Zombie Book Club

Zombie Alien Cat-Boys - Octavia Butler's Clay's Ark (Book Review) | Zombie Book Club Ep25

December 24, 2023 Zombie Book Club Season 1 Episode 25
Zombie Alien Cat-Boys - Octavia Butler's Clay's Ark (Book Review) | Zombie Book Club Ep25
Zombie Book Club
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Zombie Book Club
Zombie Alien Cat-Boys - Octavia Butler's Clay's Ark (Book Review) | Zombie Book Club Ep25
Dec 24, 2023 Season 1 Episode 25
Zombie Book Club

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Have you ever pondered the thin line separating human from alien, or grappled with the notion that our primal instincts might override societal norms? Tune in as we journey through Octavia Butler's "Clay's Ark," a poignant and harrowing tale that compels us to confront such unsettling questions. With a trigger warning firmly in place, we launch into a robust dialogue on the challenging themes this novel tackles – from graphic violence to the nature of humanity in the face of a mysterious alien microorganism. As fans of Butler's work and the rich genre of Afrofuturism, we share our insights into her pioneering role as an African American voice in science fiction and reflect on the global issues her narratives eerily parallel.

This episode isn't just about the depth of Butler's storytelling; it's also a candid look into our own lives and preconceptions. We laugh over our disaster preparedness (or lack thereof), muse on family holiday visits, and even toy with the idea of a book club shake-up. As we probe the characters' inner turmoils and the novel's philosophical underpinnings, we question our autonomy in decision-making and the grip of biological drives on our actions. Whether discussing Eli's battle with civilized values or mulling over the potential emergence of a new apex species, we're not just analyzing a book – we're dissecting the core of what it means to be human.

Wrapping up, we delve into Butler's nuanced social commentary and representation, celebrating her triumphs in diversity and complex female characters while also acknowledging the era's limitations. We debate the expanded definition of zombies, ponder over a post-apocalyptic world's ethical dilemmas, and leave you with a hearty recommendation for "Parable of the Sower." Our episode is a tapestry woven with humor, passion, and the occasional existential crisis. So, whether you're here for the thought-provoking content or to see if we'll finally get that book club departure, join us for a conversation that promises to be good.



Follow our linktree for social media links, and links to all the places you can find our podcast! https://linktr.ee/zombiebookclub


Follow our linktree for social media links, and links to all the places you can find our podcast!
https://linktr.ee/zombiebookclub

ZBC Discord Server
https://discord.com/invite/8hCSb4eg

Zombie Book Club Voicemail
(614) 699-0006‬

Zombie Book Club Email
ZombieBookClubPodcast@gmail.com

Our Secret Website That Isn't Finished
https://zombiebookclub.io

Our Merchandise Store (Where you can find our Evil Magic Chicken Zombie Shirts)
https://zombie-book-club.myspreadshop.com

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Have you ever pondered the thin line separating human from alien, or grappled with the notion that our primal instincts might override societal norms? Tune in as we journey through Octavia Butler's "Clay's Ark," a poignant and harrowing tale that compels us to confront such unsettling questions. With a trigger warning firmly in place, we launch into a robust dialogue on the challenging themes this novel tackles – from graphic violence to the nature of humanity in the face of a mysterious alien microorganism. As fans of Butler's work and the rich genre of Afrofuturism, we share our insights into her pioneering role as an African American voice in science fiction and reflect on the global issues her narratives eerily parallel.

This episode isn't just about the depth of Butler's storytelling; it's also a candid look into our own lives and preconceptions. We laugh over our disaster preparedness (or lack thereof), muse on family holiday visits, and even toy with the idea of a book club shake-up. As we probe the characters' inner turmoils and the novel's philosophical underpinnings, we question our autonomy in decision-making and the grip of biological drives on our actions. Whether discussing Eli's battle with civilized values or mulling over the potential emergence of a new apex species, we're not just analyzing a book – we're dissecting the core of what it means to be human.

Wrapping up, we delve into Butler's nuanced social commentary and representation, celebrating her triumphs in diversity and complex female characters while also acknowledging the era's limitations. We debate the expanded definition of zombies, ponder over a post-apocalyptic world's ethical dilemmas, and leave you with a hearty recommendation for "Parable of the Sower." Our episode is a tapestry woven with humor, passion, and the occasional existential crisis. So, whether you're here for the thought-provoking content or to see if we'll finally get that book club departure, join us for a conversation that promises to be good.



