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Wild Seed | [Octavia E. Butler]

Wild Seed

Doro is an entity who changes bodies like clothes, killing his hosts by reflexor design. He fears no one...until he meets Anyanwu. Anyanwu is a shapeshifter who can absorb bullets and heal with a kiss and savage anyone who threatens her. Together they weave a pattern of destiny unimaginable to mortals.
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Audible Editor Reviews

When you first meet Doro, you'd think he was an ordinary man, the same as you or I. But Doro has a unique gift: he can survive the death of his body by transferring his essence into the body of another. Unfortunately for those he takes over, there's only room for one consciousness in the human brain, and so when Doro takes control, the previous owner is evicted. He's survived this way for thousands of years, hopping from body to body, and leaving a trail of the dead in his wake, for his gift does not allow him to inhabit bodies for long, necessitating the frequent claiming of new victims.

Wild Seed begins in 1690 in Africa, when Doro discovers another immortal by the name of Anyanwu, though Anyanwu is not the monster Doro is. While his powers are tied inextricably to death, Anyanwu's are tied to life; instead of stealing new bodies, she is able to manipulate her body to heal any wound, make herself appear forever young, or even shapechange into different creatures altogether. When Doro first meets Anyanwu, she appears to be an old woman serving as shaman to the village. But when he discovers her true nature, he embarks upon a quest to find others like her — "wild seed" — and selectively breeds them in order to foster the development of these seemingly magical talents. This multigenerational genetic engineering project takes the pair from their starting place in Africa in to the American colonies and beyond.

To describe the plot as above surely doesn't do justice to Wild Seed, which is easily one of the finest science fiction novels ever written; but more than that, it is a great work of literature, period, that explores deep philosophical issues and vividly explores the extraordinary long lives of two fascinatingly-drawn characters.

For a book as brilliant as this, it would be easy for a narrator to just convey the text and get out of its way, but Dion Graham somehow manages to add yet another layer to an already rich and complex narrative by giving voice to it with such emotion and gravitas. Graham provides a variety of character voices to the extent that he seems to be a vocal chameleon; the character of Doro alone requires him to change his voice into a number of different accents, all of which Graham ably handles. But perhaps what makes this performance truly stand out is the intensity of Graham's narration in between dialogue, which really drives home the power of Butler's prose.

As both a novel and an audiobook, Wild Seed stands as a sterling example of science fiction, literature, and performance art. Utterly compelling, and completely unforgettable. —John Joseph Adams

Publisher's Summary

Doro is an entity who changes bodies like clothes, killing his hosts by reflexor design. He fears no one...until he meets Anyanwu. Anyanwu is a shapeshifter who can absorb bullets and heal with a kiss and savage anyone who threatens her. Together they weave a pattern of destiny unimaginable to mortals.

©2001 Octavia E. Butler; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (381 )
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4.3 (278 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Annette 12-23-09
    Annette 12-23-09

    I'm trying to wean myself and learn to function without earbuds for more than ten minutes at a time. It hasn't been easy. I lose balance...

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fairy Tale... even if it's not"

    There's a little smack of oddness to it i can't put my finger on, and i was afraid the accent would kill me - but no. it was nice. And original. which you don't get much these days. Reminded me a little bit of Niel Gaimon's Anansi boys only much darker and a different point of view. Again, not one of my all time best hits, but a good solid creative story with a little something for everyone. And that ain't bad.

    16 of 16 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shaundra TUCSON, AZ, United States 12-28-10
    Shaundra TUCSON, AZ, United States 12-28-10

    Diva

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Nice story...wonderful narration!"

    I love listening to stories whenever I have to drive a long distance, so this is one of the stories that I listened to on the way back from a really long trip. I have read Octavia Butler's work before, so I wasn't surprised how much I enjoyed it. What did surprise me, is how much I enjoyed listening to in on cd. The narrator of this book brought the scenes and characters to life. It kept me involved and interested. This audible shows how a good book coupled with a great narration gives you something you truly enjoy.

    One thing I can say, as I have a 10 year old son. I am glad that he slept 98 percent of the trip as this was NOT a story that a child can listen to. My son isn't an ordinary child of books, as reading far above his age, often reading teen novels, but this was way too graphic for even him. I found myself pausing the book whenever I had to wake him. But do not let it deter you from listening to it!! It is one book that will be hard to pause :).

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. Harris SAN ANGELO, TX, United States 07-10-12
    R. Harris SAN ANGELO, TX, United States 07-10-12 Member Since 2011

    Teaching Life

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    Performance
    Story
    "Exotic, Unpredictable, Unsettling!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Wild Seed to be better than the print version?

    YES this book must be listened to!! Hearing the different voices and the tension, excitement and deadliness in the voices was exciting! Dion Graham was so amazing, I'll be looking for books narrated by him.


