Read: The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

It is the year 2024 and the world is a mess. Children don’t go to an official school because they’re not allowed to leave their walled community, which are more like prisons than homes. If they have to go outside, residents go in groups and with guns. Water costs more than gasoline, and when firefighters or the police have to be called in for an emergency, they have to be paid. There is poverty and lawlessness. It is a dangerous, frightening world.

Our narrator, the teenaged Lauren Olamina, the daughter of a minister, is a unique character. She is hyperempathetic: “I get a lot of grief that doesn’t belong to me, and that isn’t real. But it hurts”. As a child, she would even bleed when she saw others bleeding. Not only that, she has found her god, the book of which she calls Earthseed, which she continues to write as the story progresses. She is an incredibly strong, resilient person, especially for someone that young. She studies up on survival strategies and plans to head north as soon as she is able. She doesn’t understand how life can go on as normal – or at least what is normal to the community – for her family and neighbours.

Then one night, their community is attacked, their houses destroyed and their belongings looted, many of the residents are killed, the others have fled in all directions. Lauren manages to escape with her survival kit and comes across two of her neighbours and they join her in her northern quest on the dangerous highways.

The Parable of the Sower was a great read. It was well-paced, although initially slow going. Butler has created a very believable future which is the result of the collapse of civilisation. While it can be terrifying with all the dark and disturbing things happening around them – violence, slavery, hunger, poverty – Lauren and her growing group of followers show that there still is hope.

This is my first read for the Sci-fi Challenge.


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