Perhaps her most famous novels were the Parable series, 1993's Parable of the Sower and 1998's Parable of the Talents. Like Speech Sounds, they depict a grim dystopian future in which American society has broken down. Normally that's not really my thing, but Speech Sounds contained a white-hot shard of hope at its core -- tiny and meek, but strong enough to burn through all the surrounding sadness.
From what I've learned, the Parable books contain a similar core of hope. In the post-apocalyptic future depicted therein, a new religion called Earthseed is slowly growing. Various chapters of the book are headed with snippets of the writings of Earthseed, and they're quite sublime...
We are Earthseed. We are flesh -- self-aware,and
questing, problem-solving flesh. We are that
aspect of Earthlife best able to shape God
knowingly. We are Earthlife maturing, Earthlife
preparing to fall away from the parent world.
We are Earthlife preparing to take root in
new ground, Earthlife fulfilling its purpose,
its promise, its Destiny.
All that you touchand
All that you Change
The only lasting truth
We are all Godseed, but no more or lessI don't know if space travel is featured in the plots of the Parable novels. From what I've seen, in those stories it sounds like humanity is far from recovering to the point of these dreams being realistic. All the more awe-inspiring for that to be the birthing ground of a religion so optimistic and upward-looking.
so than any other aspect of the universe,
Godseed is all there is -- all that
Changes. Earthseed is all that spreads
Earthlife to new earths. The universe is
Godseed. Only we are Earthseed. And the
Destiny of Earthseed is to take root among
Similarly to the invented religion from Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land, Octavia Butler's Earthseed has spawned a real-life movement... now called SolSeed. A look at their web page shows that they're evolving in new and interesting ways -- certainly not a mere fan club.
Butler planned four additional books in the Parable series... The Parables of the Trickster, Teacher, Chaos, and Clay. She took root among the stars, far too soon, at age 58.