Read Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler Online


Doro is an entity who changes bodies like clothes, killing his hosts by reflex -- or design. He fears no one until he meets Anyanwu. Anyanwu is a shapeshifter who can absorb bullets and heal with a kiss and savage anyone who threatens her. She fears no one until she meets Doro. Together they weave a pattern of destiny unimaginable to mortals....

Title : Wild Seed
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780575071452
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 567 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Wild Seed Reviews

  • Apatt
    2019-04-17 19:48

    “Recently, however, I began to suspect that calling myself a science fiction critic without having read anything by Octavia Butler bordered on the fraudulent.”“Books to Look For” - Orson Scott Card I have to thank OSC for the above-mentioned article (from 1990) which piqued my interest for reading Octavia Butler. It is strange that I first read Wild Seed in January 2012, I loved it and it made me a lifelong fan of Octavia Butler, but since then I have not read any of the sequels. I have, however, read most of her other novels, and she has never disappointed me. Wild Seed is the first of the Patternmaster series, some of the later books in the series were written prior to this book, but in term of chronological order this is the first. I won’t do an overview of the series at this point as I have not read the other books, I will just stick to Wild Seed for now.Wild Seed is about an African woman named Anyanwu who is immortal and has shape changing abilities. One day she encounters a man called Doro who is also a shape-changer, of a very different sort. Where Anyanwu changes her shape by metamorphosis, Doro does it by evicting people from their bodies and taking over (and thereby killing the body’s owner). At the beginning of the narrative, Anyanwu is already about three hundred years old, living in a village among her descendants. While it is not clear how old Doro is, he was born in Egypt during the reign of the Pharaohs, so he is more than twice her age. Doro coerces Anyanwu into leaving Africa with him and move to a community he built in New York, he does this mainly by threatening the safety of all her descendants. It transpires that Doro is working on a project to breed people with unusual powers (the word mutant does not appear in this book) and he perceives Anyanwu as a “wild seed” to become a potent new ingredient in this project. What follows is a story of power struggles between these two characters, involving intimidation, submission, heartbreak, courage and rebellion.To say that Wild Seed is a page turner may give the impression that this is a sci-fi thriller that moves at breakneck speed. This is not the case at all; the story spans over a hundred years and is not particularly fast paced. However, it is very compelling, I always look forward to discovering what happens on the next page. Ms. Butler has an uncanny ability to effortlessly create vivid and believable characters. At times it seems like she can make them seem real as soon as they are introduced in the narrative. The only snag is I love her protagonist so much I wish she can just get away from this nefarious Doro, who is not only a creep but also doing a very creepy project; but if she does get away early in the book we would not have much of a story left. AnyanwuThe book’s timeline spans over 100 years, from the late 1600s to the 1800s, at a time where slavery is prevalent in the US. Unlike Butler’sKindred, Wild Seed is not exactly a slave narrative, Anyanwu is enslaved in a manner of speaking, without actually being a slave. The narrative is more concerned with her struggle to free herself from Doro’s project without risking the people she loves (her children and descendants). The sci-fi element of Wild Seed tends to read rather like science fantasy with all the shapeshifting going on, and no technology involved. However, Anyanwu has an ability to synthesize medicines from inside her body with the application of medical science principles. She comes up with a much more humane method of genetic engineering than Doro’s degrading version that treats human beings as seeds and animals. What makes the novel works so well is Butler’s humanity and compassion. Anyanwu is one of sci-fi’s best protagonists who embodies the best characteristics of motherhood, even Doro is a very complex kind of villain with understandable motivations, considering his backstory you can almost forgive his heinous behaviour, but he certainly is an overbearing larger than life character. For me, Wild Seed is one of the all-time greats, and I look forward to finally moving on to the subsequent volumes soon.Notes:• One of the things I love most about Octavia Butler is her love of the sci-fi genre, and how she was happy to embrace it; unlike some literary authors who utilize the genre's tropes but reject the label.• Sadly she is no longer with us, and I am running out of her books to read (。•́︿•̀。)Quotes:“Haven’t you seen the men slaves in this country who are used for breeding? They are never permitted to learn what it means to be a man. They are not permitted to care for their children. Among my people, children are wealth, they are better than money, better than anything. But to these men, warped and twisted by their masters, children are almost nothing.”“I kill, Anyanwu. That is how I keep my youth, my strength. I can do only one thing to show you what I am, and that is kill a man and wear his body like a cloth.” He breathed deeply. “This is not the body I was born into. It’s not the tenth I’ve worn, nor the hundredth, nor the thousandth.”He smiled a little, but could not help wondering how hard it might be to tame even partially a wild seed woman who had been helping herself for three hundred years.Wild seed always had to be destroyed eventually. It could never conform as children born among his people conformed. But like no other wild seed, Anyanwu would learn to fear him and bend herself to his will. Nice new cover

  • Lyn
    2019-04-04 03:51

    Dear Goodreads friends,If you like to read science fiction / fantasy you should get to know Octavia Butler.Love,LynButler’s 1980 novel Wild Seed is the first chronological book in her Patternmaster series. This details the beginnings of the sub-race of humans that will, in Patternmaster, be set in the far future. Butler begins her narrative in 1390, in West Africa, where her protagonist Anyanwu meets a strange young man named Doro.So begins a centuries old relationship, often rocky, between two immortals. Anyanwu is a healer and a shape shifter and seems to remain at about 20 years of age though she can take the shape (and apparently the DNA makeup) of other people and even animals. Doro, on the other hand, turns out to be much older and is a kind of spiritual vampire, taking the bodies of his victims and “wearing” them for a while.The central conflict of the story is the dynamic opposition between Anyanwu and Doro in regard to Doro’s millennia project of breeding a super race. Doro, who is more spirit than man, has been gathering people with unusual talents and getting them together so that their talents may be made more usable and more apparent in the offspring. Anyanwu vehemently opposes his methods and his dehumanization of the subjects.As interesting as this story is, and it is quintessential Butler, the magnetic tension between Doro and Anyanwu is the gripping central focus of the book. And like Milton’s Satan, Butler’s Doro is a fascinatingly complex and intriguing antagonist who displays both god-like power and transcendent ennui. Anyanwu’s humanism, and her female relational practicality and leadership offer a vital juxtaposition to Doro’s attentive but disassociated deity.On the checklist for SF/F books that should be read and a must read for Butler fans.

