Read Dawn by Octavia E. Butler Online


The Oankali had healed dying Earth and saved its survivors, choosing Lilith Iyapo to lead their return. But the Oankali demanded a price and, with their expertise in DNA manipulation, planned to alter humans for interbreeding. First in the Xenogenesis series....

Title : Dawn
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780445205161
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 248 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Dawn Reviews

  • Kevin Kelsey
    2018-12-03 14:12

    I've never really read anything like this before. It had some of the most alien aliens I've ever come across, and it spends a lot of time exporing their physiology, gender, sexuality, and society, all parts that I really enjoyed.The whole thing is very unnerving, blunt, and extremely uncomfortable in places. This novel very much felt like the first third of a larger story, so I'll definitely be finishing this series.

  • Zanna
    2018-12-03 09:56

    I was utterly compelled. When I got to the end, I was so hungry for the next book I was actually frustrated not to have it to hand. The last book I enjoyed nearly this much was The Lathe of Heaven so I guess I need to give in and accept that speculative fiction with feminist consciouness is my true love.I love that Lilith is angry with her captors, that she doesn't lose her drive to be free, ever. In many ways I felt the book was about consent - what does consent really mean when your options are constricted, when you know you are powerless? Lilith uses violence - for the first time - to prevent a rape. The victim was kicking and screaming in the grip of her captors, who urged 'it's your duty, you don't have the right to resist'. Lilith says 'nobody here is property, nobody has the right of use of anyone else's body' but this assertion is almost ironic considering the group's predicament. Butler does not spend time giving Black Feminism 101. Come on reader, you can do that work on your own. The material is here: control of fertility, stolen children, Lilith's weary expectation of forced breeding. The nuances of love and male violence. Even the misgendering of the Oankali has feminist resonance - the ooloi are read as male because they appear in authoritative roles and because they arouse men's sexual jealousy. Butler takes her investigation of consent to a whole new level through the Oankali's ability to read human chemistry but not thought, to the idea of chemical consent.I love that Butler takes emotion seriously at all levels and fills Lilith's dilemma with conflict, with arguments for both sides. The Oankali have saved the species, regenerated the destroyed Earth, they are culturally attractive. When they offend human scruples, they almost know not what they do; sexual shame is alien to them. We are not expected to accept the assertions of Jdaya and Nikanj 'I know you, I've studied you...' this is the White man's voice, and the epistemology it rests on is challenged in the way the story unfolds: you've studied my history, but you haven't lived it, so you don't know it as I do. You've studied my body, but you can't read the whole of who I am there. On the other hand - how dispiritingly disappointing the other awakened humans are! One of the hardest things to accept about the book is its pessimism about humanity. It was impossible not to agree that the humans need help; the argument in my heart is how to feel about the price.I wouldn't have fought for my freedom at all I think, which is a bit worrying. Bring the Oankali I say! I am already a vegan anarcha-eco-feminist; I am ready for the non-sexist non-hierarchical life-venerating invaders. Butler won't countenance such uncritical acceptance. The Oankali are not anarchists in my view, because they coerce, not vegans, because they use other animals (including humans). They are compelled, as we are, though differently, by their genes. I am reminded of Daniel C Dennett's writing on genes and their agendas - when Jdaya says I am as committed to the trade (of genes) as you are to breathing, I don't quite believe - I think it may be closer to the commitment to breeding. This leads me to a big question her book left me with - what about me? I'm not heterosexual. This possibility of sexual diversity among the Oankali (who are of three sexes) is not mentioned, but the same is true of the human group. Butler tells us 'there were no voluntary vegetarians' but is silent on the possibility of same-sex desire. Maybe I'll find out in the next book. I can hardly wait!

  • Carol.
    2018-11-24 13:50

    As one of the earliest African-American female science fiction writers, Octavia Butler is a must for anyone who reads sci-fi. Fourteen of her works were nominated for the Locus Award during her career, including each book in the Xenogenesis series, but she only had one win, the novelette “Bloodchild.” Dawn is the first book in the Xenogenesis series, published in 1987, and is a science fiction classic. It achieves what the best in science fiction has to offer: by looking at humanity’s interaction with an alien species, it examines what it means to be human and to be emotionally intimate. It’s a powerful story, uncomfortable in character and theme, and yet I can’t recommend it enough. ******************************More at my favorite sites, where no amount of trolling and flagging will get my reviews removed:

  • Lyn
    2018-12-15 08:06

    Aliens save the human race from themselves.Octavia Butler’s 1987 novel Dawn begins her Xenogenesis trilogy (the series was titled Lilith's Brood in the Omnibus that was published in 2000). She would continue the story with Adulthood Rites in 1988 and complete the set with Imago in 1989.Essentially, the world has been devastated by a nuclear war and all that remains of humanity are a few straggler survivors who are picked up by an alien race who has been observing us. Butler spends little time here though; we get to know the protagonist Lilith, as she is kept alive and awakened by the aliens.What Butler does with deft erudition and literary skill is build a sense of dramatic tension between Lilith and her alien savior / captors. Lilith is a difficult hero, reluctantly taking the lead in re-awakening her fellow humans to be a vanguard of a new civilization and possibly a new race.Butler’s phenomenal talent creates for us a richly complex science fiction story but Dawn also acts as a vehicle whereby Butler can explore themes of sexuality, isolation, gender, race and species. Not to be lost are also mythic and Biblical references, not the least of which is the name given to her protagonist, the pre-legendary first wife of Adam. Butler uses this premise to suggest and illustrate what is wrong with humans and how we can be improved. Another Biblical connection could be Lilith as a Moses figure leading a second wave of humans to a promised land earth.Dawn also reminds me of a primer in sociology. In college I took a sociology class and we had a group project. We were divided up into partnerships of four and the premise was that we were to pick people to start a civilization, after having traveled by spaceship to colonize a new planet. Each small group decided what people and in what order would be awakened and we also decided how the new world would be organized. It was entertaining and informative to see how different the groups were and in what cultural and political schemes of organization were used.Recommended.

