Adulthood Rites by Octavia Butler (1988)

Adulthood Rites by Octavia Butler

From the 1988 Warner Books edition of Adulthood Rites by Octavia Butler — Book 2 in the Xenogenesis Trilogy: “Human beings fear difference,” Lilith had told him once.

“Oankali crave difference. Humans persecute their different ones, yet they need to give themselves definition and status. Oankali seek difference and collect it.

They need it to keep themselves from stagnation. You’ll probably find both tendencies surfacing in your own behavior. When you feel a conflict, try to go the Oankali way. Embrace difference.”

In Dawn, the first volume of Hugo and Nebula Award-winner Octavia E. Butler’s mesmerizing Xenogenesis Trilogy, a dead poisoned Earth was miraculously saved by the alien biotechnology of the Oankali — for a price. The tentacled interplanetary beings were gene traders whose survival required constant hybridization.

And we were their new breeding stock, forced through genetic engineering to give birth to a new species. Those who resisted were allowed to go free and “sterilized” to become the last generation of humans …

Akin is the first human born male “construct” baby: son of Lilith Iyapo, her long-dead husband, and three Oankali. Unlike other constructs, Akin looks fully human.

But he can remember the womb he can taste molecular structures; he can kill with a toxic touch. In the trading village Lo, Akin blossoms within the complex love and psychic nature of his human and Oankali family — until he is stolen.

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Abducted by brutal raiders who sell babies to resister villages, he sees half-human infants threatened with mutilation to make them look more “normal.” Spared that fate, but facing death if he uses his powers, the child struggles to reconcile his alien perceptions with his human heritage, pride, and desperation.

By the time a rescue is planned, Akin is certain the constructs must preserve their human roots, that the resisters must be given fertility, and full-blooded humanity granted a second chance. But can the child convince his Oankali kin?

Already, resister towns are collapsing in suicide and savagery convincing the Oankali over again that resurrecting mankind would be folly — because the forces that had killed the Earth weren’t religious, economic, social, or political. They were genetic, unavoidable, and inevitable. Humanity existed to destroy itself. And must now be allowed to destroy itself — again.

In a brilliantly realized future world of eerie beauty and exotic life-forms beyond the cutting edge of genetic engineering, Octavia E. Butler presents a riveting adventure of survival and the quest for identity.

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