I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to read one of Octavia E. Butler’s novels, but I’m glad I finally chose this one to start with. The woman was an icon of science-fiction, winning four Nebula Awards, two Hugo awards, and was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame posthumously, so I knew that anything I chose would be good. I just didn’t realize I would like it as much as I did.
Lilith Iyapo only just barely survived the nuclear war. She’s saved by mysterious forces, and after what feels like an eternity of sleeping and waking in solitary confinement she finally meets her rescuers. The Oankali are horrifyingly alien, covered in tentacles and possessing technology Lilith can’t even begin to understand. They’ve kept her in suspended animation for most of the last two centuries, and now they’re planning to return her and the thousands of other human survivors to Earth. The price for this – for saving them, for curing cancer and other diseases, for fixing the planet – is that the humans will crossbreed with the Oankali. And no, they don’t have a choice about it.
In one generation, the human race as we know it will cease to exist.