Sequels are rarely as good as the original, but Octavia E. Butler's Parable of the Talents tops the imaginative vision of her 1994 Nebula Award-nominated outing, Parable of the Sower. In this latest installment, the futuristic world inherited by Larkin, the daughter of Lauren Olamina (the heroine of the first book), is a liberal's nightmare; there, most of the basic freedoms are repressed. This is a wry but intelligent cautionary tale -- science fiction with both heart and soul.

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