Follow our linktree for social media links, and links to all the places you can find our podcast! https://linktr.ee/zombiebookclub


Follow our linktree for social media links, and links to all the places you can find our podcast!
https://linktr.ee/zombiebookclub

ZBC Discord Server
https://discord.com/invite/8hCSb4eg

Zombie Book Club Voicemail
(614) 699-0006‬

Zombie Book Club Email
ZombieBookClubPodcast@gmail.com

Our Secret Website That Isn't Finished
https://zombiebookclub.io

Our Merchandise Store (Where you can find our Evil Magic Chicken Zombie Shirts)
https://zombie-book-club.myspreadshop.com

Speaker 1:

I have some trigger warnings before we get started. First of all, you're going to hear Dan use words like prescience and maybe have to look them up, because I sure did. But in seriousness, clay's Ark by Octavia Butler does contain several elements that may be distressing or triggering for some readers. These include graphic violence, sexual assault, incest and potentially distressing themes related to survival, ethical dilemmas and the human condition under extreme circumstances. I know that if you're a zombie genre fan, a lot of these things may be familiar for you, but particularly the sexual assault and the incest is a lot. There's a lot.

Speaker 2:

I wish somebody warned me.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah. Dan came home one day from working, his eyes were like why? And he was like Leah, how far have you gotten in the book? Yeah, and I was like not as far as you, clearly. So if those themes can be difficult for you, it's totally okay to skip this one.

Speaker 2:

Octavia Butler's Clay's Ark is a novel where humanity's grip on normalcy is as tenuous as a thread in the cosmic tapestry. Set in a world teetering on the break, the return of a single spaceship the Clay's Ark that's the name of it it's the ship unleashes an alien microorganism with the power to rewrite not just the human body but the very fabric of human existence. Butler doesn't just tell a story. She thrust us into a visceral narrative where the lines between human and alien blur, where survival clashes with morality and where the concept of us versus them gets an extraterrestrial makeover.

Speaker 1:

Extreme home makeover.

Speaker 2:

That's not what it says. That's what I mean. This isn't just science fiction. It's a mirror held up to our own faces, reflecting our fears of the unknown, of diseases, of people different from ourselves. In a literary landscape starved of diverse voices, clay's Ark erupted like a supernova, challenging conventions and expectations.

Speaker 2:

Butler a visionary and predominantly white male dominated field, science fiction brought not only her African American heritage into her narrative, but also infused it with her acute awareness of the human condition. Known as the mother of Afrofuturism, butler has inspired a new generation of writers and artists with her unique blend of science fiction and African American cultural themes. Her stories are a testament to the resilience and adaptability of life, but also a stark reminder of its fragility. In a time where our own world grapples with pandemics and societal divides, clay's Ark resonates with eerie prescience, echoing our struggles, fears and the unyielding human spirit.

Speaker 2:

The reception of Clay's Ark was as complex as its narrative. Critics and readers alike were polarized. Some applauded Butler's unflinching exploration of difficult themes, while others recoiled from its raw, unvarnished depiction of humanity under siege. Its legacy, however, is undeniable. Clay's Ark stands as a monument to speculative fiction's power to confront the uncomfortable, to question the status quo and to challenge us to look beyond our immediate selves. It's a journey that's unsettling, provocative and utterly human.

Speaker 2:

Octavia Butler didn't just write a book. She crafted a lens through which we view the world and ourselves forever altered, just like Clay's Ark. Guess what the book's about? Welcome to the Zombie Book Club, the only book club where the book was written in 1984, set in 2021, and the outlook for humanity is that we all became alien, hybrid cat creature zombies. Hi, I'm Dan and I'm a writer, and when I'm not cooking my world-famous chili, which I took from a man named Nate after a pistol duel, I'm writing a book about a single mom who runs out of gas during a zombie outbreak and has no choice but to accept help from a truck driver Hopefully a nice one.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, let's cross your drivers. That could be the beginning of our first period, and I'm Leah. Over the years I've often said that this world of humanity is such a trash fire that I'd be okay with being abducted by aliens. I actually think it could be fun, but I never considered that the aliens could be an insentient meaning. They are not. I don't think they're smart. I guess we'll find out Extraterrestrial virus from Proxima Centauri that would turn humans into lust-driven zombies. Very, very lusty, oh yeah.

Speaker 2:

Today we're talking about Octavia Butler's Afrofutress zombie novel Clay's Ark. We release episodes every two weeks on Sunday. Join the club and subscribe. Hit that sub button. Hit it or follow or join whatever the button says. If there's a button, press it. Unless it says unsubscribe, don't hit that one. That will do something bad probably.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I know there's five stars somewhere. You could hit those too.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, nothing less than five, though. So if you see less than five stars, don't hit it.

Speaker 1:

Personal life update Dan.

Speaker 2:

Personal life update Leah.

