As part of the renaissance in interest in the glorious science fiction novels of afrofuturist pioneer Octavia Butler (previously), Seven Stories press has just released a two-volume, slipcased set of Butler's fantastic post-apocalyptic adventure novels The Parable of the Sower (with an introduction by Gloria Steinem) and The Parable of the Talents (with an introduction by Toshi Reagon).
The set is $35 (a remarkably low sum of money, considering the quality of the editions).
The Parables novels were my introduction to Butler's work. I had associated her with "serious" political literature, and while her work is unashamedly, gloriously political, her gift is melding fast-paced adventure with her serious themes, making her a kind of woke Heinlein.
The Parables box-set is just for starters: there's also a Folio Society edition of "Kindred" (also available in a recent, outstanding graphic novel edition) and a paperback edition of Parable of the Sower with an introduction by NK Jemisin.
All of Butler's canon is brilliant, but the Parables novels are a particularly great way to fall in love with her work, and while they deal with very intense adult themes, they star an adolescent protagonist and make for great YA reading by even young teens.
The perfect gift for fans of Octavia Butler, this boxed set pairs the bestselling Nebula-prize nominee, Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents, which together tell the near-future odyssey of Lauren Olamina, a "hyper-empathic" young woman who is twice as feeling in a world that has become doubly dehumanized. In Sower, set in California in 2024, small walled communities protect from hordes of desperate scavengers and roaming bands of "Paints," people addicted to a drug that activates an orgasmic desire to burn, rape, and murder. It is into this landscape that Lauren begins her journey, traveling on foot along the dangerous coastal highways, moving north into the unknown. The book has an introduction by feminist, journalist, activist, and author Gloria Steinem.
Parable of the Talents celebrates the classic Butlerian themes of alienation and transcendence, violence and spirituality, slavery and freedom, separation and community, to astonishing effect, in the shockingly familiar, broken world of 2032. It is told in the voice of Lauren Olamina's daughter––from whom she has been separated for most of the girl's life––with selections from Lauren's journal. Against a background of a war-torn continent, and with a far-right religious crusader in the office of the U.S. presidency, this is a book about a society whose very fabric has been torn asunder, and where the basic physical and emotional needs of people seem almost impossible to meet. Talents is introduced by singer, musician, composer, producer, and curator Toshi Reagon, who created an opera based on the Parable books.
Parable of the Sower & Parable of the Talents: Boxed Set [Seven Stories]