  • Regina
    2019-03-30 22:31

    I really don't know where to start with this review. Wild Seed is unlike anything I have ever read before but yet it was still very accessible and easy to read. I would say this book is a combination of urban fantasy, horror, historical fiction and fantasy. Butler addresses slavery, gender roles, racial issues, sexuality, and class issues so subtlety you can miss the commentary if you want to and she does this all through the lens of a fantasy world involving supernatural beings that are seemingly immortal and have various abilities from shape shifting, body snatching, mind reading, and telekinesis. Personally, I don't want to miss the commentary and I enjoy the unique view. I tend to like my urban fantasy and fantasy stories with a slice of heaviness on the side and Octavia Butler seems to be able to deliver that every time. This is the third book by Octavia Butler that I have read. I have come to expect that in reading her books I will have an escape from reality and a complete immersion into the characters that she writes. She writes characters that seem to breathe and live somewhere off the pages of her books, they are real and three dimensional. But such tangible characters come with a price, there is pain and anguish in her books and as a reader, I felt these emotions. Wild Seed was no exception. The characters witness some painful and sad events. This is not urban fantasy lite.Wild Seed is a sweeping historical story that begins in Africa with ancient powerful beings. These beings get caught up in the slave trade and arrive in the now United States. These characters seem to have limitless power. One being prefers to use her power morally and compassionately. Another being, no longer sees himself as human and is not governed by any morality. And of course they clash, both romantically and otherwise. The book is surprisingly sexual in parts and raises some really interesting questions. A shapeshifter that can take on any shape -- animal and human -- and gender -- how do you feel about it taking on the opposite gender and engaging in sexual relationships? What about while it is in animal form? The sex scenes are not explicit but they are referenced. Octavia Butler is not shy about putting her toe across the border of most people's comfort zones. I plan to continue on with the series and am excited that Butler's books are being published in e-book and audio book format. To read more reviews like this check out

  • Aubrey
    2019-04-09 03:34

    4.5/5As Woolf once said Middlemarch is one of the few English books written for grown-ups, so too is this one of the few pieces of science fiction written for the real world, not marketing and academia. Of course, so chock full is this work with critical engagement and unflinching history that the cries of 'polemic' and 'bias' would not be an unlikely reaction. If that doesn't work, 'prosaic' could always be used as a strong condemnation via completely arbitrary standards of institutionalized repute. The work has too high of a rating for those sorts of epithets to have much of an effect, but not all creations inherently concerned with the same material in many of the same ways prove as undeniably excellent in their respective domains.Black History Month as defined by the US Government has its last day tomorrow, and I wonder how much immortality would be required to value the conversation of the survival over the death of 'it's over, it's done, have a cookie to stave off the resolution cause it's never going to come.' The last of this is all white people creation, for after centuries of winning in the absolute worst ways known to humanity and then some, we can't imagine going out in any way other than that which we put upon others. A simpler explanation is that we love our money too much and would rather be run out on a rail than give it to those as reparation for a country's history of eugenicist leeching, but hey. Life's a mess and the reasons for a collective people's amnesia and hoarding of personal trauma at the expense of anyone who doesn't correctly foot the physiognomic bill must involve more than fear of violence and indoctrination via capitalism.In this particular world of Butler's, the name of the game is power and its more subtle kin empathy. Along with the much increased measure of supernatural inclusion that I am suspect to gorging on, I liked this better than Kindred because of the vaster space Butler worked on for her creations. If there's one plus to my current philosophy class beyond my getting a measure of many an auspicious overheard name and finding the majority of them lacking, it's seeing where the body hatred came in, the disregard for existence other than the self, the splintering of mind and soul and truth that results in a class named 'Philosophy' and should really be 'Greek and English and Scottish and German Philosophy of Various Hopscotch Periods in Somewhat that Particular Order'. This is an ideological movement of centuries whose myriad challengers are still fringed around the main, so if you want to write a work that destabilizes a thought process that so smugly thinks of itself as the 'center', you need eons of time and continents of space.Butler is not Anyanwu, but when it comes to the evil wrought by white supremacy in its breeding lines and uselessness makes waste, it's not hard to see that the main factor missing is humanity. Butler is also not Doro, but the prototype of the white serial killer bred on a millenia of alienation and instinctive thrill kill is not hard to construct with the aid of the canon of literature and film and creed. Anyone accusing this work of misandry, please. Accuse each and every vaulted work of misogyny, white supremacism, classism, heteronormativity, etc, etc, ad nauseam when appropriate, and you will actually work towards saving lives and spirits. Misandry? Try reverse racism while you're at it. If someone goes on a genocidal rampage against white men on a hegemonic scale and inculcates long lasting civilizations with the trend, I may start to take you seriously.Will I scare away readers by saying that this work is ultimately a romance? If I do, they were not the right audience for this work anyway.

