Summary: The subject of Doro’s breeding program, after several thousand years, comes of age.
The first book in this series, Wild Seed, was more of a prequel than the first book in the series.
Doro is some type of mutant person that was born about 4000 years ago. He accidentally discovered that he could leave one body and take over another, giving him a type of immortality. Eventually he started a breeding program to create a people for himself. And he took on a type of God role for them. This breeding program both gives him some type of purpose (this book really discloses the purpose of the program) and a ready source of bodies to take over.
This book opens in the 1970s (roughly current time period because it was written in 1977), jumping more than 100 years from the end of Wild Seed (which moved about 300 years during the book.) Doro finds Mary, a young abused girl, and gives her to Anyanwu (now called Emma) to care for and raise.
As Mary gets older and ’transitions’ to her full powers, she is more like Doro than any other of his previous ‘children’. Mary creates ‘patterns’ (the source of the series name) and draws people under her power.
Suddenly Mary, not completely unlike Doro, controls people and draws strength from them. This necessarily creates a tiered class system with Mary on top, those with psychic powers next (that Mary controls and empowers in a symbiotic way) and then the ‘mutes’ that do not have any psychic powers. The pattern requires new members to be sustained. But anyone that is part of the pattern cannot raise their own children (or even be around children for any length of time), so mutes must be controlled to raise children and do mundane tasks.
Once again, Butler is writing a speculative fiction book that looks at a type of slavery that is somewhat benevolent (because the mutes are under a type of mind control where they cannot want anything other than to serve). And Mary really does care for her pattern and seeks what is best for it. But still it is a type of slavery that requires using lower members.
There is a real plot here and characters, but unlike Wild Seed, which was more about character development for Doro and Anyanwu over a long period of time, Mind of My Mind is more about speculating on the idea of this new society. Anyanwu is barely a part of the book. Doro is still an amoral character, but less the evil cardboard character.
Mary, in many ways, is the interesting character because she was created by Doro for a purpose and does not seem to have any ability to break free of that created purpose regardless of her desires. So she ends up being much like Doro, even if that is not really her wish.
Again, this is a hard book to read, especially the first 100 pages or so. After that the story is not as rough in my mind and more interesting. The dark themes did not ease up, but moving away from the forced breeding program into the rise of the pattern was easier for me to read about.
I have started the next book in the series, which continues to radically change the story line.
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