Parable of the Sower
I revisited this modern classic for the first time in over a decade this month! I'm stunned once again by how modern Butler's 1993 dystopian novel feels today. This series—a planned trilogy that was never completed—is the most realist of Butler's fiction. The setting is California, 2026, where a Black teenager named Lauren struggles for survival in a world gone to pieces, ravaged by climate change and drug abuse of epidemic proportions. Despite the overwhelming and terrifying obstacles she faces, Lauren isn't ready to give up yet, and bands together with a group of fellow travelers to head north in search of rumored safety, with the hopes of founding a colony for her Earthseed religion. Utterly gripping, and a great introduction to Butler's work.
Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, war, and chronic shortages of water, gasoline, and more. While her father tries to lead people on the righteous path, Lauren struggles with hyperempathy, a condition that makes her extraordinarily sensitive to the pain of others.
When fire destroys their compound, Lauren’s family is killed and she is forced out into a world that is facing apocalypse. With a handful of other refugees, Lauren must make her way north to safety, along the way conceiving a revolutionary idea that may mean salvation for all mankind.
Multiple Nebula and Hugo Award–winning author Octavia Butler’s iconic novel is “a gripping tale of survival and a poignant account of growing up sane in a disintegrating world” (The New York Times Book Review).