~by Octavia E. Butler
1988 Locus Award Nominee
1989 Ditmar Award Nominee

Since I've been on LibraryThing I keep coming across the name Octavia Butler. I had never heard of her before. Then I began noticing her name on multiple awards lists, my housemates and people I knew were reading her books--I heard nothing but good things about Butler. Finally, I decided it was about time that I read something of hers myself.

For a variety of reasons, I chose to start with Dawn, the first book of the Xenogenesis series. It is followed by Adulthood Rites and Imago--all three books have also been collected into a single volume called Lilith's Brood.

After humanity has destroyed itself itself in a nuclear holocaust, the few survivors are saved by an alien race known as the Oankali and put into suspended animation. Lilith Iyapo is chosen by them to become the leader, teacher, and protector of the first group of humans to be returned to Earth. But before this can happen, she must first learn to live with and accept the Oankali, who are terrifying in their differences. And they are not entirely innocent in their seemingly magnanimous efforts to save the human race--humanity may be changed forever.

Lilith is a fascinating character who develops tremendously as the novel progresses--she's not shallow or static. Particularly important to her development are her interactions and relationships with the Oankali and subsequently her interactions and relationships to her fellow humans. Needless to say--it's complicated.

I was completely blown away by this book and the amount of thought-provoking material packed into a rather small volume. Almost constantly, I was reminded of the issues brought up in Radical Evolution by Joel Garreau. What exactly makes us human? Sex, sexuality, gender, violence, and relationships are only some of the issues that are addressed.

Dawn is definitely one of the best books that I've read in a while. With it, Butler has easily moved into the ranks of my favorite authors. I plan to read more of her work--basically anything I can get my hands on--starting with the next two books in Xenogenesis.