Review of Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler

SFFaudio Science Fiction Audiobook Review

Recorded Books Science Fiction Audiobook - Parable Of The Talents by Octavia E. ButlerParable Of The Talents
By Octavia E. Butler; Read by Patricia Floyd, Sisi Johnson, and Peter Jay Fernandez
11 Cassettes – 16 Hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books LLC
Published: 2001
ISBN: 0788749900
Themes: / Science fiction / Dystopia / Post-apocalyptic / Religion /

A good novel is not about one thing, but many. Octavia Butler’s jarring and beautiful Parable Of The Talents affirms this assertion. In terms of plot, it is the story of a religious sect preaching change and space travel; of how that sect develops an idyllic rural settlement in an economically gutted Northern California; of how a powerful group of Christian fanatics crush that settlement; and of how the leader of that sect survives to search for the children stolen in that attack and sew the seeds of her own growing religion. But it is also the story of a mother’s search for her daughter, of a man’s betrayal of his own flesh, and of a woman broken by furtive hostility and shattered trust. It is a story of hope in the face of implacable evil, of freedom amid slavery, perseverance through poverty, and love grappling with hate. It is a story of authentic people–husbands, wives, daughters, and friends–shredded by the power that be in an America gone mad.

What makes this book so terrifying is the plausibility of that madness. America implodes not from external forces such as war and disease, but from her own economic polarization and religious zealotry. Butler’s extrapolations are not wild hyperbole, but a subtle tweak on the headlines you will read in tomorrow’s paper. The effect will leave you awake at night when the rest of your family is blissfully asleep.

The voices that narrate this minor masterpiece are mostly amazing. Patricia Floyd’s portrayal of Lauren Olamina is warm and powerful. Her husband, as read by Peter Jay Fenandez sounds wise and loving, and his interpretation of her brother reveals both his humanity and the frozen center of his heart. The weakest voice is that of Olamina’s daughter, Larkin, whose childish breathiness doesn’t span the full emotional range of her character.

The text has its imperfections, as well. There is a point at which a freakish intervention of nature provides such a perfect solution to such an impossible predicament that my belief crumbled. And after spending so much effort explaining how the America of our experience is dead forever, it seems to revive just fine at the end, without a compellingly plausible cause. As serious as these issues sound, they leave intact a story that will still be shaping your thoughts months after you finish it.

I discovered after listening that this novel is the second in a series, but it stands so well on its own, you won’t have to hear Parable Of The Sower to appreciate it. However, if that book is as sensitive and unsettling as this one, it should be well worth your time.

The Sci Phi Show podcast talks Asimov’s Nightfall

The Sci Phi Show, has podcast that uses the recent 100th episode of Escape Pod and its podcast of Isaac Asimov’s short story Nightfall |MP3| to talk about the philosophies of science and religion. Have a listen to it, then listen to Episode #36: |MP3| (22 minutes 17 seconds) then click on over to The Sci Phi Show forums and post your own thoughts.

Subscribers to the Sci Phi Show’s podcast can use this feed:

LibriVox: The Island Of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells

SFFaudio Online Audio

Science Fiction Audio Book - The Island Of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells

Started back in August 2006, the latest Science Fiction classic from is The Island Of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells. As with many LibriVox titles this one was a multi-reader audiobook project.

Science Fiction Audio Book - The Island Of Dr. Moreau by H.G. WellsThe Island Of Dr. Moreau
By H.G. Wells; Read by various readers
1 Zipped Folder of MP3 Files – 4 Hours 38 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Completed: March 2nd 2007
The Island of Doctor Moreau is an 1896 science fiction novel written by H. G. Wells, addressing ideas of society and community, human nature and identity, religion, Darwinism, and eugenics.

When the novel was written in the late 19th century, England’s scientific community was engulfed by debates on animal vivisection. Interest groups were even formed to tackle the issue: the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection was formed two years after the publication of the novel. The novel is presented as a discovered manuscript, introduced by the narrator’s nephew; it then ‘transcribes’ the tale.

