Octavia Butler’s Parable books…

Just a collection of random thoughts:

*First things first: I loved these books! Both Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents. Octavia Butler has again won my heart with her storytelling. These are only the second and third of her books that I’ve read (Kindred was the first), but I don’t feel it premature to think that she may end up my favorite author of all-time. Hell, she may already be.

*The Parable books are among the best dystopian books I’ve ever read. And I’ve read a decent amount of them. What I find so odd is that I didn’t even realize these were dystopian until I actually started reading them. I knew they fell into the larger category of science fiction, but had no clue they were dystopian. I looked at a bunch of lists of “the best” dystopian lit to try to figure out how I could have been so clueless. But that endeavor just reinforced my notions–they were seldom mentioned. Hmmm…perhaps because they’re authored by a black woman…

*My love of apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic/dystopian literature goes way back. The first adult book I fell hard for in my early high school days was The Stand. And it definitely kickstarted my love of the genre. A friend rather condescendingly ranted about how she hated dystopian literature and couldn’t understand how anyone could possibly enjoy such depressing stories with such a bleak view of the world where all anyone did was try to survive the next horrible thing that came down the road. Her rant (which was not directed at me personally but to the world at large) was a vivid reminder of how no two people have the exact same experience with a book. And wow–in some cases, they have vastly different perspectives. Because the thing that I have always loved so much about dystopian stories is the hope that is to be found even in the darkest of times. And the ways that strangers come together to form their own imperfect families often in pursuit of, or as a result of, that hope. My love for the genre remains, but I must admit that these stories have become much harder to read as the world has become a darker place (and yes, I do realize this darker world has been the reality for so many for much longer than the past year, and my massive amounts of privilege left me blind in a lot of ways). Since the presidential election here in the U.S., I’ve seen a few lists of “dystopian books that seem all-too-prescient of recent world events” nature. The Handmaid’s Tale is often right up there at the top of those lists, and while I won’t argue against that (it’s a freakin’ amazing and scary book), I would argue that the Parable books ought to be right there with it.

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