Butler, Octavia E. Parable of the Sower.
Greenfield Open Stacks PS3552 .U827 P37 2016
Science fiction makes us aware of our sight’s present limitations, highlighting the gap between what is and what could be. Octavia E. Butler’s sci-fi centers around survival as a result of dark radical shifts in future society. Parable of the Sower, published in 1993 but set in 2020s America, forces reflection onto its readers—especially when read in 2018.
The book is composed of journal entries by protagonist Lauren Olamina, a teenager born with hyperempathy, sharing the physical pain of others she witnesses. The world around Lauren is collapsing due to corporate greed, climate change, racism, hostile police presence, gun violence, and walls. Following the brutal loss of her family and neighborhood, she is forced to navigate an altered world on her own in an attempt to walk north from California with no true destination, excruciatingly hindered by her hyperempathy.
Lauren’s beam of hope in this dystopia is her development of a new belief system called “Earthseed.” Its ultimate mantra is to accept Change in order to grow—the idea that Change is the lasting truth no matter how extreme. “God is Change; Embrace diversity or be destroyed.”
Butler wrote the ideas behind Earthseed out of the American fear of the unknown, and the potential for history to repeat itself over time. As a Black writer in a world that washes over people of color and racial politics in sci-fi, Butler’s books embed race into the narrative, just as it is embedded into reality. Parable of the Sower makes us reconsider the current state of our country, placing us in a state of anxiety alongside an acceptance to move forward with empathy and power.
I absolutely recommend picking up and checking out this book at the Greenfield Library Open Stacks (call # PS3552 .U827 .P37 2016.) There is also a graphic novel adaptation of Butler’s awesome book Kindred, which can be found as an eBook through EBSCOHost. Happy reading and reflecting!
~ Recommended by Victoria Schenck, Greenfield Library Circulation Assistant
Cop Rock: The Complete Series
Music Library MD962
Cop Rock, a true gift from the 90s. Steven Bochco and William M. Finkelstein have created a gritty police drama that also happens to be an American musical.
To give you an idea, the pilot opens with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) bursting into a home during a drug raid. Once all suspects have been apprehended and are being put into handcuffs, a beat drops and the ensemble of suspects break into a song expressing to the LAPD the amount of power they hold on the streets.
Being a product of its time, Cop Rock is very self-aware of tensions around police brutality, racial profiling, and analyzing the line of right and wrong. It touches on issues and conversations that we are still having to this day. Thematically, the show is a true drama, but the absurdism seeps in through the songs leading Cop Rock to float closer to a dark comedy. The pilot episode gives us a courtroom scene where the jury breaks into a gospel number to deliver their verdict.
In 2002 TV Guide ranked this show as #8 on their list of “50 Worst TV Shows of All Time”. After 11 episodes ABC canceled the show due to its critical and commercial failure. Cop Rock is infamous for being one of TV’s biggest failures in the 90s, but, thanks to a faculty request, we have it at UArts, ready to be checked out of the Music Library.
~ Recommended by Briana Gause, UArts Music Library Work Study Assistant