Ronald Kidd - February 2021

Octavia E. Butler

I read a lot of science fiction as a kid but not very much since. Sadly, that means I missed the work of Octavia E. Butler, most of whose novels were published in the 1980s and ’90s.

I have just remedied that oversight by reading Parable of the Sower (1993), the first book in Butler’s two-part Earthseed series, which also includes Parable of the Talents (1998).

I must quickly add that it’s misleading to call this book science fiction. More accurately it’s dystopian fiction or, better yet, simply fiction, for this is a strong, harrowing, inspiring novel that can’t be limited by a label.

Fifteen-year-old Lauren Olamina lives in a ravaged but clearly recognizable Los Angeles as Butler imagined the city might become in 2024(!), with walls around neighborhoods, dangerous drugs and violence outside, and, over it all, a raging pandemic.

Lauren and a ragtag gang of friends must set out on a journey to safety, if they can find it, and their adventures are beautifully told and thoroughly engaging. The character of Lauren Olamina is memorable, and I’m eager to read more about her.

Parable of the Sower
Parable of the Talents

My Essay at Chapter 16

Do you know about Chapter 16? You should check it out. Published and maintained by Humanities Tennessee, this online journal and weekly e-newsletter is an invaluable source of information about books, writers, and literary events in the state.

Chapter 16 publishes essays on a wide range of topics, and this week one of mine is featured. You may remember it from my newsletter and blog: “An Old Friend,” about my rediscovery of a treasured typewriter.

Click here to see the essay at Chapter 16.

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