  • Richard Derus
    2018-11-19 08:57

    Rating: 5* of fiveI'm wore out, wrung out, and tuckered out. I'll get a review up before long.Meantime, look at the notes I've left.And leave us not to forget that, in this troubled passage in US and world history, the present Golden Age of Sci Fi on Screen will gift us with the first-ever adaptation of a Butler novel, this one, by no less a new voice than Ava DuVernay. She is the talent behind the good-buzzed adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time!The Publisher Says: Lilith Iyapo has just lost her husband and son when atomic fire consumes Earth—the last stage of the planet’s final war. Hundreds of years later Lilith awakes, deep in the hold of a massive alien spacecraft piloted by the Oankali—who arrived just in time to save humanity from extinction. They have kept Lilith and other survivors asleep for centuries, as they learned whatever they could about Earth. Now it is time for Lilith to lead them back to her home world, but life among the Oankali on the newly resettled planet will be nothing like it was before.The Oankali survive by genetically merging with primitive civilizations—whether their new hosts like it or not. For the first time since the nuclear holocaust, Earth will be inhabited. Grass will grow, animals will run, and people will learn to survive the planet’s untamed wilderness. But their children will not be human. Not exactly.This ebook features an illustrated biography of Octavia E. Butler including rare images from the author’s estate.My Review: I think the 12 notes I left publicly viewable are enough of a review of the book as a piece of writing. They're tied to passages I found important and so will, I hope, make the aesthetic point of why I think you should read this book, and in fact the series as a whole.What I comment on now is the why of reading SF, fiction by women, fiction by people of color (a phrase I'm no more comfortable with than the "colored people" of my vanished youth), SF by women of color...reading and absorbing and thinking about the ideas given to you, amazingly freely and trustingly, by people you aren't like and maybe even people you don't like.I think you should read these astounding gifts of personal creativity because they offer a close look into the ideas that someone unlike you finds important. If you don't learn what people unlike you find important, you run the risk of being caught in a labyrinth of dark sameness, a place where you don't need light because you know the contents of your environment so well already that there's no read need to take a good look at them.And that is how we got to the point where we are as a country, here in the US as well as in the UK, and a culture, both in the West and the East. No one listens. We wait for our turn to talk without engaging our brains to process what our ears are hearing. And that's only if we're polite.Open up a little by reading Butler's tale of the Oankali changing earthlings' genetics to improve their health and well-being. In the wake of a species-ending nuclear war, the earthlings aren't grateful to the Oankali for rescue, they're angry that they had no choice, no say, no chance to refuse being saved if it meant being used and manipulated for and by the Oankali.Butler put her finger squarely on the conflict: The earthlings were given no choice. They were unquestionably manipulated before they were given any chance to comment on these things. They had also just blown their entire planet into an extinction event. Did they deserve a say? Butler gives Lilith the words to complain about the earthlings' treatment and the Oankali to explain but not apologize the whys of it.In my never-humble opinion, a species that blew its home into an extinction event over stupid crap doesn't need any consultation to be offered, still less consent to be sought. Be damned good and grateful these interstellar gene machines arrived in time to do squat for you, which they didn't have to do at all. Given their culture's immense experience with and commodification of gene manipulation, they could simply have paused, grabbed some material (aka survivors of the holocaust) and used them before disposing of them.The Oankali's ethics are superior to the earthlings', and they didn't do that. They set about repairing the damaged earth and improving the damned earthlings who caused the problem in the first place, while making every effort to understand and support them along the way.A lot like animal researchers are doing today among cetaceans and great apes.Oh my.Don't like having done to us what we so blithely do to others, do we? And yet it's perfectly justified...the changes are being made for the earthlings' future benefit, after all.After the weekend of 10 August when neo-Nazi and "alt-right" hate machines burst their closet doors of simply screaming at normal, decent people at last and began the hot war portion of their Civil War against goodness, kindness, and decency, reading a book like Dawn is an excellent primer in how this horror got started: A decent and perfectly reasonable human gets all bent out of shape and even decides she'd prefer to die rather than have her tiny little patch of personal control violated despite the certainty that she is and will continue to be better off for it.I was never sanguine about human nature. I'm not turning any corners in that regard now. But I can see a tiny thread visible in the labyrinth: Read. Read the stuff that isn't just like you like the world to be. At least try that much, because it's no exaggeration to say your way of life is on the line. Try to hear what the Other is saying underneath the screams. We have to find the thread and follow it to our common source or we're headed the way of Butler's earthlings.And I do not think there are any Oankali on the way to help us.

