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Kiln People
Beth Meacham, David Brin

Dawn

Dawn - Octavia E. Butler I have been squirreling away Octavia Butler books. I consider myself an avid fan of her works yet I have only read two of her novels so far ([b:Wild Seed|52318|Wild Seed (Patternmaster, #1)|Octavia E. Butler|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1344271475s/52318.jpg|1330000] and [b:Kindred|60931|Kindred|Octavia E. Butler|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1339423248s/60931.jpg|1049657]), and the last one was sometime last year. My rationale is that there are only a finite number of Butler books available to read as the lady is no longer with us. If I binge on them now there will not be any more new Butler books to read and I will only have rereads to look forward to. As I love both [b:Wild Seed|52318|Wild Seed (Patternmaster, #1)|Octavia E. Butler|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1344271475s/52318.jpg|1330000] and [b:Kindred|60931|Kindred|Octavia E. Butler|https://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1339423248s/60931.jpg|1049657] very much her books are safe bets for me, so I may well save them for a rainy day.

Dawn is volume 1 of Ms. Butler’s Lilith's Brood trilogy. I actually bought the omnibus edition (containing all three volumes) but as I have just finished Dawn I thought I’d review this first as a single book. It is the story of Lilith lyapo (the L in the surname is not capitalized for some reason) who wakes up from suspended animation in a spaceship to find herself a captive of an alien species called the Oankali who train her to be the leader of other captive humans in a project to repopulate previously devastated Earth. That seems very nice of them but of course they have their own agenda…

That is as much of a synopsis as you can expect from me, any more and I’d spoil the book. The best thing about this book for me is the world building. I do love to read about biotechnology where living organisms are used for everything instead of metallic and plastic. Living spaceships, living houses and furniture etc. So I was happy to immerse in this world (well, ship) that Butler created in such vivid details.

Beside the immense imagination that goes into her sf books Ms. Butler is also adept at creating believable characters that we can invest our emotion in. The underlying themes of captivity without imprisonment and subjugation by a relatively benign master seem to be common in her works (at least from what I have read so far). Another major theme in this book is “what does it mean to be human?” Lilith is genetically modified internally to enhance her strength, healing and other abilities, once the other humans find out they accuse her of no longer being human. Later another person is found to be modified and summarily murdered in spite of never having done anybody any harm. It makes me wonder about the term “inhumane”, does it have anything to do with humanity? Is the murderer more human but less humane?

The book ends on an intriguing note though not a cliff hanger. I am looking forward to read the rest of the saga. As always Octavia Butler's prose is elegant, smooth and very readable, another major attraction for me is that her compassion always shines through her work and while reading her books I sometime feel a little melancholic that she is not around any more to make the world a better place.

Note
Video clip: Author N. K. Jemisin celebrating Dawn by Octavia Butler