Of all the works we have read so far, the series Lilith's Brood reminds me most of other science fiction books I've read. It has several things I feel to be typical staples of the SciFi genre, parts that are most often shared with other novels in the category. These include the presence of an intrusive alien species, some great war that leaves our current perception of Earth in ruin, and advancement of human life and health through some means. The most noticeable and most pertinent theme, though, is that of Xenophobia, one I feel plays out most often in science fiction books.
This book made me think entirely too hard about things I am not comfortable thinking about - what is human, what is free will, do humans really suck this much, etc etc etc. Now that I've finished, I'm still stuck thinking about it, but I am having a difficult time grounding what I have to say in the text, or even articulating it in something approaching a coherent fashion. I'll give it a shot, though.
The Oankali are a lot like Europeans/Americans.
There, I said it. Certainly, it's not the only metaphor that can be drawn from the relationship between Human and Oankali in Lilith's Brood, but it's an interesting one to look at. In light of the colonialist implications discussed in class, it's also one of the more obvious ones. There is, however, a defined parallel understanding of Human-Oankali relations with regard to race.
After getting back at 2am from winning a Bay Area ultimate tournament that puts Claremont into the top 16 teams in the country... I'll take this one off.
In the Lilith's Brood trilogy, "Imago" is the first time we get a first person narration. It's the voice of an ooloi, and therefore one of the most foreign to us in the world of the book. This functions on several different levels. It serves the utilitarian function of decreasing the number of "it"s in the text, making syntax more understandable overall. But it also sets up a very interesting self-and-other construct, removing it from the societal and making it far more individual.
Octavia Butler uses dialogue throughout the book to say a great deal more than one would initially interpret. She uses the Oankali and their projected image of omniscience to convey criticism of humanity and our civilization, even in situations where the Human culture is not specifically under scrutiny. Less helpful to the story is her tendency to constantly ram the "Human Conflict/Contradiction" down the throats of her readers, yet never properly investigating just what is so flawed in it.
Despite the fact that I really enjoyed Lilith's Brood, I'm skipping this reading response. I've just had a lot of writing to do recently...
As a humanist leech, I sometimes feel left out of certain SF authors' visions of the future. In Starship Troopers, disciplines like philosophy are entirely ceded to the sciences--viz. the constant references to "mathematically verifiable moral truths." And this is to say nothing of the uses of mimetic representation--a curious absence, given that such visions of the future are made via a sort of mimetic representation. We talked in class about whether there was art on Gethen in The Left Hand of Darkness. In Lilith's Brood, Butler explicitly states that there isn't art among the Resisters.
My reaction to Lilith's Brood after just reading the title was to think, "Lilith!
The Oankali in Lilith's Brood are distinctly alien, in many ways -- but the difference which persists longest and is most troublesome is their culture -- or apparent lack thereof. The Oankali apparently take the view that biology is everything -- that, given the scale of a group of humans throughout a lifetime, the genes they have within them ultimately decide the fate of the entires species. They believe that they can predict the lifestyle of the children their ooloi mix before the children are even born.