Parable of the Sower
(1993) and its sequel, Parable of the Talents
(1998) , written by Octavia E. Butler
, author of Lilith's Brood
, take place in a near-future Earth devastated by economic collapse. Lauren Oya Olamina lives in a walled community with her family until the day it is attacked and burned to the ground. Along with a few survivors and the revelation that "God is change", Lauren must search for a safe place to live and eventually discover the means to fulfill the destiny of a new religion.
A third book was planned, Parable of the Trickster
, but the author passed away before it was completed
These novels contain examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Asha Vere's adoptive parents.
- After the End
- Bizarre Baby Boom: A drug designed to cure Alzheimers has the unintended result of afflicting the children of users with "hyperempathy syndrome", which causes them to hallucinate feeling the pain of others.
- Blessed with Suck: Those afflicted with hyperempathy syndrome. The problems with uncontrollable empathy are shown most strongly when discussing combat - shooting someone to wound can disable the empathic shooter with pain, making just killing people safer, and when Lauren is being raped and has to feel her pain along with her rapist's pleasure.
- Corrupt Church
- Crapsack World: The United States suffers from catastrophic economic collapse, gang violence and child prostitution is at an all-time high, and it's dangerous to even go outside.
- Cult: Lauren's religion Earthseed, based on the belief that change is God, though it later is considered a religion.
- Cult Colony: What would have happened in the third book.
- Cure For Cancer: The aforementioned cure for Alzheimer's.
- Cyberspace: Lauren meets a girl whose mother spends all her time in virtual reality.
- Deadly Distant Finale: Parable of the Talents ends with Asha telling about Lauren's death and her last diary entry.
- Disaster Scavengers
- The Empath: Lauren and others who suffer from hyperempathy syndrome. The twist is that they feel only what they perceive others to be feeling; they can't feel pain they're ignorant of, and you can trick them into feeling pain by, for example, smearing yourself in red ink and screaming that you're bleeding.
- Fantastic Drug: In addition to the drug which causes hyperempathy, gangs also use a street drug dubbed "Pyro", because it causes a fascination with fire that is said to be more enjoyable than sex, and creates a desire to set things on fire in the user.
- Foregone Conclusion: Lauren's search for her lost daughter in the second book is intercut with stories from that daughter talking about growing up in her adoptive home. So it's already completely obvious that the search will fail.
- Glorious Leader: In Talents, the elected president of the United States is a radical preacher whose solution to the economic disaster is to persecute all non-Christians and anyone else he can use as a scapegoat.
- Hell Hole Prison: The Camp Christian "reeducation facility". Lauren and her fellow inmates are regularly tortured and raped by the guards.
- Literary Allusion Title: Both book titles are Biblical parables, Parable of the Sower is in Matthew 13:1-23 and Parable of the Talents is in Matthew 25:14-30.
- Long-Lost Relative: Lauren's daughter Larkin is taken away and given to a Christian family, and is renamed Asha Vere.
- Meaningful Name: Lauren's middle name is Oya, after the Yoruban goddess of fire and wind, who is associated with chaos, transition, and great changes.
- Meanwhile, in the Future: In Parable of the Talents, Lauren's storyline and Larkin/Asha Vere's storyline are told at the same time.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Fundamentalist Christian America sect often puts "heathens" in concentration camps and allow rape to go unnoticed because they aren't seen as people.
- Pervert Dad: Asha Vere's adoptive father is one.
- Scavenger World: Lauren and her followers must scavenge through the remains of California to survive and rebuild a community.
- Shock Collar: Slavers use these to keep their prisoners in line. In the second book, Lauren and the survivors of Acorn have these put on them after their community is raided.
- Sweet Polly Oliver: Lauren notes that she can pass for a man easily due to being tall and broad, and disguises herself when traveling alone.
- Twenty Minutes into the Future: Takes place in the mid to late 21st century, and Lauren was in fact born in 2009.