Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler

Once again Butler has given me an unexpected ending to what I thought was going to be an ‘another one of those’ story.

As I’ve mention in previous posts, the story is about two immortal and powerful characters with opposing desires. With this format in most writers hands you’d expect that one character would be ‘good’ and the other ‘evil’ and they’d have a battle of some kind.

As with the Xenogenesis series, though, that’s not how it turned out. Although the characters did battle, in a way, it was a battle of wills. Not a ‘who can kill who’ but who can influence who to do what they want. At first I was slightly annoyed by this, because one character the ‘villain’ is so powerful that he could instantly kill the ‘hero’ at any time he chose, but doesn’t because of various reasons. First she’s useful to him, then she makes him need her for other reasons, but still he could kill her at any time. Which at first made me kind of annoyed, that she was living by the whim of someone else.

But, if you’re going to look at it that way, then I am only alive by the ‘whims’ of everyone around me. Anyone, if they really wanted to, could kill me. I’d have no way to be prepared for it at all. They don’t because they are good humans, and also care about me. In this story, instead of fighting with violence, the hero prevents the villain (I am using these terms very loosely for convenience) from killing her by finding, and bringing out the human side of him, and by making him care for her. She can’t escape him, or get rid of him, so she finds a way to live with him.

This, so far, has been the theme in the Butler books I’ve read. People don’t solve problems (not the main ones, anyway[the exception being the climax of Kindred]) by fighting, but with compromise and adaption.

Interesting read, and a great author!


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