Speaker 1:

I feel like a split personality, where half of me is observing a genocide in Palestine and the Congo and Sudan because I think for better of the world. Ultimately, we're at a point in humanity where all eyes are actually westernized. Folks who typically don't have to see or experience these things are witnessing what we are all partially responsible for in the world and they are atrocities to humankind way worse than any zombie apocalypse thing I've ever seen. But the other half of me because I do live in the United States is laughing at cute puppy videos and watching Bar Rescue with Dan. So that's my update, yeah, and in other completely it feels like split personality psychopathic news, my art's getting put up in a gallery, so that's nice. I don't know. It's really weird and hard to have a good time and know that people are, yeah, being brutally murdered en masse. But I'm trying. In other news, I'm also officially going to quit the book club. Oh, you're quitting, I'm quitting, I can't do it anymore, Dan.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you can't, you can't do the book club.

Speaker 1:

I cannot, but don't worry, it's not this one. It's my real life one because I ain't got no time for it. I tried to stay on top of it and it was like my first foray into making friends in Vermont, and they're nice people. It's fine, but like every time I'm supposed to go, dan, what do I say to you? I?

Speaker 2:

don't want to go yeah.

Speaker 1:

So I think it's time to accept that my allegiance is to zombie book club and I don't need real life book club friends.

Speaker 2:

You know, and to go back to horrifying atrocities and things like that, this is something that I've struggled with most of my adult life because, you know, I think now we have a lot more visibility about things like this, but back when I was witnessing atrocities, there was only like you can only see it on Fox News, and it was definitely through a, through a thick lens that they gave, that they gave everybody, which is like uh, ura America.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Let's, let's go kill people who are different from us because they're they weren't smart enough to be born American in Iraq.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I like the name of the place too, Um yeah. So like when, when I came back from all that, I kind of came back to this like shocked state of like seeing that everybody was just kind of obliviously living their lives with no knowledge that anything could go wrong. They're lives like I went around every corner wondering if I was going to explode and you know, they would just kind of like bumble their way through life with you know, thinking that nothing could ever hurt.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, anybody who's like middle class white, hasn't had anything traumatizing happen to them, I think is pretty, is pretty out of touch with the possibility of death, and that we're all not that far away from from real suffering. But I think what's been disturbing is I took international development studies. That was my undergraduate degree. Globalization studies was my master's, so I spend a lot of time looking at and thinking about, like what is the role of us in the West with all of the atrocities that happen overseas and here actually? But it's one thing to like read about it. It's been another thing to like literally be scrolling Instagram and it's like cute puppy, a bunch of dead children. It's really, it's really interesting and I just hope that I'm. The only thing I can take from this is that I hope that people are waking up here and that everybody's doing their little bit that they can, and yeah, I think the majority of people disagree with what's going on in Palestine.

Speaker 2:

They don't. They don't think that the US as a government is handling it very well.

Speaker 1:

No, and that is encouraging, and the whole world is standing up, so that's what gives me hope is like people are actually doing something. This dust been going on forever and it's not new, but I think people are waking up and that's, I guess, the beginning of revolution.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, my personal life update, leah. You know, as, as an adult who's living in the world, I've found that it's really difficult to like make the effort to go find friends. Yeah, you know, I've I've gone through periods in my life where I've either had a great deal of friends or very few friends, and now I'm just at a place where I'm just like, fuck, I gotta go find friends. If I find a friend or they're gonna want to have like hang out with me, do I have to make a commitment to them a certain number of days, in a week or a month, and it's it's. It's kind of it's kind of stressful. I don't know if I even want friends, but you know what I've I've been, I've been working on it, I've been trying. Let that out.

Speaker 2:

You know a lot like your, you joining your your real life book club where you know you want to like go be with people and do things with people and maybe make connections with people and make friends that way and you know, after a certain amount of time it's just like you don't want to be friends with those people.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, they're fine and like maybe I would, but not in the book club setting.

Speaker 2:

I feel the same way. It's like if, like, how much. How much effort am I going to put into somebody before I realize I don't like this person? Am I just too old? Do you just get too old to make?

Speaker 1:

friends? I don't think so, but I do think like knowing what you want in a friend is important, like something I realized is I like people who are politically active, like zombies? Not, zombies are politically active. That sounds like I was saying that some of them are.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Maybe they have like a political slogan t-shirt on when they get bit. But anyhow, I yeah, I like people who want to make change in the world. I like people who like any mallets and I like people who like art. I like people who like psychedelics. So that's what I'm looking for and like the book club is interesting, but it's just not. It's not for me.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, other news. So when this comes out, we'll probably be at my mom's house. That's true. I'm traveling. We all see my family for the holidays. You know, I don't I don't really visit very often my family and a lot like when it comes to making friends, I'm kind of OK with not seeing my family very often. But you know what, every now and then it feels good and then, as soon as I as long as I make it short- that is really key.

