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Parable of the Talents cover art

Parable of the Talents

Written by: Octavia E. Butler
Narrated by: Patricia R. Floyd,Peter Jay Fernandez,Sisi Aisha Johnson
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Publisher's Summary

Environmental devastation and economic chaos have turned America into a land of horrifying depravity. Assault, theft, sexual abuse, slavery, and murder are commonplace. Taking advantage of the situation, a zealous, bigoted tyrant wins his way into the White House.  

Directly opposed is Lauren Olamina, founder of Earthseed - a new faith that teaches "God Is Change". Persecuted for "heathen" beliefs as much as for having a Black female leader, Earthseed's followers face a life-and-death struggle to preserve their vision.

Best-selling author Octavia Butler's fluid writing and keen observations about race, gender, politics, and religion make for a moving parable that will be pondered for generations. A powerful reading from three standout narrators captures the multi-generational sweep of this poignant tale.

Butler's acclaimed novels have won numerous awards, and she is a recipient of a "genius" grant from the MacArthur Foundation. Parable of the Talents was selected as one of the best books of the year by Publishers Weekly.

©2007 Octavia Butler (P)2007 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

 

  • Nebula Award, Best Novel, 1999

"Octavia E. Butler is one of the finest voices in fiction....period." (Washington Post Book World)
"These...are the keynotes of Talents: family and characters, warmth and endurance, hope and determination. It's a worthy book, well up to Butler's standard for thoughtfulness and insight." (Analog Science Fiction & Fact)
"Though not for the faint-hearted, this work stands out as a testament to the author's enormous talent, and to the human spirit." (Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about Parable of the Talents

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  • David
  • 27-09-11

Powerful, dark sequel that stands on its own

This book is the sequel to"Parable of the Sower," but it stands up pretty well by itself, though I would definitely recommend reading the first book, because Butler is that good and these books are very powerful. In Parable of the Talents, Lauren Olamina, the protagonist of the first book, continues trying to build a community and a following devoted to her new religion, "Earthseed." Unfortunately, she is trying to found this new religion just when America, in the grip of a near-apocalyptic economic and environmental collapse, elects a witch-burning fundie Talibaptist for President. Lauren and her people are literally enslaved, and Lauren's infant daughter is taken away from her.

This is a dark book, a truly horrific dystopia, but the rape and violence does not read like a gratuitous admixture the way it does in so many books. You know how some authors want to make their books extra dark to let you know that these are Very Bad Times and Very Bad People, so they toss in a little rape, a little dismemberment, like one of those buckets o' blood horror films that just wind up being too schlocky and over-the-top to really horrify you? Octavia Butler doesn't do that. Instead, Lauren tells us what happened to her and her people in very clear but non-graphic terms, and the impact is felt for the rest of the story because even though she is trying to start a hopeful new religion, she hates her abusers with the heat of a thousand burning suns and makes no bones about it. It's very refreshing. None of that "I have to get past this" or forgiveness bull. She does survive and eventually launch her movement, successfully, but it's not like "Oh, and along the way some bad stuff happened."

Parable of the Talents is also, indirectly, a mother-daughter story. It's told in the past tense through the journals of both Lauren Olamina and her daughter, whom she never knew until her daughter reached adulthood. Her daughter has a very difficult time coming to terms with who her mother was, and so there are two very different narrative threads woven through the events described in the novel: Lauren, describing much of it as it was happening, and her daughter, commenting (and often, passing judgment) decades later.

This is one of those science fiction books that really should be considered literature, and it's a shame Octavia Butler isn't more widely known. It's even more of a shame that she died before she could write the third book she planned. I give both of the Earthseed books a very high recommendation.

49 people found this helpful

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  • Alysia
  • 27-01-14

A Look Into Our Future

This is the second book in the Parable series by Octavia Butler. I purchased a copy of this book from Audible.com to read and review for A More Diverse Universe blog tour (November 15 - 17th) As you can see I am just now getting to posting my review. I read the first book in January of this year as a book club book of the month selection. (Review here)
In the first book, Lauren Olamina leaves her burning town and home to find a safe place to live and expand her new belief system called Earth Seed.
In this book (I will try and not spoil it for you) Lauren's community has grown and is thriving. She has married and gives birth to a baby girl. All of this is happening in their small community, Acorn as the rest of the United States is completely falling apart. People are migrating to Alaska (the new promise land) due to climate changes. Political leaders who are extreme right-wing Christians create fanaticals who are burning non-believers a la Salem Witch Hunts. There are ramped lack of trials in court system. Slavery is back in and children are being bought and sold into the sex trade.
This book is bleak to say the least. I was not really expecting it to be a feel good book after reading the first one. I knew things would get worse. I could see it coming. But the reason I liked this book so much is the bleakness. I know that makes no sense at all but it was. I think Octavia Butler shows her deep foresight into our future without really making things up. People are not super humans. People are not flying. She shows us as we are and what will happen if we stay on the course we are on now. It is smartly written with very probable situations and the author really put thought into all the details of our future.
I thought it was perfect to have the chapters read by different voices. Lauren, her husband and daughter each write a chapter or have passages from their journals that tell their side of events. Each narrator did an excellent job.
Due to the bleak nature of this book I would not recommend it to readers with a weak stomach and who are looking for a happy love story.
But do read this one.