  • Michael
    2018-11-29 07:11

    I loved the almost elegant and unrelenting unfolding of a most unusual alien apocalypse. The Oankali are the saviors of humankind after a nuclear war, preserving a population of survivors in a form of suspension while working to facilitate recovery of planetary ecology. But at what a cost. Their agenda is to merge genetically with humans to make a new species. That plot overview is certainly a spoiler, but that is what is rendered for a draw on the book’s cover. It’s really okay because we are well immersed in the slow process of discovery by the lead character, Lillith. She wakes up to months of isolation in a sterile environment. We experience her struggles with xenophobia over her progressive contacts with the creepy Oankali. Butler excels as usual in making aliens believably alien. There are three sexes, of which, the one who buddies up with her is of the more intelligent neutral gender. I’ll say no more on their nature and powers.I can say that Lillith goes through a long process of horror, defiance, despair, and eventual seduction to the cause working with the aliens. They want Lillith to help wake up and facilitate the acceptance of more humans for the colonization effort. None are as adaptable as she is, and many see her as a traitor or, due to genetic enhancements the Oankali bestow on her, no longer human. It’s a brilliant and emotionally wrenching story. Perhaps being a black woman the author intends some analogies to slavery in her plot. If so, that makes an added bonus to a compelling tale already well blessed with innovation.One could stop with this book, but there are two more volumes in the series if you get hooked. I can’t wait to see what happens when they get back to Earth. Will humans be transformed beyond recognition as humans? Or will they somehow get out from under these powerful beings and escape the Faustian bargain? And, if so, can they get on a path that does not point to eventual self-destruction again?

  • Christina White
    2018-12-16 06:48

    I have such conflicted feelings about this book. I found it both brilliant and disturbing in equal measure. The beginning introduces the reader to a strange and terrifying situation that sucks you in right away. The horror at some revelations is delivered so realistically that I found myself clenching my teeth and trying to hide in the pillows I was reading on. I was very impressed. The more I read on though, the more unsettling things became. Near the last quarter of the book Octavia crossed a line that made me very uncomfortable. I was disgusted and could no longer enjoy this bizarre story because of how very disturbing things became. I finished this book late last night and fell asleep thinking about it. I've been thinking about it all day... I even thought about it in church this morning! I'm not sure if I want to read the rest of the series or not. I don't "like" the ideas the author has scared my brain with, but I am fascinated. I feel like the humans in this book, unable to admit what I really want because of how upset I am by it!! Well done Ocatavia Butler.

  • Stuart
    2018-11-18 07:12

    Dawn: Aliens grant humans a second chance — at a priceOriginally posted at Fantasy LiteratureDawn (1987) is the first book in Octavia Butler’s XENOGENESIS trilogy, written after her PATTERNIST series. By this point she had been writing challenging science fiction novels for a decade, and her writing craft and ideas had reached a high level. Dawn is a very impressive book. Imagine that mankind has largely destroyed itself and the planet — it’s a fairly common doomsday scenario. But instead of the survivors scrabbling for survival, what if they were saved and kept in storage for centuries by an alien race, the Oankali? And what if one were awakened first, as Lilith Iyabo was, by these strange and frightening alien beings, covered in sensory tentacles? And what if one were told that humanity had been saved and would be repopulating the planet Earth, together with the Oankali? And with only one condition — but one that would transform human beings forever.Octavia Butler doesn’t write comfortable science fiction stories. She wants to challenge the reader with truly alien beings, and then present them in a surprisingly benign and benevolent light, while making humans look ignorant and brutish. Lilith is a fairly tough and independent-minded woman, and that is why they think she can tolerate the extreme psychological dislocation of being awoken aboard an organic alien spaceship.The early portion of the book deals with her trying to understand the sheer strangeness of the Oankali. They have three genders: male, female, and Ooloi, the latter of which can manipulate genetic material directly. They can adjust their own DNA as well as that of humans. Throughout the book, we are presented with scenes of transformation. The line between human and alien is blurred. Human and alien sexuality is also put under the microscope.Finally, the venality of the humans selected for repopulating the earth is explored. Butler seems to have a profound skepticism of humanity. The Oankali may be opaque in their true intentions for humanity, but they are certainly more advanced, patient, benign, and intelligent than people. They seek to make an exchange with humanity, but when Lilith begins to awaken other people, she discovers their reaction to the Oankali is much more xenophobic and violent than she or the Oankali could ever have anticipated. Lilith finds herself caught between two sides, and drawn more to the alien than her fellow humans. And yet her designated role is to lead this group of surviving humans to rebuilt civilization on Earth.A full assessment will have to wait until I’ve read the two sequels, Adulthood Rites and Imago, but Dawn is unnerving and compelling reading. If science fiction is supposed to confront readers with the truly alien, then Butler has succeeded marvelously. The Oankali are intriguing and frightening at the same time, but her depiction of humanity is even more alien in many ways. It is their prejudices, insecurities, brutish instincts, and predilection to violence and conflict that stand out compared to the peaceful and contemplative Oankali. There is clearly a strong element of implicit social criticism here, and I expect to see this expanded in the coming volumes.