The StarshipSofa Podcast goes to hell

SFFaudio Online Audio

Starship Sofa PodcastEnsuring their eternal damnation, hosts Tony and Ciaran stray from their regularly righteous path of Science Fiction author inquisition and instead hotly illuminate the subject of “Religious Themes” in Science Fiction on this week’s show. You can yourself download the damnable show directly |MP3| or should you so choose, subscribe to podcast and begin your own eternal damnation, via this feed:

Prisoners Of Gravity, the best damn TV show ever: Have a listen

Online Audio

Online AudioIf you like Science Fiction and you haven’t managed to catch a single episode of Prisoners Of Gravity, I pity you. I really do. The show was awesome. It was produced between 1989 and 1994 for TV Ontario (and syndicated sporadically across North America) – each episode was like an extended blog entry (before there was such a thing). The topics, each episode only had one, focused on a particular theme found in Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and comic books.

The bulk of an individual show would be just ‘talking heads’ – it was an interview format show with multiple celebrity guests of the best kind, mostly SF&F authors. Each guest would talk about the subject at hand with the interviews having been done at conventions, bookstores and the like – but I can’t stress enough just how each show was so narrowly focused on a specific theme in Speculative Fiction. Here’s just a few of the episodes subjects:

Alternate Histories, Religion, War, Dreams, Watchmen (yup a whole show on the Alan Moore comic series), Cyberpunk, World-Building, Death, Vampires, Dinosaurs, Metamorphosis, Mars and many more.

What made the show so endearing, besides the absolutely stunningly cool content, was the unrelentingly geek-o-serious production. The show’s host, played by comedian Rick Green, was supposed to be a frustrated über-geek named Commander Rick, who had, prior to the show starting, fled the earth in his homemade rocket (packed ful of books and comics). Unforunately for the Commander, he crashed into a television satellite, from which he now broadcasts his show. His only companion there is Nan-Cy, the sardonic artificial intelligent computer system that keeps Rick alive and relatively sane.

If this shows sounds interesting, or you’re feeling nostalgic, click on over to my good friend Rachelle Shelkey’s fansite, Signal Loss, and have a peek around. No official DVDs are available, but there’s a message board and episode trading might be doable now with the promulgation of cheap DVD-Rs. I myself am sending Rachelle my entire collection of VHS tape, in the hopes I will be getting some episodes I’ve never seen before. If you have some episodes contact Rachelle! If we can get enough people interested maybe we can get a complete series run!

Now for the audio|MP3|. It is the first 5 minutes from an episode of Prisoners Of Gravity on the subject of Science Fiction Fandom. Enjoy!

posted by Jesse Willis

Review of Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Science Fiction Audiobook Review

Science Fiction Audiobook – Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. ButlerParable of the Sower
By Octavia E. Butler; Read by Lynne Thigpen
10 CDs – 12 hours – [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Recorded Books
Published: 2000
ISBN: 0788747606
Themes: / Science Fiction / Dystopia / Survival / Religion /

Occasionally in science fiction there comes a novel that should be considered important not only inside the genre, but in all of literature. Like 1984 by George Orwell. Or Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Or like nearly everything Octavia Butler ever wrote, including this novel.

Parable of the Sower is a novel consisting of the diary entries of the main character, a teen named Lauren. She lives and writes in 2020’s United States of America, in the Los Angeles area. Butler imagines a lawless future America where everyone is on their own. Lauren lives in a cul-de-sac with a wall around it – her family and several others haved pooled together. Murders are commonplace, as is theft, and people struggle to survive while the world moves on. Lauren comments on the death of an astronaut on Mars, the election of a new president, as well as her ever-changing day-to-day life.

Complicating things is the fact that Lauren is a hyper-empath. If she sees someone get hurt, she feels that pain as if it was happening to her. An extremely uncomfortable thing to be, when pain exists all around her.

Out of all of this, she creates a new religion, called Earthseed, which springs forth from the beliefs formed by her life’s circumstances. She isn’t inventing it, as she says more than once – no, she’s discovering it. In a world in which the only surety is change, she discovers God. And God, she figures, is change itself.

Lynne Thigpen is flawless in her narration of this book. She did a wonderful job speaking as if the world in which Lauren moved was normal. Her emphasis and emotion perfectly fit the character. The result was an audiobook that I’m better off for having heard.

Posted by Scott D. Danielson