I’m currently at the Shaping Change: Remembering Octavia E. Butler Through Archives, Art, and Worldmaking Conference in La Jolla, California. There has been a heavy emphasis throughout the conference on issues of racism, sexism, and heteronormativity/transphobia, and the majority of the presenters and attendees are persons of color and other minorities. As a white, cis-gendered, heterosexual male, I am acutely conscious of the potential that this Earthseed site might be seen as a form or white/patriarchal appropriation or colonization.
I created this site because Octavia Butler inspired me in a way that no other science fiction author ever has, and I because want to share what Butler revealed to me with others. I saw and continue to see in the Parable series great unexplored potential. I believe that religion can be a tool for great good or great evil, something which Butler herself explores in the Parable books. Religion is apparently not going away (although it is Changing), and I don’t want to leave this tool in the hands of others who work evil with it. Octavia Butler has shown a way that this tool can be used for good — to shape God, to shape Change, in the direction of a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world.
Others have been drawn to Butler’s writings for different reasons. And many of them are working to shape Change in different ways. I have met many of them at this conference, and I am inspired by and honor them all.
We are Earthseed, but neither this website, nor the small group of people who have gathered around it, are the exclusive representatives of Earthseed. The following excerpts from the Book of the Living describe what Earthseed is:
We are Earthseed
The life that perceives itself
We are Earthseed. We are flesh—self aware,
questing, problem-solving flesh. We are that
aspect of Earthlife best able to shape God
Earthseed is all that spreads
Earthlife to new earths.
(Interestingly, these three verses correspond to the three tenets: God is Change, Shape God, and the Destiny.)
These verses describe an inclusive vision of Earthseed. According to verse 20, all humans are Earthseed, because we have the ability to perceive Change. According to verse 22, we all have the potential to be Earthseed, when we Shape God knowingly, i.e., with wisdom and forethought (verse 43), generosity and compassion (verse 53), for the benefit of the world. According to verse 10, none of us are Earthseed yet, because we have yet to spread Earthlife to new earths — but we can all work toward that Destiny.
This website is just one expression of this vision. We are Earthseed, but we are not the only Earthseed.