The more we know about what other people earn, the more we can understand our own circumstances
Parable of the Sower, written by the legendary Octavia E. Butler, is a futuristic novel and is the first in the Earthseed Series. The book was first published in 1993 but I guarantee you if you didn’t know it, you would think the book was written in 2016.
In 2025, with the world descending into madness and anarchy, one woman begins a fateful journey toward a better future. Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, disease, war, and chronic water shortages. While her father tries to lead people on the righteous path, Lauren struggles with hyper empathy, a condition that makes her extraordinarily sensitive to the pain of others. When fire destroys their compound, Lauren’s family is killed and she is forced out into a world that is fraught with danger. With a handful of other refugees, Lauren must make her way north to safety, along the way conceiving a revolutionary idea that may mean salvation for all mankind.
We’re fascinated by what other people earn not only because we’re nosey, but because the more we know about what other people earn, the more we understand our own circumstances. You can’t tell if you’re being under- or overpaid without knowing what other people in your industry earn. Since my book was published, two authors have been in touch to say: “Thanks for sharing your advance. I thought my publishers were low-balling me.”
The book is a harrowing tale that forces the reader to question their belief system and ponder the question: “what happens when the fragile pillars that hold up the civilization as we know it crumbles?” The main characters are well developed and the insights the reader gains along the way are intriguing enough to draw the reader into the work. Plot twists, thrilling moments, and of course the belief system (Earthseed) brought to life by the main character Lauren give the reader plenty of opportunity for pause and reflection.
“All that you touch
All that you Change
The only lasting truth Is Change
God Is Change.”
In this book I partially expected this to be a book where the main character triumphantly overcomes all adversity and we come to the end with a slain dragon of sorts, only to be teased with a new dragon for the next book. That is not the setup here. The challenges and victories, both small and large, are more nuanced and complex. Often in the book, the main characters, especially Lauren experience a victory only to be left with a new challenge set before them. But given their reality of living through a live apocalypse, this seems appropriate.
This book is the first in the Earthseed Series of which I highly recommend reading both books. However, if you are looking for an entrance into the catalog of Octavia E. Butler, Kindred would also be a good choice.