Lilith's Brood: The Complete Xenogenesis Trilogy

Lilith's Brood: The Complete Xenogenesis Trilogy

by Octavia E. Butler

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The complete series about an alien species that could save humanity after nuclear apocalypse—or destroy it—from “one of science fiction’s finest writers” (The New York Times).

The newest stage in human evolution begins in outer space. Survivors of a cataclysmic nuclear war awake to find themselves being studied by the Oankali, tentacle-covered galactic travelers whose benevolent appearance hides their surprising plan for the future of mankind. The Oankali arrive not just to save humanity, but to bond with it—crossbreeding to form a hybrid species that can survive in the place of its human forebears, who were so intent on self-destruction. Some people resist, forming pocket communities of purebred rebellion, but many realize they have no choice. The human species inevitably expands into something stranger, stronger, and undeniably alien. From Hugo and Nebula award–winning author Octavia Butler, Lilith’s Brood is both a thrilling, epic adventure of man’s struggle to survive after Earth’s destruction, and a provocative meditation on what it means to be human.
 This ebook features an illustrated biography of Octavia E. Butler including rare images from the author’s estate.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781453271728
Publisher: Open Road Media
Publication date: 07/24/2012
Series: Xenogenesis Series
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 746
Sales rank: 19,200
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

Octavia E. Butler (1947–2006) was a bestselling and award-winning author, considered one of the best science fiction writers of her generation. She received both the Hugo and Nebula awards, and in 1995 became the first author of science fiction to receive a MacArthur Fellowship. She was also awarded the prestigious PEN Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. Her first novel, Patternmaster (1976), was praised both for its imaginative vision and for Butler’s powerful prose, and spawned four prequels, beginning with Mind of My Mind (1977) and finishing with Clay’s Ark (1984). Although the Patternist series established Butler among the science fiction elite, it was Kindred (1979), a story of a black woman who travels back in time to the antebellum South, that brought her mainstream success. In 1985, Butler won Nebula and Hugo awards for the novella “Bloodchild,” and in 1987 she published Dawn, the first novel of the Xenogenesis trilogy, about a race of aliens who visit earth to save humanity from itself. Fledgling (2005) was Butler’s final novel. She died at her home in 2006.     
Octavia E. Butler (1947–2006) was a bestselling and award-winning author, considered one of the best science fiction writers of her generation. She received both the Hugo and Nebula awards, and in 1995 became the first author of science fiction to receive a MacArthur Fellowship. She was also awarded the prestigious PEN Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. Her first novel, Patternmaster (1976), was praised both for its imaginative vision and for Butler’s powerful prose, and spawned four prequels, beginning with Mind of My Mind (1977) and finishing with Clay’s Ark (1984).

Although the Patternist series established Butler among the science fiction elite, it was Kindred (1979), a story of a black woman who travels back in time to the antebellum South, that brought her mainstream success. In 1985, Butler won Nebula and Hugo awards for the novella “Bloodchild,” and in 1987 she published Dawn, the first novel of the Xenogenesis trilogy, about a race of aliens who visit earth to save humanity from itself. Fledgling (2005) was Butler’s final novel. She died at her home in 2006.

Read an Excerpt

Lilith's Brood

By Octavia Butler


Copyright © 1987 Octavia E. Butler
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4532-7172-8



Still alive.

Alive ... again.

Awakening was hard, as always. The ultimate disappointment. It was a struggle to take in enough air to drive off nightmare sensations of asphyxiation. Lilith Iyapo lay gasping, shaking with the force of her effort. Her heart beat too fast, too loud. She curled around it, fetal, helpless. Circulation began to return to her arms and legs in flurries of minute, exquisite pains.

When her body calmed and became reconciled to reanimation, she looked around. The room seemed dimly lit, though she had never Awakened to dimness before. She corrected her thinking. The room did not only seem dim, it was dim. At an earlier Awakening, she had decided that reality was whatever happened, whatever she perceived. It had occurred to her—how many times?—that she might be insane or drugged, physically ill or injured. None of that mattered. It could not matter while she was confined this way, kept helpless, alone, and ignorant.

She sat up, swayed dizzily, then turned to look at the rest of the room.

The walls were light-colored—white or gray, perhaps. The bed was what it had always been: a solid platform that gave slightly to the touch and that seemed to grow from the floor. There was, across the room, a doorway that probably led to a bathroom. She was usually given a bathroom. Twice she had not been, and in her windowless, doorless cubicle, she had been forced simply to choose a corner.