Speaker 2:

And oh, also since last episode about the CDC, we now have six gallons of fresh water stored which is three days for you and me and none for the dogs. So we have to.

Speaker 1:

We need to get a little more.

Speaker 2:

Well, the dogs always have like at least a gallon. Right now that looks like a quarter of a gallon.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's true, they typically have some water. But yeah, we are slightly more prepared. I'd give us a 72.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, we will survive at least 48 hours. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Well, you know what we should? We should jump into this Leah.

Speaker 1:

Yes, let's do this. I will just say off the bat I love this book. Dan might have different feelings, but I'm very excited to talk about it. It's been a long time coming. I finished this book like a month ago, and the fact that I still remember what happened and how it ended is very rare for my brain. But Dan's going to do the synopsis.

Speaker 2:

Oh, I am, I'm going to do it. I'm going to do the plot. You're going to do the plot. Clay's Ark 1984 is a novel by American science fiction author Octavia E Butler. What does the E stand for? We don't know. It's impossible to know that, the last published for patternist series. The novel serves as a prequel to accounts that accounts the arrival of the Clay's Ark disease that leads to the evolution of clay clay arcs, which those sound like interesting books. Spoiler alert.

Speaker 1:

I'm going to read them.

Speaker 2:

The mutants that threaten human survival in the series debut novel, 1976's pattern master and 1978's survivor Not to be confused with survivor by Jeff Probst Jeff Probst, yes, not the same thing which Butler later disavowed. Oh, now I'm curious, that's interesting.

Speaker 1:

Also, I'll let you know that that whole first paragraph you wrote read was from Wikipedia.

Speaker 2:

This was from Wikipedia. Even the parts that sound like I was adlibbing, though that's in there.

Speaker 1:

Let's back and forth a little bit, because there's a lot you got to know here. To have some context, first of all, if you haven't read it, that's okay, but if you want to read it and you don't want us to spoil it, as usual, you might want to pause this, but it's set in California's Mojave Desert in 2021. So two years ago as of this recording, which is 37 years in the future from the time of publishing. So Octavia is imagining a world 37 years after 1984. It's definitely a dystopia. People live in heavily gated communities if they have any kind of wealth. Cars are rare and there are these arm nomads that are called car families that are just roaming around trying to steal from people to survive, basically.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, they're a lot of fun. So main characters we've got a physician, blake Maslin, and his twin daughters, rain and Kira, who live in Southern California.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and we see them get kidnapped while traveling across the Mojave Desert. I don't know why they were traveling anymore, so is it? Kira?

Speaker 2:

who has leukemia. Yes, that's a really key point here. They're traveling somewhere to get treatment for Kira's leukemia In the future. They do have a cure for leukemia, but for some reason it didn't take with hers. It was too far advanced. So I guess, maybe because there's a cure for it, there's not a lot of treatment options for people who can't get cured.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and in terms of age of Kira and Rain, I think they're like late teens, early 20s, somewhere in there. They don't say but they're young-ish adults. That's what I gathered. Teeny adults, twins, twin adults yeah, twin adults Somewhere in there, but they're in their trip across the Mojave Desert. They decide to take a road that literally says don't take this road unless you want to get robbed, essentially, and they take it. Yeah, it's not a good idea no, and they get kidnapped.

Speaker 2:

Our antagonists. The first one is Eli Doyle, the sole survivor of the spaceship Clay's Ark, which crashed into the desert after a mission to another planet. Eli is infected with an alien microorganism that enhances physical and sensory abilities, but also controls behavior for its propagation. He's a zombie. He's a zombie. So Eli's strategy is to. He forms a secluded ranch. He's a ranch family. He's a family ranch ranch dressing.

Speaker 1:

He comes across this ranch family as he escapes from the burning spaceship. He finds this ranch family and I think at that point he realizes that if he goes any further he's going to just infect everybody. So he decides I'm just going to infect these people and make them my family.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so basically to appease the microorganism side of himself, he creates this ranch to slowly add members to his family, because that's what the microorganism wants him to do, and he figures that this is a way that he can control that.

Speaker 1:

It's extremely horny microorganism.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, they want him to bang and touch people. They do they get sexual satisfaction just by lightly grushing against somebody. It sounds like fun.

Speaker 1:

But the result is mutant offspring.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so if infected women give birth, they give birth to a fink-like, intelligent quadruped quadruped. They call them clay arcs. I've read a lot of things that suggest that it does. I don't remember it.