  • Apatt
    2018-11-19 13:00

    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 (Wild Seed and Kindred), 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 Wild Seed and Kindred 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.NoteVideo clip: Author N. K. Jemisin celebrating Dawn by Octavia Butler

  • Claudia
    2018-12-06 11:49

    My god, what did I just read...I don’t think I was ever so aware of my body and my safety and my breathing space as I am now. One’s body is perceived as a temple; defile it and you’ll break that person for life. This book is not about humanity being self-obliterated, or close encounter of 5th kind or more. It doesn’t even have action. So, if you expect battles and how we prevail in the face of bad aliens, don’t.It's all about the interaction between the two species, or better said, races. It deals with racism, xenophobia, slavery, apartheid, totalitarianism, lack of freedom, imprisonment, psychological manipulation, humiliation, mental torment, lack of intimacy, fear – of unknown and of one’s most inner desires. Violence is presented – literally – being a cancer. I don’t think I ever looked at it as such and now I don’t think a better comparison can be found. And the list can continue. Still, it is not accusing. It presents facts and PoV from both sides and everything seems to be so wrong and yet, you will have doubts. The ‘sex’ (view spoiler)[– sensorial stimulation -(hide spoiler)] scenes are perceived by many readers as rape. From a point of view, it is. From another point of view, it just shows how deeply terrified we are of our desires to be fulfilled and how we repel pleasure if it’s gained out of norms. Moreover, it shows how we reject anybody which is different than we are. Fear is a powerful emotion which can drive someone insane.It’s also about survival of the species, which we are all familiar with. We are trying so desperately to salvage some of the animals which are almost extinct and we do what we can to make them reproduce – in vitro fertilization, drugs for fertility and I guess some other medical technics which I am not aware of. But ever wonder if we were instead of them and all those things were done to us? How would we feel about that? And is it wrong? Does survival of a species justify the torment of few individuals? But is it even torment?The story is character driven, no doubt about it. And because the main character is a woman, I resonated much more with her. I couldn’t but put myself in her shoes. And I dreaded the experience with every pore. It is definitely the most disturbing, unsettling, uncomfortable experience I had with a book so far. And that says something about how astonishing the writing of Octavia Butler is.It is a 100% sci-fi story and at the same time, it isn’t. It’s a psychological one. One that will deeply mess with your mind and make you cringe at almost every page. It raises so many questions, it poses so many issues – ethical mostly – that I guess if I were to put on paper every thought that screams in my head right now, it will surpass this novel in length...If you feel you're up for one of the most intimidating and petrifying reading experience of your life, go for it. I know I will be haunted by it forever.

  • Brian
    2018-12-01 14:09

    Like zombie-lit does with undead hordes (but seriously, done waaayyy better), Butler uses ETs as the mirror held to humanity to show us our strengths and (mostly) our weaknesses. This is a compelling narrative with a rich, well crafted female protagonist and science-fiction elements interesting to both veterans of the genre and initiates alike. I read this aloud to my wife - a reader not particularly interested in SciFi - and as soon as I finished the book she asked me to start the next one in the series. Pretty high praise.

  • Wanda
    2018-11-22 09:53

    What an unsettling little book! I stayed up late last night to finish it and I awoke this morning with it still on my mind (and I think I dreamed about it too). Octavia Butler is skilled at making me re-examine my beliefs about humanity.The Oankali are interesting and somewhat threatening aliens. Their evolutionary history seems to have come from the echinoderm or cnidarian branches of the tree of life and their appearance is initially terrifying to any human. Our protagonist, Lilith, has to be conditioned and altered biochemically in order to interact with them. Their motivations are very opaque and they are in no hurry to reveal them.Once again, Butler is exploring the nature of power dynamics, with the Oankali having the upper hand in the relationship, setting all the rules. Humans are treated like lab animals, like livestock, and like pets, although by the end of the book there are complications that cannot completely be explained by those relationships. However, the new relationship still feels very exploitative.Also examined is the matter of genetic change—how much alteration can be done to a genome before you say that a species has been altered to become a new species? Is survival worth such a transformation? How much would I be willing to endure merely to survive?Dawn asks many more questions than it provides answers to and I will be most interested to read the second and third installments in the series.Book 213 in my science fiction and fantasy reading project.

