Saturday, August 31, 2013
Tony Lindsay Presents... Octavia Butler
In literature, as in other disciplines, there are trailblazers. Writers that are ahead of others, writers whose works offer a foundation for future writers to build upon; Octavia Estelle Butler was such a writer.
In her novel, ‘Parable of the Sower’ she writes of a near future, a time where most water is sold, and a time where people live in gated guarded communities to survive. She writes about a time where American greed replaces compassion, a time when most labor only garners one enough to live, a time when people not behind the walls of gated communities survive by murder, theft, the use of drugs, prostitution, cannibalism, and slavery. She introduces the reader to this world through the eyes and heart of a fifteen year old protagonist, Lauren Oya Olamina.
Lauren is allowing a new religion to form through her observations and experiences; through journaling she is creating the beginning of EARTHSEED: THE BOOKS OF THE LIVING which is the text of the forming religion. Raised as a preacher’s kid in a time of few morals, Lauren has a different perspective on life, and the reader quickly understands that their guide through this world is more than a teenager,
At least three years ago, my father’s God stopped being my God. His church stopped being my church. And yet, today, because I’m a coward, I let myself be initiated into a church. I let my father baptize me in all three names of that God who isn’t mine any more.
My God has another name. (7)
Butler’s ‘Parable of the Sower’ is disturbing in its possibility. The novel begins in the year 2024 a future close enough to be recognizable, and that is the gift of the novel; it works as a warning,
I brought three of the cheap, multipurpose sleepsacks-big, tough storage bags, and the preferred bedding of all the more affluent homeless. The country was full of people who could earn or steal food and water, but could not even rent a cot. (174)
Literary reviewers and critics hail Octavia Butler as an award winning author; she has won the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, the Langston Hughes Medal, and Nebula and Hugo awards. There is no denying her talent. In addition, she is the first African American author to gain international prominence in the science fiction genre, a genre dominated by white males. Octavia E. Butler was truly a trailblazer.