Butler, Octavia E. Fledgling. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2005. Summary
: Shori, a vampire genetically modified to walk in sunlight, awakens without any memory of her past. Her mother's family has been eradicated by unknown forces, and she barely escaped with her life. Now if she is to survive, she will need to relearn what it means to be Ina--and to convince the rest of Ina society that she really is one of them. Comments
: If I have one regret related to reading Fledging
, it is that I waited this long to read it. I guess a part of me was worried that it might be the first in an ongoing series that will never be finished, due to the author's untimely passing. But my worries were unfounded, and though it could have spawned same-universe sequels, this exquisite novel stands on its own. With clear-voiced, confident prose that is a vast improvement even over the half-baked, surreal excesses of Wild Seed
, Butler has delivered a story that it both entertaining on the surface and symbolically profound, invoking questions of social obligations and relations, as well as questions of race (for those who care about such things). Shori's blackness makes for an interesting counterpoint to the legendary whiteness of vampires, and if the racist conflict and fears of miscegenation emerging late in the book are a bit too pat, well, I can forgive it. And there's still plenty
to ruminate on relating to the symbiotic relationship between vampires and their respective human harems...with accompanying queerness. (Interesting how vampires in this world can be racist but not homophobic, isn't it?) My only real gripe was Butler's biological explanation for the matriarchy of vampires. It was too forced; I just don't see natural selection happening that way. Rating
- Only rarely does reading one book in an author's oeuvre make me want to run out right now and read the rest of the backlist. This book is one of them.