  • Jennifer Theriault
    2018-11-22 08:07

    This started out awesome! Lilith wakes up from a long sleep in some kind of prison, and must cooperate with her grotesque alien captors, the Oankali, and figure out what they want from her. Turns out they want to repopulate the newly-rebuilt Earth with human alien hybrids! It had the stuff I personally love: gripping conversation between fascinating characters who are learning about each other. Despite their being no real action in the first half of Dawn, it was carried quite nicely by these conversations. Yes, I guess I am a giant nerd that way. But once Lilith begins Awakening other humans to begin teaching them how to survive on Earth once more, everything takes a huge nose-dive.Can I just say it? Most of the humans are assholes. There are about 40 of them, and Butler can't possibly characterize them all successfully in such a short time (and she does not). So the story goes from an intimate character-driven one between the fleshed-out Lilith and aliens Jdahya and Nikanj as she gets used to life with the Oankali, to a more action driven one with 40 extra assholes dumped into the mix. The humans are all cowardly, tribal, suspicious, dense, selfish, and violent. Ok, maybe not all. Joseph, Lilith's blander-than-bland love interest, is not like that, and Butler goes to great lengths to let the reader know how special he and Lilith are. But what do they get for their trouble? He dies. Killed by the most violent alpha-male of the group. And Nikanj the alien ends up keeping Lilith on the ship in the end, rather than on Earth with the humans she has trained, because it says the other humans would have definitely plotted to kill her. This fatalistic attitude about humans permeates the book and is unrelenting!But there are other, even deeper problems, with Dawn. I picked up this book because I'd heard that Octavia Butler was a highly-regarded feminist writer. As a feminist-minded reader, I seek these stories out because feminist writers are more likely to have fully realized female characters, less sexualized violence, and something interesting to say about sex and gender roles (or at least they don't tend to fall back on old gender cliches). But some of the ideas in this book are so regressive I wondered if this was written in the 60s. (Nope, 80s!) First off, Butler's men, with the exception of Joseph, are all violent and/or petulantly anxious about their masculinity. The Oankali pretty much rape all the humans, let's be honest. It's not graphically presented, and it's of the mind-sex variety, but still, it's awful. These aliens have no concept or respect for wishes of consent from their human captives. They use drugs and chemicals to "bond" the raped humans to them in a horrific version of Stockholm Syndrome. HOWEVER, only the men are driven to violence by these rapes. Peter and Curt turn murderous at being "taken like a woman" (quote from the book!). The women seem to suffer no ill effects, and indeed a few of them cling to these violent men, and it strikes me as very disturbing for a "feminist" writer to present. As if being raped was woman's natural lot, and women are not inherently violent (ha!), but rape a man and watch out! Even the kick-ass scene where Lilith saves a human woman from being raped by a human man can't override the message. I wouldn't even mind if Butler had had some commentary about this; if maybe she had condemned the underlying homophobia and misogyny, taught by culture, that drives some men to murder anything that taints their dominant masculinity. (It reminded me of the appalling "trans-panic" defense and left a bad taste in my mouth.) But she just presented it as how Things Just Are. Like the humans are just biologically like that, and not shaped by the vestiges of thousands of years of patriarchy. I'm not sure what kind of feminist Butler is, but I know *I* am not the kind that thinks all men are inherently Cavemen, and all women are cowering, helpless children. And speaking of homophobia, this book is *painfully* heteronormative. And monogamous. The Oankali are a 3 gender race: male, female, and the sexless "ooloi". Ok, but there is never any deviation from this relationship model. There are no gay Oankali, Oankali divorces, affairs, or even happily single Oankali. There are certainly no gay humans! They all pair up very quickly into straight, extremely monogamous couples (and later, 3somes with an ooloi). For someone who tries to be edgy by creating a 3 gender race, there is something that smells very traditional and conservative about the Oankali. Their sex is mind-sex, a kind of sexless, dispassionate, sanitized sex. Procreation is at the forefront of all their relationships. (Gee, this is sounding so familiar!) It is stated that the male and female Oankali never touch each other sexually, oh no! Butler even goes to great lengths to explain how Oankali are practically slaves to their chemicals and drives, and that being gay or even single is just not thought of or mentioned. And personality and compatibility isn't even a factor; just get the right chemicals flowing and the male, female and ooloi form an unbreakable bond! But with boring-ass "sex"! Biology is destiny for Butler. Isn't this a line of thinking most modern feminists are *against*? I know I am!I don't know. I'll probably read the rest of the trilogy, because I got all three for free in the same volume. I really hope Butler has something to say about all this in her next books, because if not, I'll be really disappointed!

  • Mimi
    2018-11-25 06:55

    Dawn begins with Lilith Iyapo awakening in solitary confinement. She later learns she's on a living space ship, held as a captive by the oankali, an alien race. There had been a war several years ago on Earth that destroyed the planet and almost wiped out the human race. A few survivors were rescued and brought to the ship. All were healed but left sedated for the time being; a select few will be awoken, like Lilith, once it’s time to return to Earth and resettle the planet.There’s a catch though, several in fact, which are revealed as the story unfolds. The main one being, for humans to return to Earth, they must accept a genetic trade with the oankali. Meaning that, if humans want to repopulate the planet, they will only bear human-oankali children. This will play out more fully in the next book, Adulthood Rites. Lilith, being the most resilient and trustworthy human, is handed the task of teaching and training the other humans to survive in the wilderness of new Earth. The rest of the story is about the many challenges the humans face as they practice surviving on new Earth and the dilemmas Lilith face alone as she helps this group in their struggles.Full review of the trilogy here

  • Elizabeth
    2018-12-16 07:51

    Butler is an author I’ve been meaning to read forever and this was an intriguing place to start. The dilemma of Lillith, deciding the fate of humanity and resigning herself to be the betrayer, was tense and well thought out. The characters themselves were nuanced and made me seriously look at how I thought about prejudice, human-ness, and my attitude to the new and unknown. I look forward to seeing how she moves the world forward in the next book. A reflective and meditative, yet dramatic, read.