She went to the doorway, peered through the uniform dimness, and satisfied herself that she did, indeed, have a bathroom. This one had not only a toilet and a sink, but a shower. Luxury.

What else did she have?

Very little. There was another platform perhaps a foot higher than the bed. It could have been used as a table, though there was no chair. And there were things on it. She saw the food first. It was the usual lumpy cereal or stew, of no recognizable flavor, contained in an edible bowl that would disintegrate if she emptied it and did not eat it.

And there was something beside the bowl. Unable to see it clearly, she touched it.

Cloth! A folded mound of clothing. She snatched it up, dropped it in her eagerness, picked it up again and began putting it on. A light-colored, thigh-length jacket and a pair of long, loose pants both made of some cool, exquisitely soft material that made her think of silk, though for no reason she could have stated, she did not think this was silk. The jacket adhered to itself and stayed closed when she closed it, but opened readily enough when she pulled the two front panels apart. The way they came apart reminded her of Velcro, though there was none to be seen. The pants closed in the same way. She had not been allowed clothing from her first Awakening until now. She had pleaded for it, but her captors had ignored her. Dressed now, she felt more secure than she had at any other time in her captivity. It was a false security she knew, but she had learned to savor any pleasure, any supplement to her self-esteem that she could glean.

Opening and closing her jacket, her hand touched the long scar across her abdomen. She had acquired it somehow between her second and third Awakenings, had examined it fearfully, wondering what had been done to her. What had she lost or gained, and why? And what else might be done? She did not own herself any longer. Even her flesh could be cut and stitched without her consent or knowledge.

It enraged her during later Awakenings that there had been moments when she actually felt grateful to her mutilators for letting her sleep through whatever they had done to her—and for doing it well enough to spare her pain or disability later.

She rubbed the scar, tracing its outline. Finally she sat on the bed and ate her bland meal, finishing the bowl as well, more for a change of texture than to satisfy any residual hunger. Then she began the oldest and most futile of her activities: a search for some crack, some sound of hollowness, some indication of a way out of her prison.

She had done this at every Awakening. At her first Awakening, she had called out during her search. Receiving no answer, she had shouted, then cried, then cursed until her voice was gone. She had pounded the walls until her hands bled and became grotesquely swollen.

There had not been a whisper of response. Her captors spoke when they were ready and not before. They did not show themselves at all. She remained sealed in her cubicle and their voices came to her from above like the light. There were no visible speakers of any kind, just as there was no single spot from which light originated. The entire ceiling seemed to be a speaker and a light—and perhaps a ventilator since the air remained fresh. She imagined herself to be in a large box, like a rat in a cage. Perhaps people stood above her looking down through one-way glass or through some video arrangement.


There was no answer. She had asked her captors when they began, finally, to talk to her. They had refused to tell her. They had asked her questions. Simple ones at first.

How old was she?

Twenty-six, she thought silently. Was she still only twenty-six? How long had they held her captive? They would not say.

Had she been married?

Yes, but he was gone, long gone, beyond their reach, beyond their prison.

Had she had children?

Oh god. One child, long gone with his father. One son. Gone. If there were an afterworld, what a crowded place it must be now.

Had she had siblings? That was the word they used. Siblings.

Two brothers and a sister, probably dead along with the rest of her family. A mother, long dead, a father, probably dead, various aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews ... probably dead.

What work had she done?

None. Her son and her husband had been her work for a few brief years. After the auto accident that killed them, she had gone back to college, there to decide what else she might do with her life.

Did she remember the war?

Insane question. Could anyone who had lived through the war forget it? A handful of people tried to commit humanicide. They had nearly succeeded. She had, through sheer luck, managed to survive—only to be captured by heaven knew who and imprisoned. She had offered to answer their questions if they let her out of her cubicle. They refused.

She offered to trade her answers for theirs: Who were they? Why did they hold her? Where was she? Answer for answer. Again, they refused.

So she refused them, gave them no answers, ignored the tests, physical and mental, that they tried to put her through. She did not know what they would do to her. She was terrified that she would be hurt, punished. But she felt she had to risk bargaining, try to gain something, and her only currency was cooperation.

They neither punished her nor bargained. They simply ceased to talk to her.

