Saturday, August 31, 2019

Claire O’Dell

Claire O’Dell is the author of dozens of short stories and a number of SF/F novels, including the SF/Mystery series, The Janet Watson Chronicles, and the epic fantasy series River of Souls. Her first novel, Passion Play, won the 2010 RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Epic Fantasy. Her novel A Study in Honor won the 2019 Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Mystery. She currently lives in Connecticut with her family and two idiosyncratic cats.

Her two latest novels are The Hound of Justice (SF/Political Thriller) and A Jewel Bright Sea (Epic Fantasy/Romance).

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. O'Dell's reply:
I’m doing a lot of re-reading these days—mostly because I need to read stories I can depend upon. They help me disconnect from my own writing and let me return with a new perspective. Among the others I’ve been devouring of late:

Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler

What a grim and uncompromising novel. And yet, at the same time, it’s a novel about surviving, about hope, about the future of mankind.

Lauren Olamina is a young woman living in California, in a United States wracked by climate change and corporate greed. Water costs more than gasoline. Gasoline is only used by drug addicts to set fire. The only safe communities are those with walls and armed sentries, and even that safety is precarious. Lauren herself has given up on God and has invented her own religion called Earthseed. When drug-crazed hordes attack her community, she escapes and travels north, hoping to establish a new community based on Earthseed.

Butler’s book sounds all too plausible these days, even though she wrote the story in the early 1990s. It’s grim and yet hopeful, and it carries a message we need to hear.

Dawn, Octavia Butler

Once I start re-reading one book by Butler, I tend to read all the rest I have. Her prose is so very clean, so very streamlined, and her stories are fierce and unrelenting.

Dawn is the first in Butler’s Lilith’s Brood trilogy, and it starts a few centuries after a nuclear war nearly destroyed all humans. Lilith is one of a few thousand survivors, rescued by an alien race, the Oankali. These aliens have rescued as many humans as possible, studied them, kept them alive for centuries while they cleansed and reclaimed the Earth. They are willing to allow humankind to return to Earth, but only under their own conditions, no negotiations. Our genes will be mixed with yours, the Oankali tell Lilith. Your children will be more like ours. Very reluctantly, Lilith agrees to teach and shepherd one of the first groups to return. But to herself she vows to teach them to listen, then to run.
Visit Claire O’Dell's website.

The Page 69 Test: A Study in Honor.

--Marshal Zeringue