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Mind of My Mind (The Patternist Series, Book 2) by Octavia Butler (read in 2015)

Published by marco on

Disclaimer: these are notes I took while reading this book. They include citations I found interesting or enlightening or particularly well-written. In some cases, I’ve pointed out which of these applies to which citation; in others, I have not. Any benefit you gain from reading these notes is purely incidental to the purpose they serve of reminding me what I once read. Please see Wikipedia for a summary if I’ve failed to provide one sufficient for your purposes. If my notes serve to trigger an interest in this book, then I’m happy for you.

This is book two of the Patternist series. The main character of the first part of the book is Doro, a 5000-year–old superbeing with enhanced mental powers. He is at least partially telepathic, though not so against other telepaths. But his primary power is the ability to force his way in to another being’s mind, eradicating that mind and replacing it with his own.

Doro is beyond human, superhuman, and views most of humanity as herd animals, for use as he pleases. He started a breeding program many millennia ago with another powerful woman, a shapeshifter and their progeny tend toward superpowers of the psychic kind. When we join them in the 20th century, the most successful of his offspring have herds of slaves tending to their every whim. The only hiccup to domination is that the transition from a person with potential to a being of great power is fraught with peril and must generally be midwifed by others who have survived the process. Doro lets them sink or swim but is aware of how much time and genetic material is lost with each failure. Another twist is that, while the most powerful are most likely to be able to help each other, they are also natural enemies who are bent on killing each other…usually.

The star of this book is Mary, a distant descendant, who transitions successfully, but in so doing becomes almost more powerful than Doro himself, capable of contacting and leading a whole society of powerful minds. In effect, Doro has succeeded in his program, but his progeny is ready to leave him and his rapacious dog-eat-dog society behind. They don’t need him, he’s too dangerous, they’ve moved beyond him. He’s not quite ready to let that happen, because he of course doesn’t see it that way. Their confrontation is inevitable, as is the result.


““We don’t harm people like the Dietrichs in any way. In fact they’re healthier and more comfortable now than they were before we found them. And the work they’re doing for us is work they enjoy.” “If they didn’t enjoy it, you’d change their minds for them.” “We might, but they wouldn’t be aware of it. They would be content.” The girl stared at her. “Do you think that makes it better?” “Not better. Kinder, in a frightening sort of way, I know. I’m not pretending that theirs is the best possible way of life, Page—although they think it is. They’re slaves and I wouldn’t trade places with them. But we, our kind, couldn’t exist long without them.” “Then maybe we shouldn’t exist! If our way is to enslave good people like the Dietrichs and let animals like my parents go free, the world would be better without us.””
Location 2869-2876
“unrelated to highlight: story idea froma dream: what if you had a world of owners and slaves, like elysium or like these patternists, but, instead of alowing them to build up experience from day to day, you just time-machined them back each day (or whatever) so that they couldn’t build up a revolution?”
Location 2980