Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

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New Introduction by GLORIA STEINEM 

Parable of the Sower is the Butlerian odyssey of one woman who is twice as feeling in a world that has become doubly dehumanized. The time is 2025. The place is California, where small walled communities must protect themselves from hordes of desperate scavengers and roaming bands of people addicted to a drug that activates an orgasmic desire to burn, rape, and murder. When one small community is overrun, Lauren Olamina, an 18-year-old black woman with the hereditary trait of "hyperempathy"—which causes her to feel others’ pain as her own—sets off on foot along the dangerous coastal highways, moving north into the unknown.

Don't miss the second book the Parable series, Parable of the Talents!


Octavia Butler Parable of the Sower

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“Gripping... poignant... succeeds on multiple levels.”

“Literate... thoughtful. And a real gut-wrencher."”

“A powerful story of hope and faith in the midst of urban violence and decay... Excellent science fiction and a parable of modern society.”

“A prophetic odyssey.”

“Simple, direct, and deeply felt.”

“Artfully conceived and elegantly written.”

“There isn't a page in this vivid and frightening story that fails to grip the reader.”

blog — July 20

We Are Seven Years Away from Octavia Butler's "Parable of the Sower"

"If there is one thing scarier than a dystopian novel about the future, it's one written in the past that has already begun to come true." -- Gloria Steinem, Parable of the Sower Introduction

 

July 20th and 21st, 2024 mark the beginning of Lauren Olamina's "Earthseed" journal in Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower. The entry is on her 15th birthday and is about a recurring dream she has that is sparked by the reminder that the safety of her community is a lie. In a dehumanized world of scavengers and drugged up people who take pleasure from burning, raping, and murdering, Lauren knows that the walled community she lives in won't keep anyone safe for much longer. She knows there will be a day when the walls will come down and the families of the eleven-household cul-de-sac will be forced to flee into the unknown or die trying. 

Lauren and her father are not the only ones who know what is to come, but they're the only ones who can admit it. Even as the unfolding events make it clearer and clearer that the community needs to prepare for the worst, Lauren is the only one who refuses to live in denial. It's hard to ignore the truth when one suffers from hyperempathy, like Lauren does, and the disorder only makes things that much more difficult for her. How can you protect yourself when you can feel every blow you inflict on the person you're protecting yourself from?

We are seven years away from Lauren's 15th birthday (she turned eight today) and the future Octavia Butler predicted. I say "predicted" because, as Steinem points out in her introduction, it's already begun. We can live as bystanders, like Lauren's community, and simply wait and hope for things to get better. Or we can be active and fight hard for a better future so that we don't end up in one where all we can do is survive.

 

"Prodigy is, at its essence, adaptability and persistent, positive obsession. Without persistence, what remains is an enthusiasm of the moment. Without adaptability, what remains may be channeled into destructive fanaticism. Without positive obsession, there is nothing at all." -- Lauren Oya Olamina

 

We invite you to read the first three chapters of Parable of the Sower from the newest edition, released February 2017. 

 

Happy Birthday Lauren. 

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A writer who imagined the dark future we have chosen for ourselves in book after book, Octavia E. Butler (1947–2006) is recognized as among the bravest and smartest of late twentieth century fiction writers. A 1995 MacArthur Genius Award winner, Butler transcended the science fiction category even as she was awarded that community’s top prizes, including the Nebula and Hugo Awards. Not merely a prophet of dystopia, Butler also wrote of the ways human beings might subvert their dismal destiny. “I write about people who do extraordinary things,” Butler has said, “it just turns out that it was called science fiction.” Her novels and stories have reached readers of all ages, all races, and all religious and sexual persuasions. For years the only prominent African-American woman writing science fiction, Butler has encouraged many others to follow in her path. The Octavia E. Butler Scholarship was established in her memory in 2006, providing scholarships for young people of color to attend the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, where Butler herself began writing science fiction.