Anything written by Octavia E. Butler is science fiction gold IMHO. I just finished the quadrology entitled Seed to Harvest which contains the following novels in story chronological order:
- Wild Seed
- Mind of My Mind
- Clay’s Ark
The first two books tell the story of mutations in the human species that produce telepathic, telekinetic, shape changing and healing humans and the third; the birth of a new hybrid human through mixing with a microscopic but incredibly aggressive alien species. The last book describes when these two forms of human clash.
Butler was a visionary and her stories really bring you into a completely new and, I think, entirely possible and plausible future. It’s great and hard science fiction. But what makes her so interesting is that her focus is on more than just new gadgets and technology, she really explores social issues like slavery and race, religion, sex and politics. And through it all, she provides strong female role models but also develops strong male characters as well. Another interesting focus of hers is extending biology into the future: that is something (as a trained biologist myself) I often see done very simplistically in SF. Butler does it in a realistic and yet imaginative way. You can see this especially in Wild Seed with the character Anyanwu and in Clay’s Ark with the doctor Blake Maslin.
The actual books in the Patternist collection, her first series, were released as a set of five over an eight year period in this order:
- 1976 Patternmaster
- 1977 Mind of My Mind
- 1978 Survivor
- 1980 Wild Seed
- 1984 Clay’s Ark
so Butler actually expanded her original idea into four other books by writing prequels. And yet, when assembled in the proper order in Seed to Harvest they read very well. Survivor, in story time, should come between Clay’s Ark and Patternmaster; it wasn’t reprinted like the four others – possibly because Butler didn’t like it afterward. And so it’s the only Patternist novel I haven’t read yet. It may be hard to find (I know my library doesn’t have it) but I’ll look anyway.
Also, during this eight year period, she had time to write Kindred too. This shows how prolific an imagination and writing ability this author was gifted with.
Very Highly Recommended!