Select language, opens an overlay
Parable of the Sower

Parable of the Sower

eBook - 2012
Average Rating:
Rate this:
In 2025, with the world descending into madness and anarchy, one woman begins a fateful journey toward a better future. Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren's father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, disease, war, and chronic water shortages. While her father tries to lead people on the righteous path, Lauren struggles with hyperempathy, a condition that makes her extraordinarily sensitive to the pain of others. When fire destroys their compound, Lauren's family is killed and she is forced out into a world that is fraught with danger. With a handful of other refugees, Lauren must make her way north to safety, along the way conceiving a revolutionary idea that may mean salvation for all mankind. This ebook features an illustrated biography of Octavia E. Butler, including rare images from the author's estate.
Publisher: [United States] : Open Road Media, 2012
ISBN: 9781453263617
Characteristics: 1 online resource
text file,rda
Additional Contributors: hoopla digital


From Library Staff

Our February 2020 selection was Octavia Butler's acclaimed science fiction novel, Parable of the Sower.

[Lauren] dreams of a better world, and with her philosophy/religion, Earthseed, she hopes to found an enclave which will weather the tough times and which may one day help carry humans to the stars. - Publisher's Weekly. *November Selection

Excelsior Branch Book Club May 2021 selection.

[Lauren] dreams of a better world, and with her philosophy/religion, Earthseed, she hopes to found an enclave which will weather the tough times and which may one day help carry humans to the stars. - Publisher's Weekly. *November Selection

Octavia Butler's classic imagines a 2020 United States on the verge of environmental and societal collapse, where the only safe place to reside are corporate 'company towns'. The narrator, teenager Lauren Oya Olamina, has to flee north after her enclave in Los Angeles is attacked by nihilist mar... Read More »

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
IndyPL_MasadaS Apr 10, 2021

I finally read this sci-fi classic and the overachieving take away I had was how close that world is to our own. I was surprised to see how many scary parallels this story had to our current world and then after some research on the story I found that the current 90s political and racial landscape was Octavia E. Butler's inspiration for The Parable of the Sower. She wanted to focus on the world she lived in and how she saw it's possible acceleration in the future. This is a fascinating story of a future I hope we never encounter.

JCLIanH Mar 13, 2021

Required reading, whether you are a sci-fi person or not. Butler's future--in which a climate crisis and increasing inequality has led to a quasi-apocalypse in mid-2020s Los Angeles--feels eerily familiar and should be a warning of the fragility of our shared reality.

Mar 03, 2021

Recently I’ve been revisiting the futurism found within 90’s cinema. It’s 2021 now, so why not take a look at how Johnny Mnemonic envisioned this year playing out? Ok, so maybe the pains and trails of 2020 pushed me to look to cinema for brighter (or darker?) futures to fixate on. That’s the long way of saying that, despite the enjoyment one can get from 90’s cinematic futurism (I’m looking at you Waterworld and The Postman), truly excellent stories of the future are hard to come by. Butler’s Parable of the Sower, published in 1993, defiantly stands apart as just such an excellent work. While there are some limitations inherit in 2021, to reading a tale from 1993, which takes place in the mid ‘20s, the power of the story, and the depth to the characters and world, easily wave away the lack of any resonating technological futurism. Butler expertly creates a world ravaged by societal and environmental turmoil, leading to one of the more realistic dystopian pre-apocalyptic settings found in fiction. Furthermore, after the political and societal turmoil of our past four years, it’s much easier to envision an America who’s days are waning, and where civic social structures are radically changed. The beauty, and terror, of Parable is that the world Butler reveals is one not too far off from today. If you want to see a pulpy technologically driven futurism, watch Mnemonic again. But, if you want a thoughtful and poignant look at humanity in crisis, read Parable, and take heed from its warnings.

Jan 15, 2021

Amazing, what a fantastic book!

Oct 01, 2020

Book close to what we're going through now. From Twitter.

Jul 14, 2020

Intense dystopian novel written in the early 1980s by Octavia Butler. I appreciate the development of characters, especially the main character Lauren and her yearning for a better and more meaningful life as she tries to incorporate religious beliefs in a world gone very, very wrong. Not all the characters are likable or gallant and they struggle with their own prejudices, distrust, beliefs and pain. Some of the scenes and descriptions may be too horrific for the reader but then again, a dystopian fiction novel is not meant to be a happy place. There is both hope and action on the part of the protagonist and she understands that, in order to survive and thrive in this challenging world, she needs to cultivate a community of growth, purpose and trust. Outstanding.

Jun 20, 2020

Set in 2020s California, this novel presents a believable picture and provides a warning. The young heroine fleeing north develops her own Earthseed doctrine. Why does she need to invent a "new religion" when the author's message seems to be that community is the answer.

Apr 12, 2020

Read this more than a year ago and continue to be haunted by it. Very troubling and far too prophetic, I fear. But so beautifully and sharply written. This novel transports and inspires. Octavia Butler deserves to be read and appreciated by us all.

Michael Colford Feb 20, 2020

Twenty-seven years after it was first published (and I first read it), but only five years away from the start of the narrative, Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower is more prescient and more frightening than ever. In this dystopian future, society as we know it has succumbed to violence, corruption, and the disintegration of community, as the trajectory of the human race advances to its sadly inevitable collapse. Laws are ignored, or enforced by a corrupt and violent police force, and humanity either live in poorly-secured, walled enclaves, tightly-controlled, violent cities where slavery has re-emerged, or riskiest of all, out in the wilderness, where the weak are preyed upon by the desperate.

Lauren is a teenager living in a small, walled community in California. Her father is the local preacher, and her mother teaches the handful of children in the community. Her younger brothers are wild and reckless. Yet Lauren possesses a maturity and wisdom that set her up as different from the start. For one thing, she is a sharer, afflicted with a condition that forces her to feel the pain of others around her if she witnesses them. This can be a disability if she is trying to defend herself from predatory aggressors, but Lauren is prepared. She knows that the time will come when the encroaching dangers will overrun her community and she carefully plans her escape.

Despite the intellectual rejection of religion, even her father's, Lauren applies her intelligence and her thoughtfulness in the creation of a new religion, one that espouses God as Change, and she calls it Earthseed. When the inevitable happens, and Lauren's community is overrun, Lauren finds herself fleeing for her life with other refugees - wandering the dangerous, largely abandoned roads to head north, where there is a belief the life might be better. Along the way, Lauren finds other essential decent people among the cast-offs, and all the while, quietly and reasonably shares the philosophy of Earthseed. Can Lauren create a movement that will help set humanity back on a redemptive path? Or will this tiny, emerging movement be crushed by the inevitable crush of chaos.

Now as an adult, with years of life experience, Parable of the Sower resonates with me so much more. Butler's uncanny way of seeing a possible and plausible outcome of the trajectory of present-day society (even back in the early 90's) is frightening, as this violent, self-destructive society, where racism, addiction, environmental collapse, corruption and violence have become the norm to the extreme.. There are so few dots to connect to see our own world becoming Lauren's. Butler's novel is a classic, and I'm looking forward to rereading the sequel, Parable of the Talents.

Feb 19, 2020

Somewhat frightening, less fascinating.
I highly regard author's sharp observations and perspectives, but the ingenious creations (e.g. sharer, Pyro addicts) appear rudiments, yet fleshed out and better formed or made believe. I'd be a follower of Earthseed if it were not proclaimed as a Religion. Its poetic allure faded when I merely halfway through the book. It's Gospel verse without music, singing rendition is the key to deliver otherwise a dull text message. Realism feel in a sci-fi novel should not limit an imagination to be less.

View All Comments


Add Notices
Jan 20, 2019

Sexual Content: There are a few sexual scenes, but the positive ones aren't described in any detail; this isn't a pornographic novel and the scenes are included not for reader entertainment but to characterize the protagonist and/or to move the plot forward. (See below for more about the negative sexual scenes.)

Jan 20, 2019

Coarse Language: Swearing and brief discussion of anatomy and sexual themes at a few places.

Jan 20, 2019

Frightening or Intense Scenes: Sexual assault is an ever-present force in the protagonist's world and it's mentioned semi-frequently. There is semi-graphic description of a sexual assault of one of the characters, but after that it isn't mentioned much. Death of all kinds--animal and human--is brought up frequently. Don't read if you find mild description of graphically violent scenes to be too much. I myself was okay, though.

Jan 20, 2019

Violence: See "Frightening or intense scenes" for information.

Mar 07, 2017

Sexual Content: Sexual assault

Mar 07, 2017

Violence: Rape and murder


Add Age Suitability
Jan 20, 2019

astronus thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over


Add a Summary
Mar 07, 2017

Lauren Olamina is part of the generation of children who do not remember the world before. Before the water shortages, and the walled communities, and the drug addicts who burn anything and everything just to watch the flames. Before the California-Oregon border was closed, and Alaska began to talk about seceding. Lauren believes the Earth is dying, and that sooner or later, humanity will have to take to the stars in order to survive. And Lauren means to survive. But how can she convince those around her that they must be ready, that the good times her father and step-mother talk about are never coming back? As the world outside the wall continues to crumble, Lauren hones the philosophy she believes to be humanity’s only hope, becoming the lonely prophet of a new religion born from the ashes of American civilization.


Add a Quote
Mar 07, 2017

I’ve never felt that I was making any of this up—not the name, Earthseed, not any of it. I mean, I’ve never felt that it was anything other than real: discovery rather than invention, exploration rather than creation.

Explore Further


Subject Headings


Find it at SFPL

To Top