Parable of the Talents
|Series:||Book 2 of Earthseed|
|Author:||Octavia E. Butler|
|Publisher:||Seven Stories Press|
In her longest and arguably greatest novel, the long-awaited Parable of the Talents, Octavia Butler revisits her familiar themes of alienation and transcendence, violence and spirituality, separation and community in the shockingly familiar, broken world of 2032.
Parable of the Talents continues the story which began in Parable of the Sower. That novel’s heroine, Lauren, now has a daughter, and Parable of the Talents is told from the daughter’s point of view. A new government is in power, led by a far-right religious crusader as president, and wars are fought throughout the North American continent.
This is a book about a society whose very fabric has been torn and where the basic physical and emotional needs of people seem almost impossible to meet. And yet human life oddly thrives as the young Lauren of Parable of the Sower here blossoms into a complex and credible woman.
Octavia Butler tackles the creation of a new religion, the making of a god, and the ultimate fate of humanity in her Earthseed series, which began with Parable of the Sower, and now continues with Parable of the Talents. The saga began with the near-future dystopian tale of Sower, in which young Lauren Olamina began to realize her destiny as a leader of people dispossessed and destroyed by the crumbling of society. The basic principles of Lauren’s faith, Earthseed, were contained in a collection of deceptively simple proverbs that Lauren used to recruit followers. She teaches that “God is change” and that humanity’s ultimate destiny is among the stars.
In Parable of the Talents, the seeds of change that Lauren planted begin to bear fruit, but in unpredictable and brutal ways. Her small community is destroyed, her child is kidnapped, and she is imprisoned by sadistic zealots. She must find a way to escape and begin again, without family or friends. Her single-mindedness in teaching Earthseed may be her only chance to survive, but paradoxically, may cause the ultimate estrangement of her beloved daughter. Parable of the Talents is told from both mother’s and daughter’s perspectives, but it is the narrative of Lauren’s grown daughter, who has seen her mother made into a deity of sorts, that is the most compelling. Butler’s writing is simple and elegant, and her storytelling skills are superb, as usual. Fans will be eagerly awaiting the next installment in what promises to be a moving and adventurous saga. —Therese Littleton