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Wild Seed - The Ex-Communicator

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July 22nd, 2009

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09:04 am - Wild Seed
On audio I am listening to Wild Seed by Octavia Butler. I'm not sure if this is a book absolutely everybody on my f-list will have already read? It was written in 1980, and I read it at that time, though I've almost forgotten what happens.

Butler writes in the biological SF/horror field, and a lot of her work is illuminated by her cultural heritage as an African-American woman. Wild Seed follows the journeys of two almost-immortal creatures, Doro a kind of soul vampire and Anyanwu a shape-shifter, from their origins in Africa thousands of years ago, through the African diaspora, to the Southern States of the US. The imbalance of power between them and their human prey/children reflects some of the experiences of slavery - for example Doro is breeding humans to develop their psychic gifts, as this makes them better meat. His village settlements parallel the slave plantations among which he lives, and the effect on his male victims of having their sexual autonomy and responsibility forcibly taken is a key theme in the chapter I am listening to at the moment.

The premise of the story is almost too fantastic to believe, but the tone is very authentic and tough, so it doesn't fall down. I think it's a good example of a type of American Gothic: southern plantations, decay and bad magic. It's a good reading by an African-American man, called Dion Graham, who does a good range of different southern US voices, and has that calm authenticity that takes you past any reservations.

(5 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:July 22nd, 2009 10:49 am (UTC)
I read Wild Seed for the first time a couple of years ago. I thought it was fantastic - finished it within 36 hours, which is something I rarely do these days. Last year I read the three followup books in three days...
[User Picture]
Date:July 22nd, 2009 11:09 am (UTC)
I'd forgotten it was part of a series. Patterners or something? Thanks, I will be reading more of these.
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Date:July 22nd, 2009 05:23 pm (UTC)
I haven't read it yet although it's on my shelves. I have a feeling that I never quite worked out which was the best order in which to read the Patternmaster series, and when I did I was missing one of them. And all that was just an excuse because I find I have to be in strong place to read Butler, and that's been a while.
[User Picture]
Date:July 22nd, 2009 05:45 pm (UTC)
Ah, Patternmaster. Yes, there's a lot of suffering in it, and sometimes that's just not something one wants to tackle. I have no idea about the order of books. I think this is the only one I've read before. There must be a list somewhere, I can't find one on wikipedia.

Scratch that here it is


The series starts with the fourth novel published, Wild Seed. ...

The series' history continues with Mind of My Mind...

Clay's Ark, the last book of the series to be published...

Survivor, the book in the series that Butler later disowned ...

Patternmaster, the first book to be published but the last in the series' internal chronology
[User Picture]
Date:July 23rd, 2009 01:12 am (UTC)
I found Wild Seed hard to read, too. I seem to recall I had to have several goes before I got into it.

I haven't read much other Butler, although her Xenogenesis series sounds interesting and I have the first one in my beside-the-bed TBR pile (the highest priority pile of my many TBR piles!)

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