CLAY'S ARK by Octavia E. Butler
Kirkus Star

CLAY'S ARK

From the "Patternist" series, volume 5
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Despite the basic triteness of its premise and its backdrop: another technically scintillating novel from the author of Kindred (1979) and the Patternmaster series. Clay's Ark, the first interstellar spaceship, returns carrying a deadly alien parasite and crashes in the desert; only pilot Eli survives. Transformed by the parasite, he is stronger and faster than before and nearly invulnerable. But the alien unmercifully drives him to infect others. (There's a powerful sexual compulsion too.) So Eli takes over an isolated desert community, hoping to confine the disease there while shanghai-ing occasional new recruits—such as thoughtful doctor Blake Maslin and his daughters, self-reliant Rane and leukemia-stricken Keira. Soon, then, all three are infected; aware of the alien nature of the parasite, they try to escape. But a vicious bandit gang intervenes...and violent complications ensue. The parasite's victims are sympathetic—with superior abilities, tenderness, and the will to fight against their alien-inspired compulsions. On the other hand, these characters look terrible; they eat raw meat, carry contagion, produce non-human offspring. And Butler maintains this ambivalence beautifully throughout—in a strong, supple narrative with tense action. Superior science fiction, then, even if many readers will be disappointed by the non-originality of the parasite notion—and by the sketchy, cliched near-future setting.

Pub Date: March 22nd, 1984
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1984




MORE BY OCTAVIA E. BUTLER

Sci-FiUNEXPECTED STORIES by Octavia E. Butler
by Octavia E. Butler
FictionFLEDGLING by Octavia E. Butler
by Octavia E. Butler
FictionBLOODCHILD by Octavia E. Butler
by Octavia E. Butler
FictionPARABLE OF THE SOWER by Octavia E. Butler
by Octavia E. Butler