  • Stuart
    2019-03-23 00:35

    Wild Seed: Two African immortals battle for supremacy in early AmericaOriginally posted at Fantasy LiteratureWild Seed (1980) was written last in Octavia Butler’s 5-book PATTERNIST series, but comes first in chronology. The next books by internal chronology are Mind of My Mind (1977), Clay’s Ark (1984), and Patternmaster (1976). Butler was later unsatisfied with Survivor (1978) and elected to not have it reprinted, so I will focus on the main 4 volumes. Wild Seed is an origin story set well before later books and can stand on its own. It’s one of those books whose basic plot could be described in just a few paragraphs, but the themes it explores are deep, challenging, and thought-provoking. I’ve read a lot of academic discussion of the book, but my approach is always on whether the book is engaging as a SFF story.It’s the story of Doro, a being who inhabits and discards human bodies at will, who first arose in the time of the Pharaohs in Egypt. Initially he was a just the sickly youngest child of 12 siblings, but when he was dying he accidentally took over his mother and father’s bodies to survive. After that he spent millennia continually switching bodies and creating seed colonies in West Africa where to attempts to breed people with psychic abilities, creating more and more powerful beings. However, if they ever become a threat to him, he destroys them without hesitation. For reasons unknown even to himself, he takes the greatest pleasure in taking the bodies of such psychic beings.One day Doro detects the presence of Anyanwu, a powerful black female shape-shifter and healer. She can heal her own body and change into the shape of any animal or person, and has lived for over 300 years. Doro knows her genetic abilities could be tremendous if he breeds her with the right partners. Because Doro thinks of humans as merely livestock intended to further his psychic breeding projects. She is a proud creature, but she recognizes that his power is even greater and more lethal, so eventually she agrees to be taken to the New World on a slaver ship, taking the Middle Passage that so many slaves from Africa travelled. But because Doro rules the crew, who are mostly his ‘people’, including his white son Isaac, they don’t make the trip in chains. During the trip Anyanwu, who knows no English or Western customs, is slowly taught the ways of the New World.Upon reaching the New World, Doro mates with Anyanwu but then decides that she should marry his son Isaac, as he thinks this union will produce the most promising offspring. Initially she is unhappy with this situation, but as she learns that Isaac is a decent man and nothing like his ruthless immortal father, she settles into this new life in the town of Wheatley. It turns out that Doro has numerous seed communities, and they revere and fear him as a god-like being who can take their lives at his whim. But he also provides them protection from Indian attacks and sometimes from White racism. Sometimes he takes white bodies, other times black bodies, but his freedom of movement is better with the former. So he comes and goes, checking on each place, mating with the most promising women, and then moving on.The relationship of Doro and Anyanwu is an uneasy one – he knows that she does not love him and resents his ruthless killing and domination of his people. Yet he recognizes her value as a breeder. She is also a strong-willed woman who does not easily submit to him, a situation unthinkable for an all-powerful being like himself. One day fateful events involving Isaac and their daughter Nweke drive her to turn into an animal and run away, since Doro cannot track her in that form.A hundred years later, Doro discovers Anyanwu in a Southern plantation colony, where she has been conducting her own version of a seed village, one lacking the fear of death and oppression of Doro. When he tries to force himself into this community, Anyanwu threatens to kill herself, the only viable threat for Doro. He agrees to back off and be less contemptuous of his seed people, but it is an ambiguous victory. There are so many themes and dichotomies to explore here: master vs slave, man vs woman, white vs black, killer vs healer, Africa vs New World, African tribal networks vs modern Western communities, Colonialism vs Autonomy, Coercion vs Cooperation, etc. The genius about Butler’s books is that they dive into these complicated themes without resorting to convenient moralizing or stereotypes. The book is almost exclusively focused on the relationship of Doro and Anyanwu, but it is a constantly-shifting one. Certainly Doro is a capricious killer and parasite, treating his people like livestock that exist for his convenience only. But once he encounters the strong female presence of Anyanwu, whose powers manifest as a healer and protector of families and communities, he has to reassess his millennia of cruel behavior. And despite Anyanwu finding herself in the slave position initially, she does everything in her power to resist in a peaceful and reasoning way. Their relationship is all about the struggle for control. Whether this plays itself out in gender, skin color, master vs slave, Old vs New World, we are constantly confronted with this dualism. And while Doro could be easily categorized as the dominant male, slaver and killer, he also has a paternalistic attitude towards his peoples. He also has a conflicted connection with race, taking over both black and white bodies, and understanding the New World ways of America but having millennia of experience in Africa and the Old World. Meanwhile, Anyanwu is in many ways like Dana, the protagonist of Butler’s Kindred, a strong woman forced into submission by a cruel and paternalistic master, but still retaining her resilience and strength, fighting to protect her family and children from harm. It is part of the centuries-long struggle that black women have fought against slavery and domination. This is a book that demands repeat readings, analysis, and reflection, but also remains a compulsive reading experience, a tight story focused on the complicated entwined fates of these immortal African beings.I listened to the audiobook narrated by Dion Graham, a gifted voice actor who has appeared in a number of films and dramas including The Wire. He is given a very difficult assignment here, which he pulls off magnificently. He needs to give a strong African identity to his two lead characters, Doro and Anyanwu, and also convey their immortal perspective. But once they reach America, they encounter various settlers and communities, and Doro himself is constantly switching bodies, so I was very impressed that Dion also switched accents accordingly.

  • manda
    2019-03-26 20:42

    blog | goodreadsMost of us don't believe in gods and spirits and devils who must be pleased or feared. We have Doro, and he's enough.What can I say about Wild Seed that could come anywhere close to doing it justice? This is the story of how Doro met Anyanwu, the only living soul on Earth who could possibly match his will; test his patience, endure his passive cruelty, and time and again defy him in ways even she could not possibly understand.And forever is a long time to endure one another when you are two of the only immortal beings on the planet. Theirs is a love story that goes beyond physical desire; Anyanwu needs Doro as much as he needs her, whether either are willing to accept it or not.Doro looked up. He held Isaac's gaze, not questioningly or challengingly, not with any reassurance or compassion. He only looked back. Isaac had seen cats stare at people that way. Cats. That was apt. More and more often, nothing human looked out of Doro's eyes.Doro is both our antihero and villain. An ogbanje -- evil spirit -- as Anyanwu would call him, he is not malicious through any evil intent of his own. He simply is. Much like fire must burn and virus must spread, Doro's nature is simply a part of him he cannot destroy.(view spoiler)[image from DeviantArt (hide spoiler)]Having lived long before the Son of God even walked the earth, Doro has developed his own moral compass -- or lack thereof. He has very utilitarian motives, is constrained by no societal boundaries, and therefore much of the contents of this book would strike the reader as outrageous, disgusting, and their abhorrence inevitably directed towards our antihero.But I could not bring myself to hate him. This is what it should be like to be immortal and see your loved ones die one after the other. To bury your lovers, children, grandchildren ... you don't live for thousands of years without these kinds of things changing you.Doro could have been intentionally malevolent and put his power to actively harm people. Instead, all he seeks for is a way to simply endure. And in this aspect, I sympathized for him.(view spoiler)[image from DeviantArt (hide spoiler)]But this is what Anyanwu has a hard time accepting -- and I do not blame her one bit! How can a healer, a mother, a being that respects all forms of life such as her, submit to the heartless demands of a sociopath?Doro looked at people, healthy or ill, and wondered what kind of young they could produce. Anyanwu looked at the sick — especially those with problems she had not seen before — and wondered whether she could defeat their disease.And when people say opposites attract, this is what they're talking about. Anyanwu and Doro are two very opposing beings who complement each other perfectly. Their love for each other is so complex it's beautiful. They hate each other for completely different reason, they need each other for equally different reasons, and they are inevitably, constantly drawn back towards one another.For Doro, Anyanwu is the only one who could last long enough to keep him rooted to his long-forgotten humanity; and for Anyanwu, Doro is the only one who can understand her with an intimacy no mortal man ever could.But please, if you are daunted by romance novels (such as I am), do not be hesitant about Wild Seed. Despite my gushing on and on and on about Anyanwu and Doro's beautiful love, this was not a romance book. Well, it is, at the core. But in no way, shape, or form does it torment you with romance. It is only there subtly, being hinted at in our two main characters' interaction and behaviour towards each other.Power came the way a child came -- with agony.Wild Seed is a complex, multi-layered prequel to the Patternmaster series. It is a fantasy novel, rich in themes of slavery, colonialism, and subtle commentary on human morality. It is a long, deep look into multiple aspects of humanity, and as such readers looking for action and adventure are better off turning to a different book.But for those of you undaunted by exposition, and those of you who enjoy complex and subtle romances; for me this book was heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time -- and I cannot recommend it enough.***more reviews are also available at my blog["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • [Name Redacted]
    2019-03-28 19:44

