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The Outside the Box Book Online Club - Selection #1 "Wild Seed"

Updated: Oct 23, 2020

What is the Outside the Box Book Club? It’s James’ occasional online forum for book discussions. Here's his idea: Do you want to engage in books geared towards unlocking your imagination? Books that will perhaps give you a different perspective of the world you live in?

Yes? Good! As I read books that I am interested in, I will write a short review that is based more on questions then matter of fact statements. Sign up as a member of our Great Reads Blog here and feel free to leave comments, questions, thoughts, or anything else to stir the pot and keep a conversation moving. This book club will never take place on a certain date or ever have to end.

Selection #1 -- Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler

Octavia Butler’s Wild Seed is a spectacular science fiction novel that is grounded in storytelling while simultaneously vast in time, scale, and exploration to find a balance of morality for humanity as individuals, and as a whole. Biology, anthropology, and eugenics coalesce to unite two immortals who together will change the fortune of the human race. Posing questions about the origins of human life and what it means to be human.

Anyanwu has been gifted a key to immortality through the power of healing. Able to recognize any disease or bodily threat on a cellular level and reverse its course. Reversing aging is her greatest strength, the foundation for which all her other abilities are built on. This includes the capacity to shapeshift into other human bodies and animals. Sounds intense, but these powers tend to be used in more subtle ways. Knowing the proper foods, herbs, nutrients, and any organic elements that will do the job to keep her healthy. Her ability to transform into animals can come in handy for tasks such as hunting, traveling, and perhaps most importantly an avenue in which she can escape from her own self. Humble within her own powers, Anyanwu seems to have found peace by using her unique existence to help her neighbors, create generations of families that contribute to the creation of communities, villages, and their prosperity. Anyanwu’s power has afforded her a platitude where she has no peers and there is no authority that can control her. She is equally respected and feared.

Doro has been administered a window to immortality through the means of killing. A shocking event in his childhood where he discovered his ability to possess another’s body was a point of departure from any opportunity of a traditional life. This traumatic encounter brought forth a realization that he was capable of killing another soul with ease so that he could adopt his soul into the victim's body to preserve his existence. This ability combined with zero remorse for any of his actions leads Doro on a quest to imagine,manipulate, and control the entire human race through his own vision. Having no equal to his power, Doro takes full advantage and gets what he wants through fear. Anyone foolish enough to defy him simply gets discarded. The only conquest that alludes him is the ability to propagate a child that measures up to him in terms of supernatural abilities.

When Doro and Anyanwu encounter each other for the first time at the onset of the novel they are both already deeply established in their lives. Doro, having lived for over two thousand years plus sees endless possibilities in Anyanwu who has modestly only been living for over two centuries. Doro sees Anyanwu as potentially an equal that could deliver him the one thing he has been striving for. Anyanwu has a deeply hesitant fascination towards him that offers her the slightest hope that maybe there is another who can offer a partnership that can pioneer a higher form of love and commitment. What quickly becomes a passionate union dissolves even more rapidly into an insidious power struggle that starts to permeate within the world and people surrounded by them. Doro’s relentless pursuit to create a master race versus Anyanwu’s efforts to circumnavigate the manifestation of this occurring against her own desire and consent results in a confrontation of major themes that are at the forefront of our society today. Race, gender, dictatorship,authority, slavery,genocide, and the manipulation and redistribution of all these horrors throughout the arc of humanity unite. Leading to an abstract story on the formation of America.

What are your thoughts on this early work of Octavia E. Butler?

419 views5 comments


Jun 13, 2023

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May 22, 2023

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Andrea Ginsky
Oct 25, 2020

Interesting choice. Has anyone read other books in "The Patternist" series? Is this a good one to start with?

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