Among the many classics of science fiction literature, Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game has maintained a place far above even others that have been remembered for decades. When I was only a child in a family where scifi books were well-loved, Ender’s Game was the scifi book. I am unsure if it was my first introduction to the world of science fiction – I think not, there was an ancient paperback collection of short stories, as much pulp fiction as scifi, that I can recall thumbing through in various reading nooks – but it was one of my first exposures to the genre and it was one that stayed with me all my life. Having now re-read it, and having finished its sequel as well (with intentions to read the rest of the series), I can say that my memory of Ender’s Game had been both true and almost … mythologized over the years, faded in places, yes, but more than that. I had come to think about the book itself as somehow carrying, harboring, embodying not only all of the talk that scifi fans I knew had surrounded it with, but also all the talk and thought that I had come to craft for myself with reference to it. It is, I realize now, both the book I thought it was and, at the same time, perhaps no greater than many other works of science fiction. I say this not to diminish the wonder of Ender’s Game, because it is still among the shortstack of books I would hand to someone exploring scifi for the first time, but I say it because I now see the book as Card himself meant it to be: it is the prelude to the truly great work – Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead.
Reading Octavia Butler again reminds me of all the stories I said I wanted to write and the sort of person, creator, I’d hoped to be. I can’t figure out if I lost it or what? I mean, it feels like I’ve redirected some things and been too busy to even do that with others, but essentially? It feels like I genuinely forgot it, or maybe put it on pause, but for what? I know I’m investing in my future with this degree and I’m just stubborn enough to finish it, but then what?
I feel like I’m just waking up from a long sleep, with droopy eyelids and yawns filling my mouth. Part of me is comfortable and just wants to snuggle into the familiar – it would be easy, wouldn’t it? Yet another part of me is fighting the drowsiness, forcing me upright, dragging me into alertness, like a child on the morning of some promised day of fun: “You said! You promised! You promised!” I don’t know, don’t remember, what I said or promised to my 9 or 12, 16 or 19 year-old self. I barely remember what I promised myself last year, but there’s something startling in that little voice, something shrill and pleading and on the verge of tears, of utter broken disappointment. So all I can think now is, “Don’t cry. I’ll be right there. Just give me a minute, just a minute to wake up. I’m coming. I’m coming! I promise!”
The truth is, though, I’m scared. Even half-awake as I am, I don’t know if I remember how to peel away the covers, how to stand, to walk, to run, to keep up with that overeager, utterly optimistic part of me that’s just so sure that now is the time I promised to get up and go, that I’m ready and able to do everything I said I would. It would be easier to go back to sleep, wouldn’t it? Easier than collapsing after my first step and disappointing the voice that had been waiting for me? I don’t know if I can now, though, if I can fall back asleep and not just lay here awake but unmoving. Don’t I owe it to myself to try?
I promised, didn’t I?
Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
It’s a journey that you take along with the main character, as she grows and changes, struggles and learns, and as the people around her do the same. I love how poetic it is, how honest it is in its darkness without tending toward sensationalism. As a reader (especially with Lynne Thigpen’s fantastic audiobook performance), you become as horrified and as cynical as the primary characters at times, but you (like they) can never fully let go of that hope that there must be something more to find, to build, at the end of all that hardship and suffering, a way to survive, even thrive. And even through all the challenges and the loss, there are still those moments – of laughter, of beauty, of communion … of positive humanity, It is gorgeous, a masterfully written and authentic-to-humanity work and world.
It reminds me why I fell in love with Octavia Butler’s writing in the first place.
If I was going back to school/starting college for the first time around today and I wanted to develop expertise that would be portable, flexible, and applicable to a variety of interesting work spaces, I would probably pursue a combination of the following three (3) things:
1) computer sciences, specializing in web design/development, especially mobile optimization;
2) business anthropology, specializing not in consumer relations but investor relations for for-profit companies and donor relations for nonprofit organizations;
3) marketing & PR, specializing in interactive/social media marketing.
Most businesses already get it, even if they’re slow adopters, but many NPOs are still way behind the times.