  • Lilia Ford
    2018-11-15 06:55

    I sought this out deliberately as the best way I could think of to protest this year's Hugo Award debacle, though I wasn't sure I'd like it since it definitely falls closer to the "speculative" end of the sci-fi spectrum than what I usually read--or enjoy. Well, so much for that worry. I couldn't put it down. I mean that literally: I was supposed to go out to dinner and I ended up cancelling so I could finish it. I totally get why it's so acclaimed: the set up is bracingly original, and the look it takes at issues such as assimilation, difference, xenophobia, adaptation, colonization, appropriation, and the Oankali idea of "trade," is crazily complex and nuanced, never content to rely on the old political certitudes, liberal or conservative, that you'd expect. The Oankali's thesis that humanity is genetically driven to self-destruct due to "intelligence in the service of hierarchy" is one of those concepts that whole seminars in college could be spent debating. Fascinating as all of this is, the reason I loved, loved this book is Lilith Iyapo. Every now and then you encounter a character that you passionately wish was part of your own life, and she was it--I wish she was my aunt, which is funny because she's quite a bit younger than I am. But I wish I'd had a woman in my life like this when I was younger. I think it's her profound adaptability mixed with something hard and uncompromising. Those words sound like contradictions: Lilith showed they're not. There's a ruthless bluntness and unwillingness to indulge in lies or self-delusion which forces her to carry on even when she's staring failure in the face. "How many times can you have everyone taken from you and still have the will to start again?" Tate muttered.As many times as it took, Lilith thought wearily. Also:She had learned to keep her sanity by accepting things as she found them, adapting herself to circumstances by putting aside the old ones whose memories might overwhelm her.Butler is in a way offering her as the model of a human being who could transcend our drive to self-destruct. But her picture of this character goes beyond "ordinary guy/gal" heroism, since arguably Lilith's effectiveness is that she is not heroic--she lacks anything like charisma or the ability to inspire and lead people; she also lacks the optimism or hopefulness or romanticizing idealism that usually drive "heroic" behavior. Even before the apocalypse, she'd survived the death of her child and husband, and she is nothing if not pessimistic. Her virtue is that she copes--she sees reality, that which can truly not be changed by wishful thinking, and deals with it. That clarity of vision means that she can recognize her own fear, and by doing so, not act on it--one of the few humans in the story capable of that. That brand of stoicism seems to me to be inextricably tied to her experience as a woman, and yet to have nothing of the usual socially sanctioned notions of desirable/lovable "feminine" behavior--these are rare enough qualities in real life, and extremely hard to find in books also. As I said, I wished I'd had a female relative like this in my life when I was younger. I'll have to make due with Butler's portrayal. Luckily for me and everyone, this is one of those rare books where a fictional character seems to achieve that level of vital presence that can fool our brains into reacting to them as if they were real people. There was no woman quite like this in my past, but there is now, and my ideas of humanity, of what it means to be a woman, of strength, of heroism will be reshaped accordingly.

  • Gary
    2018-11-28 10:11

    Okay. So how do I describe this really weird sci-fi book that masquerades as horror. Not hunt you down alone on a ship Alien horror, more like subtly psychologically really disturbing (to me anyway) sci-fi.The basic situation is a girl, Lilith, (for mythology fans, please note the symbolism) is the lone survivor of a nuclear holocaust and is left with the responsibilities of awakening the other humans from a deep sleep, telling them they are on an alien ship, leading them to earth, and, of course, convincing them that the deal she struck with the aliens to get them back is a nasty but good idea.It's hard to get more in depth with this story without spoiling anything. Let's just say sympathies were with the people that thought it was a good idea to kill the protagonist and her bunch.I normally have a cast iron stomach regardless of how brutal what I am reading is. For some reason I felt nauseous often when reading this, especially when I began to realize the extent of the relationship between Lilith and the aliens.Overall, I can clearly see why this book is so highly rated. I am not sure I want to complete the trilogy. I found myself skimming and not really liking or caring about any of the characters. It is well written and for the right reader it's a gem, I am sure. I would be tempted to go right to the end of book three, figure out what happens, and go read something else.

  • Penny
    2018-12-07 12:47

    Fascinating from so many points of view! Beautifully written and deeply insightful. I can't think of any other book I've read that tells a similar story and I found this a very unique tale which was brilliantly told. This was my first Octavia E. Butler and it more than lived up to all the wonderful things I'd heard about her work. The insights into human nature are too plentiful to list, made without seeming to try. The aliens are striking and just so alien. One of the best examples of the insight into human nature comes early in the book when the protagonist meets her first alien. I prefer not to include spoilers in my reviews, but you'll know what I mean when you read it, which you should. The journey Lilith takes throughout the course of the novel is deep and convoluted and entirely engaging. It isn't always easy to read, but then I think that truth rarely is. I found this an unusual book, not altogether enjoyable, but undeniably powerful. I highly recommend it.

  • Pants
    2018-11-22 14:02

    I was afraid to start the Xenogenesis trilogy because I knew there’d be issues with consent. Some reviewers described it as graphic, horrific, disturbing—and they were right on all accounts, but Dawn wasn’t as graphic as I’d initially feared. That’s not to say it was an easy book to read. The Oankali violate personal boundaries, both physical and mental, and genuinely believe their actions service humanity. The Oankali strip Lilith of her right to her mind, her body, and a life of her choosing. What’s most disturbing is Lilith’s eventual acceptance of the Oankali. The reader has to wonder if Lilith made this decision on her own terms, or if the Oankali’s neurochemical manipulations led her to feeling the way she did. I’ll end by saying that Dawn ends on a very disturbing note. I was horrified as I read the final pages.

