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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Review: Parable of the Talents

Parable of the Talents is the sequel to Parable of the Sowers, Octavia Butler's novel about a post-apocalyptic America. Let me remind you that the special thing about the novel is how real it seems, because the cause of the apocalypse isn't some weird disease or nuclear war, but global climate change and religious fanaticism in American society, both forces that we see in play today in our current disastrous administration. 

In many ways Butler's optimistic—the book implies that the USA as a whole survives this apocalypse, with the exception of Alaska seceding from the union. But the novel takes the characters through some pretty dark places, including a first hand look at slavery. There were sections where I wanted to stop reading because it was all so horrifying, made worse by the versimilitude of the novel as a whole to present day circumstances. 

In parallel, we also get to see the start of a new religion, Earthseed, which acts as a counter-point to the fanatical Christian ideology that drove the apocalypse in the novel. 

The biggest sticking point of the novel for me is the wrap up. It feels like the author ran out of paper to write more pages, and so she hurries through the ending. I felt like Earthseed went from a twinkling in someone's eye to a huge success overnight, though of course, what happened was that Butler compressed time scale so much in the last few pages that I could not keep up. 

I enjoyed the novel enough to recommend it. I should go read more Butler. 

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