Friday, May 30, 2014

Cephalopod Coffee House

http://armchairsquid.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-cephalopod-coffeehouse-may-2014.html


Happy Friday, and welcome to The Cephalopod Coffee House. The purpose of CCH is to write about the best book you read during the month and visit others who are doing the same. The list of participants are at the bottom of my post, or you can click on the pic above.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/91hLOe1aUuL._SL1500_.jpgThis month I read Lilith’s Brood, by Octavia Butler. Lilith’s Brood is actually a trilogy of novellas that have been gathered into an omnibus. Each section presents a separate viewpoint, and together they tell the story of Lilith and her human/alien hybrid children.

In the aftermath of a global nuclear war, most of humanity has died. An alien race, called the Oankali, come to the rescue, scooping up every survivor they can find. After much study, the humans are given a chance to return to a newly restored Earth. But the offer comes at a price: the Oankali are a race that survives by “trading” genetic materials with other species. If the humans want to return to Earth, they must agree to a trade with the aliens, and bear children who are not fully human. Lilith’s Brood follows Lilith Iyapo, the woman chosen to lead the first groups of humans back to Earth, and her children.

The first section, Dawn, follows Lilith from her Awakening through her struggles to accept what the Oankali have to offer, and then her struggles to convince others to follow her lead. The second section, Adulthood Rites, follows her son, the first human born male hybrid, Akin, and his struggle to consolidate his humanity with his alieness. The final section, Imago, follows another of Lilith’s children, Jodahs, who instead of being born male as expected, develops into the Oankali third gender

The society Butler creates is very familiar, yet disturbingly foreign. We’re used to imagining what life would be like if the majority of the world population disappeared. But what if the only way to repopulate was to procreate with an alien species, and not just any old Star Trek humanoid species either. It makes you question what you would do in the situation. Would you give up your free will to survive? Or would you choose to live free, and thus ensure the death of the human species? That is the choice Lilith and every other human in the novel must make. And once they have made their choice they have to live with the consequences of their decision.

Octavia Butler was known for her explorations of race, class, gender and sexuality through her writings, and she doesn’t disappoint here. I do want to stress that she doesn’t beat you over the head with sermonizing or very obvious allusions to social ills. I really enjoyed it Lilith’s Brood, and I look forward to reading more of her books.

What are you all reading?

8 comments:

  1. Very dystopian...before dystopian was popular, right?! Sounds like her work may be getting a second life now that the genre is so big.

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  2. This sound right up my husband's street and I have recommended them to him.

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  3. I have this! Well, at least I have Dawn. I have been fascinated by Butler since I read her biography. She is a rare bird. I can't wait to dive into this series. I also bought Kindred by her, which has a fascinating premise as well. Thanks for the exciting review! Makes me want to read it NOW. :)

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    1. Dawn leaves you wanting the rest of the trilogy. I have read Kindred twice. I think it's the least sci-fi of her books, and it's a really intriguing read.

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  4. Wow, sounds like a fascinating premise. The idea of having to procreate with an alien non-humanoid species boggles the mind... not that THIS ol' gal would have to worry about it.

    Nice to meetcha. Count me in as your newest groupie.

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  5. What a fascinating idea! I'm curious about the name of the aliens: Oankali. Any idea how she came up with that? I've been trying to find an anagram in there but I haven't found it. I just Googled it. They have their own Wikipedia page, though without hints as to the origin of the name.

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  6. It sounds fascinating! Will be looking into this series.

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  7. Sounds very interesting. I will be looking into this series.

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I love hearing from people, and constructive criticism is always welcome.