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Wild Seed (Patternist) Mass Market Paperback – December 1, 1988
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About the Author
- Publisher : Popular Library (December 1, 1988)
- Language : English
- ISBN-10 : 0445205377
- ISBN-13 : 978-0445205376
- Item Weight : 4 ounces
- Dimensions : 5 x 0.5 x 7 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,128,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Top reviews from the United States
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The book starts off in 1690, in Africa, and ends in 1840s in the United States. It follows the immortal man/spirit Doro – born in Africa in the days of ancient Egypt, and Anyanwu, an African woman with astonishing powers that set her apart from everyone around her. Doro brings Anyanwu to America, and she becomes part of his “people”: an extensive group of individuals who are ruled by, and selectively bred by Doro to enhance their various special abilities.
With that as its starting point, ‘Wild Seed’ becomes a haunting, rich, and compelling story of Anyanwu’s struggle to survive in the new world under Doro’s rule, exploring themes like good and evil, slavery and oppression, race and eugenics, family and friendship, love and the essence of life itself: what makes life worth living? what is a good life? what is worth living for? what is worth dying for?
Butler’s cast of characters add to the richness of the book: they are all complex and conflicted, and even characters that pass by only briefly in the story are so well-written that they stay with you afterwards. And Anyanwu is one of the most interesting and likable literary characters I’ve encountered. She is a good, but flawed, person, fighting tooth and nail to stay true to herself and her own convictions, and to keep her freedom and self-determination – even under excruciatingly difficult circumstances.
‘Wild Seed’ is compelling, unique science fiction, and it’s a book that lingers in the mind long after you finish reading it.
Wild Seed is easy to read, but there’s a lot going on underneath the surface. There’s so many different topics at play here – race, slavery, gender, sexuality. Basically, if it’s a topic relating to power structures, Wild Seed deals with it. It doesn’t deal much with LGBTQ themes, but I’m still listing it under the tag since Anyanwu has a wife at one point (happens between chapters) and could probably be considered bisexual.
Wild Seed deals with the difficulties of being immortal and the inherent loneliness of watching everyone you know die. This is the focal point of the relationship between Anyanwu and Doro. Anyanwu may not be able to condone what Doro does, but he’s the only person who will remain constant as the families she builds for herself die around her.
I hate Doro, but I think you’re supposed to hate him. He’s spent his extraordinary long life on a eugenics project, creating a race of people with special powers. He’s controlling and manipulative and thinks nothing of killing others. He wants people to be under his control, to respect and obey him in all things. But Anyanwu cannot respect him, and she does not always obey him. She’s wild seed – a talented person born outside his breeding programs.
I’m really not sure what to think about the relationship between Anyanwu and Doro. I really hope the ending wasn’t supposed to be an instance of the woman “changing” her man with her feminine influences, but I’m not sure. Anyanwu was also so passive. I really wanted to see her stand up to Doro and to oppose the things he did that she hated. But it feels more like she accepts powerlessness.
A large part of why I have these feelings is that I don’t think Wild Seed had a real conclusion. The book just sort of ends. There problems with Doro’s actions haven’t been dealt with. Maybe it’s because this is a first book in a series? I’d want to keep reading to find out what happens to Anyanwu, but I’ve heard she’s not the protagonist of the next one.
Do I recommend Wild Seed? Definitely. I can see why it’s considered a science fiction classic, one that I think I’d need to reread to appreciate more fully.
Top reviews from other countries
I have loved the characters. Anjanwu is just awesome, and Doro, even if he's not exactly the most sympathetic character ever (oh well, he's actually NOT synpathetic, at all) is wonderfully portrayed. I loved even him in the end, and I won't say anything more about the final of this wonderful book, because you *must* buy it and read it up to the end. But the character I loved the best was Isaacs. A wonderful, three-dimensional character.
I thank so much Orson Scott Card, who suggested this book in his "How to write science fiction and fantasy" (a book I suggest any aspiring writer to read). Otherwise I would never have bought it, and it would be a shame.
I’m glad I did, as this book kept me engrossed from start to finish. The author takes the central idea, that some people are born with special abilities, and explores it in many different ways. So it remains fascinating all the way through. The story was compelling as well, as the two main characters tried to outwit each other, with frequent verbal confrontations.
I’m not into the fantasy genre, because I often feel cheated by the way conflicts are resolved, where the hero overcomes the enemy simply by summoning up enough strength. But I never felt cheated by the progression of this story.
I’m only learning about how to write, so I can’t judge the technical merits, and I quickly forgot that I was reading it to learn. But as a reader I can say that this book has the following qualities: It keeps the tension going throughout. The writing is clear and straightforward, so that it’s the story, not the writer’s technical brilliance, which is on show. Unlike the other book recommended by Card, this is a great example to learn from.