46 people found this helpful

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  • Margit D. Morawietz
  • 10-06-12

Visionary

Now this is why I became a Sci Fi fan; here you have a fully formed idea, how our present trajectory could look like. This is set in a very plausible story, with fully formed, engaging characters. It is told suspensefully, entertaining and thought provoking. You might not agree with the author at all levels, but at least it is a serious contribution to the discussion. The prose serves the story, does not get in the way of the story, the narration also works.

17 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • J. Charley
  • 17-10-07

Repetitive

I should have liked this book more – it has many great science fiction elements in it – an apolyptical future, religious cults, struggle to stay alive, etc. But it really seems more like a short story that’s been stretched into novel length by repetitive ramblings about the same or similar concepts over and over again. The story is somewhat interesting, but becomes tiring a third of the way through and never really improves that much.

16 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Alana
  • 04-12-07

Intriguing & Insightful

A captivating and believable look into thirty years from now in Northern California. The planet's warmth pushes rich and poor north, religious extremism grows unchecked, and people are torn between individual survival and holding on to fragments of their humanity.

This book may not satisfy hardcore sci-fi buffs. It's about individual and group struggle in the future, though, just as easily could have been set in any number of dark times in the past that were ruled by corruption, chaos, and spiritual discontent. Characters are well developed enabling the reader to understand and relate to actions and motivations, even when they are extreme. Brutality is rampant, though, rape scenes are thankfully referred to instead of described. An excellent exploration of trust, loyalty, faith, power, and destiny.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Asa
  • 16-01-15

Poor production

The book is amazing. Performance was good, editing/production not so much. Jumps abruptly between chapters with jarring volume changes.

13 people found this helpful

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  • james
  • 23-12-07

worth reading

Not a really fast paced book, but the story does move along. In the middle of the book I was annoyed with the amount of time the author spent on theology, "Earthseed". But as the story progresses it does make more sense.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-07-15

Gripping and real

The story is gripping and feels so real. It's not an easy or pleasant book, but it's interesting, full of ideas and opinions and peopled with great characters.
I really liked the narrator too.

9 people found this helpful

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  • K. Staples
  • 20-10-12

Prophetic and Eye-Opening!

Would you listen to Parable of the Talents again? Why?

I would definitely listen to Parable of the Talents again because it is such an amazing story about perseverance. Laure Olamina is an awesome young woman who is determined to survive in this post-apocalyptic time. And while her religion is not one I would choose, I understand why the Acorn community lives according

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There is a moment in Parable of the Talents when the protagonist and her community are enslaved by a fanatical Christian group and it is such a defeating and hopeless moment. However, things do turn around for the Acorn community...

9 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Marcia
  • 19-09-08

Depressing and lacking in real substance..

I was compelled by the title and summary and hoped for better than what I got. I found the futuristic world of chaos intriguing in that we could be headed for something like that with the state of our economy right now. The haves and the have nots.. But it was more like "what if everyone lost their minds" a bit too biazzare!

I found the whole story line depressing and it reminded me of the guy who got all of his followers to kill themselves during the eclipse or comet sighting some years back. They poisoned themselves and had on purple sneakers and were going to ride the tail of the coment... or something, right?!! "Lauren" was overbearingly and simple minded. As noted by another reviewer, the characters are not very developed.

The most important thing though was the narrator! Boy was her voice aggrevating and I could hear her swallow quite often throughout the text being read!

I know there are a lot of long passages, however I have listened to many other books and this is the first time the narrator's voicebox expressed all of the annoyances that come with regular, non-professional exchanges, very fluid! Maybe it was the audio equipment that was not set properly, I am not sure. I just found that everytime I heard her swallow, I cringed..

Sorry and better luck next time!

9 people found this helpful

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  • Nathan Koren
  • 06-07-21

Great story and performance, marred by one flaw

The story is great and so is the narration. However there is a significant flaw in the production: at the end of every chapter, as soon as the last word finishes, the next chapter immediately begins, without even a fraction of a second between one word and the next. This is quite jarring, because the chapters end in a way that invites contemplation, but the instantaneous jump to the next chapter prevents it. would be great if Audible could fix this -- it should be a simple fix!

