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Low Culture Podcast: Octavia E Butler's Parable Of The Sower
Luke Turner , February 8th, 2024 10:52

In February's edition of our subscriber podcast John Doran and Luke Turner investigate Octavia E Butler's prescient 1993 novel Parable Of The Sower (and have a chat about Depeche Mode and the new Fargo)

Octavia E Butler photographed by Nikolas Coukouma. Wikimedia Commons.

In this edition of tQ’s Low Culture podcast, John and Luke discuss Octavia E Butler’s powerful, haunting, terrifying 1993 novel Parable Of The Sower, about a young Black woman called Lauren Olamina’s mission to survive the violence of a doomed and declining America as she explores her own new belief system called Earthseed, based around the central tenet that “Change is God”. The book is written as a diary that begins in 2024, heightening the uneasy sense that with her themes of societal collapse, extreme wage inequality and climate emergency, this is a work of troubling prophecy. The Quietus editors look at the life of this titan of speculative fiction, discuss how this particular novel is a radical new take on both the coming of age and the heroic quest fiction archetypes. It’s a book containing passages which are intensely grim and unpleasant, but written in a dispassionate way that highlights, rather than glories in the horror. John and Luke talk about how it relates to other works of post-apocalyptic or dystopian fiction, and conclude that this is arguably superior because for all the harrowing passages, the Earthseed philosophy based on the power of change contains a sense of hope, in humanity and in love. John and Luke also chat about recent cultural highlights, with the latter praising Depeche Mode’s current world tour, and the former recommending you all watch the new fifth series of Fargo, which he reckons is “the funniest and smartest TV I’ve seen in a long time.”

Thanks as ever to our producer Alannah Chance and to all those who keep our show on the road with your generous subscriptions. To listen to the podcast you’ll need to be a Low Culture or Sound & Vision subscriber, signing up gives you access to this monthly broadcast plus a load more exclusive editorial, playlists, newsletters and, for the top tier, especially commissioned music. Sign up to be a tQ subscriber via the Steady checkout below or by visiting our page on the platform here.