Food continued to appear mysteriously when she napped. Water still flowed from the bathroom faucets. The light still shone. But beyond that, there was nothing, no one, no sound unless she made it, no object with which to amuse herself. There were only her bed and table platforms. These would not come up from the floor, no matter how she abused them. Stains quickly faded and vanished from their surfaces. She spent hours vainly trying to solve the problem of how she might destroy them. This was one of the activities that helped keep her relatively sane. Another was trying to reach the ceiling. Nothing she could stand on put her within leaping distance of it. Experimentally, she threw a bowl of food—her best available weapon—at it. The food spattered against it, telling her it was solid, not some kind of projection or mirror trick. But it might not be as thick as the walls. It might even be glass or thin plastic.

She never found out.

She worked out a whole series of physical exercises and would have done them daily if she had had any way of distinguishing one day from the next or day from night. As it was, she did them after each of her longer naps.

She slept a lot and was grateful to her body for responding to her alternating moods of fear and boredom by dozing frequently. The small, painless awakenings from these naps eventually began to disappoint her as much as had the greater Awakening.

The greater Awakening from what? Drugged sleep? What else could it be? She had not been injured in the war; had not requested or needed medical care. Yet here she was.

She sang songs and remembered books she had read, movies and television shows she had seen, family stories she had heard, bits of her own life that had seemed so ordinary while she was free to live it. She made up stories and argued both sides of questions she had once been passionate about, anything!

More time passed. She held out, did not speak directly to her captors except to curse them. She offered no cooperation. There were moments when she did not know why she resisted. What would she be giving up if she answered her captors' questions? What did she have to lose beyond misery, isolation, and silence? Yet she held out.

There came a time when she could not stop talking to herself, when it seemed that every thought that occurred to her must be spoken aloud. She would make desperate efforts to be quiet but somehow the words began to spill from her again. She thought she would lose her sanity; had already begun to lose it. She began to cry.

Eventually, as she sat on the floor rocking, thinking about losing her mind, and perhaps talking about it too, something was introduced into the room—some gas, perhaps. She fell backward and drifted into what she had come to think of as her second long sleep.

At her next Awakening, whether it came hours, days, or years later, her captors began talking to her again, asking her the same questions as though they had not asked them before. This time she answered. She lied when she wanted to but she always responded. There had been healing in the long sleep. She Awoke with no particular inclination to speak her thoughts aloud or cry or sit on the floor and rock backward and forward, but her memory was unimpaired. She remembered all too well the long period of silence and isolation. Even an unseen inquisitor was preferable.

The questions became more complex, actually became conversations during later Awakenings. Once, they put a child in with her—a small boy with long, straight black hair and smoky-brown skin, paler than her own. He did not speak English and he was terrified of her. He was only about five years old—a little older than Ayre, her own son. Awakening beside her in this strange place was probably the most frightening thing the little boy had ever experienced.

He spent many of his first hours with her either hiding in the bathroom or pressed into the corner farthest from her. It took her a long time to convince him that she was not dangerous. Then she began teaching him English—and he began teaching her whatever language he spoke. Sharad was his name. She sang songs to him and he learned them instantly. He sang them back to her in almost accentless English. He did not understand why she did not do the same when he sang her his songs.

She did eventually learn the songs. She enjoyed the exercise. Anything new was treasure.

Sharad was a blessing even when he wet the bed they shared or became impatient because she failed to understand him quickly enough. He was not much like Ayre in appearance or temperament, but she could touch him. She could not remember when she had last touched someone. She had not realized how much she had missed it. She worried about him and wondered how to protect him. Who knew what their captors had done to him—or what they would do? But she had no more power than he did. At her next Awakening, he was gone. Experiment completed.

She begged them to let him come back, but they refused. They said he was with his mother. She did not believe them. She imagined Sharad locked alone in his own small cubicle, his sharp, retentive mind dulling as time passed.

Unconcerned, her captors began a complex new series of questions and exercises.


What would they do this time? Ask more questions? Give her another companion? She barely cared.

She sat on the bed, dressed, waiting, tired in a deep, emptied way that had nothing to do with physical weariness. Sooner or later, someone would speak to her.

She had a long wait. She had lain down and was almost asleep when a voice spoke her name.

"Lilith?" The usual, quiet, androgynous voice.

