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Fable Reading Guide for Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
Octavia E. Butler's work will always hold a place on Fable's bookshelf. the boygenius book club has started reading this unforgettable book. boygenius is an indie band founded by three amazing artists: Julien BakerPhoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus. These three musicians all recommend "The Parable of the Sower by Butler. Butler published her novel in 1993, but the book’s themes of climate change, social justice, and the endless search for hope matter now more than ever.  You can find the book in the Fable store and download free Parable of the Sower discussion prompts. You can learn all about the book in this reading group guide for "Parable of the Sower."
Read The Parable of the Sower with the boygenius book club!

Why LeVar Burton chose Parable of the Sower

LeVar Burton invited his community to read “Parable of the Sower” by Octavia E. Butler when he first launched his book club on Fable. LeVar read the Octavia E. Butler short story “Childfinder” on his award-winning LeVar Burton Reads podcast, sharing the story of a telepathic woman who helps guide children with special extrasensory abilities. He explained why Parable of the Sower is so important in his Fable Folio, an exclusive collection of LeVar Burton book recommendations:

“Her work is full of commentary about the ways that race plays out in our culture, both in the present and in the future. Octavia is masterfully adept at locating us in the world that she created for us, and this story warns of an all-too-near future warped by climate change, racial inequality, wealth disparity, and corporate greed.”

In this special Fable Reading Guide, we’ve collected everything you need to know to start reading “Parable of the Sower.”You can always revisit LeVar Burton's commentary in the club Bookshelf on the Fable app.Octavia Butler Bookshelf

Parable of the Sower Book Reviews

From the very moment of its release in the 1990s, The New York Times praised "Parable of the Sower." Reviewer Gerald Jones wrote:

“In her fine new novel, Parable Of The Sower, Octavia E. Butler accepts a more difficult challenge: poising her story on the brink of change, she tries to imagine a new social order at its moment of conception.”

A TED Talk about Octavia E. Butler

Over at TED Talks, Ayana Jamieson and Moya Bailey created a special video exploring Butler’s life and work, calling her a “visionary storyteller who upended science fiction.” Their video explains what makes her work so special:

“Much science fiction features white male heroes who blast aliens or become saviors of brown people. Octavia E. Butler knew she could tell a better story. She built stunning worlds rife with diverse characters, and brought nuance and depth to the representation of their experiences.” 

The New Yorker on Parable of the Sower

The New Yorker looked at Butler’s work in 2017, finding some uneasy parallels to the dystopian future of “Parable of the Sower” and our present problems.

“Butler extrapolated her vision of a near-future dystopia from what she read in the news, forecasting what kind of collapse might result if the forces of late-stage capitalism, climate change, mass incarceration, big pharma, gun violence, and the tech industry continued unhampered.” 

John Green on Parable of the Sower

 Author John Green introduced his huge YouTube audience to "Parable of the Sower" in that “Crash Course in Literature” video. 

“It takes its name from a Bible parable, in which Jesus describes someone who goes out to distribute seed. Some of the seed falls on the path and is eaten up by birds, some falls in a rocky place and can’t grow. Some falls near thorns (so that’s no good), but some of it falls on fertile ground and grows beautifully.”

Books by Octavia Butler

You can read more of Octavia Butler’s mind-expanding work at Fable.

Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler 

Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. ButlerThis powerful and compelling sequel to “Parable of the Sower” won the Nebula Award for Best Novel. We won't reveal more than that, to protect you from spoilers!

Lilith's Brood by Octavia E. Butler 

Lilith's Brood by Octavia E. ButlerThe complete series about an alien species that could save humanity after a nuclear apocalypse—or destroy it. Survivors of a cataclysmic nuclear war awake to find themselves being studied by the Oankali, tentacle-covered galactic travelers whose benevolent appearance hides their surprising plan for the future of mankind.

Unexpected Stories by Octavia E. Butler

Unexpected Stories by Octavia E. ButlerThis collection contains two never-before-published stories from the archives of one of science fiction’s all-time masters, including “Childfinder,” the short story featured on LeVar Burton Reads. 

Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler 

Wild Seed by Octavia E. ButlerThis book opens Butler’s acclaimed Patternist science fiction series begins, two immortals meet in the long-ago past—and mankind’s destiny is changed forever.

Patternmaster by Octavia E. Butler 

Patternmaster by Octavia E. ButlerIn this novel, a tyrant’s heirs battle to control the minds of every human on Earth in this thrilling finale of Butler's Patternist saga.

Quotes from Parable of the Sower

You can highlight your favorite "Parable of the Sower" quotes while reading inside the Fable app. This GIF shows you how to share your favorite quotes. We'll update this article with all your highlights!Book Club Social Mode in FableHere are a few of readers’ favorite "Parable of the Sower" quotations... 

"All that you touch, You Change. All that you Change, Changes you. The only lasting truth Is Change." 

"It’s better to teach people than to scare them, Lauren. If you scare them and nothing happens, they lose their fear, and you lose some of your authority with them. It’s harder to scare them a second time, harder to teach them, harder to win back their trust. Best to begin by teaching." 

“The world goes crazy every three or four decades. The trick is to survive until it goes sane again."

“Cities controlled by big companies are old hat in science fiction. My grandmother left a whole bookcase of old science fiction novels. The company-city subgenre always seemed to star a hero who outsmarted, overthrew, or escaped ‘the company.’ I've never seen one where the hero fought like hell to get taken in and underpaid by the company. In real life, that's the way it will be. That's the way it always is.”

“Embrace diversity. Unite— Or be divided, robbed, ruled, killed By those who see you as prey. Embrace diversity Or be destroyed.”

“Freedom is dangerous but it's precious, too. You can't just throw it away or let it slip away. You can't sell it for bread and pottage.”

Biography of Octavia Butler

Octavia E. Butler was a bestselling and award-winning author, considered one of the best science fiction writers of her generation. She received both the Hugo and Nebula awards, and in 1995 became the first author of science fiction to receive a MacArthur Fellowship. Her first novel, Patternmaster (1976), was praised both for its imaginative vision and for Butler’s powerful prose, and spawned four prequels. She earned mainstream success Kindred (1979), which told the story of a black woman who travels back in time to the antebellum South. Fledgling (2005) was Butler’s final novel. She died at her home in 2006.Butler’s work has lived on, earning new fans every generation. In 2019, Amazon Prime Video announced they are developing Wild Seed, a series based on Butler’s Patternist saga. Deadline described the show:

“Co-written by award-winning sci-fi novelist Nnedi Okorafor and Rafiki filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu who is set to direct, Wild Seed is a love (and hate) story of two African immortals who travel the ages from pre-Colonial West Africa to the far, far future.”

Amazon Studios is working with Ava DuVernay’s ARRAY Filmworks to adapt Butler’s classic 1987 science-fiction novel, “Dawn” as well, with pioneering director Victoria Mahoney at the helm as a writer and director. Indiewire has more about that project:

“The project seems like a logical next move for Mahoney, who made history last year as the first woman (and woman of color) to direct a “Star Wars” film … Mahoney started out as a filmmaker. Her feature film debut “Yelling to the Sky” (2011), which starred Zoë Kravitz, Tim Blake Nelson, Jason Clarke, premiered at the Berlin Film Festival and went onto the SXSW Film Festival.” 

Join the LeVar Burton Book Club to read “Parable of the Sower” along with the iconic champion of reading!You can discover more great LeVar Burton book recommendations featured on his Fable Folio page.

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