay Roberts | 363 comments Catriona wrote: "Finished this yesterday. I found the time travelling unbelievable but was still hooked. I was amazed how it was still gripping to read even though the detailing of slavery was so horrific. Butler’s..."

I agree with everything you say there. I definitely think it's a more "realistic" book than others I've read about slavery. It was a stark contrast to last month's Uncle Tom's cabin....


Leslie | 825 comments Catriona wrote: "Finished this yesterday. I found the time travelling unbelievable but was still hooked. I was amazed how it was still gripping to read even though the detailing of slavery was so horrific. Butler’s..."

The time travel was a real problem for me -- I actually started this book about a month ago and put it aside because I dislike unexplained mysterious time travel as a literary device (I had the same problem with Outlander). And it bugs me that this is considered science fiction -- there is no science to the time travel here. I guess it is "speculative fiction".

However, I did find the historical fiction sections fascinating (and horrifying in their casual brutality) and that hooked me once I came back to the book for this group read. The characters all were believable & felt real and I felt the dialogue was well done. I would definitely consider reading something else by Butler.


message 12: by Bron (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bron (bron23) | 30 comments I really enjoyed this book and agree with Fay and Catriona's comments about how real the sections set during slavery felt. I thought the book gave a great insight into the time period both from a white and black viewpoint. That there was no explanation about the time travel didn't bother me but I do agree with Leslie that I don't really see this as a science fiction book.

I didn't get a chance to read Uncle Tom's Cabin last month (so it remains in the TBR list) so I find Kay's comparison interesting.

As a someone who doesn't often read science fiction I enjoyed Butler's writing enough that I would probably give another of her books (which all seem to fall more clearly into the science fiction category) a go at some point.


message 13: by Phil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Phil J | 11 comments My review is goes into the genre argument in depth: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

I thought it counted as a science fiction book because the main character copes with the consequences of something that is not currently possible. It's a book that asks "What if" about something that is not within current science. If you include sociology as a science, then the book is largely a scientific question of, "What if a person from the 1970s time traveled to the days of slavery?"

The topic of genre criteria has been hotly contested in recent years within the sci fi community. It's a loaded conversation.


Jackie | 88 comments I read your review Phil, thanks for that. I hadn't thought about Asimov, but you are right about how clear and concise Butler's style is. Astonishing that both the 1800s and 1976 feel as if they were happening right now, in fact pretty upsetting really given the way the world is. Ok, the time travel device isn't very convincing, but I could overlook it so that the story could be told.


Leslie | 825 comments Phil wrote: "My review is goes into the genre argument in depth: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

I thought it counted as a science fiction book becaus..."


I guess that it depends upon how one defines science fiction. I cling to the (perhaps now old-fashioned) definition that sci fi is

"a literary genre that makes imaginative use of scientific knowledge or conjecture"

So, for me, the 'something not currently possible' has to be something that could be possible given further scientific progress (robots, space travel, etc.) Having trained as a chemist, I tend to be biased against fields such as sociology (the so called social sciences) - I recognize that this is a prejudice but can't seem to rid myself of it.

It's for these reasons that I said I would personally consider it speculative fiction, a term which doesn't have the same science connotations.

Of course, lots of books don't fit neatly into the genre definitions and that's a good thing. I just bought up the issue because based upon the label of this as sci fi, I had expected something different.


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Outlander (other topics)
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Octavia E. Butler (other topics)