She drew a deep, weary breath. "What?" she asked. But as she spoke, she realized the voice had not come from above as it always had before. She sat up quickly and looked around. In one corner she found the shadowy figure of a man, thin and long-haired.

Was he the reason for the clothing, then? He seemed to be wearing a similar outfit. Something to take off when the two of them got to know each other better? Good god.

"I think," she said softly, "that you might be the last straw."

"I'm not here to hurt you," he said.

"No. Of course you're not."

"I'm here to take you outside."

Now she stood up, staring hard at him, wishing for more light. Was he making a joke? Laughing at her?

"Outside to what?"

"Education. Work. The beginning of a new life."

She took a step closer to him, then stopped. He scared her somehow. She could not make herself approach him. "Something is wrong," she said. "Who are you?"

He moved slightly. "And what am I?"

She jumped because that was what she had almost said.

"I'm not a man," he said. "I'm not a human being."

She moved back against the bed, but did not sit down. "Tell me what you are."

"I'm here to tell you ... and show you. Will you look at me now?"

Since she was looking at him—it—she frowned. "The light—"

"It will change when you're ready."

"You're ... what? From some other world?"

"From a number of other worlds. You're one of the few English speakers who never considered that she might be in the hands of extraterrestrials."

"I did consider it," Lilith whispered. "Along with the possibility that I might be in prison, in an insane asylum, in the hands of the FBI, the CIA, or the KGB. The other possibilities seemed marginally less ridiculous."

The creature said nothing. It stood utterly still in its corner, and she knew from her many Awakenings that it would not speak to her again until she did what it wished—until she said she was ready to look at it, then, in brighter light, took the obligatory look. These things, whatever they were, were incredibly good at waiting. She made this one wait for several minutes, and not only was it silent, it never moved a muscle. Discipline or physiology?

She was not afraid. She had gotten over being frightened by "ugly" faces long before her capture. The unknown frightened her. The cage she was in frightened her. She preferred becoming accustomed to any number of ugly faces to remaining in her cage.

"All right," she said. "Show me."

The lights brightened as she had supposed they would, and what had seemed to be a tall, slender man was still humanoid, but it had no nose—no bulge, no nostrils—just flat, gray skin. It was gray all over—pale gray skin, darker gray hair on its head. The hair grew down around its eyes and ears and at its throat. There was so much hair across the eyes that she wondered how the creature could see. The long, profuse ear hair seemed to grow out of the ears as well as around them. Above, it joined the eye hair, and below and behind, it joined the head hair. The island of throat hair seemed to move slightly, and it occurred to her that that might be where the creature breathed—a kind of natural tracheostomy.

Lilith glanced at the humanoid body, wondering how humanlike it really was. "I don't mean any offense," she said, "but are you male or female?"

"It's wrong to assume that I must be a sex you're familiar with," it said, "but as it happens, I'm male."

Good. "It" could become "he" again. Less awkward.

"You should notice," he said, "that what you probably see as hair isn't hair at all. I have no hair. The reality seems to bother humans."


"Come closer and look."

She did not want to be any closer to him. She had not known what held her back before. Now she was certain it was his alienness, his difference, his literal unearthliness. She found herself still unable to take even one more step toward him.

"Oh god," she whispered. And the hair—the whatever-it-was—moved. Some of it seemed to blow toward her as though in a wind—though there was no stirring of air in the room.

She frowned, strained to see, to understand. Then, abruptly, she did understand. She backed away, scrambled around the bed and to the far wall. When she could go no farther, she stood against the wall, staring at him.


Some of the "hair" writhed independently, a nest of snakes startled, driven in all directions.

Revolted, she turned her face to the wall.

"They're not separate animals," he said. "They're sensory organs. They're no more dangerous than your nose or eyes. It's natural for them to move in response to my wishes or emotions or to outside stimuli. We have them on our bodies as well. We need them in the same way you need your ears, nose, and eyes."


