Parable of the Sower: How Octavia Butler Creates Worlds

Rais Tuluka
5 min readDec 13, 2019

How are new worlds created? The goal of every Science Fiction writer, I believe, is to create new worlds while making them tangible at the same time.

Octavia Butler’s novel, Parable of the Sower, is a master class in world creation, crafting a narrative where imagination and religion are tools used to bring to life a previously unseen reality.

Her world is created by the forces of imagination and religion in the hopes of birthing a utopia. Together, both forces come together to place a spotlight on their ability to remove an individual from an old way of being in order to give life to something new and previously nonexistent.

Imagination and religion are two halves of the same process which fosters change. Through the writings of Jeffrey Kripal, connections between religion and imagination work to highlight the future Octavia Butler’s characters aspire to establish.

Parable of the Sower maintains themes of growth and change. The characters, lead by Lauren Olamina, wrestle with how to create an ideal future, especially when the past and present aren’t exactly desirable. Through Lauren’s created religion called “Earthseed,” the text’s themes of growth and change are evident.

The central tenet of the Earthseed religion is simple, things must change:

“All that you touch You Change./All that you Change Changes you./The only lasting truth Is Change./God Is Change” (Butler 3).

In order to get the reader invested in the world, change is deified, becoming synonymous with God itself. Change becomes a force. The religion of Earthseed is founded in a principle of change. Separately, the connection Lauren and her father share in their different religions symbolizes that change as well.

Reverend Olamina represents the old, static world of Baptist Christianity while Lauren represents the untapped and dynamic futurity of her new religion’s possibilities. Earthseed encourages all of its adherents to realize their…

Rais Tuluka

I write for my future children.