Sunday, June 22, 2008

Lilith's Brood by Octavia E. Butler

Lilith’s Brood by Octavia E. Butler is actually a novel trilogy (Dawn, Adulthood Rites and Imago), evidently published separately, then gathered in the one novel. I became interested in reading the trilogy after hearing Lynn, from my writers group, talk about it. I couldn’t be more pleased that I did.

In Ms. Butler’s work, the people of earth have destroyed the viability of the planet through war. An extra-terrestrial race of beings rescue the few remaining inhabitants, place them in stasis until the earth can be repaired and go about re-introducing mankind along with a superior race of human/alien hybrids back to the again flourishing planet. Lilith, the title character, is chosen to be the “mother” of a group of beings in that she is charged with the responsibility of waking other humans from stasis. She must get them used to the idea they will no longer be able to reproduce via the usual method and she must teach them to re-inhabit a somewhat altered earth. It’s a daunting task for Lilith and marks her forever in the eyes of the rescued human race as a traitor.

The premise of the new earth, hybrid human/alien beings, and a radical new definition of parent, child and family is the backbone of this trilogy but, in my mind, takes a back seat to the characters Octavia Butler creates. As a reader, I was thrilled with the adventure of reading this book. As a writer, I was extremely impressed with Ms. Butler’s ability to make very alien creatures sympathetic.

By way of a practical analysis, the first two books of this trilogy zipped by very quickly. Even though the third lost a little steam for me, I still recommend this book. It’s a great adventure.