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Parable of the sower
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Syndetics Unbound
This acclaimed post-apocalyptic novel of hope and terror from an award-winning author "pairs well with 1984 or The Handmaid's Tale " and includes a foreword by N. K. Jemisin (John Green, New York Times ).

When global climate change and economic crises lead to social chaos in the early 2020s, California becomes full of dangers, from pervasive water shortage to masses of vagabonds who will do anything to live to see another day. Fifteen-year-old Lauren Olamina lives inside a gated community with her preacher father, family, and neighbors, sheltered from the surrounding anarchy. In a society where any vulnerability is a risk, she suffers from hyperempathy, a debilitating sensitivity to others' emotions.

Precocious and clear-eyed, Lauren must make her voice heard in order to protect her loved ones from the imminent disasters her small community stubbornly ignores. But what begins as a fight for survival soon leads to something much more: the birth of a new faith . . . and a startling vision of human destiny.

Fiction/Biography Profile
1996 - Arthur C. Clarke Award (preliminary ballot)
Lauren Oya Olamina (Female), African American, Empath
Science fiction
New age
Religious groups
California - West (U.S.)
Time Period
2024-2027 -- 21st century
Trade Reviews
Library Journal Review
In 21st-century California, a land of walled enclaves, drug-crazed arsonists, and rampant joblessness, 18-year-old Lauren Olamina discovers a new way of looking at a hopeless world. When circumstances cut her adrift from the only community she knows, she takes to the road, attempting to put her ideals into practice. The author of Kindred ( LJ 8/79) and Wild Seed (Doubleday, 1980) infuses this tale with an allegorical quality that is part meditation, part warning. Simple, direct, and deeply felt, this should reach both mainstream and sf audiences. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Hugo and Nebula Award-winner Butler's first novel since 1989's Imago offers an uncommonly sensitive rendering of a very common SF scenario: by 2025, global warming, pollution, racial and ethnic tensions and other ills have precipitated a worldwide decline. In the Los Angeles area, small beleaguered communities of the still-employed hide behind makeshift walls from hordes of desperate homeless scavengers and violent pyromaniac addicts known as ``paints'' who, with water and work growing scarcer, have become increasingly aggressive. Lauren Olamina, a young black woman, flees when the paints overrun her community, heading north with thousands of other refugees seeking a better life. Lauren suffers from `hyperempathy,'' a genetic condition that causes her to experience the pain of others as viscerally as her own--a heavy liability in this future world of cruelty and hunger. But she dreams of a better world, and with her philosophy/religion, Earthseed, she hopes to found an enclave which will weather the tough times and which may one day help carry humans to the stars. Butler tells her story with unusual warmth, sensitivity, honesty and grace; though science fiction readers will recognize this future Earth, Lauren Olamina and her vision make this novel stand out like a tree amid saplings. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
YA-On Friday, July 30, 2027, Lauren Oya Olamina's California walled neighborhood is burned and plundered by pyro addicts. She and two other teens appear to be the only survivors and join the seemingly endless stream of poverty-stricken people looking for a better life or, at least, for another day. Like her Baptist minister father before her, Lauren carries her faith in her religion, Earthseed, with her. In the insanity of this future world, her faith, practical skills, and determination to survive (whatever the cost) are enhanced by the basic goodness of the folks who expand her group. YAs may see the similarity between Lauren's world and the nightly TV-news coverage of current war-torn nations. They should appreciate this tender coming-of-age story and/or the glimpse into a future they can work to prevent. Romance; science fiction; a strong, black, female protagonist; and a hopeful ending should attract readers to this novel.-Barbara Hawkins, Oakton High School, Fairfax, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Booklist Review
Although conventional gloom-and-doom scenarios of civilization on the brink of collapse are rapidly becoming passe in contemporary science fiction, original variations occasionally appear to give new life to the form. For instance, Butler's latest novel. Written in diary form, Parable chronicles the sometimes grim adventures of Lauren Olamina, an adolescent girl living in a barricaded village in Southern California amid the rampant socioeconomic decay of the early twenty-first century. After her neighborhood is overrun by a cult of drug-demented pyromaniacs, Lauren takes to the road and bands together with other refugees of violent attacks. Withstanding fire and marauding thieves, the group gradually makes its way toward refuge in Northern California, while Lauren wins converts to her homespun "Earthseed" philosophy--a creed espousing community survival for a future among the stars. Sustained by skillful characterizations and an all-too-uncomfortable realism, Butler's narrative holds a mirror up close to our own contemporary blight of moral and economic disintegration and implicitly poses the question, Can we really let it get this bad? ~--Carl Hays
Kirkus Review
Diary of teenager Lauren Olamina, 2024-27, as she struggles to survive the collapse of civilization and formulate a new religion that spells out her notion of God as change: from the author of Clay's Ark, the Xenogenesis series, etc. Only walled enclaves like Robledo, California, stand against total descent into barbarism, criminality, and madness; even so, one by one the enclaves are being overrun by drug-crazed ``Paints.'' Olamina's younger brother Keith, tiring of his father's strictures and determined to make a life for himself outside, runs away, to live by robbery, murder, and drug-dealing--and quickly ends up horribly dead. Olamina, despite her hyperempathic sense (she can feel the pain of those near her) learns to be tough; seeing that Robledo will soon fall, she plans to flee north with her boyfriend Curtis. But then the enclave is attacked and destroyed. With two other refugees, Harry and Zahra, Olamina heads north along the beach. An earthquake compounds their problems. Others, impressed by Olamina's caring and determination, join the three, including Bankole, an older man who owns property where the group could settle and found a new community based on Olamina's philosophy. A vanishingly thin plot and dreadfully preachy: imperfections for which Butler's usual virtues--lucid prose, a realistic progression of events, and splendid texture--unfortunately fail to compensate.
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