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Dawn (Xenogenesis) Hardcover – May 1, 1987
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- Publisher : Grand Central Pub; 1st edition (May 1, 1987)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 264 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0446513636
- ISBN-13 : 978-0446513630
- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,037,825 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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The Oankali finally awaken one, Lilith, who must first accustom herself to these apparently repulsive creatures. Once this is accomplished they enable her to awaken others of the suspended humans. At first all goes well, but as more and more are awakened they become suspicious of Lilith' s association with the Oankali. Because the spaceship can replicate earth-like environments, they doubt that they are in space. Suspicion and antipathy emerge between groups. Rivalry and deadly conflict develop. A few of the most intransigent are put back to sleep. The rest are sent to Earth, but poor Lilith, who has deeply yearned for human contact, is kept behind
to continue living with the Oankali.
Butler's conception of alien life forms and alien "technology" is very creative. Also she skillfully plumbs the inherent emotions and conflicts within the human psyche and between and among human groups. The story may not be the best narrated, but it gives the reader a great deal to think about.
Dawn drew me in from the first page. Lilith has memories of contemporary Earth, before “the war”, but she has no idea why she’s in this tiny room with no clothes, held by captors she can’t see and who won’t answer her questions, nor does she know why she’s put to sleep for indeterminately long periods. The story slowly and expertly expands, revealing elements piece by piece, giving us time to adjust to the incredible ideas in the author’s head, before introducing the next idea, then the next character, then a batch of characters, always giving us time to catch up but not enough to feel comfortable. That’s a good thing, by the way.
Octavia’s aliens are duly strange without being so foreign you can’t relate. Her characters are strong, opinionated, diverse, and full of conflict. In fact, my only gripe is that, perhaps, a group of people when put together in the situation they were may not have been quite as conflict driven, but I’m no expert, either. Regardless, Octavia did a fantastic job of weaving them together and keeping the plot moving, rehashing just enough throughout the story to reinforce some of the stranger concepts, but not enough to feel annoying.
I’m sad that I discovered this author so long after her passing, but I’ll definitely be reading more of her work, and recommending them to my children when they’re older. If you’re looking for a different xenomorphic story full of thought-provoking moral challenges and inner and external turmoil, I can’t recommend Dawn enough.
Characters. Her protagonist is well drawn and fleshed out, and has flaws and personality and a point of view, which I loved. All her supporting human characters, though, are drawn so sparingly that they are more cliches than people.
MILD SPOILERS BELOW
At one point, she is literally reviewing dossiers about other humans in order to make some decisions, and the brief sketches she reads in them are the primary method for introducing these characters. Carl is exactly what he is presented as, and we never hear these supporting characters enough to really dig into their personalities, conflicts, etc. so when there is conflict. It is more like ‘character versus NPC’ than against another character. The book is so short, it would have been easy to add dimension to the supporting characters to illuminate the protagonists choices and challenges. Instead, we get a lot of eloquent internal monologue and a bare-minimum of external dialog. Some characters oppose the protagonist? Well, an NPC will tell her ‘X, Y and Z are plotting against you!’ So now the reader knows.
This is her story, but it is told with so little else in terms of other characters that we get a one-dimensional view of her and a zero-dimensional view of the other human characters. The aliens are slightly more fleshed out and there is more interaction, but I feel like Butler focused too much on the protagonists inner thoughts and ignored the opportunity to show her as a full, rounded character by giving us other more richly-drawn characters for her to bounce off of.
This book was good enough I wish it had been better.
Lilith is awoken on a spaceship by an alien race after the end of the world: nuclear war. Earth has been healed, but the few human survivors aren’t ready to return there yet. The aliens need Lilith’s help to communicate with other survivors and prepare them to go back. It’s more challenging than any of them anticipated.
Lilith is a strong leader even though she doesn’t want the job. Her ability to understand the Oankali and accept their three-sexed biology, and their unique culture, makes her easier for the aliens to work with. But it also makes the humans distrust her. She is caught in a difficult position between them and it’s never clear if she is making the right choices. She saves some people, but loses others. I felt a lot of sympathy for her. It will be interesting to see what happens next in the series.
LGBT content: third sex aliens
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Not surprisingly, some of the humans are hostile to this idea. The book goes on to explore the conflict between the benefits of sharing and fear of the unknown, via a group of humans who are equally able to see alien danger amongst their own kind as they are in creatures from outer space.
Dawn is a wonderful book. I was going to call it humane, though I felt humanity was an embarrassment by the end of it. Admittedly I did have some plot quibbles. Humans after all are not the only creatures afflicted by cancer on earth, and if this is what interested the aliens, you do wonder why they didn't choose a far less troublesome and unpleasant species to deal with. They could have chosen dogs for example. This is not, however, is going to stop me from giving this book a five star rating. It's a parable for modern times.
This is up there with them. it's a book of it's time, I.e. If you were an adult at the time of the Cold War, you will recognise not just the premise, but also the social influences of that time.
Reading it now, I was frustrated and disappointed with humanity, but I also recall that it's an accurate portrayal of the mindset that existed at the time (remember the insanity of nuclear M.A.D. ?)
The book is well written, and the aliens are fascinatingly conceived. I kept trying work out if they were the good guys or the bad guys, and at the end of this, the closest I could come was "both", and I loved that they defied pigeon-holing.
I really liked Lillith's character. Strong, resilient, enough intelligence and ego to lead, but also enough humility and insecurity to really not want to! Unwanted responsibility for the entire (remaining) human race; I can't imagine how how I would have felt in her shoes.
I wonder what would have happened if these aliens had come upon us now in these "enlightened" times; yes, a bit of irony there, but . . .
Read on and enjoy1
An absolutely engrossing to read feeling sometimes that I was inadequate because I felt I was only comprehending the human perspective; yet what other perspective can I have being human?!
I felt like a 5-yr old on their first day at school. I just had to go with the flow to begin with until it all started making a sort of sense.
Humans really come out badly in this and I applaud Octavia E. Butler's grasp of human psychology and reactions. The aliens are coercive in human terms but if one suspends human expectations (if such a thing is possible) is their behaviour unreasonable? This novel has really given me a lot of food for thought and I am delighted that I have another two to go!