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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Book review: Mind of My Mind (Patternmaster #2) by Octavia E. Butler

 


Book links: AmazonGoodreads

OCTAVIA E. BUTLER (1947–2006) was the renowned author of numerous ground-breaking novels, including Kindred, Wild Seed, and Parable of the Sower. Recipient of the Locus, Hugo and Nebula awards, and a PEN Lifetime Achievement Award for her body of work, in 1995 she became the first science-fiction writer to receive the MacArthur Fellowship ‘Genius Grant’. A pioneer of her genre, Octavia’s dystopian novels explore myriad themes of Black injustice, women’s rights, global warming and political disparity, and her work is taught in over two hundred colleges and universities nationwide.

Genre: Sci-fi First Published: 1977 Page count: 169 



As a whole, the Patternamaster series is unforgettable. Set in California, Mind of My Mind shows how the Patternist society (and patterns) came to be. It revolves around Doro - the fearsome being obsessed with breeding superhumans for generations and one of his daughters, Mary. Doro is virtually immortal - though he must change bodies frequently to survive.

Mary comes from a poor biracial family. After surviving her "activation," she starts to master telepathic abilities. When she learns to link with other telepaths (and "own" them in the process), she quickly builds a strong community (almost a hive-mind ). Doro isn't happy about this, especially because Mary disagrees with him about using violence and cruelty to achieve her goals. Besides, she acquires too much power.

I love Butler's concise, almost clinical style. It never gets in the way of the story. Plus, all the books in the series are relatively short and quick reads. Butler's unsparing portrayal of mental and physical torment can overwhelm some readers. I don't mind, but anyone considering starting the series should know that it contains recurring themes of breeding humans (through incest, sometimes rape) and an imbalance of power that leads to much suffering mentioned on the page. Doro's obsession with creating superhumans leads to him having sex with his children or his children's children. Take Mary - Doro is her father and lover. Someone she loves and hates. The emotional lives in the Patternmaster series are extremely complicated.

Doro breeds his superhumans, and he doesn't care if they survive or have a good life. Don't expect happy endings and carefree adventures; almost everyone here suffers, and no one is wholly relatable. Doro has a plan, and nothing will stop him. Mary is more compassionate, but her compassion has limits, and she doesn't hesitate to kill or maim to achieve her goals.

Mind of My Mind is one of Butler's earlier works and is less polished than her later books. It's not perfect, but it impressed me with its unsettling look at developing a telepathic hive mind. I also loved the execution, the good pacing, and the stunning finale.

Well worth a read as a standalone and a must for fans of the series.

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