Diamond Age 75 (15)
June 23, 2019
One in a series of posts about the 75 best science fiction novels published during the genre’s Diamond Age era (from 1984–2003, according to HILOBROW’s periodization schema). For Josh Glenn’s complete Diamond Age Sci-Fi 75 list, click here.
Octavia E. Butler‘s Xenogenesis adventure Adulthood Rites (1988).
Thirty years after the events of Dawn (1987), the population of Earth is divided into communities of Oankali (a seemingly benign, tentacled alien species that travels through the universe seeking partner species with whom to “trade” their own genes) and their half-human, half-Oankali offspring, and sterilized human resisters. Akin, the half-Oankali son of Lilith Iyapo, ambivalent protagonist of Dawn, is raised by five parents representing three genders — the Oankali “third sex” is known as the ooloi — and two species. Captured by human resisters, because (for the moment) he looks fully human, Akin finds them as horrifying and as compelling as his mother found the Oankali; for the first time, he finds value in his human side, and learns the value of preserving human culture. (Progressive types are often counseled to try to understand Make America Great Again types, and in large part that is the theme of this book.) Later, Akin becomes an emissary traveling back and forth between Oankali/hybrid and resister villages — and advocates for the resisters to have their fertility restored and to be sent to a terraformed Mars to form their own civilization. But will humankind always self-destruct, if left to their own devices? And will the resisters continue to accept Akin’s assistance once he begins to metamorphose into an adult?
Fun fact: This is the second installment in Butler’s Xenogenesis trilogy; it is followed by Imago (1989). Nominated for the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.
DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI at HILOBROW: William Gibson | Bruce Sterling | Margaret Atwood | Ann Nocenti | Frank Miller | Alan Moore | Octavia E. Butler | Iain M. Banks | Grant Morrison | Neal Stephenson | Jonathan Lethem | Charles Burns | China Miéville.
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