  • Jennifer
    2018-12-08 13:09

    I have many questions. Nothing to do with the book, but with myself. What I mean to say is that the book has created this intense inner dialogue. You know, where suddenly you find yourself speaking out loud to yourself. I love aliens. No, I don't LOVE aliens. I love the idea of aliens. I am terrified of aliens. We have created many images of what we think aliens might look like, and we have also created ideas of how we would react to them. While I love it all, from Arnie and his "Your one ugly son-of-a-bitch" to the famous bar scene in Star Wars and everything hanging out getting along and all kinds in between. And no, I am not forgetting Ripley. While reading this I had Bill Paxton's voice whispering in the back of my head "That's it ; Game over" . The point is I think in the end; we would react just like Lillith. I don't think we are really ready and many people just couldn't accept ALIENS if they did really happen. I am not talking about bacteria on Titan, but actual bi-pedal or however they might get around sentient species. I would like to put on a brave face and say "I am ready", but I think I would be curled up in a corner in denial like all my other fellow humans.I would like to say I could be like Lillith and come to an acceptance of them. She is kinda my hero and gives me hope.I am not going to go on and on about the story. But I am blown away. With every bit of it. With the ideas that were presented. I am very uncomfortable with several aspects of it. Not in a negative, this sucks, etc kind of way, but more with putting myself in those situations and how does this make me feel ? I can understand all the reactions that happens in the book and I can see all points of view and none of them are wrong. Part of me is still freaking out. And in the end I love Aliens. But I accept that I am xenophobic and am not going to trust anything.

  • David
    2018-11-16 06:05

    Although I have read a lot of science fiction, I had never even heard of Octavia Butler before reading this book. But I am so glad that I read it, and the next two books of the Xenogenesis series. This is an excellent sci-fi novel about Lillith, a young woman in the after-days of a nuclear apocalypse on Earth. She is one of a few survivors, just barely alive, picked up by an alien race in a spacecraft. She is brought back to health, but kept in almost total isolation. She is pretty much clueless as to where she is, who her rescuers are, and why they are keeping her in such isolation. She communicates with the aliens remotely, without actually seeing them. There is virtually no way for the aliens to show their faces, without upsetting her.The aliens are here to "trade". It is unclear at first what they want to trade with humans, and I will not reveal the answer here. But it is clear that Octavia Butler has thought up a completely self-consistent story for the aliens, and why they have come to Earth. The aliens maneuver Lillith to act on their behalf, to awaken other humans aboard the spacecraft. Her task is to explain to the situation to newly awakened humans. She realizes that if she chooses the wrong humans to awaken at first, the results may be disastrous.This is a short sci-fi novel, and it sets the stage for the following two in the Xenogenesis series. You really need to read the three novels in order, to get a full understanding of the objectives of the aliens, and the dangerous situation they have placed Lillith in. And the dangers continue throughout the entire series.

  • Frank
    2018-12-03 10:49

    Female SF authors are very good at making one identify with the characters and connect with their emotions at a level where it becomes as much the story as whatever new technology, space opera and whatever make up the universe of their novel. Marge Piercy and Ursula K. Leguin are good examples of such authors, and now I have the pleasure of having made the acquaintance of Octavia Butler as well. In the story we meet the Oankali, a species that discover an Earth which has almost destroyed itself through nuclear war. The Oankali has a plan to restore and repopulate the Earth again, albeit for a terrible price.Our protagonist, Lilith Lyapo, is a strong black woman through which we get to know the Oankali and their plans. The story is shocking and fascinating in equal measure. It was originally written in 1987 and I can imagine that it would have been a somewhat rough ride for an average reader to accept the premises of this story at that time. SF and Fantasy readers are a tough crowd, though -- more likely to already having been exposed to strange concepts. But, I must say that this one took it up a notch compared to what I have read earlier. Not that I mind, though! It is always refreshing when someone dares to challenge our ideas of what is right and acceptable, and not just on some high esoteric level -- this book will get under your skin in ways you did not expect.What makes the story so strong is Octavia's description of the interaction between humans and the Oankali. It has an intensity that evokes strong feelings due to it being so realistically portrayed. The biology and psychological basis come over as rock solid and very plausible. Add to that Octavia's ability to string together a good plot and you have a page turner that will leave you both eager to see what will happen and at the same time, perhaps, slightly revolted at times. All in all, I found it a good read that gave me a very different and interesting perspective on how a Science Fiction novel may also be written. I tip my hat to Octavia for having the courage to write this just as she saw it with no punches pulled.

  • Beverly
    2018-11-25 12:01

    Brilliant characters and complex future world are developed in this first of a 3 part series, Dawn is superb. Why did I stop reading Octavia Butler after my delight in Kindred and The Parable of the Sower?

  • Fabian
    2018-11-22 06:05

    A large octupus-alien has a realistic threesome with two-dimensional humanoids. Dreams are made of this--well, but not my dreams. Nor nightmares. "Dawn" remains prime example of the reasoning behind my headstrong, unwavering apathy for most Sci-Fi novels.

  • Lata
    2018-11-30 08:53

    At the moment, undecided between 3 and 4. Disturbing, and well-written. I like how Octavia Butler's work really makes you think.

