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review 2020-06-17 14:04
Unexpected Stories
Unexpected Stories - Octavia E. Butler

Really enjoyed these two short stories by Octavia E. Butler. They were wonderful and I was left wanting more.


Per usual, here are my reviews for the two stories.


A Necessary Being”(5 stars)-Butler creates a world in which the color of a person's skin means they are meant to be leaders. We find out that these "people" are able to change colors which shows what type of caste they belong to. We follow Tahneh who is a Hao. Hao are kidnapped and forced to govern "tribes". We get peeks into what was done to Taneh's father who was the Hao before her. Tahneh is not able to have a child which means her "tribe" is desperate for another Hao. When a Hao and two other "people" are found nearby, Tahneh can either go along with what her people want, or try to steer them to something new. This story really plays with race, class structure, and consent. You can see pieces of plots and narrative that will show up in Butler's Xenogenesis series.


Childfinder" (5 stars)-Way too short. Seriously. I wanted more. We are in a new world when those who have telepathic abilities are valued. An older woman has found a new child with these abilities. We find out that she is focusing on finding black children and trying to hide them from a larger organization who does not have their best interest at heart. We have Butler playing with the angry black woman trope a bit and how black people do their best at not showing their feelings, i.e. their hatred. Who better to go out and find children with special abilities and teach them to keep their feelings inside. This really did read like a start to a longer book and I really really wanted that longer book.

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review 2020-04-01 21:15
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
Kindred - Octavia E. Butler

A feeling of nausea, a dizzy spell, and Dana opens her eyes not in her house, but on a muddy riverbank in time to save a boy from drowning. She finds herself back home, but covered in mud. This begins a terrifying ordeal where Dana doesn't know when she'll be taken again back, only that there is a connection between her and a sullen red-haired boy named Rufus in the early 19th century.


This was not the book I was expecting - I must have had my wires crossed with one of her other books - but 'Kindred' is phenomenal. We follow Dana as she is, sometimes for months at a time, trapped on Maryland plantation: a black woman with no traveling papers. Dana is a modern woman and as this is a first-person novel, we experience her thoughts as she attempts to rationalize her actions and those of the people around her. There is brutality, kindness, slow capitulation and sharp reminders of the era. There are decisions that Dana makes that defy comprehension, but I have no idea how I would react in a similar situation, so I find it hard to judge her. What made the bond between Dana and Rufus so strong? It goes well beyond self-interest.


All I know is that this book kept me reading late into the night, I couldn't put it down until I found out how Butler reached the ending hinted at in the beginning. 

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review 2020-03-23 11:16
Bloodchild: And Other Stories - Octavia E. Butler

by Octavia Butler


A dark science fiction story that begins a series. It gets a little squirmy but an interesting study in choices and symbiotic relationships with an alien species.

The names suffered from the overly unusual aspects that some readers complain about in Fantasy novels, but this reminded me of Alien, the Go'auld of Stargate and other SciFi stories.


Not a bad read, but I won't be following the series.

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review 2020-02-19 21:07
Parable of the Talents, Earthseed #2 by Octavia E. Butler
Parable of the Talents - Octavia E. Butler

'Parable of the Talents' is a very different book than 'Sower', but I felt it was just a good. The first novel was made up of selected early journals of Lauren Olamina, who "discovered" Earthseed and led her group of survivors to safe land owned by her lover Bankole after her home and family were destroyed.


Joining Olamina's voice is commentary from her daughter some years after Olamina's death. There are shorter fragments from the journals of Bankole and passages from Olamina's brother's book 'Warrior' as well.


I loved the tension that the voices of Olamina and her daughter added to the narrative. Olamina's journals pick up ten years or so after the end of 'Sower' with Acorn almost thriving. Over a hundred people form a part of the settlement and they've established good relationships with their neighbors and have started to sell excess goods they produce. Olamina's daughter, named Larkin by her mother, expresses bitter resentment towards her mother and references a tragedy. 


America is still struggling, but the worst of the chaos appears to be over. Unfortunately a reactionary government is rising to power in what's left of the United States. A preacher is running for President, deplores the loss of American character and values in the recent chaos years and promises to "make America great again". 


The issues I had with Lauren Olamina's flat voice persisted, but in many other ways this novel is superior to 'Sower'. The book is about tragedy and grave injustice. I couldn't stop reading it until I knew what happened.




Previous: 'Parable of the Sower'

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