    Butler's sci-fi classic has so much to recommend it. She is a very talented writer, and she creates a mythology and cosmology which are, if not unique, then arguably the best-developed of their kind. "Wild Seed" is beautiful and lyrical and powerful, but the rampant misandry and peculiar romanticization of pre-colonial Africa mar it -- infect it like a virus. There is neither subtlety nor nuance in Butler's representation of the two sexes. No woman is ever a criminal or a monster or a villain -- those roles are reserved exclusively for the men. And the only men who show any virtuous traits are remarkable because they are explicitly exceptional -- aberrations who invariably die at the hands of other "true" men.Butler presents the male as mind, male as monster, male as thief, male as predator, male as manipulator, male as sociopath, male as destroyer, male as wanderer, male as slaver, male as arrogant false-god, male as controller and dominator, male as compulsive, incurable rapist. Butler presents the female as body, female as healer, female as savior, female as settler, female as nurturer, female as victim, female as mother, female as creatrix, female as liberator, female as rebel, female as builder, female as gardener, female as defiant and noble and inherently virtuous.The sense is often that the male is the rude, brute beast from which the morally, ethically & spiritually superior female has evolved.And re: her depictions of pre-colonial Africa...Well, i think this novel would have benefited from consultation of the works of Frank M. Snowden cross-referenced with that of Lloyd A. Thompson. It's moving in a Pan-Africanist sense, but it lacks reality.Again, there is so much of worth here, and it deserves its status as a classic, but its flaws are so glaring, so appalling, that they can eclipse everything that is good about it. I was able to see more of its worth with this re-reading, able to filter out the hypocritical misandry and suspend my disbelief for the African history portions, and maybe next time I'll be able to filter out a bit more. For now I regrettably leave it as a 3 star book.

  • Wanda
    2019-04-11 21:57

    A great book, I can’t believe that I just discovered Octavia Butler this year. She has been one the gems that I have encountered while reading through the NPR list of classic science fiction and fantasy. This novel could easily be a stand-alone novel, but I was intrigued when I realized it was the first in a series—I will be very interested to see where Butler takes the story from here.Although this is another book about extraordinarily long life, Butler examines it from a very different view point. Two very long-lived beings encounter one another and despite a relationship that is uneven in power, their lives remain entwined. There is as interesting exploration of the nature of slavery and the uneven power situation (examined much more directly in Butler’s novel, Kindred). But what really spoke to me was the contrasting way that Doro and Anyanwu deal with people around them.Now, I have found over the years that I enjoy my relatives immensely. I like spending time with them, talking to them regularly, and planning events to share with them. Anyanwu was my kind of immortal. She collected family around herself, surrounding herself with children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc., building a community of relatives all around her and enjoying their company. Completely different from Doro, who was also surrounded by descendants, but looked at them more as a farmer would regard his livestock—breeding them in an attempt to create people with special abilities including extra-long life. One doing it out of love, the other out of utility. I’m only guessing, but I think that Anne Rice must have read this book—it reminds me strongly of her book The Witching Hour, where the family of Mayfair women are haunted by a malevolent spirit which nudges them towards the sexual liaisons that would be required to produce the qualities it required in their children in every bit as calculating a way as Doro manipulates his progeny. This is the 151st book that I have read from the NPR list.

  • Shannon (Giraffe Days)
    2019-03-24 00:54

    My first foray into the unique world of Octavia Butler's imagination does not disappoint. Terrify, yes, and fascinate in an almost grotesque way, but it's oh so worth it. It is also a good example of speculative fiction and what you can do with it.For over three thousand years Doro has wandered the Earth, gathering together those born special, with latent potential or abilities, usually mental, that can endanger themselves or others. Born human, Doro died during his own "transition" as a boy, yet cannot be killed. He is a kind of spirit, a demon it seems to me, inhabiting one body after another. He kills effortlessly and usually without a care. Because he is not the body he inhabits, he is impossible to kill. And he is lonely. Part of his aim in collecting these people is to create someone who will stay with him, or a community of them. He breeds them, and they worship him like a god. (Imagine the poor misfits of Obernewtyn brought together for such purposes... isn't it horrible?)In 1690 he is in Africa, collecting slaves with special abilities, when he senses the presence of a Wild Seed: a person with great ability who has known too much freedom. He tracks down Anyanwu, a beautiful woman who is immortal and over three hundred years old: she never ages unless she wills it, for she has complete control over her body. She can heal herself of almost anything, and can change her body completely into any animal or bird. Doro sees great potential in her, and by threatening her descendents and promising her long-lived children, gets her to willingly accompany him back to one of his settlements in New York.It does not take her long to understand Doro's nature, and resist where she can. His one demand is obedience, and Anyanwu is not ready to die. His breeding program is almost as scary as Doro himself. Do you remember the character Vincent from Collateral? Cold, calm, ruthless, determined, single-minded, manipulative, implacable, threatening. That's Doro, except he's worse. He's been "alive" so long his humanity is almost entirely gone. He reminds me of what commonly terrifies us most: the idea of "never". The universe never ends. This computer I am using will never biodegrade, but will always be here, in one way or another (this is my big fear, scarier than the certainty of death to me). Humans will never stop fighting, will never agree. Doro can never be killed, can never be stopped, can never be diverted from his purpose. And because of this, he "uses" people, thinking of them only in terms of the children they can produce if mated together, even incestuously, and when they have outlived their "usefulness", he takes their body, maybe even gets more children from them while inhabiting it. Sometimes the special abilities drive a person mad, but all Doro cares about, really, is what potentially great children he can get from them. Still, "his people" are well cared for, the slaves are free, and he protects them all - mostly because he is so possessive and considers them his property far more absolutely than the slave owners, for example.You can look at Doro and Anyanwu another way: he is manufacturing, unnatural, forceful, going against nature, while Anyanwu is highly attuned to the natural world, creating medicine and food from natural products (plants etc.), and living as a bird, as a dolphin. She can change her body so completely that she can become an old white man, and father children. Perhaps this seems unnatural, but if you think about it, she possesses all of what nature is capable of, whereas Doro can really only bring an end to life, even as he seeks to create the ultimate companion. Creation and Destruction - it's a bit black-and-white, a bit obvious, but the comparison is there to be made.Considering how long this book has been out, it has way too many typos and other errors. At times words are doubled-up, or whole sentences and paragraphs repeated, which gets confusing. The prose, though, is deft and mostly descriptive, allowing the story to tell itself. However, especially in regards to the main characters, I often felt distant, like I was not given a decent chance to understand them. I'm not sure how well you could understand them, but I guess I was surprised at how little Anyanwu changed over the centuries, while Doro's 2nd transition, if it could be called that, happens a little too suddenly. And I never really, truly understood why Doro was doing all this. Mostly I felt thrown off track by a thought Doro has that implies he is building a kind of army of genetically-manipulated super-people, who will be no match for the weaker, ordinary humans. But this was never followed through, so maybe I read too much into it.