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  • Adam Ashworth
  • 09-06-21

Harrowing and yet hopeful

The struggles and strife feel close to the bone if you have a good concept of the history of humanity and religion. Gripping and heart wrenching.
I may just be a believer! God is change.
The narrator's are brilliant. Beautiful voices. Soothing.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Chas
  • 05-10-20

Dull

Hard to listen to with lots of talking and not much happening. The narrator was a bit annoying as well.

1 person found this helpful

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  • G. Rimmer
  • 02-08-20

fabulous

Loved this story. You can apply a lot of it to today's society which is a bit scary.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-11-22

This book grew on me

I didnt enjoy this book as much as the first one, although the story got better the further in I got. The narration was awkward at times and the awful editing between chapters was very off putting. This is a shame as the story itself turned out to be good.

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  • Ekaterina Butts
  • 14-02-22

powerful stuff about following what you're good at

heroine with unique voice, driven by a purpose. about following through on your talent and the price that brings. the uktraviolent vision of America feels like it could be next year, amazing considering it was written in 1998.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 25-10-21

epic

I love these books so much. truly amazing series. it's a epic sorry of a modern future dystopian america. books also have some spot on predictions. written in the 90s and in the 1st book ya have climate change,
rich escaping to Mars in a space x kinda thing and others and in the 2nd trump type president who sez the dry old I
unoriginal "make america great again." it's scary good defo one of my favourite stories of all time. up there with the dispossesed and Fahrenheit 451

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  • pooky
  • 24-10-21

Amazing rollercoaster

Beautiful, thought provoking and at times harsh and unpleasant. This concludes the narrative arc with the previous story “the parable of the sower” My comment is that the brilliant performances and chapters are destroyed by the editing, there’s no silence or gaps the audio just slams into the next chapter.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kevin Brown
  • 15-02-21

I wish I read both this and Sower years ago

What a writer. I'd love to see her books as films. Great writing. Loved it

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  • Chazmlb
  • 23-06-19

brilliant . read it now.

this should be a HBO series or film. a must read. you won't regret it!

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  • Philippa Clarkson
  • 12-02-21

A must read book, but bad narration

The previous book, Parable of the Sower, was read in a way that was damn near perfect. I was disappointed that they didn't continue with her for Lauren's voice in Parable of the Talents. This lady is much too chirpy, reads too fast and she just doesn't sound like Lauren at all or sound like she even understands what she's reading. The voice of Lauren's daughter is ok but the guy reading Bankole doesn't even sound black and again just doesn't sound right for the character. The editing is poor with some very obvious disturbances to pitch and timing. A disappointing effort on this important work, especially when the previous book was done so well.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 31-08-22

Parable of the Talents

A magnificent sequel. I was worried that it would be too hard diving into this straight after Parable of the Sower, but it wasn’t. What an incredible series. Required reading for everyone. This book will live with me.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 14-02-22

Fantasies or Prophecies?

Loved this story but feel like I may have just read someone's vision of the not to distant future which is also terrifying.
Really Enjoyed this book, If Earthseed was a real religion, I think I'd be converting!

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  • Rachel Macy
  • 22-12-21

I’m always sorry when Butler’s books end

I thought the performances were great and writing as usual so poignant

Love Patricia Floyd’s voice - it’s reminiscent of Michelle Obama’s cadences and accent

Sisi Johnson’s narration as the daughter is spot on and representative of a new generation

The story evokes Hand Maid’s tale before it became in-vogue since the show

Parable of Talents is a story that will continue to be relevant through time, and some elements of religious bigotry and abuses of power we wouldn’t have dreamed possible st the time of writing are alarmingly current given recent events in America that are being replicated in ultra-right conservative politics internationally

I’ll be re-listening to this one for sure

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  • Robyn
  • 02-04-21

An enunciation of intergenerational trauma

And the ways in which different parts of society deal with it. Even here, Elsewhere is offered as the main hope, even by those who continue to work with a broken Earth. Look to the oldest living culture on Earth to know that, long ago, the Universe was turned upside down. Our solutions are here.

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  • DeD
  • 03-05-20

Riveting and so painful.

Absolutely terrifying in this climate. I struggled through this book. I could not help but feel the pain the characters went through. I am so glad to have read this book. I feel changed.

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  • lavender
  • 02-07-19

Outstanding

true sf it shows us to ourselves using the near future. Frightening in its accurate depiction of our present written 25 years ago it offers hope of a better future.