  • Afro Madonna
    2018-12-07 11:12

    Ultimate Popsugar Reading Challenge .This was a really quick read and I enjoyed it well enough . The premise and plot of the story were really fascinating . Debating whether to pick up the second book though .

  • Honeycarmel
    2018-12-16 08:16

    I like the way this book is starting..... OK , so I'm finished now. I really, really loved this book. It was like the Matrix without a constant war and all that fighting. I saw someone else's review about the book cover. Interestingly, I read the book with the big red letters and the two white women on the cover. I did not know that the main character was black. I assumed she was the white lady on the cover. So, a quarter the way through the book I realize that she is black. Also, realize that all the characters are of color to that point. I was talking to my sister about, she read the book first. We came to the decision it was that during a very prejudice time and she needed to get her books sold. I just saw the other cover in on this web site.... WoW! I love that cover it is so artsy.... Anyway, I really recommend folks to read this book because it makes you think outside of the box. Also, it really shows the consistency of human tendencies...Oh, and the way that the aliens talk about humans reminds me of the way The Doctor talks about humans in "Doctor Who"...

  • Megan Baxter
    2018-11-29 12:07

    t's a challenging one, in the very best way. It's only my second venture into Octavia Butler's canon, and I'm delighted to be back, after The Parable of the Sower knocked me off my ass a few years ago. And I should be reading all three in this particular trilogy in fairly short order, as they were books my science fiction group picked as the first read in our Women Science Fiction Authors Group Reads. I'm a bit behind, as we've now moved on to Elizabeth Bear's Jenny Casey trilogy.Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook

  • Jerry Jose
    2018-11-28 12:05

    According to Jewish apocryphal traditions, Lilith was the first woman created along side Adam, before Eve. When persuaded to be subservient to Adam, she deserted Eden, revolting against God and her husband. This act of defiance has characterized future legends that epitomize her as manifestation of chaos, seduction and everything apostasic. In modern interpretations though, Lilith is an exemplar for feminist movements, for being the very first woman who stood up against dominance and subjugation. And for Butler’s post civilizational dystopian universe, that doesn’t have a God or any promised progenitors, I found the choice of protagonist’s name or the series renaming- Lilith’s Brood very fitting, allegorically and narrative wise.Dawn, as the name rightfully implies, opens with a proxy God scenario. Earth has been left uninhabitable by an obscure nuclear war, and what’s left of mankid is under the cryostatic protection of an alien race called 'the Oankali'. The Oankalis are a very alien alien species with Medusa-ish body hair, Cthulhu tentacles for sensory receptors, Karellen-ish face and strange names(“Kaaltediinjdahya lel Kahguyaht aj Din“) that make you wonder whether the author had accidentally bumbed her head on keyboard and decided to roll with it, or was being ridiculously imaginative. This Childhood’s End soon escalates, with Overlords awakening their Stormgren- Lilith Iyapo in this case, 250 years since the war, for repopulating Earth with humankind. But there is a disturbingly weird catch. Something far more unsettling than the proposition by Monks from Doctor Who or maybe even that of Clarke’s Overlords.The Oankalis are perhaps the most bizzare species in literature, both in biology and psychology. As repulsive as this sounds, they have terrifying sensory tentacles all over their body, three sexes as a species, ability to manipulate genetic biochemistry and an entirely different perception of the outside world to which our sentience is rather handicapped in comparison. Though it is easy to go to generalizations with the what is left of us as and the Oankalis as a species, this book evades the appropriation by presenting grey scenarios; Where it is difficult to assert right and wrong, for characters as well as reader. Dawn is reaction driven than character or plot, right from the very inception where Lilith is recruited as prime emissary for the new world order to her conflicting loyalty towards humanity and its godly captors. The book has captured the moral confusion, acceptance of apocalypse and prospectus of strange future from now captivity, rather beautifully. I loved how subtley, it reminded me of racism and xenophobia, and how futile it looked when another species was in play. And how imaginative, though a bit unsettling, the concept of bioship and biological manipulation was, in comparison with our industrial contraptions. In addition to this technological incompatibility, genetic dissimilarities made them all the more alien, with reasons to doubt and fear. And author seemed to have let the events just unfold, in all its messiness, confusion and partisian conflicts, without passing any judgemental remarks or assigning any moral codes. It was hard to objectively blame anyone as the possibility of humankind being like pets or Oods to an Ood looking odd species in itself sounded pretty terrifying. And it took me a while to make peace with it.I couldn’t help but compare the Onakalis with Enochian Watchers from Bible. In Aronofsky’s Noah(Graphic novel over movie) they were depicted as Rock giants helping the selected ones pursue the ways of God, with minimum possible interference. This obvious appendage to Lilith allegory might be an overkill, but Oankali’s refined yet nonchalant attitude towards humans, even with the weird proposition for co-operation, sounded like something that would eventually become a legend, holy or unholy, once humanity is completely revamped as a civilization. Leaving these far fetched metaphors aside, Dawn felt well written and fast paced, if not completely reassuring. Some feministic undertones could be interpreted from the lead being black and female, but, it might beat the purpose if not fun, as humanity itself has been reduced to double digits. Anyway, the weeboo in me was amazed and thankful by the fact that, Butler’s aliens haven’t permeated into the hentai market yet, to which their sexuality seemed to be begging for. Well, time will tell, or internet will :)