  • Tiara
    2019-04-01 20:38

    4.5 stars. How do I even begin to review this? I'm going to have to think on this for a few days. If you have Kindle Unlimited, do yourself a favor and read/listen to this book. If you don't, just buy it. Doro, a man who steals the bodies of others and uses the until he must find another or he feels he deserves the body of another person, finds Anyanwu in the African forests living alone on the fringes of a village as a old medicine woman. While searching for one of his lost groups of people, people who were likely taken and sold into slavery, Anyanwu’s power pulls him toward her. This aged woman reveals herself to be a young healer with strength that could crush a grown man who has roamed the world for over 300 years, but her lifetime is still a drop in time compared to his own lifespan.Anyanwu agrees to leave the safety of her home to help Doro forge a bloodline of children who have special abilities and share their immortality in a world where loneliness and boredom are the enemies of people like them. While her agreement is made in order to save her own bloodline from him, part of her wonders if there could truly be a time when she would no longer have to watch her children die. This book follows Doro and Anyanwu from Africa during the early years of the American slave trades to the end of slavery as love, fight, hate, and dream about everything from the ethical issues of true workings of Doro’s breeding plan to their feelings about each other.It’s hard to pin this book down to just one thing. It’s science-fiction mixed with historical fantasy add a little romance and a generous helping of social issues (racism, gender issues, ethical issues). Even describing it like that, I don’t think I’ve capture the essence of this book. This books takes so many conventional ideas and presents them in such an unconventional way as Butler uses words to weave this tale that can really take her readers on an emotional roller coaster. I love a good light, quick, fun speculative read, but there’s nothing like speculative fiction that uses the medium to really transcend expectations of the genre. Butler managed that this with book.Dion Graham was such a powerful, amazing narrator choice for this book. The emotion and voices that he used for the characters captured me as much as the words did themselves. Butler’s characters were already so powerful. I love characters that can really shake me to my core. There was nothing simple about any of them. Even the ones you hated had this part of them that you still recognized as human, and Butler was able to convey so much of their humanity in less words than many author’s use to get you to care about characters in books twice this size. These characters combined with Graham’s narration was fantastic. I’m hoping that he’ll be narrating the other books in this series.Despite all the ugliness in this book, it was counteracted with so much beauty. I had one minor complaint with a transition later in the book. It seemed a little hurried as Butler tried to wrap up the story, but I did like what it transitioned into.This was my first read by Octavia Butler, and it took me so long to read her because others had told me she could be a heavy read. And while I expected something amazing, something that would probably affect me on a profound level given how many people I know read her books and praise how she touched on issues, I hadn’t expected the incongruous beauty that waited for me or the feelings and thoughts that was this book.

  • Rona Fernandez
    2019-04-09 03:35

    This is one of my favorite books ever, for its superb blending of atmosphere/landscape, characterization, politics, history, race/gender/sexuality, politics, and plot. Ms. Butler (may she rest in peace) created some of the most memorable characters in my mind in Doro and, of course, Anyanwu/Emma. I could read this book over and over. Just doing a text analysis of the opening 7 paragraphs is such an education to an aspiring novelist like me. Didn't like 'Mind of My Mind' as much, but wonder if any of the Patternist series books are as good as 'Wild Seed'.

  • Sumant
    2019-04-19 03:43

    This review is going to be hard, because Octavia Butler has a big reputation in the sci-fi world, and given that fact I had started this book in the series. But unfortunately this book was a huge disappointment, also I don't get as to how can I call this book sci-fi because although there were many people in this book with X-Men like abilities, but without a coherent story I just did not get the point of throwing them together.The book has basically has two main characters with some side characters thrown together with them, but I did not get the motivation of the lead characters as to why they were doing the things they were doing.One character keeps on making blunders one after another and other deals with its consequences, and the same pattern is repeated throughout the book, and add with it tons of mind numbing dialogue.Also there were some time jumps in the book which I clearly failed to get. The biggest drawback for me is the story which just seems a concoction without having any structure to it, and events just keeping without any connection to one another.I give this book 2/5 stars.

  • Zen Cho
    2019-04-15 20:51

    I really like what I've read by Octavia Butler so far and I wish I could give this at least three stars, but I can't because I hate Doro with a passionate fiery hatred and I wish he would die. I do not care if he is secretly a brain-hopping alien parasite and so thinks differently and that makes it okay for him to do eugenics. (Although, ooh, it will be supercool generations later when his offspring develop the power of flight and stop being crazy about their telepathy and basically become the X-Men, only incestuous -- but no! I hate Doro! I do not care about his awesome incestuous future X-Men!)Anyanwu is cool. She is like the Animorphs, or Arthur in T. H. White's The Once And Future King. I liked how she could tie her Fallopian tubes using the power of her brain.

  • YouKneeK
    2019-03-30 02:38

    I spent the majority of this book trying to decide whether or not I liked it, and debating whether or not I would want to read the rest of the series. The omnibus containing this series had been on sale for $1.99 earlier this month, and I bought it, so I already had the next book available.Early this year I’d read the author’s Xenogenesis trilogy, also sometimes referred to as Lilith’s Brood, and I really enjoyed it. This book shared a lot of similar themes, although the story and setting are quite different. Slavery is a particularly big theme in this book. With this book, unlike with the Xenogenesis series, I didn’t feel like there was much of a story beyond the themes being explored. It’s very possible I would have appreciated Wild Seed more if I’d read it first.The story in Wild Seed is set in our world, ranging from the years 1690 through 1840. There are two main characters: a woman named Anyanwu and a man named Doro. Anyanwu is a caring, warm woman for whom her family and community mean everything. She’s able to see inside her body and makes changes to it. For this reason, she’s been able to heal herself and remain alive for hundreds of years. Doro has been alive even longer, but he has different “talents”. He wears a body until it dies or until he gets tired of it. He then takes over another body, killing the original owner in the process. Doro’s entire existence is devoted to seeking out people with special abilities and breeding them with each other. He’s completely amoral, concerned only with meeting his own objectives. To whatever extent he treats people kindly, it’s only because doing so will help him meet his goals more effectively. Shortly after this book begins, Doro discovers Anyanwu. Her abilities far surpass that of the other people he’s collected, so naturally he wants to start breeding her ASAP.Most of the story consisted of different people being mated with each other as dictated by Doro. I wouldn’t call this a romance novel exactly, especially since some of the relationships in the story were quite disturbing and not at all romantic, but it sometimes felt like one because the story focused mainly on relationships. I definitely wouldn’t say this book didn’t have substance, though. It absolutely had substance, and it brought up important issues in a non-preachy way. These issues aren’t new to a modern audience, though, and I wanted a more interesting story to go along with the exploration of those issues.The book did have interesting aspects to it, and I wasn’t really bored by it. Since I already have the rest of the series, it’s tempting to keep reading and see where the story goes next. To try to make up my mind, I read a little bit about the other books and ultimately decided to stop here. There are too many other books I’m more interested in reading.

  • Akirah
    2019-03-22 23:01

    This book drove me crazy! There were amazing moments in the book: moments where I was just truly shocked and excited. Times where I would tell my friends and family that Octavia Butler is one of the greatest writers to have ever lived. However, there were times where I struggled to get through it. The internal dialogue in this book is oftentimes long and repetitive. I found myself saying "Wrap it up, B" in the Dave Chappelle type of way. However, I truly believe that if Octavia Butler was alive today that she would be the best writer of Sci-Fi. That sounds crazy since I had such a love and hate relationship with this book. She wrote this book in the 80s: the times were different. I am almost certain that the level of detail, gore, and plain craziness that we have come to expect of many books now would not have been as acceptable at the time that she wrote this book. I can only imagine where Octavia Butler's imagination would have taken her if she was writing today.