Excerpted from Lilith's Brood by Octavia Butler. Copyright © 1987 Octavia E. Butler. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Adulthood Rites,
A Biography of Octavia Butler,

Customer Reviews

Lilith's Brood 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 50 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I cannot express how compelling and captivating these books were. I do not understand how someone can write so beautifully and with such imagination. I am quite sad after finishing, in that funny way where you feel as if something is now ending and will not be restored. It is always odd to admit, but these books have forever changed me (in the same way some of my other favorite novels have), and I hope that Butler was able to know before her death that her work had true meaning for some, being a source of complex knowledge and comfort and an affective turbulence that can only come about when you feel you are in the story itself and you crave the imagined world after the pages stop turning. If ever you are looking for a series of novels that is radical and vibrant, this is it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read Kindred about three years ago and loved it--kept saying that I would pick up another Butler book one of these days. Well, this trilogy was my next Butler purchase--just saw it in B&N a couple days ago and said--three books in one--sounds like I deal. Let me tell you--this was much more of a bargain than I realized. These stories are amazing--entertaining, socially challenging, critical, scary, exciting, the list goes on. I read one a day--couldn't get enough. After each installment, I was breathless and hungry for the next. THIS IS A MUST HAVE. Regardless of what type of books you normally read--this is a great set to own. I will be reading it again soon and look forward to sharing it with friends!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book just to try a new Sci-fi author and I was amazed. I was travelling and figured the three in one should at least keep me occupied for a couple of days....I received a very pleasant surprise....I read it each night before I went to bed. I fell asleep reading it....not because it was boring book but because I was so immersed in the writer's world that I read until I would fall out. It is a great book....Three in one....each with a little something new to discover. I am definitely a fan now....
Guest More than 1 year ago
And this is her best work, hands down. These three stories (I am ordering them together NOW!) are utterly enthralling and completely original. There is nothing else anywhere like it. Ms. Butler is also an excellent writer - an unbeatable combination - truly original, a natural story teller and a brilliant writer. A must have.
Sonechka More than 1 year ago
Truly exceptional, unusual, and creative science fiction! I was hooked from the start. Octavia Butler's writing is so unique from other 'typical' science fiction writers. Books like these truly prove why we need authors from diverse backgrounds - it opens our minds to whole new concepts.  She is so intelligent about human nature, able to imagine and create a believable new world, able to make us love the most alien of creatures like they are family. I was sad when I stopped reading, and I dreamed of it in my sleep...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This collection has remained a favorite for more than 20 years. Octavia Butler is truly unique and incredibly imaginative. This book had me hooked from page one. Phenomenal read. I highly recommend.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am so sad my journey is over. Seven hundred pages of pure enjoyment! Butler has created a world so full of life and love and anger and choices and everything. The characters were very well developed, the themes are endless and I truly felt transported into an alternate reality -- Intoxicating!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read it once, and again, and again. This collection is a 'must have.' I discover more themes and messages everytime I read it. It's a study of human behavior and psychology, a science fiction novel, and a beautiful story. It is full of suspense, erotic passages, hope, and horror. I was heartbroken when it went out of print and could not share it with all of my friends. Now it is back, so don't miss your chance. This is the classic trilogy complete in one volume: Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Best thing I read all year. I could not put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
LeeHallison on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Excellent science fiction, this isa compilation of three books about an alien society with truly alien physiology and customs. Octavia Butler outdid herself - this is one of my favorite works.Her writing is excellent and her imagination will amaze you.
tronella on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't think I can really summarise the plot of this very well, but... it's a book about aliens and humans. The aliens save the humans who survived after most of them died in a huge world war involving giant bombs, but the price of saving them is ... horrible. "The Oankali are biological traders, driven to share genes with other intelligent species, changing both parties." (wikipedia) Well, the survivors end up with the choice: join with the aliens and have tentacular babies, or be sterilised and live on Earth until you die. The aliens creepily love humans because cancer teaches them to be able to regrow limbs. This is great scifi, with the details all thought out, and emotionally manipulative in the best way. The book is mainly about the humans who do choose to stay with the Oankali, and as you read you start to think that things are actually pretty good for them, but every time I started to accept the aliens as non-creepy it would reveal some horrible coercive element of the relationships between an alien and its human mates and I'd be horrified all over again.That is really incoherent. Basically: awesome, creepy scifi, which I enjoyed even more because of its disturbing parts.
