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OCTAVIA E. BUTLER was a renowned African-American writer who received a MacArthur "Genius" Grant and PEN West Lifetime Achievement Award for her body of work. She was the author of several award-winning novels including Parable of the Talents, which won the Nebula for Best Novel. Acclaimed for her lean prose, strong protagonists, and social observations in stories that range from the distant past to the far future, sales of her books have increased enormously since her death as the issues she addressed in her Afrofuturistic, feminist novels and short fiction have only become more relevant. She passed away on February 24, 2006.
Hugo and Nebula Award-winner Butler's first novel since 1989's Imago offers an uncommonly sensitive rendering of a very common SF scenario: by 2025, global warming, pollution, racial and ethnic tensions and other ills have precipitated a worldwide decline. In the Los Angeles area, small beleaguered communities of the still-employed hide behind makeshift walls from hordes of desperate homeless scavengers and violent pyromaniac addicts known as ``paints'' who, with water and work growing scarcer, have become increasingly aggressive. Lauren Olamina, a young black woman, flees when the paints overrun her community, heading north with thousands of other refugees seeking a better life. Lauren suffers from `hyperempathy,'' a genetic condition that causes her to experience the pain of others as viscerally as her own--a heavy liability in this future world of cruelty and hunger. But she dreams of a better world, and with her philosophy/religion, Earthseed, she hopes to found an enclave which will weather the tough times and which may one day help carry humans to the stars. Butler tells her story with unusual warmth, sensitivity, honesty and grace; though science fiction readers will recognize this future Earth, Lauren Olamina and her vision make this novel stand out like a tree amid saplings. (Dec.)
In 21st-century California, a land of walled enclaves, drug-crazed arsonists, and rampant joblessness, 18-year-old Lauren Olamina discovers a new way of looking at a hopeless world. When circumstances cut her adrift from the only community she knows, she takes to the road, attempting to put her ideals into practice. The author of Kindred ( LJ 8/79) and Wild Seed (Doubleday, 1980) infuses this tale with an allegorical quality that is part meditation, part warning. Simple, direct, and deeply felt, this should reach both mainstream and sf audiences.
YA-On Friday, July 30, 2027, Lauren Oya Olamina's California walled neighborhood is burned and plundered by pyro addicts. She and two other teens appear to be the only survivors and join the seemingly endless stream of poverty-stricken people looking for a better life or, at least, for another day. Like her Baptist minister father before her, Lauren carries her faith in her religion, Earthseed, with her. In the insanity of this future world, her faith, practical skills, and determination to survive (whatever the cost) are enhanced by the basic goodness of the folks who expand her group. YAs may see the similarity between Lauren's world and the nightly TV-news coverage of current war-torn nations. They should appreciate this tender coming-of-age story and/or the glimpse into a future they can work to prevent. Romance; science fiction; a strong, black, female protagonist; and a hopeful ending should attract readers to this novel.-Barbara Hawkins, Oakton High School, Fairfax, VA
"THERE ISN'T A PAGE IN THIS VIVID AND FRIGHTENING STORY THAT FAILS TO GRIP THE READER".
-- SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS