Wild Seed (Octavia E. Butler)

Wild Seed is the first book (considering internal chronology, no the order it was written in) in the Patternist Series by Octavia E. Butler.

Doro has been alive for very, very much time as he’s able to transfer his spirit from one body to the next. He is also very lonely and has been trying to breed people with special abilities in the hope to create somebody like him. One day he stumbles on Anyanwu who has the ability to manipulate her own body at will on a genetic level, enabling her to keep herself from aging. They are both drawn to each other and their respective forms of immortality but centuries of set ways are not easily overcome.

While I did enjoy Wild Seed very much, reading four Butler books back to back might have been a little too much. So while I thought that the premise for the Patternist series was more interesting than the Xenogenesis books, and I actually liked this book best of the four, I need a break now.

Doro and Anyanwu were great characters and I had a lot fun joining them in their story. I would have wished for some things to be expanded, though. Especially the gender things could have been made more of. Doro is firm in his male identity, as is Anyanwu in her female identity but both sometimes end up with bodies that don’t reflect that. There could have been a lot of interesting issues there, but Butler only scratches at the surface and then quickly turns to other things.

I would have also wished for a little more resolution to the story. But since it’s the first book of the series, that’s a rather forgiveable offense. And it wasn’t too frustrating.

These qualms I had with the book though are completely made up for by the characters. Both Doro and Anyanwu were extremely intriguing and I just loved Isaac.

Anyanwu’s abilities reminded me of the Oankali a little bit – though I probably wouldn’t have made that connection if I hadn’t read the books back to back.

In any case I thought it was really interesting how Butler juxtaposed the two immortality concepts in Anyanwu and Doro – Anyanwu who doesn’t die because she’s always fixing and mending and improving. And Doro who doesn’t die because he always consumes and uses up resources that aren’t his.

Summarising: the kind of book you could write whole papers on.

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