Speaker 1:

Maybe they call them that in the other books.

Speaker 2:

Maybe they see uninfected humans as food in a potential infection house.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, they think that humans look tasty. So when this family, eli's family, ranch family are the folks who abduct Blake, rain and Kira and of course they become infected because literally, as Dan said, all you have to do is lightly brush up against somebody and then you've got it, you don't have to bite anything, it's kind of disappointing.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it should be noted and we didn't have it in our notes here is that not everybody who gets infected will survive. So the ranch family has done a lot of research on this and experimented a lot, and they found out that multiple inoculations are the way to guarantee a better outcome. So they keep people on the ranch and scratch them. They give them scratches, they just scratch them. Yeah, they don't even tell these come up and they're just like, yeah, they ejaculate when they scratch somebody.

Speaker 2:

Oh, that felt great. They're like. Meanwhile, the person who got scratched is like what the fuck? So, yeah, so being around a large group of different infected people increases the chances that a single person will survive.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and the reason why they're abducting people to grow this ranch family is because one some of them die and they need people to live, to be a part of the community. But the reason they need that is because Eli is trying desperately to cling on to any part of his humane that's available to him. Do a great job too.

Speaker 1:

So great. So his solution to the fact that they all want to bang each other all the time, including their people who are siblings or like parent-child relationships before they are infected with this extraterrestrial zombie virus or microorganism, whatever, is to kidnap people of the correct gender and then essentially assign them a relationship of somebody who does not have someone to bang on the ranch.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's really progressive like that, yeah. So yeah, blake's family Rain and Kira they go to this ranch and they feed him a lovely chicken dinner, and that's probably the only part that I really enjoyed was hearing about their food experience.

Speaker 1:

Really yeah. Then there's a lot of ex-deter. It was a good dinner, as Dan will talk about more later. They're at the ranch for a really long time, but eventually, the whole time they're trying to escape. Eventually they do escape, not before Kira falls in love with Eli and consensually has sex with him. There is consensual sex in this as well.

Speaker 2:

Also, rain kind of falls in love with another dude on the ranch. She thinks he's all right. Yeah, she thinks he's okay.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, they seem more accepting. Blake is like get the fuck out of here and go to a hospital, save everybody.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Go into quarantine immediately.

Speaker 2:

Even though they explain to him very clearly that if he goes to a hospital he'll infect everybody in the hospital. But I don't know. We'll get into that later. So Blake's family decides to escape and they're actually successful, despite these people's enhanced abilities. One of their enhanced abilities is to be able to predict things based on somebody's facial expressions. They can like, they're like truth truth messengers. You're lie detectors, truth messengers. They follow the truth Anyways. They somehow escape, but then they are captured by a car family.

Speaker 1:

You've heard of those, yeah everybody knows that a car family is, and this car family is angry, grumpy people and there's a lot of yeah, the car family engages in a lot of sexual assault and also there's parts where this is where the incest comes in, where Blake and Kira really, really want to have sex with each other, but they pull them apart.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, like weird.

Speaker 1:

It's a weird little time there at the car family abduction. But while that's happening, all they can hope for is that the people that they were trying to get away from save them.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, but that not before. Rain, who attempts to escape the car family after a really brutal scene which I am not going to discuss in detail, see trigger warning. Yeah, we're not even going to talk about it. Yeah, she gets her hands on a gun and she mows down a couple people and then she tries to escape and it doesn't go very well. She ends up getting decapitated and Blake does escape, but in escaping he runs out in front of an 18 wheeler who, like, swerves off the road to hit him and then the truck driver tries to rob Blake's body because he thought that he was dead and Blake scratches him instinctively Can't help myself. Truck driver takes off infected.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and Blake does Damn truck drivers and Kira escapes thanks to another character, jacob, which is one of these things second generation, extraterrestrial, zombie things, people.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, Jacob's great.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, he actually finds Kira and like helps her escape and ironically, or I don't know, I don't know, she's cured of leukemia by the clay arc.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I kind of saw that like if this microorganism kind of like rearranges human DNA to like have all of these extra abilities and you know to be stronger and faster and smarter, like why wouldn't it also be able to cure leukemia?

Speaker 1:

I don't know, because it kills most people. So it's like a really strange benefit that they're like, nope, leukemia, no big deal. But then she returns to the ranch. Essentially she's the last one with her family and she's pregnant with Eli's kid, future clay arc.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so happy ending.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's the beginning of the pattern is series, so we got definitely got to read the rest of them. So, let's, let's get into what is a zombie.

