Seven Powerful Octavia E. Butler Quotes (and One Gorgeous Google Doodle)

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Seven Powerful Octavia E. Butler Quotes (and One Gorgeous Google Doodle)

A titan of science fiction, Octavia E. Butler would have been 71 years old today. The author wrote compelling, diverse protagonists in a genre traditionally known for churning out white, male leads. Butler won two Nebula awards and two Hugo awards for her work, and she became the first sci-fi writer to be awarded the MacArthur Fellowship.

Google honored Butler today with a Doodle celebrating her birthday (see above). ”[Butler] considered herself to have three central audiences—black readers, feminists and fans of science fiction—and challenged herself to create a body of work that was accessible to all of them,” a statement from Google reads. “While Butler faced institutional racism and segregation throughout her life, these experiences influenced her writing and thus shone a light on critical social issues.”

In particular, Butler’s dystopian Parable series (also known as the Earthseed series) tackles racism, religious fundamentalism and socioeconomic inequality in America. We’ve collected seven powerful quotes from the series, and we hope they inspire you to read Butler’s fiction.

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Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought.
To be led by a coward
is to be controlled
by all that the coward fears.
To be led by a fool
is to be led
by the opportunists
who control the fool.
To be led by a thief
is to offer up
your most precious treasures
to be stolen.
To be led by a liar
is to ask
to be told lies.
To be led by a tyrant
is to sell yourself
and those you love
into slavery.

—Parable of the Talents

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Beware:
Ignorance
Protects itself.
Ignorance
Promotes suspicion.
Suspicion
Engenders fear.
Fear quails,
Irrational and blind,
Or fear looms,
Defiant and closed.
Blind, closed,
Suspicious, afraid,
Ignorance
Protects itself,
And protected,
Ignorance grows.

—Parable of the Talents

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All that you touch
You Change.
All that you Change
Changes you.
The only lasting truth
is Change.
God
is Change.

—Parable of the Talents

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All struggles
Are essentially
power struggles.
Who will rule,
Who will lead,
Who will define,
refine,
confine,
design,
Who will dominate.
All struggles
Are essentially power struggles,
And most are no more intellectual
than two rams
knocking their heads together.

—Parable of the Sower

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Beware:
At war
Or at peace,
More people die
Of unenlightened self-interest
Than of any other disease.

—Parable of the Talents

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When apparent stability disintegrates,
As it must—
God is Change—
People tend to give in
To fear and depression,
To need and greed.
When no influence is strong enough
To unify people
They divide.
They struggle,
One against one,
Group against group,
For survival, position, power.
They remember old hates and generate new ones,
The create chaos and nurture it.
They kill and kill and kill,
Until they are exhausted and destroyed,
Until they are conquered by outside forces,
Or until one of them becomes
A leader
Most will follow,
Or a tyrant
Most fear.

—Parable of the Sower

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Kindness eases Change.
Love quiets fear.
And a sweet and powerful
Positive obsession
Blunts pain,
Diverts rage,
And engages each of us
In the greatest,
The most intense
Of our chosen struggles.

—Parable of the Talents

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