PhoebeReading on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lilith's Brood, actually an omnibus of three novels (Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago) by Octavia Butler, is amazing. These three works are easily the best science fiction novels I've read in the past several years, and the first two are certain contenders for the best novels I've read in years, period.They tell the story of a woman named Lilith, who is resurrected on an alien ship nearly three hundred years after a nuclear apocalypse, as well as the stories of her half-human, half-alien children. Lilith herself is a strong, determined hero--she often makes choices that not only seem unsavory to the people that surround her but are sometimes savory to the reader as well. However, her motivations (self-preservation above all else) always remain clear.But the real centerpiece here are Butler's aliens, the Oankali, a three-gendered, space faring race engaged in an intergalactic gene trade. What they do with the aliens they encounter, including humans, constitutes nothing more than an alien invasion, but because they integrate the species they annihilate into their society--and their sexual practices--they become both terrifying and sympathetic.There's no easy way to say this: the Oankali drug and rape humans to intermingle their genetic material. After this contact is established, normal sexual activity becomes repellent. The sex here, though there's never any physical contact, is really terrifying. The Oankali ooloi, the third-gendered aliens who facilitate these liaisons, are the definition of smooth operators. Because the gene trade is so ingrained in their culture, they are unable to see the ethical problems with their actions. To them, they have saved humanity from annihilation--that pure homo sapiens will die out, and that the Earth will be left a wasteland when the children of man go off to continue the gene trade elsewhere, is largely irrelevant.Wonderfully, the reader's perception of this exchange changes over the course of the three novels. In the first novel, told largely from Lilith's perspective, the Oankali seem to be little more than diabolical, yet disturbingly seductive, creatures. The reader deeply sympathizes with Lilith and the other humans who must make sense of a new life from the vantage of a cloistered space ship, with no possible escape in sight. The second novel, Adulthood Rites, tells the story of Lilith's first Oankali son, who struggles to reconcile both the Oankali and human sides of himself. Despite his place in the alien society, his characterization and motivations seem more firmly human, even as he undergoes a metamorphosis to become a strange, tentacled creature.The third novel, Imago represents the largest perspective shift. Unlike the other novels, it's told in the first person and weaves the story of Jodahs, Lilith's first ooloi child. Jodahs is almost completely alien to us in motivation--although he's different from the ooloi who came before, his primary interests lie in seducing humans. The strength of Butler's character building here is most strongly evident: Jodahs still manages to be sympathetic, somehow.Unfortunately, the pacing of the third book is not quite up to snuff when compared to the first two. In the first novel, particularly, Butler seemed unafraid to let wide gaps of time pass undescribed to the reader. This created great tension and contributed to the horrific, nightmarish feeling of the story. The second novel, similarly, included large chronological gaps as well as drastic setting shifts that contributed well to the half-human, half-alien nature of its protagonist. But the third novel was a bit more pedestrian in its construction, and (particularly as I wasn't able to put Lilith's Brood down for about 10 days until I had finished all 800-some odd pages of it), felt a little rehashed by the conclusion. But despite this, it was still a cut above most sci-fi novels in terms of prose, characterization, and species buildi
sturlington on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Octavia Butler¿s Xenogenesis novels were first compiled into one volume in 1989, but that compilation is now out of print. As with Seed to Harvest, Grand Central Publishing has reissued the compilation in an attractive trade paperback to capture new readers. And I¿m glad they did, because I probably wouldn¿t have read these books otherwise.When I finished Lilith¿s Brood, I actually wasn¿t sure whether I liked it or not, but I thought about it a great deal, which I think is a sign of a book worth reading. The underlying theme disturbed me, partly because I didn¿t find much hope in it, partly because I found myself agreeing with the series¿ assessment: that humankind is fated by our own biology to destroy ourselves.Lilith¿s Brood includes three novels: Dawn, Adulthood Rites and Imago, which comprise the Xenogenesis series. The story starts 250 years after a devastating nuclear war. The few human survivors have been picked up by an alien spacecraft and kept in stasis while the aliens, the Oankali, study them. Lilith is one of the first to be awakened and to be integrated into an Oankali family. She is being trained to awaken others, to introduce them to their new reality and their alien hosts, and to reveal the Oankali¿s plan: to produce Oankali-human offspring, a brand-new hybrid species.The Oankali are genetic engineers and reproduce by genetic manipulation. They have no disease or old age, and they can communicate with one another at the cellular level. They survive by traveling through space and finding species with promising genetic traits to mate with, such as humans. However, this means that humans can no longer reproduce with one another; the Oankalis have disabled their fertility. Also, when the Oankali leave, they will consume the remainder of Earth¿s resources for the journey.Of course, there is rebellion. Many