Octavia Butler

American science fiction writer (1947-2006)
(Redirected from Octavia E. 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.

Octavia Butler in 2005


Patternmaster (1976)Edit

All page numbers from the trade paperback omnibus Seed to Harvest published by Grand Central Publishing
  • I can’t do it, Joachim. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. A long leash is still a leash. And Coransee will still be at the other end of it, holding on.
    • Chapter 4 (p. 689)
  • “I’ll tell you,” she said softly. “But you won’t like it.”
    He looked away from her. “I asked for the truth. Whether I like it or not, I have to know.”
    • Chapter 6 (p. 717)

Mind of My Mind (1977)Edit

All page numbers from the trade paperback omnibus Seed to Harvest published by Grand Central Publishing
  • He showed me his fantastic library first, and that helped me warm to him a little. A guy with a room like that in his house couldn’t be all bad.
    • Chapter 2 (p. 288)
  • A pet. In pets, free will was tolerated only as long as the pet owner found it amusing.
    • Chapter 5 (p. 344)

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).

Wild Seed (1980)Edit

All page numbers from the trade paperback omnibus Seed to Harvest published by Grand Central Publishing
  • Sometimes, one must become a master to avoid becoming a slave.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 11)
  • She was too alert, too alive not to have the kind of mind that probed and reached and got her into trouble now and then.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 18)
  • She glanced at him. “What gods do you respect?”
    “And why not?”
    “I help myself,” he said.
    • Chapter 1 (p. 20)
  • He was surprised when I ignored him. He is wealthy and arrogant and used to being listened to even when what he says is nonsense—as it often is.
    • Chapter 2 (p. 25)
  • “What were they saying?” Daly asked.
    “They disapprove of your profession,” Doro told him.
    “Heathen savages,” Daly muttered. “They’re like animals. They’re all cannibals.”
    “These aren’t,” Doro said, “though some of the their neighbors are.”
    “All of them,” Daly insisted. “Just give them the chance.”
    Doro smiled. “Well, no doubt the missionaries will reach them eventually and teach them to practice only symbolic cannibalism.”
    Daly jumped. He considered himself a pious man in spite of his work. “You shouldn’t say such things,” he whispered. “Not even you are beyond the reach of God.”
    “Spare me your mythology,” Doro said, “and your righteous indignation.” Daly had been Doro’s man too long to be pampered in such matters. “At least we cannibals are honest about what we do,” Doro continued. “We don’t pretend as your slavers do to be acting for the benefit of our victims’ souls. We don’t tell ourselves we’ve caught them to teach them civilized religion.”
    • Chapter 3 (p. 42)
  • Short-lived people, people who could die, did not know what enemies loneliness and boredom could be.
    • Chapter 6 (p. 100)
  • “What will they do when they have only the herbs” he asked her.
    “Live or die as best they can,” she said. “Everything truly alive dies sooner or later.”
    • Chapter 14 (p. 247)

Clay's Ark (1984)Edit

All page numbers from the trade paperback omnibus Seed to Harvest published by Grand Central Publishing
  • “You’re bright,” Lupe said to her softly. “Very bright, but stubborn. You think you can choose your realities. You can’t.”
    • Chapter 12 (p. 522)
  • “It was an old passion,” he said. “I haven’t touched a violin for months. I didn’t know what that would be like.”
    “What is it like?” she asked.
    He began to walk so that she almost missed his answer. “An amputation,” he whispered.
    • Chapter 14 (p. 533)
  • They had clearly feared turn-of-the-century irrationality—religious overzealousness on one side, destructive hedonism on the other, with both heated by ideological intolerance and corporate greed.
    • Chapter 23 (p. 583)
  • So he had locked her in the closet. Some of his people, ignorant and fearful, could not quite believe her illness was not contagious. Badger locked her away from them for her own safety. She had seen for herself how eager they were to get her out of their sight.
    • Chapter 28 (p. 609)

Dawn (1987)Edit

All page numbers from the trade paperback omnibus Lilith's Brood published by Grand Central Publishing
  • “Yes,” he said, “intelligence does enable you to deny facts you dislike. But your denial doesn’t matter. A cancer growing in someone’s body will go on growing in spite of denial. And a complex combination of genes that work together to make you intelligent as well as hierarchical will still handicap you whether you acknowledge it or not.”
    • Part I “Womb” chapter 5 (p. 39)
  • Lilith might be strong enough now to handle troublemakers herself, but she did not want to do that unless she had to. It would not help the people become a community, and if they could not unite, nothing else they did would matter.
    • Part III “Nursery” chapter 1 (p. 126)
  • “I don’t understand why the sight of you should scare me so,” Joseph said. He did not sound frightened. “You don’t look that threatening. Just...very different.”
    “Different is threatening to most species,” Nikanj answered. “Different is dangerous. It might kill you. That was true to your animal ancestors and your nearest animal relatives. And it’s true for you.”
    • Part III “Nursery” chapter 12 (p. 186)
  • She found more gratification in teaching one willing student than a dozen resentful ones.
    • Part IV “The Training Floor” chapter 9 (p. 242)