  • Nikki
    2019-04-19 23:35

    This book wasn't as good a match for my mood as N.K. Jemisin's The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, but it didn't suffer for being read immediately after it. It's an interesting concept: a being that might as well be a god, moving from body to body, amoral and utterly self-serving, trying to breed others like him so he won't be alone, and a being who is also immortal, or close to it, nurturing families so she won't be alone. The two of them are entirely different: Anwanyu loves the people she finds and treats them well, no matter what, and she has children and cares for them not as means to an end, but as ends in themselves. Doro is merciless, regarding people only as long as they serve his purpose. We're clearly meant to sympathise with Anwanyu, as she's the closest to what we can understand, but Doro has his moments too, at least for me. His loneliness is something I can understand.The different abilities, and the difficulty in producing them, in people surviving them, and how many ways they can go wrong, rings true to me. It's discomforting to read about people being bred like cattle, without real dignity, but sometimes you kind of share in Doro's frustration that it isn't turning out the way it should.Because of the immortal nature of the two characters, they're the only ones that exist throughout the novel, but there are one or two others worth sympathising with, mostly (for me) Isaac and Thomas, despite how short-lived Thomas is.The style of the writing is deceptively simple, but there's a lot to think about. It isn't mindless brain candy, despite being easy to read.The most unsatisfying thing about it is the ending. I'm aware this is the first book in its timeline, not the only book, but the end is an uncomfortable compromise that leaves Anwanyu still not quite doing what she feels is right, which is a disappointment.

  • Jason
    2019-04-16 22:42

    5 Stars Wild Seed by Octavia Butler is book one in her Pattermaster Series. I am a huge fan of Octavia Butler and have loved many of her works. She writes about strong women. She also writes to explore deep subjects and situations utilizing her fiction as the means in which to explore them. This is primarily the story of an amazing woman named Anyanwu. She is different from most people, a mutant per se. Anyanwu is a shapeshifter and a gifted healer. She can manipulate her body down to each individual cell. As a result she is ageless and nearly impossible to kill.Doro, the male protagonist/antagonist is also special. He is a spirit and a body snatcher that jumps from one body to another, killing in the process. Doro has lived for thousands of years and is drawn now to our heorine Anyanwu. Wild Seed explores slavery, oppression, love, dedication, empathy, jealousy, fear, prejudice, ego, and much more. It is a fabulous piece of fiction that is written in a beautiful and poetic like manner. I loved it. This is not a fast paced action book, but I still found it hard to put down. I love Octavia Butler and loved Anyanwu. I will definitely move on to the next book in the Pattermaster Series. Highly recommended.

  • Marvin
    2019-04-07 19:34

    Octavia E. Butler's women are incredibly strong characters. One of her themes is that people are either masters or slaves but occasionally there is a person who refuses to be either and that person becomes persecuted for their refusal to be labeled. The main protagonist of Wild Seed is one of those persons. She is a mutant who has lived 300 years, both feared and respected in her African tribe yet always living on the outside for her protection. She meets another non-human that is much older and powerful. He wishes to hold her captive, breeding her for his own family. But he had never met anyone as independent as her. The novel moves from Africa to colonial New York as the power struggle between them intensifies. It is a very original story by one of the most original science fiction writers.

  • Sarah Anne
    2019-04-08 02:44

    I haven't figured out what to say about the book so I'll just say that the audio was well done. He had to account for Doro changing bodies and characters that were going up and down the age spectrum. He also had to do a number of accents since the book went from Nigeria to New Amsterdam to New York to New Orleans.

  • David
    2019-04-10 02:59

    If you've ever wondered what the X-Men written by Octavia Butler would look like, this is that book.There are no epic super-powered battles, of course, and the word "mutant" (nor any other four-colored neologism for superbeings) is never used. But Wild Seed is basically about two people born with superhuman powers (including immortality) being born centuries ago, discovering each other, and then trying to guide other "gifted" beings (most of them being their descendants) along very different paths, down through the generations. Which sounds an awful lot like the plot of a lot of X-Men stories, doesn't it?Butler's "Mr. Sinister" is Doro, a being born thousands of years ago, to the ancient Nubians. He has the power of body transference; whenever his host body dies (or when he wills it), he can move his consciousness to a new body, killing the former owner in the process. This makes him immortal and practically unkillable - his current body can be killed, but he'll just take over the killer's body. He started his own breeding program centuries ago, and now he has "colonies" of minions and descendants all over the world.Anyanwu is a shapeshifter. She can transform her own body, including healing it of wounds and diseases, and she can turn into anything she's seen (or tasted). This makes her immortal as well, but she's been living a more or less sedate existence in her African village amongst her descendants.When Doro discovers her, he decides they'd make lovely children together. Unfortunately, Doro is a narcissistic psychopath who views everyone, including his own children, as tools to be used or discarded when dangerous or no longer useful. So while Anyanwu is initially thrilled, fearful, and then resigned about being taken by Doro, their relationship will turn into a centuries-long battle of wills in which Doro seeks to dominate her and Anyanwu continually finds ways to survive and resist him even when submitting.Octavia Butler's prose is so smooth and straightforward, packing a ton of plot, characterization, and emotion into every sentence without a lot of flowery language. Wild Seed skillfully weaves racism into the narrative (Doro and Anyanwu both being immortal superbeings who also happen to be African, winding up in 19th century America) without making it a soapbox about racism, as so many modern novels do with their much more clumsy allegories. (Arguably, one could also say this about the X-Men.)That said, the book wasn't quite perfect. I found Anyanwu a little frustrating. She is a healer and that is her role throughout the book, including her desire to "heal" Doro. There seems to be a bit of the old "I can make the sexy Bad Boy good with the power of my love" trope here. Butler does it with far more nuance and plausibility than in a YA novel, and I actually like the fact that someone who's proven himself to be as despicable and borderline-sociopathic as Doro, for millenia, actually has somewhat-reasonable justifications for his actions (albeit it's the vampire justification - "it's what I am and if I don't do it I die") and a hope of redemption. But I still found Anyanwu going back to him annoying, maybe because I am used to X-Men comics where the underdog would figure out a way to beat the more powerful villain with her powers instead of submitting and reforming him. Though in fairness, that's been the plot of a few Magneto storylines, hasn't it?Anyway, this was a good book, and it's the first in a series, so I am curious to see where Doro and Anyanwu go from here.

  • Spider the Doof Warrior
    2019-03-27 21:32

    Doro just needed a copy of Sims, but not Sims 4 because it sucks. Then he could breed people, manipulate them all day and have himself a good time without causing suffering and misery to actual people.But, it would have been harder for him to find a body. Somehow he gets drawn to Anyanwu living in some African town in the time of slavery. He ensnares this powerful woman in his web of control, dominance and general assholery as he tries to breed people he can fit in with.And control. Because that's all he knows how to do! listen to how perfect this song is for this book.

