Jemisin’s sober assessment of Butler’s heritage after three reads highlights how the publication lays out a plan for”smart immunity,” grounded in an understanding of”the difference between good intentions and good outcomes.” That’s exactly perfect. Parable of the Sower hasn’t been more relevant.

Macarthur”genius prize” recipient Octavia Butler (previously) is one of science fiction’s most important figures, a writer who composed cracking, crackling, reachable and fast-moving adventure stories taken through with trenchant and intelligent allegories about race, gender and energy (I love to think of her as”woke Heinlein”).


Grand Central has just released a new edition of one of the most important books, Parable of the Sower, the very first of a two-volume set that tells the tale of a young Black woman in southern California through a period of ecological and financial collapse and the rise of authoritarian rule; roughly how she leads a group of refugees, founding a new religion grounded in solidarity and stewardship, and the way she triumphs over lunatic gangs; corrupt, militarized cops; and the logistical challenges of flash-fires, starvation and illness.


The new edition comes with a brilliant introduction by NK Jemisin (previously), whose Broken Earth trilogy made Hugo Award history last season after all 3 volumes won the prize for Best Novel.


Jemisin’s introduction describes how she read Butler’s book at three occasions in her lifetime, and how each read evinced a very different reaction from her — once from the roaring nineties once the market was booming and the internet promised democratization of communications and culture; after in Jemisin’s thirties when she was was a grad student researching the theory of Black liberation and the character of white supremacy; and today, in the Trump era, when tales about authoritarian rule, mass inequality, along with climate devastation don’t feel nearly so allegorical and have obtained on the tinge of description instead.

(Picture: Laura Hanifin, CC-BY-SA)

Parable of the Sower [Octavia Butler with an introduction by NK Jemisin/Grand Central]