humans choose to live long, childless lives rather than join with the Oankali. Lilith does not, because having been integrated with an Oankali family, she has become physically dependent on them. The next two books follow the lives of two of her children, as the Oankali-human interbreeding progresses. I don¿t think I would have been compelled to keep reading the second novel if it were a separate sequel; each book on its own seems somewhat incomplete.Throughout all three novels, the humans ¿ living in primitive conditions on Earth ¿ are portrayed as without hope, a species that, if allowed to reproduce, would attempt to destroy itself again within a few generations. Humans are hierarchical and competitive, unlike Oankali. As individuals, they can be intelligent and compassionate. But as a group, they are violent, destructive and territorial. Even when the aliens allow some humans to start a new colony on Mars and have children, the Oankali hold out no hope for their future.That¿s what makes this series so disturbing. The only hope posited is essentially that a greater power from the outside will find us, cure all our diseases and create with us a better people than we can ever hope to be. We are unable to cure ourselves, doomed by our own biology to always be fighting and murdering one another. I look at the news every day and feel that this is true. But I don¿t want it to be true. I want humans to be capable of evolving past whatever impulse causes us to want to destroy one another. I want us to save ourselves, not look to some alien or god to save us.But if I¿m looking for that kind of resolution, I won¿t find it in Lilith¿s Brood. Still, I¿m glad I read it. Even if I don¿t ultimately agree with Butler¿s conclusions, her writing made me think about and question some of my own assumptions.
jshillingford on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Butler's Xenogenesis trilogy has been collected and released in this new omnibus edition as "Lilith's Brood" (names after the matriarch of the new race). The three books, "Dawn," "Adulthood Rites," and "Imago," are so intertwined they read like one book anyway, and the larger size is better for more comfortable reading. Because, you'll be unable to put the book down once you start! Butler's writes compelling science fiction rooted in social values and examination of modern society. Her writing is complex, fully fleshed out and engrossing. I cared about the characters, was sometimes disturbed by the story, and completely sucked into her world. I have enjoyed many of her books, but these are still my favorite.Mankind brought itself to the edge of extinction with nuclear holocaust. It is at this moment that the Oankali, an alien race, decide to make contact to "help" us. When Lilith Iyapo is "awakened," she finds that she has been chosen to revive her fellow humans in small groups & train them to survive in the wilderness that earth has become. But the aliens cannot help humanity without altering it forever. Our salvation may also be our utter destruction as a species. What does it truly mean to be human?Though this is science fiction, it reaches a much broader audience. My mother, who does not read scifi at all, enjoyed the trilogy (in fact, all of Butler's work) as much as I did. I cannot recommend this series, and this author, enough.
jlparent on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
3 novels in one- this is excellent science fiction and I highly recommend it. Humans have driven themselves to extinction and aliens rescue a few. These aliens survive by genetic 'trading' and start manipulating the cellular builds of the humans they have saved, merging the two. Within that broad story, there is so much to take in and get lost in, I don't know how to separate it out without giving away the best parts of the story. I'll just say: read it.
dreamweaversunited on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really wanted to like this. I'm a huge feminist and I've heard Butler writes some of the best feminist science fiction. I also liked the biological aspects of their technology, from the purely sci-fi angle. Except then there was tentacle mind rape, and I had to hide the book far, far away where I would never have to see it and have those terrible images seared into my brain all over again.
derekstaff01 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Butler does a fascinating job of exploring what it is to be human and the value of what humanity is, with all its brilliance and flaws, by proposing a scenario in which humanity is doomed to extinction unless it merges with another species. By accepting, are they becoming less, or becoming more? Butler does a masterful job of presenting all sides of the issue. The story and characterizations are rich and rewarding. Extremely thought provoking.
Excalibur on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book passes a disturbing judgement on humanity and reminds us what it truly means (and what it might take) to evolve. Throughout this novel, we are forced to examine what parts of ourselves are inextricably human and whether or not our humanity is worth sacrificing for the betterment of all. Butler asks us to wonder whether human nature itself is evil, and if so, are we willing to give up our humanity to transcend those parts of ourselves that are intrinsically corrupt.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Everything this woman writes is PURE GOLD.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fantastically written sci-fi that truly makes you think...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read it more times than I want to admit and every time I'm drawn back in. I dream of the ooloi and the future she envisions and hope one day it will be or at least the world will be more accepting of differences. Great author
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Intresting ideas, wonderful plot, well developed characters...I loved every last word!!!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago