Old School Wednesdays

Old School Wednesdays: September Poll

As you probably know by now, Old School Wednesdays is a new weekly Book Smuggler feature. We came up with the idea towards the end of 2012, when we were feeling exhausted from the never-ending inundation of New and Shiny (and often over-hyped) books. What better way to snap out of a reading fugue than to take a mini-vacation into the past, right?

Old School Wednesdays Final

Logo designed by the wonderful KMont

We asked YOU for your favorite old school suggestions – and the response was so overwhelmingly awesome, we decided to compile a goodreads shelf, an ongoing database, AND a monthly readalong/book club. (Note that we’ve removed books that we have already read, or that we selfishly want to review as solos on Wednesday!)

September Readalong:

It’s time for our September poll! The official August OSW readalong happens next week, on Wednesday August 27 (get your copy of Prospero’s Childen by Jan Siegel now!), but the clock stops for no one… so we are looking at September!

You can vote on which title you’d like to read next month by using the poll embedded below. The readalong will take place a bit earlier next month, on September 24, 2014.

And this coming month, we’re inspired to do something a little different. We hereby declare September Octavia Butler month – and are selecting titles from her extensive backlist!

Adulthood Rites by Octavia Butler

Adulthood Rights

In this sequel to Dawn, Lilith Iyapo has given birth to what looks like a normal human boy named Akin. But Akin actually has five parents: a male and female human, a male and female Oankali, and a sexless Ooloi. The Oankali and Ooloi are part of an alien race that rescued humanity from a devastating nuclear war, but the price they exact is a high one the aliens are compelled to genetically merge their species with other races, drastically altering both in the process.

On a rehabilitated Earth, this “new” race is emerging through human/Oankali/Ooloi mating, but there are also “pure” humans who choose to resist the aliens and the salvation they offer.These resisters are sterilized by the Ooloi so that they cannot reproduce the genetic defect that drives humanity to destroy itself, but otherwise they are left alone (unless they become violent).

When the resisters kidnap young Akin, the Oankali choose to leave the child with his captors, for he the most “human” of the Oankali children will decide whether the resisters should be given back their fertility and freedom, even though they will only destroy themselves again.

This is the second volume in Octavia Butler’s Xenogenesis series, a powerful tale of alien existence.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

Parable of the Sower

When unattended environmental and economic crises lead to social chaos, not even gated communities are safe. In a night of fire and death Lauren Olamina, a minister’s young daughter, loses her family and home and ventures out into the unprotected American landscape. But what begins as a flight for survival soon leads to something much more: a startling vision of human destiny… and the birth of a new faith.

Wild Seed by Octavia Butler

Wild Seed

Doro is an entity who changes bodies like clothes, killing his hosts by reflex or 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. She fears no one until she meets Doro. Together they weave a pattern of destiny (from Africa to the New World) unimaginable to mortals.

Survivor by Octavia Butler


They fled from an Earth ravaged by plague and violence, seeking to fulfill their holy mission — to discover a new home for humanity. But instead of landing in a pace-filled paradise, Earth’s Missionaries find themselves caught between two warring civilizations — the Garkohn and Tehkohn. And only one of the people from Earth, a young girl and “converted” Missionary named Alanna, has the proper survival training to see through the lies of their Garkohn “hosts,” who extend the hand of friendship to the humans only to enslave them. Alanna alone can understand the necessity of becoming one with the Tehkohn “enemy.” And, perhaps, she can find a way to release the Missionaries from the deadly bondage into which they have complacently fallen. Yet even if she succeeds, will Alanna merely be saving them for a still more inescapable doom . . . ?

Fledgling by Octavia Butler


Fledgling, Octavia Butler’s new novel after a seven year break, is the story of an apparently young, amnesiac girl whose alarmingly inhuman needs and abilities lead her to a startling conclusion: She is in fact a genetically modified, 53-year-old vampire. Forced to discover what she can about her stolen former life, she must at the same time learn who wanted–and still wants–to destroy her and those she cares for and how she can save herself. Fledgling is a captivating novel that tests the limits of “otherness” and questions what it means to be truly human.

[poll id=”18″]

Get voting, and we hope to see you on September 24!

Ongoing Suggestions:

Got a suggestion? Have an amazing book, published at least five years ago, that you would love to nominate for the OSW monthly readalong? Speak up and submit your favorites! (If you have problems with the form below, you can also access it HERE.)

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  • Paul Weimer (@PrinceJvstin)
    August 20, 2014 at 6:12 am

    Butler is such a good author, and choosing one for you to read is so hard!

  • Kate Elliott
    August 20, 2014 at 6:18 am

    Parable of the Sower was the first Butler I read, and it just blew me away with its combination of an unflinching gaze at the cruelty humanity is capable of balanced with a deep understanding of the human capacity for compassion and our need to hang together. Also the first “economic collapse” novel I read that felt all too true to me.

  • Sarah
    August 20, 2014 at 8:15 am

    Why is Kindred not on the list???!!

  • e_bookpushers
    August 20, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    I say Wild Seed because it is the start of another series that poses some very thoughtful questions. But honestly, I don’t think you can go wrong with a Butler book. None of them are really comfortable reads.

  • Shara White
    August 20, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    Based on the results, it doesn’t look like it’ll be an issue, but SURVIVOR is incredibly rare and hard to find, at least in the States. I seem to remember hearing it was a book she wasn’t happy with or something, but I can’t find the support for that now. I’ve got it on my PBS wishlist and I’ve got my fingers crossed. 🙂

    ADULTHOOD RITES is a sequel to DAWN. I can’t remember if you all read that or not. 🙂

  • Matthew
    August 21, 2014 at 7:57 am

    I’m really excited for this month — I love Octavia Butler! I’d also read that about her not liking Survivor… But I inter-library loaned it anyway and I did enjoy it, though I understand her criticisms of it. Anyway, she mentions her opinion in this Amazon article.

    When I was young, a lot of people wrote about going to another world and finding either little green men or little brown men, and they were always less in some way. They were a little sly, or a little like “the natives” in a very bad, old movie. And I thought, “No way. Apart from all these human beings populating the galaxy, this is really offensive garbage.” People ask me why I don’t like Survivor, my third novel. And it’s because it feels a little bit like that. Some humans go up to another world, and immediately begin mating with the aliens and having children with them. I think of it as my Star Trek novel.”

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