Review: Parable of the Sower

Parable of the Sower
Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I thought I had read this book back in college. At the time I had thought it so-so…lots of mumbo jumbo about God and what not. I read it again this month for our book club and I can say I have not read this before. If I had, I would have remembered sitting up all night unable to sleep.

The world in PotS is a couple of steps to the side of us, closer to a probable dystopian future. Entire neighborhoods have walls around them, unemployment is rampant, no one drives because the cost of gas is too high, firefighters and police have grown more expensive and a new drug called pyro causes people to go on arson rampages. And throughout all this, Lauren Olamina is coming of age.

Prior to reading this, I had read the Wastelands anthology by John Joseph Adams, so this was a fitting endpiece to all the dystopian literature I had been reading. It was frightening to read of the rampant poverty and crime that existed outside Lauren’s neighborhood, and how it slowly seeped in. Lauren’s a bit of a prophet–she sees disaster coming on the horizon, but being a teenager, no one pays any heed to her until it’s too late. But Lauren doesn’t plan to mourn, or try to get things back to the way they used to be. She plans to survive, and more than that, she plans to transcend.

That’s what set this apart from the other dystopian stories I’ve read. In PotS, we see the beginnings of an entirely new religion, Earthseed, which equates God with Change. Very interesting idea, since in Christian theology, God never changes. The verses that spell out the Earthseed religion at times seem too zenlike and simplistic (one of the characters even point that out–a nice touch), and there were some statements I couldn’t agree with (I’m more in the God is Love camp, so I can’t full agree that God is an impersonal god, since love can’t be impersonal). At the same time, the book did make me think how change has been a huge influence throughout history. (My own realization I’ve been trying to reconcile over the past few years–God doesn’t change, but people do).

I want to read the next book, which I believe goes into more detail about the religion. I’m now certain I read that book, and now I have Lauren’s background, I think I’ll be able to appreciate it more.

Today, I picked my son up from school. We walked home, kids waving goodbye as they passed by us. We passed by the community garden, where there has been a problem of vandalism this summer, some veggies getting smashed before they’re ripe. At home, I learned my son had tossed a whole sandwich away and chastised him on it. Later on, my inlaws got into a small fender bender and a policeman came by to make a report and make sure they were okay.

Then I got on the internet and learned about a black woman who had been set on fire by three men and racist slurs scratched into her car, another mass shooting in Wisconsin, and child laborers in China.

Butler’s dystopia is a lot farther, and yet a lot more closer, than we think. Five acorns out of five and maybe I should pay more attention to the oak tree in our backyard. Just in case.

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Review: Wastelands

Wastelands
Wastelands by John Joseph Adams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this since I am slushing for Wastelands 2. Nice collection. Stories that stood out to me:
-The End of the Whole Mess, Stephen King. Very good one by the master.
-Bread and Bombs, M. Rickert. Disturbing story that I had to read twice to understand what the kids did.
-The Last of the O-Forms, James Van Pelt. I saw the ending coming but I didn’t care. Good story.
-Mute, Gene Wolfe. In my quest to find a Gene Wolfe story I resonate with, this came closest so far. The last paragraph in this story is probably the saddest and creepiest paragraph I’ve ever read. I’ve found myself coming back to it again and again and asking, “Does that mean what I *think* it means?” I’m not sure I want to know.
-And the Deep Blue Sea, Elizabeth Bear. I loved how Bear portrayed the motorcycle like a living steed. Nice play on the Devil at the Crossroads myth.
-Speech Sounds, Octavia Butler. Scary how Butler portrays a world where speech is attacked.
-Ginny Sweethips Flying Circus, Neal Barrett Jr – the only story in the collection that had me outright laughing. I wish to see more of Ginny Sweethips and her companions.
-The End of the World as we know it, Dale Bailey – This one made me think the most. Fact is, the end of the world happens to people all the time.
-Episode Seven: Last Stand Against the Pack in the Kingdom Of the Purple Flowers, John Langan. A great response to Dale Bailey’s story. I loved the format, and the fact that the MC is pregant.

Good collection. Can’t wait to see how the next one pans out. 🙂

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The Zombies of Door County: Credits

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So now that the Great Zombie Apocalypse of 2012 is now over, all that’s left is the credits:

First off, a big shout out goes to Erin Underwood who organized this whole shebang. Erin attended Viable Paradise in 2006 and is editor of Underwords Press. She rounded up a stellar cast of writers, including some of my VP classmates: Stephanie Charette, Sarah Goslee, Veronica Henry, and Lisa Morton.  She indoctrinated us into her Zombie Squad and let us loose, so to speak. Hilarious zombie stories came out of this weekend. Seriously, go check them out. You might even find one of our VP instructors playing along.

Another shout out goes to Bill and Alice Shepherd, who gratefully allowed my hubby and I to stay at their place in Door County. Thanks also go to my cousin in laws John and Delores Hermann. I don’t think any of them knew of their roles in keeping Door County safe from zombies. That’s probably true of all heros.

Many, many, many thanks to my husband Jon, who made for a great and simultaneously awful zombie. I was going to thank him for humoring me for doing this project, but I think he had way more fun than he would admit.

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"Zombie" Outtakes

 

Thanks to the citizens of Door County who watched our antics with great bemusement. If you ever go up to Door County, I highly suggest visiting the White Gull Inn for the cranberry stuffed French Toast. Those things are to die for. And to come back to life just so you can eat it all over again.

And finally, I like to thank the zombies of Door County. Those poor, deluded, stupid, foolish imaginary souls who wound up, to my surprise, to have really good taste in wine. I look forward to meeting you all again next year. Just next time, try not to suck out my brain beforehand.

