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▶  More from Blog Book Reviews Plantation America
‘Lot’s Children’
Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler

1980, reading from the 2005 SFBC Anniversary Edition, 245 pages

I once read an examination of the first stages of Octavia E. Butler’s Wild Seed as an example of subtle exposition of the kind necessary for convincing science fiction or fantasy. Twenty years later I have finally read the story and have enjoyed it quite a lot.

Wild Seed is a story of a dark supra-racial god of Eugenics named Doro, who wears human bodies like clothing as he manages breeding programs around the world from earliest historical times in his attempt to develop what could only be described to today’s reader, as super heroes, people with forbidden powers once reserved exclusively for the gods of pagan myth and aggregated to the Lord of Hosts and his Angels in later times.

The story is broken into three phases of Plantation America, which Butler exercises a better understanding of than most historians.

Covenant: 1691, in which Doro discovers that slave raiders have wiped out one of his breeding farms among the Igbo folk of Nigeria and meets the leopard woman Anyanwu, who accompanies him to New York to his more secure American breeding program. This is the best portion of the book in terms of narrative gravity.

Lots Children: 1745 is almost entirely constructed of dialogue negotiations between Doro, Anyanwu and his white son Isaac and will be highly appealing to female readers, set in Wheatley New York.

Canaan: 1840, is a subtle supernatural showdown between the shape-shifting heroine healer, who is racially aligned in a maternal way and the supra-racial spirit from Ancient Egypt who sees all people and all races as breeding stock in his attempt to do to humans something like what humans have done to wolves in the making of dogs. The progress of this dread-filled section of the book, dominated though it is by conversation, is a very realistic look at a woman’s options in Plantation America, and for that matter, when dealing with a merciless patriarch whose only real weakness is his attraction to her.

I am surprised that I have not heard of Wild Seed being optioned for a movie. This is the story line that combines the vampire soap operas that have been all the rage for the intervening decades since Butler penned her masterpiece and Black Panther, which is the current box office champion of superhero movies. Hopefully Octavia will get the call from Hollywood.

I am surprised how similar my Jennot character from Drink Deep of Night, Hemavore and The Jericho Bone is akin to Butler’s Doro in function, though not in character, as our genders seem to have highly informed our storytelling on the same general metaphysical subject. If you would like a masculine approach to this concept of an alien being interfering in human reproduction, I suggest The Jericho Bone. For your women, or for science fiction writers in general, try Wild Seed.

The Jericho Bone: Fruit of the Deceiver and Forty Hands of Night, 2nd Edition Omnibus Collection

Drink Deep of Night: Song of the Secret Gardener

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