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Seed To Harvest    by Octavia E. Butler order for
Seed To Harvest
by Octavia E. Butler
Order:  USA  Can
Grand Central, 2007 (2007)
* *   Reviewed by Alex Telander

Collected for the first time are all four of Octavia E. Butler's Patternist novels: Wild Seed, Mind of My Mind, Clay's Ark, and Patternmaster. Now you get to see this unique world from its beginnings hundreds of years ago to its conclusion hundreds and thousands of years in the future. Seed to Harvest will delight and terrify you in a manner that only Butler can achieve.

Our main character and quasi hero is Doro, who is more like a god - or perhaps a devil - than a human. Doro is immortal. Only, to continue living forever he has to consume other people's souls and become those people, inhabiting their bodies. He has been doing this for a thousand years, when he meets Anyanwu in seventeenth century Africa. She is a shapeshifter and has other unique powers, such as the ability to heal by a kiss, and an incredible strength. Wild Seed is the story of their meeting. They get to know each other, fall in love, and travel to New Amsterdam, where they start a family of gifted children. Along the way they find others with special abilities - Doro believes their existence is somehow linked to his history and his own powers. But Doro is also creating descendants to ensure his own survival, so he will have more victims to keep him immortal. Wild Seed ends with the family now quite large, when Anyanwu - unable to live with Doro any more - leaves him.

Close to the present day in Mind of My Mind, Anyanwu has changed her name to Emma. She wants to separate herself from her past, but is unable to. Doro now lives in Forsyth, California, where his family continues to grow with new individuals and unique powers. It is here that the Pattern begins to emerge - of a large family in constant struggle with the paternal master, Doro. The book ends with the final death of Doro, who is sealed in his current body, cremated and no longer able to take another, ending the line. But the Pattern is not finished.

In the twenty-third century, the spaceship, known as Clay's Ark, returns to Earth carrying an alien and a sickness that begins to infect everyone. But at the same time a new race is formed out of the sickness, and from those on the spaceship, who become known as Clayarcs. As time passes, they establish themselves as a formidable force on the planet. In Patternmaster, the mighty conclusion to this long series, the Patternists and Clayarcs fight against each other in a distant future when evolution has made them look barely human. This is a hostile and tough world, where only one race can triumph - which one will it be?

In the stories in Seed to Harvest, Butler has weaved many emotions and issues that are ever present in the current world - on the subjects of race and evolution, and what it means to be human. The collection merely underlines that Octavia E. Butler was one of the best science fiction writers of her time.

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