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Octavia E. Butler - Wild Seed (1980)

I have finally noticed that Octavia Butler is actually Octavia E. Butler, consistently. I apologise for the mistake, and will get round to updating the titles of the old posts bye-and-bye.

My copy of Wild Seed was published in the UK by Sigwick & Jackson in 1980 (and thus more-or-less simultaneous with the Doubleday first edition in the US). It is subtitled on the title page (like Survivor, which I didn't notice at the time) as "Science Fiction by Octavia E. Butler". I can't think what the cover designer thought they were doing.

This is the fourth of the Patternist novels, and the third featuring Doro. We go further back again in history and discover the origins of Doro's people, and details of Doro's nature and methods. It directly sets up the situation at the beginning of Mind of My Mind. It is written in much the same style as the earlier books, and presents the same mix of personal and family concerns that have been present in all the books so far. For some reason, however, I come from reading this one with a much sharper recognition of the thematic links between the novels, both the ones previously published and the ones to come. In particular I was reminded of a number of elements in common with The Parable of the Sower, which was not published until 1993.

For some reason I can't put my finger on I didn't care about the characters as deeply as I cared for those in Kindred. But they are much more richly realised than those in Mind of My Mind.

And everything else I can think of to say right now involves spoilers, so I am going to leave this one here and move on to the short story Speech Sounds, and then Clay's Ark.


Caroline M

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