Octavia Butler

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Octavia Butler

Octavia E. Butler (June 22, 1947February 24, 2006) was an American science fiction writer, one of the very few African-American women in the field.

Sourced[edit]

Kindred (1979)[edit]

All page numbers from the trade paperback published by Beacon Press (Bluestreak)
  • Margaret Weylin complained because she couldn’t find anything to complain about.
    • Chapter 3, “The Fall” section 5 (p. 81)
  • “He’s a fair man.”
    I looked at him, startled.
    “I said fair,” he repeated. “Not likable.”
    I kept quiet. His father wasn’t the monster he could have been with the power he held over his slaves. He wasn’t a monster at all. Just an ordinary man who sometimes did the monstrous things his society said were legal and proper.
    • Chapter 4, “The Fight” section 6 (p. 134)
  • He didn’t look all right to me. “Has anyone gone for the doctor?”
    “Marse Tom don’t hardly get Doc West for ague. He says all the doc knows is bleeding and blistering and purging and puking and making folks sicker than they was to start.”
    • Chapter 5, “The Storm” section 3 (p. 202)
  • Some of his neighbors found out what I was doing and offered him fatherly advice. It was dangerous to educate slaves, they warned. Education made blacks dissatisfied with slavery. It spoiled them for field work. The Methodist minister said it made them disobedient, made them want more than the Lord intended them to have.
    • Chapter 5, “The Storm” section 13 (pp. 236-37)
  • I got up to leave. There was nothing more to be said. He had asked for what he knew I could not give, and I had refused.
    • Chapter 6, “The Rope” section 4 (p. 257)

Parable of the Sower (1993)[edit]

All page numbers from the trade paperback published by Grand Central Publishing.
All quotes in bold are in bold in the novel, and are excerpts from Earthseed: The Books of the Living, a fictitious book, written by the protagonist, which plays a major role in the novel. Versification is as in the original.
  • All that you touch
    You Change.

    All that you Change
    Changes you.

    The only lasting truth
    Is Change.

    God
    Is Change.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 3)
  • A lot of people seem to believe in a big-daddy-God or a big-cop-God or a big-king-God. They believe in a kind of superperson. A few believe God is another word for nature. And nature turns out to mean just about anything they happen not to understand or feel in control of.
    • Chapter 2 (p. 15)
  • Dad decided not to vote for Donner after all. He didn’t vote for anyone. He said politicians turned his stomach.
    • Chapter 3 (p. 27)
  • Intelligence is ongoing, individual adaptability. Adaptations that an intelligent species may make in a single generation, other species make over many generations of selective breeding and selective dying. Yet intelligence is demanding. If it is misdirected by accident or by intent, it can foster its own orgies of breeding and dying.
    • Chapter 4 (p. 29)
  • A victim of God may,
    Through learning adaption,
    Become a partner of God,
    A victim of God may,
    Through forethought and planning,
    Become a shaper of God.
    Or a victim of God may,
    Through shortsightedness and fear,
    Remain God’s victim,
    God’s plaything,
    God’s prey.
    • Chapter 4 (p. 31)
  • I realize I don’t know very much. None of us knows very much. But we can all learn more. Then we can teach one another. We can stop denying reality or hoping it will go away by magic.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 58)
  • A tree
    Cannot grow
    In its parents’ shadows.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 82)
  • The Destiny of Earthseed
    Is to take root among the stars.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 84)
  • All struggles
    Are essentially
    Power struggles.
    Who will rule,
    Who will lead,
    Who will define,
    refine,
    confine,
    design,
    Who will dominate.
    All struggles
    Are essentially
    Power struggles,
    And most
    are no more intellectual
    than two rams
    knocking their heads together.
    • Chapter 8 (p. 94)
  • Civilization is to groups what intelligence is to individuals. It is a means of combining the intelligence of many to achieve ongoing group adaptation.
    • Chapter 10 (p. 101)
  • “When it comes to strangers with guns,” I told her, “I think suspicion is more likely to keep you alive than trust.”
    • Chapter 11 (p. 122)
  • Freedom is dangerous, Cory, 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.
    • Chapter 11 (p. 122)
  • There’s no narcotic like exhaustion.
    • Chapter 17 (p. 200)
  • “Your God doesn’t care about you at all,” Travis said.
    “All the more reason to care about myself and others.”
    • Chapter 18 (p. 221)
  • “From what I’ve read,” I said to him, “the world goes crazy every three or four decades. The trick is to survive until it goes sane again.”
    • Chapter 19 (p. 229)

Parable of the Talents (1998)[edit]

