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
©2001 Octavia E. Butler; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
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...
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.
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 :).
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.
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?
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.
What if you had TRUE power over LIFE and DEATH, and could live forever? Could you stay sane - could you love?
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!
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)
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.
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.
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.
I miss Octavia Butler. The book left me wanting more. The narrator was wonderfully vivid--what a piece of artwork!
I read the book before and loved it. But I'm having a hard time listening to the narrator, he sounds so fake. Definitely check out the sample before you buy, I wish I had done it.
I've never listened to this performer before, but didn't have a problem with the performance.
There are countless deaths in Wild Seed, but almost none makes the reader feel more than irritated on the main character's behalf. Similarly, she has countless offspring, again with little reader feeling for her investment in them. Her relationships with others are for the most part shortlived, livened up faintly by the various mutations she encounters. These superficial elements don't hold interest for long enough to make the book's violence and the oppressive relationship at the core of it appealing.This is a parable for slavery, and on that basis alone should have been compelling and remarkable. Alas, the relationships don't matter, the main character's immortality means that violence and excess are repeated ad nauseum, and the ending could just as easily have come right after the beginning.
It's a shame the story itself was so unsatisfying, because the writer is adept at bringing a reader into a place and time.
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