Sometimes books resonate with us differently each time we read them. In author N.K. Jemisin's foreword for the latest edition of Octavia Butler's classic Parable of the Sower, Jemisin details how the novel impacted her each time she's read it.
First released in 1993, Parable of the Sower is a post-apocalyptic novel which takes place in 2020s California during a time where issues like climate change plague citizens. Insert *yikes* emoji here. The story follows a young, black, disabled girl named Lauren Olamina. In the foreword for the latest edition of the book (coming out this month), Hugo-winning science fiction author Jemisin discussed how the novel stood out when she first read it.
"Most of my favorite speculative works, like Star Wars and Star Trek and the 'golden age' novels of science fiction, depicted a future that was shiny and exciting...for white guys," she writes. "The rest of us were present only in token form, if we were present at all. Usually, we simply did not exist."
But the importance and impact of the book didn't fully sink in. She "wasn't ready." Jemisin goes on to discuss how reading Parable of the Sower in three points of her life, she understood it differently, ultimately realizing just how relevant the book remains today.
"By [the late 2000s] I'd begun to understand just how rare, and how strange, the mere idea of thinking about the future was, for those of us from marginalized backgrounds," Jemisin said.
And in her final reading, the one she just finished, she finds hope in the story of Lauren Olamina—a hope desperately needed.
"Like Lauren, these days I am comforted not by the platitudes I was raised with, but by the idea that change is a tool I can shape to my advantage if I am clever and lucky."