Wild Seed : Patternist

  • by Octavia E. Butler
  • Narrated by Dion Graham
  • Series: Patternist
  • 11 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Doro is an entity who changes bodies like clothes, killing his hosts by reflexor design. He fears no one...until he meets Anyanwu. Anyanwu is a shapeshifter who can absorb bullets and heal with a kiss and savage anyone who threatens her. Together they weave a pattern of destiny unimaginable to mortals.

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Audible Editor Reviews

When you first meet Doro, you'd think he was an ordinary man, the same as you or I. But Doro has a unique gift: he can survive the death of his body by transferring his essence into the body of another. Unfortunately for those he takes over, there's only room for one consciousness in the human brain, and so when Doro takes control, the previous owner is evicted. He's survived this way for thousands of years, hopping from body to body, and leaving a trail of the dead in his wake, for his gift does not allow him to inhabit bodies for long, necessitating the frequent claiming of new victims.
Wild Seed begins in 1690 in Africa, when Doro discovers another immortal by the name of Anyanwu, though Anyanwu is not the monster Doro is. While his powers are tied inextricably to death, Anyanwu's are tied to life; instead of stealing new bodies, she is able to manipulate her body to heal any wound, make herself appear forever young, or even shapechange into different creatures altogether. When Doro first meets Anyanwu, she appears to be an old woman serving as shaman to the village. But when he discovers her true nature, he embarks upon a quest to find others like her — "wild seed" — and selectively breeds them in order to foster the development of these seemingly magical talents. This multigenerational genetic engineering project takes the pair from their starting place in Africa in to the American colonies and beyond.
To describe the plot as above surely doesn't do justice to Wild Seed, which is easily one of the finest science fiction novels ever written; but more than that, it is a great work of literature, period, that explores deep philosophical issues and vividly explores the extraordinary long lives of two fascinatingly-drawn characters.
For a book as brilliant as this, it would be easy for a narrator to just convey the text and get out of its way, but Dion Graham somehow manages to add yet another layer to an already rich and complex narrative by giving voice to it with such emotion and gravitas. Graham provides a variety of character voices to the extent that he seems to be a vocal chameleon; the character of Doro alone requires him to change his voice into a number of different accents, all of which Graham ably handles. But perhaps what makes this performance truly stand out is the intensity of Graham's narration in between dialogue, which really drives home the power of Butler's prose.
As both a novel and an audiobook, Wild Seed stands as a sterling example of science fiction, literature, and performance art. Utterly compelling, and completely unforgettable. —John Joseph Adams

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Interesting concept

The concept of this book is quite interesting. Two seemingly immortal people have very different perspectives on what they should do with their powers. One is a healer while the other is a killer. One sees people as only possessions to be used while the other sees all people as deserving to be free.
This book seemed at times to move very slowly, which made it difficult to get through. That said, the characters and the concept of the story kept me coming back to it. I do plan to read the next book in the series.
The narrator did a great job. Switching between male and female and between northern and southern accents was seamless.
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- Lynnette

The most terrible villain I've ever read about.

What did you love best about Wild Seed?

The villain is so powerful, single-minded and so apathetic, without being at all campy or forced. He only had one main superpower and it wasn't blowing stuff up or moving objects, but it made him so frightening. This was the most creative story I've read in a long time.


What other book might you compare Wild Seed to and why?

I'ts not like anything I've read before, but I have to choose . . . For the protagonist, it most reminds me of Roots because mucn of the story takes place during the time of slavery, and the protagonist is enslaved, despite being so very powerful. For the antagonist, I think of the Exorcist because the villian is so evil.


What does Dion Graham bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

This is the advantage of the audiobook. The narrator does his job so well, that each character is more than just an image in your imagination. They are a presence. In particular the antagonist of this story was a special challenge because he required different voices from time to time and there were several accents.


Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

No. I did not laugh or cry but I felt very proud and connected. This is a sci-fi story by an African-American woman in which the main two characters are African. True, one of them is pretty messed up, but hey. He's the bad guy. It's the first book of that kind that I've come across.


Any additional comments?

I really loved this book. Octavia Butler is now one of my favorite writers.

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- Steven L Stringfellow

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-16-2009
  • Publisher: Audible Studios