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I had been looking forward to rereading this. When I first read it, shortly after publication, the dystopian setting of a near-future USA torn apart by social conflict and religious extremism seemed a bit far-fetched; in these days of the Tea Party, Rick Santorum, the Citizen's United ruling and today's anticipated judgement on healthcare, it doesn't seem so unrealistic after all. I must say that the detail of the philosophical ideas of Lauren Olamina, the central character, rather sail past me - it's a compassionate, pro-technology belief system, which I think is all you need to know. But basically this is a story of a community carefully built and brutally destroyed, of bigotry and violence eventually overcome at huge personal costs. The humanity of the tale and the vivid detail of the setting are the ingredients which make it remarkable.

Parable of the Talents won the 2000 Nebula for Best Novel. The other nominees which I have read are Ken MacLeod's The Cassini Division, George R.R. Martin's A Clash of Kings, and Vernor Vinge's A Deepness in the Sky (which won that year's Hugo). The other two, which I haven't read, were Mission Child by Maureen F. McHugh and Mockingbird by Sean Stewart. I reckon this is one of those years when the Nebulas recognised a novel that thoroughly deserved it.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 28th, 2012 12:56 pm (UTC)
Agreed, though that was a good year. I haven't read Mockingbird, but Mission Child was very good.
Jun. 28th, 2012 05:56 pm (UTC)
I had pretty much the same reaction all around to this one (and its sequel). Things that seemed utterly impossible just ten years ago now seem frighteningly more in sync with the apparent desire of so many people to enshrine cruelty as our foremost national virtue here in the US. I actually had a heated argument with my ex over the film version of Minority Report, which came out around the time I read these books... among the thousand things I found ludicrous about the film, I was especially exercised about how imprisoning people indefinitely for crimes they had not yet committed would never, ever fly in the United States. HA. (uncomfortable sobbing noises)

I found Lauren's philosophy/religion to be shallow and annoying, and it made the book somewhat impenetrable for me, until I realized that Butler herself didn't need (or even seem) to be on Lauren's side in the matter. Quite a change from the usual SFnal presentation of messianic notions as fait accompli no matter how dippy and inadequate they are.
Jun. 28th, 2012 07:49 pm (UTC)
Indeed. At least I was wrong about the supreme court judgement on health care...
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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