A stunning series about the complications of alien-human relations from the acclaimed “grand dame of science fiction,” Octavia E. Butler.
250 years after humans ruined the Earth with a nuclear war, a survivor wakes up on an alien ship. Lilith Iyapo doesn’t quite know what to make of her captors, but she does know that they’re the only reason she’s alive. The first human to be awakened by the Oankali, Lilith is initially repulsed by their alien nature. With sensory tentacles in place of other organs, it seems impossible to feel comfortable in their presence. But as she grows to learn more about them, she is intrigued. The Oankali want to interbreed with humans, a process they see as mutually beneficial. Lilith’s conflicted feelings intensify when the other surviving humans rebel against this idea. Further installments explore the tense Oankali-human relations as a few interbred “constructs” are born and grapple to navigate their dual world.
It’s easy to slip into the twists and turns of Xenogenesis through the voice of Aldrich Barrett. Characters leap to life with her resonant performance of the haunting story of a post-apocalypse humanity. Lilith and her choices will seem more real than ever as you listen to them play out with breathless suspense. Barrett continues to bring the complicated alien-human world of Xenogenesis to life throughout the series.
Author Octavia E. Butler uses her Xenogenesis series to explore themes of sexuality, gender, race, and species. The choices of the aliens, forced through power imbalance on the humans, mirror real-world histories such as the struggle of mixed-race children, internment camps, and eugenics. Drawing inspiration from various sources, the main character, Lilith, is named after a pivotal figure in Jewish mythology.
Orson Scott Card commended Xenogenesis for demonstrating the increasing "power" of Butler’s storytelling, while Adele Newson praises its debut novel, Dawn, as showcasing "a single-minded intensity". Dawn, Adulthood Rites, and Imago were all nominated for the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel in their year of publication (1987, 1988, and 1989).