Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

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9781609807207

New Introduction by TOSHI REAGON

Parable of the Talents celebrates the Butlerian themes of alienation and transcendence, violence and spirituality, slavery and freedom, separation and community, to astonishing effect, in the shockingly familiar, broken world of 2032. Long awaited, Parable of the Talents is the continuation of the travails of Lauren Olamina, the heroine of 1994's Nebula-Prize finalist, bestselling Parable of the Sower. It is told in the voice of Lauren Olamina's daughter—from whom she has been separated for most of the girl's life—with sections in the form of Lauren's journal. Against a background of a war-torn continent, and with a far-right religious crusader in the office of the U.S. presidency, this is a book about a society whose very fabric has been torn asunder, and where the basic physical and emotional needs of people seem almost impossible to meet.

As Ms. Octavia Butler herself explained, "Parable of the Sower was a book about problems. I originally intended that Parable of the Talents be a book about solutions. I don't have the solutions, so what I've done here is looked at the solutions that people tend to reach for when they're feeling troubled and confused."

And yet, human life, oddly, thrives in this unforgettable novel. And the young Lauren of Parable of the Sower here blossoms into the full strength of her womanhood, complex and entirely credible.

Don't miss the first book in the Parable series, Parable of the Sower!

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“The narrative is both impassioned and bitter as Butler weaves a tale of a frighteningly believable near-future dystopia. Lauren, at once loving wife and mother, prophet and fanatic, victim and leader, gains stature as one of the most intense and well-developed protagonists in recent SF. Though not for the faint-hearted, this work stands out as a testament to the author's enormous talent, and to the human spirit.”

“Butler sets the imagination free, blending the real and the possible.”

“Parable of the Talents is the masterpiece. The sequel retains the brutal atmosphere of its predecessor — severe economic inequality, climate disaster, lawless mayhem — without sacrificing momentum or texture… By refining Lauren’s voice, Butler found others scarred by the American apocalypse, from a rising fascist who wants to “make America great again” to new-age slave traders to children who are forcibly separated from their families — and are happy about it.””

“Reeling from environmental, political, financial and military blows, American society is just barely surviving in the opening years of the next millennium… Butler's narrative skills are impressive. We follow the rise and fall of Earthseed's first communal home through a chorus of voices that jump around in time, giving us contrasting perspectives on the heartbreaking events that test the faith and will of the founding mother, her family and her adherents. Most remarkably, the ideas they espouse -- at the risk of their freedom and even their lives -- are presented with the respect they deserve. The tenets of Earthseed arise from a thought-provoking collaboration between the scientific and religious imaginations.”

“In the ongoing contest over which dystopian classic is most applicable to our time… for sheer peculiar prescience, Butler’s novel and its sequel may be unmatched... In the day to day of the Parable books, hyperempathy is a liability that makes moving through the world more complicated and, for tactical reasons, requires those who have it to behave more ruthlessly... In her lifetime, Butler insisted that the Parable series was not intended as an augur. ‘This was not a book about prophecy,’ she said, of “Talents,” in remarks she delivered at M.I.T. ‘This was a cautionary tale, although people have told me it was prophecy. All I have to say to that is: I certainly hope not.’”

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A writer who imagined the dark future we have chosen for ourselves in book after book, OCTAVIA E. BUTLER  (1947–2006) is recognized as among the bravest and smartest of late twentieth century fiction writers. Her work includes Parable of the SowerParable of the Talents, Fledgling, and the short story collection Bloodchild. A 1995 MacArthur Genius Award winner, Butler transcended the science fiction category even as she was awarded that community’s top prizes, including the Nebula and Hugo Awards. Not merely a prophet of dystopia, Butler also wrote of the ways human beings might subvert their dismal destiny. “I write about people who do extraordinary things,” Butler has said, “it just turns out that it was called science fiction.” Her novels and stories have reached readers of all ages, all races, and all religious and sexual persuasions. For years the only prominent African-American woman writing science fiction, Butler has encouraged many others to follow in her path. The Octavia E. Butler Scholarship was established in her memory in 2006, providing scholarships for young people of color to attend the Clarion Writers’ Workshop, where Butler herself began writing science fiction.