SF Mistressworks has kindly republished my review of Lilith’s Brood by Octavia Butler. Go check it out!
Originally posted on SF Mistressworks:
Review by Shannon Turlington
Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis novels were first compiled into one volume in 1989, but that compilation is now out of print. As with Seed to Harvest, Grand Central Publishing has reissued the compilation in an attractive trade paperback to capture new readers. And I’m glad they did, because I probably wouldn’t have read these books otherwise.
When I finished Lilith’s Brood, I actually wasn’t sure whether I liked it or not, but I thought about it a great deal, which I think is a sign of a book worth reading. The underlying theme disturbed me, partly because I didn’t find much hope in it, partly because I found myself agreeing with the series’ assessment: that humankind is fated by our own biology to destroy ourselves.
Lilith’s Brood includes three novels: Dawn, Adulthood Rites
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For those of you who like to play book bingo, take a look at this Literary Bucket List. Some of the categories are quite easy–a science fiction book, for instance–but have you read a weird book, a bohemian book, or a book illustrated by Arthur Rackham? Looks like fun!
Live Aid, Band Aid, USA for Africa: Did pop stars and hit songs help Ethiopia famine victims? is a very good read, which made me think of The Hunger Games. Stick with me. The article makes the startling but entirely logical point that democracies don’t suffer famines. Autocratic nations, dictatorships, suffer famine because the people have no power there; in fact, the famine is used as a tool to further control and oppress them. The Hunger Games has very effectively delineated these tools of oppression in a form that even young readers can understand. I guess that makes them more savvy than rock stars.
For related reading: How America’s leading science fiction authors are shaping your future. More on The Hunger Games and how it reflects our current societal anxieties, which helps explain its enormous popularity. Science fiction, like horror, reflects society’s fears, but unlike horror, it also reflects society’s hopes. Perhaps we do need more optimistic science fiction right now.
Have you been watching Cosmos? The episode last night on the next great extinction was… unsettling.
We’d like to believe we live in a meritocracy. This is part of the American myth we tell ourselves, that only the person with the best qualifications should be admitted to the college, get the job, etc.
However, we don’t start out on a level playing field. The circumstances of your birth gives you distinct advantages and disadvantages. Yet, for people who are born with many advantages, it’s very difficult to see how much those advantages have helped them. It’s just natural to tell yourself that you got where you are based on your skills, talents, merit.
I recently heard about an interesting experiment. Two people were asked to play Monopoly. But one person was given twice as much money to start as the other, and got twice the dice rolls in every turn. Later, when that person inevitably won, they would most often credit their win to better skill at the game or even a few lucky dice rolls. They hardly ever mentioned that they started out the game with an extremely unfair advantage.
We value equality, but when inequality is built into the game, how do we uphold that value?
I wonder if it is possible to really know a novel after one reading. Of course, some are better off forgotten. I have found that journalling my reading helps immensely with recall, though.