Octavia E. Butler

"Clay's Ark"

(Reviewed by Judi Clark OCT 1, 1998)

Clay's Ark by Octavia E. Butler

The central character, Eli, is the only survivor of a ship wreck (space ship, that is), and is carrying an alien disease/life form that redesigns the human body and is intent on taking over all human bodies. The "disease" is highly communicable and the alien life form drives it's host to thrive for physical contact. What makes this book interesting is how Elli strives to keep his humanity by trying to "contain" this disease and the measures he and his "family" must take to "feed" this alien life form.

OK, I've told you enough. Go pick up your own copy! You'll not be disappointed by Ms. Butler's writing style and story. This book is number five in the "Patternist" series. I didn't miss not having read the others first, the story stands on its own. But of course, I promise to do due diligence on this series later.

I was surprised to discover that this book was copyrighted in 1984 since I only heard about it sometime last year while browsing Amazon.com. I hadn't realized I was ordering a "classic!"

  • Amazon.com reader rating: from 19 reviews

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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)

Patternist Series:

Xenogenesis Series:

Earthseed Series:


E-Book Study Guide:



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Book Marks:


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About the Author:

Octavia E. ButlerOctavia Butler was born in 1947 and was raised in Pasadena, California. Her father, a shoeshiner, died when she was a baby and thus she was raised as an only child by her mother and grandmother. Butler grew up in a struggling, racially mixed neighborhood. She started writing as a child.

She received an associate degree from Pasadena City College in 1968 and then enrolled at California State University in Los Angeles. She left CalState and took writing classes at UCLA extension.

Butler is one of the very few African-American women science fiction writers. She won both Hugo and Nebula awards and was the first science fiction writer ever to be a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant, which she received in 1995. In 2000, she received the PEN American Center Lifetime Achievement Award.

She moved to Seattle in November 1999. She died outside her home on February 24, 2006 at the age of 58. It is unclear if she suffered a head injury from a fall or a stroke.

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