    What other book might you compare Wild Seed to and why?

    This book cannot be compared to any other I've read or listened to. The characters are Black, the situations and based of African American culture and mysticism. Where else are you going to read/hear this kind of work?


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I loved two scenes: When the female lead transformed herself into a Dolphin and described the experience to us - the scene brought a true smile to my face, and when the Male lead finally figured out how much he truly cared. The scene brought tears to my eyes.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    What if you had TRUE power over LIFE and DEATH, and could live forever? Could you stay sane - could you love?


    Any additional comments?

    I love Octavia Butler...this book only made me hungry for more...I guess I'll have to go back and read/listen to her other books!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    crazybatcow East Coast, Canada 02-20-12
    crazybatcow East Coast, Canada 02-20-12 Member Since 2012

    I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Lots of social "commentary" but no lecturing."

    You can tell the quality difference in writers by how well they handle potentially lecture-y subjects such as slavery, women's rights, gender equality, racial equality and power inequity. Butler tells a story here that includes all these subjects, explores them, makes us frustrated with them, and yet never makes us feel like we're attending some sort of educational retreat, or listening to a sermon.

    The story is good versus evil, nature versus nurture, male versus female... it's engaging and worrying and you just want to grab Anyanwu and Doro and smack their heads together... I had wondered, as the end drew closer, how Butler was going to be able to wrap up a story that involved immortals - and I think she did an excellent job of doing so - the conclusion was logical.

    I'm not saying the story didn't slow down a bit in the middle while Butler tried to emphasize Doro's "evilness" - but it was only a short blip before the story carried on. I've not read any other books from this "series" but plan to do so now.

    The narrator did a good job. The characters were distinct and the pacing nice.

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cori United States 10-29-10
    Cori United States 10-29-10
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    "Worth a read"

    Passionate, surprising and very moving. I am not a science fiction lover and might not have listened to this book had it not been recommended. I found myself moved to tears more than once. It is a very outstanding audiobook. Definitely worth a listen.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara Jersey City, NJ, USA 06-15-10
    Barbara Jersey City, NJ, USA 06-15-10 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wild Seed - By Octavia Butler"

    What a story! She wrote the stuff great movies are made of. This is the first book that helps you understand what type of subject matter her future books would be about.

    6 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryalls-Clephane 07-14-15 Member Since 2015
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    "A fantastic concept."

    excellent job with narration. can't wait to finish series. Octavia Butler has me hooked for life.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lolita 03-03-15
    Lolita 03-03-15
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    "intense but captivating"

    I loved this book, it was very captivating and it kept my attention until the end it was definitely not predictable I will suggest give it a try.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Country Bookworm Farmer's Branch,TX 01-27-15
    Country Bookworm Farmer's Branch,TX 01-27-15 Member Since 2014

    I didn't give myself this name.

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    "Like."

    Oh, I couldn't stand Doro, but I like Isaac. Anyanwu's powers are awesome. What is she? How did she come into powers like this? I'll will be buyin the rest of the series.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Oloya 12-03-14
    Oloya 12-03-14 Member Since 2014
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    "My all time favorite book"
    Would you listen to Wild Seed again? Why?

    Yes for the story only. I feel that the narrator should have been female. It was hard to feel Anyanwu with such a deep male voice.


    How could the performance have been better?

    The performance could have been better if a female narrated. Mind of my mind the second book in this series was wonderful.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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  • Amazon Customer
    3/11/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Had promise"

    This book had promise. A very interesting idea but never amounted to much. I tried the book years ago and didn't finish it and thought the ebook might give me the impetus to complete the story. It didn't. The ebook suffered from an irritating performance that killed the best experience for me. The reader has a very annoying habit of using exactly the same intonation over and over again, his voice pitching up at the end of every clause. So unchanging is this idiosyncrasy that it destroys the immersion of the story and you are all too aware of the reader's voice.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • William C. Powell
    High Wycombe
    1/26/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wild Seed fell on stony ground"
    If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I think the book's flaws transcend personal taste, though I can see that other reviewers didn't always even perceive the flaws that so irritated me.


    What will your next listen be?

    Iain M Banks, Excession, narrated by the excellent Peter Kenny. Already bought and waiting to go.


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    Every sentence was read with almost identical cadence - it became truly irritating very quickly. Yes, Dion Graham has a very pleasant vocal timbre, but unless he learns to inject variety of emphasis, he's not doing the book a service.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Apathy - The author failed to give me a reason to care for either of the protagonists in the first hour of listening. They were two spoilt immortals engaging in selfish dominance games.


    Any additional comments?

    Too much infodumping and didactic exposition. The author has forgotten about showing rather than telling.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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