All page numbers from the trade paperback published by Warner Aspect Books.
All quotes in bold are in bold in the novel, and are excerpts from Earthseed: The Books of the Living, a fictitious book, written by the protagonist, which plays a major role in the novel. Versification is as in the original.
  • Consider—
    We are born
    Not with purpose,
    But with potential.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 1)
  • We give our dead
    To the orchards
    And the groves.
    We give our dead
    To life.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 5)
  • Overall, the Pox has had the effect of an installment-plan World War III. In fact, there were several small, bloody shooting wars going on around the world during the Pox. These were stupid affairs—wastes of life and treasure. They were fought, ostensibly, to defend against vicious foreign enemies. All too often, they were actually fought because inadequate leaders did not know what else to do. Such leaders knew that they could depend on fear, suspicion, hatred, need, and greed to arouse patriotic support for war.
    Amid all this, somehow, the United States of America suffered a major, nonmilitary defeat. It lost no important war, yet it did not survive the Pox. Perhaps it simply lost sight of what it once intended to be, then blundered aimlessly until it exhausted itself.
    • Chapter 1 (pp. 8-9)
  • Life is getting better, but that won’t stop a war if politicians and business people decide it’s to their advantage to have one.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 90)
  • Choose your leaders
    with wisdom and forethought.
    To be led by a coward
    is to be controlled
    by all that the coward fears.
    To be led by a fool
    is to be led
    by the opportunists
    who control the fool.
    To be led by a thief
    is to offer up
    your most precious treasures
    to be stolen.
    To be led by a liar
    is to ask
    to be lied to.
    To be led by a tyrant
    is to sell yourself
    and those you love
    into slavery.
    • Chapter 11 (p. 201)
  • Beware:
    Ignorance
    Protects itself
    Ignorance
    Promotes suspicion.
    Suspicion
    Engenders fear.
    Fear quails,
    Irrational and blind,
    Or fear looms,
    Defiant and closed.
    Blind, closed,
    Suspicious, afraid,
    Ignorance
    Protects itself,
    And protected,
    Ignorance grows.
    • Chapter 12 (p. 225)
  • When vision fails
    Direction is lost.

    When direction is lost
    Purpose may be forgotten.

    When purpose if forgotten
    Emotion rules alone.

    When emotion rules alone,
    Destruction...destruction.
    • Chapter 13 (p. 239)
  • Now I have been raped.
    It happened twice. Once on Monday, and again yesterday. It is my Christmas gift from Christian America.
    • Chapter 13 (p. 253)
  • We were snatched away and given alone into the hands of people who believed that it was their duty to break us and remake us in the Christian American image. And, of course, breaking people is much easier than putting them together again.
    So much agony caused, so much evil done in God’s name.
    • Chapter 15 (p. 288)
  • If you hear nonsense like that often enough for long enough, you begin to believe it.
    • Chapter 15 (p. 291)
  • Beware:
    All too often,
    We say
    What we hear others say.
    We think
    What we’re told that we think.
    We see
    What we’re permitted to see.
    Worse!
    We see what we’re told that we see.
    Repetition and pride are the keys to this.
    To hear and to see
    Even an obvious lie
    Again
    And again and again
    May be to say it,
    Almost by reflex
    Then to defend it
    Because we’ve said it
    And at last to embrace it
    Because we’ve defended it
    And because we cannot admit
    That we’ve embraced and defended
    An obvious lie.
    Thus, without thought,
    Without intent,
    We make
    Mere echoes
    Of ourselves—
    And we say
    What we hear others say.
    • Chapter 18 (pp. 337-338)
  • All religions are ultimately cargo cults.
    Adherents perform required rituals, follow
    specific rules, and expect to be supernaturally
    gifted with desired rewards—long life,
    honor, wisdom, children, good health, wealth,
    victory over opponents, immortality after
    death, any desired rewards.
    • Chapter 19 (p. 357)
  • Are you Earthseed?
    Do you believe?
    Belief will not save you.
    Only actions
    Guided and shaped
    By belief and knowledge
    Will save you.
    Belief
    Initiates and guides action—
    Or it does nothing.
    • Chapter 20 (p. 382)
  • Jarrett would be easier to take if he cared half as much about children’s bodies and minds as he pretends to care about their souls.
    • Chapter 20 (p. 391)
  • We keep falling into the same ditches, you know? I mean, we learn more and more about the physical universe, more about our own bodies, more technology, but somehow, down through history, we go on building empires of one kind or another, then destroying them in one way or another. We go on having stupid wars that we justify and get passionate about, but in the end, all they do is kill huge numbers of people, maim others, impoverish still more, spread disease and hunger, and set the stage for the next war. And when we look at all of that in history, we just shrug our shoulders and say, well, that’s the way things are. That’s the way things always have been.
    • Chapter 20 (p. 392)
  • “I’m not a demagogue.”
    “That’s too bad. That leaves the field to people who are demagogues—to the Jarrets of the world. And there have always been Jarrets. Probably there always will be.”
    • Chapter 20 (p. 395)
  • No one thought about what kind of society we were building with such stupid decisions. People who could afford to educate their children in private schools were glad to see the government finally stop wasting their tax money, educating other people’s children. They seemed to think they lived on Mars. They imagined that a country filled with poor, uneducated, unemployable people somehow wouldn’t hurt them!
    • Chapter 20 (p. 404)
  • I’m literate, and the idea of leaving children illiterate is criminal.
    • Chapter 20 (p. 405)
  • We’ve also been laughed at, argued with, booed, and threatened with hellfire—or gunfire. But Jarret’s kind of religion and Jarret himself are getting less and less popular these days. Both, it seems, are bad for business, bad for the U. S. Constitution, and bad for a large percentage of the population. They always have been, but now more and more people are willing to say so in public. The Crusaders have terrorized some people into silence, but they’ve just made others very angry.
    • Chapter 21 (p. 430)
  • How completely, how thoroughly he has stolen my child. I have never even tried to forgive him.
    • Epilogue (p. 446)

External links[edit]

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