Friday, February 20, 2009

#10 Parable of the Talents, by Octavia E. Butler

Yet another Butler novel on my list this year. I can't help it, I love her stuff. This one is in her Earthseed series, and I want to say its the last one, but I don't actually know how many are in the series, so I probably shouldn't assume anything.
I loved this book so much. The story is about the later life of Lauren Oya Olamina, a sharer, in the 2030's through to her death as an 82 year old woman. Olamina escapes from a life of fear and violence to live with a small community called Acorn in the countryside of California, (at least I think its in California.Its not entirely clear in the book where Acorn is located.) She believes in something she calls Earthseed, a kind of religious belief that says "God is Change, Shape God." This belief helps establish Acorn as a safe place for a few people, until someone named Jarrett Smith comes into power as President in 2032. He had established a church of his own called Christian America Church, and preached fire and brimstone against the "heathens" that had turned his "God-fearing" United States into a cesspool of violence, poverty, and immorality. So he sets out to "cleanse" the country of all those he deems "immoral." Unfortunately, this includes the Earthseed community, which he sees as a cult. With this book, like all her others, you get nothing but brutal honesty. Butler never shies away from portraying humanity as it really is- mean, nasty, awful, hypocritical, violent, erratic- and not some pretty picture we all like a lot better than the reality. And, yet again, she manages to parallel so much of what has happened in this country after she wrote this book; she writes of what could happen if we don't do our duty as citizens and make the hard choices. I don't mean to sound preachy, but seeing what could happen if we aren't responsible enough to stop it from happening makes me very angry.

This is a must read, in my opinion, for everyone.

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