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Book Review - Wild Seed

This was the first novel by Octavia E. Butler I've read. For a long time, she and Steven Barnes were the only two black SF authors in the U.S.; Canada has a couple of black fantasy writers.

This book has a cool premise. Anyanwu is a Nigerian woman in 1690 who is about 350 years old. She's a shapeshifter who can manipulate every cell in her own body. One evening she encounters Doro, who is ten times as old as she and who lost his own body when he was 13. He now survives by killing and putting on new bodies.

Doro has a project though, of collecting anyone who has preternatural abilities and breeding them/with them. Anyanwu goes with him to America, lonely for someone like herself and not realizing that this is what he's up to. The book then covers them as they spar over the freedom of their descendants over the next two and a half centuries.

It was interesting reading conversations about manipulation of DNA with characters who of course don't have that vocabulary. It also dealt with the nature of slavery. I detest the concept of humans owning other humans, and the implications of manipulation of the genome as an indirect form of slavery is one that has caught my interest lately. This book deals with that.

I have a feeling the late Ms Butler wrote better books, but I still had no problems downing this one in less than a few hours.



( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 19th, 2009 10:29 pm (UTC)
It was the genetic manipulation of humans into master-slave species that make Stirling's Draka series so wicked cool and horrifying at the same time. It's also something I blatantly took for the NKers as homage to a concept that actually made me feel creeped out, and that it's not terribly off the beaten path of possibility for us even now.

I may have to check this one out myself.
Apr. 20th, 2009 01:27 am (UTC)
I've known Steve Stirling for a number of years, and the one thing that freaked him out about the series is that people *liked* the Draka, who were as evil as he could make them...he was kind of scared of people who liked the Draka!

Apr. 20th, 2009 11:12 pm (UTC)
I used to live on the seventh floor of his building while he lived on the eighth. I was in the Bunch of 7 and took care of his cat when he and Jan were at cons.
Apr. 21st, 2009 02:31 am (UTC)
May be it's age, but from my time in TO, I don't remember you..it wasn't until MTL when I remember from. I loaned Steve a computer computer when his died on the even of him submitting The Children's Hour, which got me a dedication. I lived at the KAOS (Karen And/Or Shirleys) down off Queen when Mandy Slater was also living there. But I don't remember you...but that's not unusual, as there are whole parts of my life I don't remember people from. :-(

Apr. 22nd, 2009 06:44 pm (UTC)
I think we just missed each other. I moved into 37 Bright Street in 1992. I believe you had gone on to Montreal by then. Certainly you had lunch with Don McKillican at Bell while I was finishing up my time in T.O.
Apr. 19th, 2009 11:39 pm (UTC)
I went to a writing workshop at Penn when I was in high school. I took two of the science fiction classes. I was the only female and one boy was the only black kid interested in SF. We bonded.
Apr. 20th, 2009 01:33 am (UTC)
You have forgotten Samuel R. Delany, author of Dhalgren, among other works. He was first published in the early 1960s, and has a new novel coming out soon.

Would one of the Canadians you are referring to be Charles R. Saunders?


Edited at 2009-04-20 01:38 am (UTC)
Apr. 20th, 2009 11:12 pm (UTC)
That would be Charles Saunders, yes.
Apr. 21st, 2009 02:32 am (UTC)
Charles is a really nice guy. I remember him at Maplecon II or III when he was reading from Imaro, and he had that steel thumb harp...I love the sound of that instrument, and it added something special to the reading.

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )


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