  • Ezinwanyi
    2019-04-18 23:34

    Normally, I am not a science fiction fan, but the cover seemed really intriguing. I decided to read it and I was not disappointed. This book was so engaging that I just couldn’t put it down.The story was about two immortal beings, Doro and Anyanwu, and began a journey together. Anyanwu was a healer and a matriarch, whereas Doro was a parasitic patriach obsessed with creating the perfect civilization who would worship him. Doro was fascinated by humans and descendants who exhibited supernatural gifts such as hearing the thoughts of others, ability to manipulate elements like wind, or shape shifting etc. Doro decided to breed various children with others in order to create a “perfect species” that would be his perfect weapon and in his total control. Anyanwu, was desires were opposite Doro, in that she only cared about ministering to the descendants she already had. You have to read the book to understand what drove Doro, and also what drove Anyanwu to acquiesce to this sort of selective breeding of descendants. If you decide to read this book, please understand that you are in store for top notch storytelling.The world building and character building was stellar. I could visualize her words as if I were watching a movie. I could see the love and I could see hate between them. I could see the devotion and I could see the rebellion. This battle of wills was an epic struggle and I enjoyed every minute of it. This is my second book by the late Octavia Butler and I highly recommend this book to all science fiction fans.

  • Kane
    2019-04-06 03:36

    Striking and unique. Where do I begin? Maybe at the beginning. The first few paragraphs of Wild Seed are a lesson on exposition. From a careful reading we get a developing picture of a very odd character. We're encouraged to look further. We're repulsed. We're drawn back. We care.This is the story of the meeting of two strange beings, Doro and Anyanwu. Both have incredible powers; but use them very differently: one kills coldly and easily and one is a healer. Their evolving and complex relationship spans years and continents. It is defined by passion, revulsion, and power.In many of my reviews of sci-fi, I criticize (or sometimes am forced to forgive) an author's failed attempt at creating characters that we sufficiently love or hate. In Wild Seed, Doro and Anyanwu are incredible characters. The point in time in which Ms. Butler opens up the story to us influences our perception of the characters immensely. Butler wields her pen (or keystrokes) with purpose. I have yet have the pleasure of reading anything else by Octavia Butler but she is easily on my list of favourite authors.

  • Obsidian
    2019-03-26 03:00

    Well this one didn't work for me at all. The only saving grace is that it was short. I loved/liked Octavia Butler's other books and this one just made my skin crawl. Reading about almost immortal beings named Anyanwu and Doro through 288 pages of their dysfunction was a little much for me honestly.When Doro comes across Anyanwu (Sun Woman) he is happy to finally meet someone that he thinks can help him with his quest to breed the perfect children. Though Anyanwu is hesitant to be with Doro, she decided that she is tired of being alone more and watching her descendants die along with her husbands. Too late she realizes that Doro is a cruel being who doesn't care about people at all except to make sure that they do his bidding in all things.They travel from Africa to the New World (America) and are able to change their bodies, color of their skin, and even their sex. I wish that Butler had these two stay African and have to deal with the problems their skin color would have living in the Americas, but that is quickly skated over by people saying how afraid of Doro they are and Doro and his villages are quickly left alone.I also felt frustrated by Anyanwu since she is really just Doro's doormat. She keeps making all these concessions thinking it is going to keep her children safe and nothing she is doing does that. Doro is cruel and has caused her pain over and over again and she is in a love/hate relationship with him. I thought it was gross how Doro was forcing Anywanwu to breed with who he said since he wanted children off of her. I kept hoping someone would kill Doro.The writing was good, I just lost interest in it after a while. This is not another Xenogenesis series where you can see the debates about consent going back and forth and gray areas. There is just simply Doro being awful and getting away with it for centuries. The flow was upside down too though. Nothing goes on forever it seems besides reading about how Doro is trying to breed people and then we come to an end which I assume sets up the next book in the series. I plan on skipping that.

  • Cindy Newton
    2019-04-11 03:55

    I enjoyed this, although it took me a while to get into it. I listened to it on Audible, and the prose is simplistic and has a folk-taleish quality--very appropriate for the content. These beings--they're not typical humans--are the stuff of which folktales are made. Anyanwu and Doro are two apparently immortal creatures living among normal humans. Anyanwu has the power to completely control her body with her mind--she can assume the shapes of other people or animals, and she can heal herself with her mind. Doro is a man without a body. His consciousness does not have his own body, but takes those of others, effectively killing whosever body he inhabits. They are very different in personality and outlook, as well. Anyanwu is kind, compassionate, interested in healing and helping people. Doro, not so much. He's interested in creating other creatures like himself, beings who will possess superior powers and immortality. He is a very lonely godlike being.These two meet and clash. It was interesting to see how my perspective changed as I came to know these characters better. I was never Team Doro, but I began to understand his careless view toward human life. After watching people die for thousands of years, it lacks the punch it has for Anyanwu. His master plan eclipsed the individual lives of the lesser creatures around him. They simply were not as important as his goals.I understand that there are sequels to this book, and I can't wait to read them and see how the love/hate relationship between these two plays out!

  • Julia
    2019-03-22 03:53

    I decided for my first book of the year that I started in 2012, I’d like to read something that I know I’d like, so I chose one of my favorite books to reread. “She followed him dumbly. He could turn from two murders and speak to her as though nothing had happened. He was clearly annoyed that he had had to kill the young man, but annoyance seemed to be all he felt.” (35) Why does Anyanwu go off with Doro? Yes, he understands her as no one ever has, but he’s so vile; but while she seems good, she puts up with him, so she is tainted as well. “She would learn that right and wrong were what he said they were.” (92) “Doro looked at people, healthy or ill, and wondered what kind of young they could produce. Anyanwu looked at the sick—especially those with problems she had not seen before— and wondered whether she could defeat their disease.” (160) Doro is a destroyer and Anyanwu a shapeshifter, creator and healer. Yes, they understand each other, because only the other is also immortal, but reading this I also want to reread Mind of My Mind, for when Anyanwu finally decides she –and the world—have had enough of Doro. (But I won’t reread Clay's Ark, as much as I love Butler’s books. That one, as I remember it, and it's entirely likely I'm not remembering correctly, is entirely peopled by people as inhuman and vile as Doro.)Read again in February 2012 for a rl bookclub “She had submitted and submitted and submitted to keep him from killing her… She had formed the habit of submission.” (179) What a monster Doro is!

