Monday, November 7, 2016

Everyone needs to be part of something

Oh man. Butler. Her stuff is intense. Excellent but oof.
Parable of the Talents is the sequel to Parable of the Sower. It's the not too distant future and everything is terrible. There's still an energy shortage. And food shortage. Basically all of the shortages and much of the government infrastructure has been privatized so some people live in walled-in communities, separated from the rest of the country. Those who don't have the money to live in one of these safe havens (most people) are trying to get by in a world marred by violence
I have also read that the Pox was caused by accidentally coinciding climatic, economic, and sociological crises. It would be more honest to say that the Pox was caused by our own refusal to deal with obvious problems in those areas. We caused the problems: then we sat and watched as they grew into crises.
Olamina has gathered her people and they've set up the settlement of Acorn. Things are going well in the community and Olamina and Bankole are even expecting a daughter. The story is actually told both through her now grown daughter's POV as well as chapters from Olamina's diary. But the country elects a new leader who is promising to "make America great again" and this is an actual quote from the book because Butler is a time traveler.
Jarret insists on being a throwback to some earlier, "simpler" time. Now does not suit him. Religious tolerance does not suit him. The current state of the country does not suit him. he wants to take us all back to some magical time when everyone believed in the same God, worshipped him the same way...and stomping anyone who was different. There was never such a time in this country. 
Naturally, this presidential candidate, Jarret, is garbage and terrible and his followers are frightening. Jarret uses the nation's fear over what has become to get elected and his followers hunt down settlements that don't follow Jarret's version of religion and set up re-education camps, to teach them the correct way to behave.
My ancestors in this hemisphere were, by law, chattel slaves. In the U.S., they were chattel slaves for two and a half centuries - at least 10 generations. I used to think I knew what that meant. Now I realize that I can't begin to imagine the many terrible things that it must have done to them. How did they survive and keep their humanity? Certainly, they were never intended to keep it.
Because this is Butler and she is amazing, there is a lot here discussing race and religion and freewill and family and feminism. She is not afraid to tackle difficult subjects, as is the case with all of her books. This is apocalyptic but doesn't include the supernatural as many of her others books do which gives it that much more a feeling of "this could happen now". Especially with quotes like "make America great again" and are you kidding me?

A warning, there is a lot of rape in the book. It's not gratuitous and it's not explicit but it is something that happens to multiple characters, multiple times. There are never scenes detailing it, but it is used as a war tactic in this horrible world.

I did not plan for my review for this book to go up now but the timing just worked out. That said, I'm glad I read this over the summer because as we get closer and closer to this election coming to an end, I don't know if I could have handled this book at that point. It would make me far too stressed out. It's making me stressed out trying to review it now and remembering everything that happened in the book. Read it, maybe with a happier book on the side.

Gif rating:
Title quote from page 379, location 5603

Butler, Octavia E. The Parable of the Talents. Open Road Media Sci-Fi & Fantasy, 2012. Originally published 1998.