[3] Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Book Cover: [3] Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

BOOK: The Parable of the Sower
AUTHOR: Octavia E. Butler
YEAR: 1993
PUBLISHER: Seven Stories Press

SUMMARY
Lauren Olamina is fifteen years old. She has hyperempathy and experiences other’s emotions as her own. We meet her in 2025 in dystopian California, in a world ravaged by climate change and social inequality. The fortunate live in walled communities while the space beyond is marred by poverty, chaos, and violence. We join Lauren as she is forced to leave her community, setting off on a journey that will take her from Los Angeles and up the coast. Lauren’s odyssey is also a spiritual one as we witness the emergence of her new belief system called Earthseed.

The third book in the LAX LAB book club is Octavia E. Butler’s classic novel Parable of the Sower. Octavia E. Butler is considered a visionary science-fiction writer and a pioneer of Afrofuturism: a genre blending African culture with science, technology, and visions of the future. Her work has been hugely influential, inspiring other Black women science-fiction authors like N.K. Jemisin and artists like Janelle Monáe and Ava DuVernay. I hope this book will prompt conversations on the significance of the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States and beyond. While the book offers opportunity to reflect on the connections between race, inequality, and climate change, Parable of the Sower also opens up space for discussions on belief systems, emotion, human behaviour, and the destructiveness of capitalism.

And if you need more convincing on why you should be reading Octavia E. Butler's monumental works, this animated video may persuade you yet:

[Trigger warning: Please note that there are descriptions of sexual violence in Parable of the Sower that some readers may find uncomfortable.]

THEMES
Afrofuturism
Belief systems
Emotion
Race and environmental racism
Social and urban inequality

DISCUSSION TOPICS & QUESTIONS
Coming soon

FURTHER READING, VIEWING, LISTENING
Articles, essays, and other non-ficiton
‘Octavia Butler’s prescient vision of a zealot elected to “Make America Great Again”’
Abby Aguirre, New Yorker, 26 July 2017

‘Why Octavia E. Butler’s novels are so relevant today’
Hephzibah Anderson, BBC, 17 March 2020

'Lost races of science fiction'
Octavia E. Butler, Transmissions, Summer 1980

‘People of colour experience climate grief more deeply than white people’
Nylah Burton, Vice, 14 May 2020

Octavia E. Butler
Gerry Canavan, 2016, published by University of Illinois Press

‘N. K. Jemisin’s Dream Worlds’
Raffi Khatchadourian, The New Yorker, 20 January 2020

‘Janelle Monáe’s body of work is a masterpiece of modern science fiction’
Aja Romano,  Vox, 16 May 2018

‘Read up on the links between racism and the environment’
Somini Sengupta, New York Times, 5 June 2020

Fiction
The Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler

The Broken Earth Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin

Film and video
Black Panther (2018)

Dirty Computer, an emotion picture by Janelle Monáe

'Screwed', Official music video from album Dirty Computer (2018) by Janelle Monáe

'This is America', Official music video (2018) by Childish Gambino

Music and other audio
Dirty Computer (2018) by Janelle Monáe

MAGDALENE (2019) by FKA Twigs

Emma Arnold