Speaker 2:

What is a zombie?

Speaker 1:

Because when you were first reading this, you obviously started before I did and you were like these are not zombies. And I, before I even read it, I was like yes, they are.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you know I had a hard time with this book because it doesn't. It doesn't follow what our zombie fans like expect from a zombie story.

Speaker 1:

Let's talk about the type of zombie which was hotly debated in this household for quite a while. But I'm going to start with just describing what happens when you were infected with alien microorganism. So when you are infected with this alien microorganism, clay arc, it does not kill. If it does not kill you, it will make you be able to smell things at an extremely heightened level, especially the smell of other humans, hormones, especially hormones of somebody's horny, aka fertile Dudes. It's very hetero, this world. Dudes cannot help themselves and women also are like hello guy, if I'm not impregnated, all I want to do is have sex with you until I am.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's what's happening until they've already been impregnated. They are also extremely fast and agile, so these are fast zombies.

Speaker 2:

They're kind of like the vampires from Twilight, where they're like you know when Bella and, and, and what's his face, robert Patterson, they go jump and jump through the trees of the Pacific Northwest, but they don't glisten in the Sun.

Speaker 1:

They're really like they are very thin because they have to consume a lot of food. Yeah, they're hungry all the time because, unlike zombies like eating or infecting that, humans doesn't feed them. It's just like the microorganism makes this like unbearable Desire that becomes hot, like more and more heightened, until you finally infect somebody else.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it should also be noted that the the uninfected people, when they look at the infected people they Think that the infected people look kind of ugly and ill and gross.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, gray.

Speaker 2:

Yeah gray is the aliens too thin and you know, scrawny and sickly, and but they're still attracted to them.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, there's something about the microorganism that must, like, send off a scent or whatever, but they are very hungry and very horny, and extremely fast, as I said, and in the early days they're not really able to control themselves, both in the holding themselves back from infecting others and that's impossible but also just fucking. Like I said, kira Basically attacks her dad trying to have sex with him when she's in the early days of infection and her dad is so horny that he blacks out and doesn't remember.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and then her dad ends up having sex with some car family young woman and you know you're a curious, desperately jealous that she's fucking her dad.

Speaker 1:

So it's, it's intense and it's a weird Christmas. Yes, yeah, this is not the family Christmas I'm hoping for. They need mass amounts of food to sustain themselves, like I said, but they particularly like to eat Raw, live animals. Cooked food is actually kind of gross to them, but Eli insists on holding on to that humanity and tries to make everybody continue to eat cooked food, even though Everyone's small. They just go out and like grab a chicken from the backyard and chomp on it.

Speaker 2:

You know, one of the things that I thought was really funny is one of the car family members Said that he that he saw Eli once and he knew that Eli had some really good drugs Because he saw him chase down a jackrabbit and eat it either alive- yeah, they are fast.

Speaker 1:

So, okay, this is. We had a debate and I know that, daniel, your mind has changed, but I want to let the listener kind of come along with us in this journey, because how many of you, I'm curious, right now, are like that is not a zombie, described as not a zombie.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I have a feeling a great many of them.

Speaker 1:

So here's why I was like adamant that they are zombies, because they have no ability to stop themselves from infecting others, like while they may still be sentient, and they do some human things like fucking and eating and having families. I guess they. What their ultimate drive is is to spread the, the micro organism. That's all they want to do. It gives them orgasm level pleasure to do it and there's nothing that they care about more. And it's an immense, actually quite impressive that Eli's little family Unity has not gone, just spread it everywhere.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and like, the virus has figured out how to like hijack all of like the reward centers of the human brain To make the human do what that, what the virus wants it to do.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and Eli even talks about like it. You know, when he realized what's happening at some point he thought he wanted to end his own life because he didn't want to like spread the virus, but he found he can't. And that's essentially what happened to Blake, the physician, as well, as once he was like I'll just end myself, but he couldn't do it. So there's something about this that is compels you, regardless of your intellect or what you think as a human.

Speaker 2:

You might want to do or not do so I was For a very long time I was of the opinion this isn't a zombie book. This is more like horny vampires.

Speaker 1:

And Dan was mad. Come home, they're like I'm not a zombie book.

Speaker 2:

I owned those zombies in there, so my mind was changed when I read a different book, the. The book was called zombified real lessons from fictional apocalypses by Athena Actipus. They actually. She actually has a podcast called zombified and I found this audio book on audible For free. It was suggested to me by audible. Audible was like I know you want this and I did. It was a good one. It's like a two and a half hour Read.

Speaker 1:

I highly recommend you will probably do an episode on it.