Adulthood Rites (1988)Edit

All page numbers from the trade paperback omnibus Lilith's Brood published by Grand Central Publishing
  • “Human beings fear difference,” Lilith had told him once. “Oankali crave difference. Humans persecute their different ones, yet they need them to give themselves definition and status. Oankali seek difference and collect it. They need it to keep themselves from stagnation and overspecialization. If you don’t understand this, you will. You’ll probably find both tendencies surfacing in your own behavior.” And she had put her hand on his hair. “When you feel a conflict, try to go the Oankali way. Embrace difference.”
    • Part II “Phoenix” chapter 4 (p. 329)
  • “I didn’t want to scare you. We don’t want to scare anyone.”
    “No? Well, sometimes it’s a good thing to scare people. Sometimes fear is all that will keep them from doing stupid things.”
    • Part II “Phoenix” chapter 15 (p. 381)
  • If you don’t care about my people, why should I care about yours?
    • Part II “Phoenix” chapter 15 (p. 383)
  • He thought about that for a moment, wondered what he should say. The truth or nothing. The truth.
    • Part IV “Home” chapter 5 (p. 501)
  • “Yori, Human purpose isn’t what you say it is or what I say it is. It’s what your biology says it is—what your genes say it is.”
    • Part IV “Home” chapter 5 (p. 501)

Imago (1989)Edit

All page numbers from the trade paperback omnibus Lilith's Brood published by Grand Central Publishing
  • I might not have believed this if a Human had said it. Humans said one thing with their bodies and another with their mouths and everybody had to spend time and energy figuring out what they really meant.
    • Chapter I, “Metamorphosis” section 4 (p. 548)
  • Life was treasure. The only treasure.
    • Chapter I, “Metamorphosis” section 6 (p. 564)
  • Helpless lust and unreasoning anxiety were just part of growing up.
    • Chapter II, “Exile” section 9 (p. 649)
  • Tomas stopped and looked at the three Oankali. “Do you believe in spirits?”
    “We believe in life,” Ahajas said.
    Life after death?”
    Ahajas smoothed her tentacles briefly in agreement. “When I’m dead,” she said, “I will nourish other life.”
    “But I mean—”
    “If I died on a lifeless world, a world that could sustain some form of life if it were tenacious enough, organelles within each cell of my body would survive and evolve. In perhaps a thousand million years, that world would be as full of life as this one.”
    “...it would?”
    “Yes. Our ancestors have seeded a great many barren worlds that way. Nothing is more tenacious than the life we are made of. A world of life from apparent death, from dissolution. That’s what we believe in.”
    “Nothing more?”
    Ahajas became smooth enough with amusement to reflect firelight. “No, Lelka. Nothing more.”
    • Chapter II, “Exile” section 12 (pp. 662-663)
  • Humans were genetically inclined to be intolerant of difference. They could overcome the inclination, but it was a reality of the Human conflict that they often did not.
    • Chapter III, “Imago” section 7 (p. 710)

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.

    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)
  • People here in the neighborhood are saying she had no business going to Mars, anyway. All that money wasted on another crazy space trip when so many people here on earth can’t afford water, food, or shelter
    • (p. 17)
  • 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)
  • Sometimes I write to keep from going crazy. There’s a world of things I don’t feel free to talk to anyone about.
    • (p. 52)
  • People have changed the climate of the world. Now they’re waiting for the old days to come back’
    • (p. 57)
  • 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)
  • It’s better to teach people than to scare them, Lauren. If you scare them and nothing happens, they lose their fear, and you lose some of your authority with them.
    • (p. 65)
  • 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,
    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)
  • If everyone could feel everyone else’s pain, who would torture?
    • (p. 115)
  • “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)
  • The only way to prove to yourself that you have power is to use it
    • (p. 143)
  • 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)
  • You tend to resent people you’re afraid of
    • (p. 291)
  • I wonder what a badge is, other than a license to steal.
    • (p. 316)

Bloodchild and Other Stories (1995)Edit

  • Who knows what we humans have that others might be willing to take in trade for a livable space on a world not our own.
    • Bloodchild
  • They can create something beautiful, useful, even something worthless. But they create. They don't destroy.
    • The Evening and the Morning and the Night
  • “Don’t you know everything?”
    God smiled. “No, I outgrew that trick long ago. You can’t imagine how boring it was.”
    • The Book of Martha
  • You're truly free for the first time. What could be more difficult than that?
    • The Book of Martha

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:
    Protects itself
    Promotes suspicion.
    Engenders fear.
    Fear quails,
    Irrational and blind,
    Or fear looms,
    Defiant and closed.
    Blind, closed,
    Suspicious, afraid,
    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,
    • 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.
    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
    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.
    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)

Fledgling (2005)Edit

All page numbers from the trade paperback edition published by Grand Central Publishing ISBN 978-0-446-69616-6
  • “It’s a crucifix,” Wright told me when I showed it to him. “It must have been worn by one of the people who lived here. Or maybe the arsonist lost it.” He gave a humorless smile. “You never know who’s liable to turn out to be religious.”
    • Chapter 7 (p. 59)
  • “He had guns,” Celia said. “Iosif didn’t like guns, but Stefan did.”
    It hadn’t helped him survive.
    • Chapter 10 (p. 104)
  • My ignorance wasn’t just annoying. It was dangerous.
    • Chapter 13 (p. 126)
  • That is the most unromantic declaration of love I’ve ever heard. Or is that what you’re saying? Do you love me, Shori, or do I just taste good?
    • Chapter 14 (p. 139)
  • We can see that our Councils aren’t games like the tribunals humans have. The work of a Council of Judgment is to learn the truth and then decide what to do about it within our law. It isn’t about following laws so strictly that the guilty go unpunished or the innocent are made to suffer. It isn’t about protecting everyone’s rights. It’s about finding the truth, period, and then deciding what to do about it.
    • Chapter 21 (p. 220)

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