They are Door County Zombies!! They are local!! They want to sell us sweet wine and cheese!! Ahhhhhhh!!!

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We have returned from Door County. We have survived.

What…exactly…I’m not sure.

There were zombies. They shuffled down streets. They stared up at bluffs. They crawled out of Lake Superior.

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They are completely unphotogenic.

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You can’t see it, but there’s a zombie right behind that tree.

I tell you, these are the worst zombies I’ve ever seen. I mean, we all know zombies go staggeringly slow and go "Uhhhhnnnnnn…Braaaaaaains…" But as far as trying to eat you? They totally suck. What they really want to do is sell stuff. Or try to anyway. It’s sort of hard to take a zombie seriously when it’s lifting a wine bottle and going "Uhhhhnnnn…Buyyyyyy…"

What got me was how the locals pretty much ignored the zombies. "Oh, don’t worry about him," a waitress at the White Gull told me as one zombie shuffled by with a menu. (The White Gull has the best cranberry stuffed french toast I’ve ever tasted). "We call him Gorgie. He used to be one of our waiters. We just let him pass menus out."

Gorgie wasn’t a good waiter anymore. He tried to give a menu to a painting of a woman on the wall, then spent the next hour drooling in the corner.

Most of our time up at Door County was spent being amused at the zombies. We watched them from towers up at Penisula State Park

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We watched them suck at playing chess.

 

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We watched them stack rocks at Cave Point Beach.

 

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And we watched them against the background of the sunset.

 

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It was actually quite benign.

The last thing we saw when we left Door County were these huge black vans that were driving up 42 and 57.  I don’t know what they were there for, but it’s interesting. The further west we traveled, the less zombies we saw. By the time we pulled back into Madison, I didn’t see any zombies at all. So maybe the whole thing is going away? I don’t know.

The zombies of Door County were the lamest zombies I ever saw. But I do have to admit–they have great taste in wine.

Update: Door County is *definitely* overrun by zombies…but not in the way you think…

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Sorry…I’m just now getting to my laptop. Things have been insane up here. And by insane, I mean…*blank stare* insane…

So. Zombies. Apparently there’s some sort of Z-virus going around that changes people into zombies. Apparently, there are reports of strangeness and first hand accounts, and it’s not only humans who are turning into zombies. There’s a website that’s been gathering all these reports, and from the gist of things, everyone’s saying to stay inside, to not get infected.

I could say the same about the zombies up in Door County.

Except…

Well…

The zombies of Door County are different.

Uh oh. Hearing something upstairs. I’ll get back to you to explain.

::grabs shotgun::

::Decides shotgun won’t do::

::puts down shotgun, grabs bottle of cranberet wine and some cheese curds::

::Decides that will work just fine::

Door County is being hit by zombies…I think.

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So on Wednesday, I look at my hubby and says, "Let’s run away." So we did.

Okay, so we didn’t like, really run away. But we did ditch the boy with the inlaws and took off for Door County. We’ve been meaning to for a while. Just him and me. A sort of weekend getaway. We’ll do some hiking, look at fall colors, eat at lots of restaurants, go to a couple of winerys, you know. We got in around 4:30, had some dinner with the lovely folks we’re staying with. Watched Pirates of the Carribean, and you know, went to bed.

At 6am, we wake up to hear this noise.

It’s this weird, scritching, scratching, moaning noise. Can’t explain it. Now, back when we lived in the apartment, we had gophers scratching up in the walls. Drove my hubby nuts. But this is coming from outside. So the hubby gets up and look…

And shouts "HOLY *2^*)_%@ ZOMBIE!!!" So I get up to look and he’s right. There was a zombie trying to get into the house.

Wasn’t doing a good job, though. I mean, it’s a zombie, right. And this one must have been a hunter at some point, because it was wearing old hunting gear, but had a bright orange vest. It also had a shotgun, but it was using the butt end of the shotgun to try to dig into the wall. Which made no sense because at one point, the shotgun went off, blowing off a good chunk of the zombie’s head and shoulder. Then it collapsed. It wasn’t a particularly smart zombie.

The gunshot woke up our hosts, and we went out to take a good look at it, because the zombie was obviously dead now. Our hosts mentioned that they were listening to the radio and all sorts of weird things are happeningaround the country. Something to do with a virus. I don’t know. I can’t get more information. The internet is somewhat slow up here.

I also didn’t think to take a picture of the zombie until right after we buried the thing, because it really stank. Oddly, not like dead people stink. But more like old cheese stink. We are up in Wisconsin after all. But I can show you where the zombie was standing at the time.

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So the hubby says,  "Maybe we should go home…if there’s a zombie virus we should make sure the family’s okay." And I was like "ARE YOU KIDDING I’VE BEEN TRYING TO GET UP TO DOOR COUNTY FOR YEARS I AM NOT GOING TO LET SOME STUPID ZOMBIES RUIN MY SPONTANEOUS GETAWAY WEEKEND!!1!!!!"

So our hosts told us to be careful. Oh…wait…there’s another zombie lurching up the woods. They have gone out to meet it with a crowbar and a stool. Now they’re fighting. Huh…I didn’t know Mrs. Shepherd knew kung fu. She’s really wailing on that zombie. Ah. zombie’s dead. They’re now dragging it away to bury it. They’re really nice people.

Oh, crap. I still had the camera’s SD card in my laptop, so I didn’t think to take a picture of that too. Oh well. I’ll try to keep people current with the situation up here on Twitter using the hashtag #ZombieApoc2012. Don’t expect much though, because after all, I *am* on a weekend getaway, and I’m not about to let some stupid Zombie Apocalypse ruin my chance to drink some cherry wine.