Speaker 2:

Anyways, right at the beginning, she defined zombies In a broad sense as the control of one entity by another. The definition goes beyond the traditional pop culture depiction of zombies as undead creatures. Instead, it encompasses encompasses any scenario where an entity is controlled by another. Mmm, so they're suggesting that zombies, in a metaphorical sense, are indeed among us. Oh, some examples include the parasitic relationship of In nature. Some parasites can manipulate the behavior of their hosts. For example, the parasitic wasp larvae inside a caterpillar can can can control its behavior. Or toxoplasmos gondii, parasite, which can alter the behavior of rodents and make them less fearful of cats.

Speaker 1:

Why does this parasite want them to be not afraid of cats? Because fascinating.

Speaker 2:

So toxoplasmosa it spreads through the intestinal bacteria of cats.

Speaker 1:

Wow see, that's an intelligent parasite.

Speaker 2:

So yeah, so it, it, um, it infects the rodent and the rodents like I'm afraid of this cat and the cat's like food and eats it and then suddenly it'd be the parasite goes inside of the cat. The cat can also give this to humans and it causes depression in humans. Wow, so a lot of people who have unsanitary, unsanitary kitty litter box situations also tend to suffer Severe depression. Wow, because they are infected with toxoplasmosis.

Speaker 1:

Wow, learn something every day.

Speaker 2:

Also symbiotic relationships. One organism may exert a certain degree of control over another, as Certain types of fungi that form relationship with plants can influence their growth also. You know, like the last of us, the Cordyceps fungus can control Ghost mods, caterpillars and things like that, ants as well. Technological control, and in a more Technological senses, can refer to the use of technology to control machines or even humankind. You know, like that thing that's in your pocket that you stare at in the middle of the night and you hope that it'll give you joy so you can go back to sleep.

Speaker 1:

I mostly hope that I can dissociate from whatever I'm feeling when it's for you.

Speaker 2:

Psychological influences in can encompass scenarios or one person or a group exerts psychological control over others, such as in cases of manipulation or Indoctrination, so like if you're part of a cult, that's zombie has them in a way.

Speaker 1:

What was that culture that we watched recently, the documentary oh, it was about the twin flames, oh, that's when. Quite entertaining, definitely watch that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, they were love zombies, for sure.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, they just want to find their twin flame.

Speaker 2:

Corporate or governmental control a broader, on a broader societal level, this might refer to ways in which organizations or governments control or influence the behavior of individuals or other entities. Hmm, moga, yeah. So the clay arc disease takes control of its host but to propagate its existence hijacks the reward centers of the brain and Influences the host to seek out, infect and mate with uninfected humans. So the definition given by zombified clay arc is technically a zombie book.

Speaker 1:

And it's a lot like the girl at the gifts, the girl with all the gifts, a little bit. Yeah, where I mean the original virus is one, where Is it a? No, it's also mushrooms, isn't it also fungus? The original fungus, fungal infection Takes over you and you're not totally intelligent, although there was some sense of like human memory in the original ones, but then they also I know he was pregnant makes his like next generation zombie that is both sentient and human and zombie.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you know what, girl with all the gifts kind of is very similar to clay's arc in a lot of ways.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

You know, because, like the girl with all the gifts, had the original zombies, which are much more like the zombies that we were that we expect from a zombie book. But if, if the book was just about the second generation zombies, you'd be like this isn't a zombie book, that's just a girl that can jump really high and is really smart with numbers.

Speaker 1:

So this is actually a great segue to some of the themes we want to talk about, and one that I actually think about all the time, which is like what is a human, what is an animal? In fact, the first episode that we had Josh Grant come and chat with us, we got into the beginning of a debate on whether or not humans are animals, which I am on the side of. Humans are animals, but this is a theme that yeah, you hear that, josh, you can't defend yourself.

Speaker 1:

We'll have that a debate in the future, josh, in more detail. So you can, you can fight back. But in Octavia's book there's definitely this question of like. What does it actually mean to be human and how do you know when you're human or animal? And Eli is clinging desperately to these norms that humans, typically in North American society, hold, like, for example, at one point he's got a full-on harem and he's loving it. Okay, he's having a great time. But the human part of him quote-unquote is like this is not Civilized, isn't human. I'm like coming to the virus too much and that's actually why they start finding other dudes and kidnapping them and infecting them so that he can stop having sex with all of them.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you know that might also be part of the viruses Programming too, because it wants genetic diversity. Yeah, so is it. Was it his decision to be more human, or was it the virus telling him to get more Biodiversity?

Speaker 1:

well, I mean, how much of our decisions as humans are just like our own independent thoughts and how much of it is biological programming. Anyways, yeah.

