Octavia Butler is one of the greatest science fiction authors of all time, and her work is continually being discovered by readers of all ages and literary interests. This will no doubt become a bit easier with the upcoming release of one of Butler’s most-celebrated works: the Parable series.
According to EW, Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents will both be reissued by Grand Central Publishing this year. The new edition of Parable of the Sower, which will include an introduction by Broken Earth trilogy author N.K. Jemisin,will be published on April 30, with Parable of the Talents coming sometime later this year.
Though originally published in 1993 and 1998, respective, the two Parable books feel unsettlingly relevant to our contemporary times. Both follow a young woman named Lauren Oya Olamina who is living in an increasingly unstable, dystopian California in which resource scarcity and poverty have led the population to desperate measures. Religion and ethnically-motivated attacks are common.
Lauren is special in that she possesses hyperempathy, represented here as the ability to feel pain and other sensations felt by the people around her. Over the course of the first book, Lauren develops her own belief system known as Earthseed, which is based on the idea that “God is Change.” The second novel follows Lauren and her daughter and their life in the religious community Lauren founds in northern California, in an America ruled by a Christian fundamentalist denomination.
Read an excerpt from Jemisin’s excellent introduction, which you should really click over to EW to read in full—or pre-order the book, and look forward to:
Butler does not appear to have intended the Parable novels to be a guidebook—and yet they are. That’s true for all of the most powerful science fiction novels: they offer not only accurate visions of the future, but also suggestions for coping with the resulting changes. We can only imagine what that vision might have included if Butler had been able to complete it; she apparently had planned a third novel, Parable of the Trickster. But maybe it’s just as well that she and Lauren were unable to ‘dis-cover’ that third book of Earthseed. Now, like the communities of Earthseed, it’s our job to create change in fiction and in life.