  • Skip
    2019-04-12 20:52

    I did not like this book as much as many of my GR friends though it would be remiss for me not to state that Octavia Butler is a great creative force. Her imagination seems unbounded to me. There are two main characters, with differing views of the sanctity of life: Doro, who kills and inhabits the dead (a thousand year old spirit of sorts) and Anyanwu, who is a healer and fierce guardian of her tribe and family (a shapeshifter, who has lived for hundreds of years.) Doro's mission is breeding gifted people, who will do his bidding. Anyanwu will not submit. They cannot be together, but cannot be apart either, and the central theme of the book is their interactions over many, many years. I loved Anyanwu becoming various animals: a panther, a dolphin, an eagle, and her efforts to age with her various husbands over the years.

  • Lynn
    2019-04-14 03:31

    I love to read Octavia Butler. I'm sure I'll devour this series as quickly as the Xenogenesis series. She's so readable -- distractions melt away.

  • Kim
    2019-04-01 03:53

    Doro has lived on the earth for thousands of years, jumping from one body to another and feasting off the energy of others to gain strength. With his power to take life with a touch he has been forcing individuals with extraordinary powers to breed in pursuit of individuals who can serve him in various ways. He has been doing this both in Africa and the New World but his African population has been wiped out by slavers.Traveling to find a new spot in Africa to start over he meets Anyanwu, a woman hundreds of years old. She's a woman who heals while living in small African communities and has watched generations of children live out their lives. While Doro has met children of his own breeding work he has never met someone with such power who is not the result of his own work. He refers to her as a wild seed.Anyanwu can taste the blood of a sick person and absorb all the information she needs about healing and give her patient immunity. She can also absorb information about the complete body of animals whose flesh she eats and transform herself into that animal. Doro convinces Anyanwu to go with him to the new world. Taking the body of a slaver, Doro boards a vessel bound for the newly named English city of New York. The ship is crewed by Doro's own children, including Isaac, who can move the boat without wind and can lift things with his mind.As they travel and settle together Anyanwu gains more insights into the empty evil that fills Doro, who takes life to keep others under his control. She is both sexually attracted to him and repulsed by him at the same time. He settles her in a Dutch village in upstate New York where she learns the language and the ways of the New World. Doro leaves for long periods of time and decides that having Isaac, his favorite son, and Anyanwu marry would bring him a perfect child.Living through revolution and the creation of the United States, Anyanwu finally escapes to the south where she and others run a farm in peace until Doro, in several different bodies, begins to visit. It's here that the two face a confrontation as Doro realizes Anyanwu's importance to him while she realizes that death would be more peaceful than watching him continue to destroy lives.Wild Seed is the fourth book in the Patternist series but is the first book in chronological order. It sets the stages for an ongoing study of race, gender, human life, and the use of power. As with other Butler books, the times and locations were closely studied to create as authentic an atmosphere as possible. These books were Butler's initial writings until taking on the Xenogenesis trilogy in 1984. They're sexual, mystical, and intellectual at the highest literary levels. The first four chronological books can be purchases separately in paperback, audiobook, or Kindle, or as a single volume called Seed to Harvest in both paperback and Kindle formats. A fifth volume, Survivors, was withdrawn by Butler and is no longer in print. 

  • Kate Sherrod
    2019-04-14 21:34

    It's been too long since I immersed myself in one of Octavia E. Butler's magical-biological-genealogical-alien-witchcraft-historical-futuristic-mind-blowing series. I always forget, until I'm deep into one, how much I love them, love her way with language, with imagery, with storytelling, with poetry, with imagination.Wild Seed begins a series I've long had my eye on but had long avoided because my local public library didn't have all of it: the Patternmaster series, a late entry in which (Survivor) I accidentally picked up there many years ago. I have since learned that it is not specifically sequential, and that I could have enjoyed the books in any order, but now that I have them all in one convenient e-book file, my serial compulsion can be satisfied and I can submerge myself without anxiety.Which is to say that I'm going to be picking up where I left off and starting the "next" Patternmaster book, Mind of My Mind, immediately after finishing this blog post.Wild Seed concerns a sort of battle of body and mind between two all but supernatural beings in the colonial era, when black slaves were Africa's greatest export and white settlements in the New World depended on them utterly, north and south of a certain arbitrary boundary that would be drawn in a hundred years or so. Living and ruling several settlements in America (and elsewhere) is one Doro, thousands of years old, a being who takes over the bodies of others (sadly killing the original occupants in the process) and who has been breeding pockets of humanity in semi-captivity to produce individuals with unique abilities like telepathy and telekinesis -- with the attendant responsibility to protect them from the rest of humanity who would regard his human livestock as witches and torture and burn them as such. And in Africa, living quietly but treated with reverence as an oracle is Anyanwu, an immortal shape-changer, a woman with such minute control over her body that she can analyze and overcome any pathogen or poison, can alter her very DNA to become any creature she has "analyzed" (by eating), and who has thereby lived for a good 300 years. Anyanwu turns out to be a "wild seed" -- the descendant of some lost or escaped members of one of Doro's earlier captive populations, whose talents are beyond Doro's wildest dreams. He Must Have Her and breed her with his other stock, whether she is willing or not.If you're guessing that Butler has found in this science fictional/magic realistic story a way to comment on gender, slavery, race, free will, coercion and class, you're guessing right, but if you're guessing that she ever beats the reader over the head with these heavy notions, you're not. As Doro and Anyanwu struggle for control, these ideas and problems naturally occur, but only subtly. Butler is too deft a hand to preach at the reader. While she is often regarded as Zora Neale Hurston in genre fictional disguise (and Butler does have some of that lyrical quality for which Hurston is praised), Butler never feels like she is writing polemics or parables, even when some of her novels have "parable" in the title.That being said, there is often a slightly creepy quality to Butler's work. I trace it to its explicit physicality, its minute focus on biology and how biology can be manipulated. Thus the Oankali of Lilith's Brood/Xenogenesis trilogy fame are some of the most fascinating and frightening aliens I've ever encountered, and here in this book we find that Anyanwu herself is one of the most compelling heroines, very nearly omnipotent, but cowed by Doro's threat to round up and all but enslave* her descendants (two of whom were caught in the same net she herself was, and whom Doro promptly bred to one another over her objections that this was incest; Doro forces his populations to breed incestuously all the time and just kills off any babies born with too many undesirable traits). Her power just makes her subjugation all the more desirable, and Doro is just the being to try to keep her in check -- and to keep her from realizing that she alone in all the world could actually oppose him if she dared.Despite it all, though, this pair has a kind of love, and Octavia E. Butler is one of the very best novelists in the world when it comes to writing about love -- agape, filia or eros, it doesn't matter which. Reading one of her novels is like gorging oneself at a feast, but without the bellyache afterwards. She leaves me wanting more.Good thing there still is some. But I probably should hoard those works of hers I haven't read yet and ration them out like EssJay and I do with Philip K. Dick. That's what I should do.But, you know, I'm weak, and silly, and don't always do what I should.*Doro's people do not live like slaves, happily dwelling in rich and prosperous towns and villages here and there, thriving and free to exercise their weird talents within those carefully controlled and defended enclaves, but their apparent freedom is that of pampered zoo animals, who don't even really get to choose their mates.