Speaker 2:

How do we know that it's not just the bacteria in our under our toenails that is making all of our decisions for us?

Speaker 1:

I mean our gut controls a lot. Our gut bacteria. That's a whole universe in there, the whole galaxy of stuff controlling you. And then like, think about how many people have kids. How do we have so many kids on the planet? Kids are really hard.

Speaker 2:

There's a biological impulse that we're oh yeah, when you have a kid, you become a zombie to that child.

Speaker 1:

Oh my god, you do and like I don't knock on his name names, but I have a few friends who have had kids that don't really sound so happy about it, but the, the compulsion, like the desire, the romance of it was there and I've had that feeling myself. But, like Eli, I thought to myself I might have this impulse, which I would argue is an animal impulse to I am an animal to reproduce. But the rest of me was like you know what I also really want to sleep in.

Speaker 2:

So more money in our pockets.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, to enjoy a swimming pool without getting splashed and screamed at one less human to Consume intense amounts of resources unnecessarily, and these lots already that are here.

Speaker 2:

Also, I want to keep all my Legos to myself. I don't want to share.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I just want puppies, but regardless, like there is this play of like what's a primal instinct and is that animal or are they still human? And I I'm curious what you think about this, dan.

Speaker 2:

No.

Speaker 1:

Are they human or are they animal? Or are they something else? Are they just a zombie?

Speaker 2:

Oh, you know what I? I think that a lot of being human is society. Yeah, I think when it comes down to it, we're, we're animals and we've made up a whole bunch of other rules for how we behave, because we created societies, yeah, so? So these people have become animals because they are creating a different society other than human.

Speaker 1:

But it's interesting holding on to their old societal ways. They are creating their own cultural rules. Yeah, so there's still. There's still some humanity intact there, but they're also just. They're also animals and some of those, like an, a million, a malian instincts are harder, I think they're harder to suppress when you are infected.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, we know like humans are Unique and like creating separate rules for how to govern each other. Like, if you just watch horses, like the way that horses have society within themselves, it's like it's like they all know the rules, but like we would have to study them to understand.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and yet they still have to learn things like human beings. I think some people think that animals that are not human, non human animals don't have cultures, but they do like. If you've ever seen a horse that has not been socialized or like grew up alone, they don't know the fuck they're doing like, they don't know how to integrate into a herd. There's one, actually. The Atlas beat the shit out of once my horse, my old horse that died Because they'd never live with any other horses. They put them into the herd with everybody else and Atlas is typically the leader of a herd, or was, and this horse Just could not get it like, did not understand personal space.

Speaker 2:

That's how I feel, trying to make new friends Well, regardless, and like a horse that hasn't been hasn't been around other horses.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, the fact there are so many cultures around the world is something that I think is is somewhat unique to humans. I won't deny that, but all species are not sure if they all, but many other species have learned behaviors as well, but it's interesting because you can see the ways that they are changed. Like Steven Keneshiro, who is the love interest of rain that you mentioned earlier, was a master violinist before he was infected, and now he he doesn't pick up the violin, I think because he can't play or it doesn't give him pleasure anymore.

Speaker 2:

I think it doesn't give him pleasure anymore because I think that the way that the disease Changes them, technically he would probably be way better at by a violin if he had the desire to do it. But he only has the desire to like, build this new society and his and a new family and spread this disease.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's like they're captives in their own bodies because it's some part of them doesn't want to do any of this, but the other part of them are really, really does. Yeah, the other thing is like they love their mutant children, their clay art children, but they also know that the reality is the more that they have babies which they're gonna keep having them because they're fucking all the time the more likely that those babies are gonna go start and eat humans. Like I'm sorry I'm getting a phone call, but I think it's like it does Question that, like animal instinct versus human civilization and that was definitely a theme and I would argue that I'm a little bit more and the those two things can't be separated so much. Then I think Octavia's point where she was trying to, I think, juxtapose, like what does it mean to be human or animal? And this infection is making us more animal. What do you? Do you agree or disagree?

Speaker 2:

Hmm, I don't know. I've seen a lot of things in this world and I've seen plenty of human beings who are 100% animal, and I don't think that these new infected humans are more or less animal. I think that they're just human plus, like Eli says at the beginning of the book, he's still human, but he's just a little bit more human, a little bit more.

Speaker 1:

I mean really they're like a new species in a way, or a precursor to the new species. But what do you mean by? You've seen humans that are 100% animal.

Speaker 2:

That's unfair to animals, but I've seen people do some pretty horrific things. I've seen people definitely cast away this idea that we have of humanity, the thing that we all claim makes us human. I've definitely seen some people who don't have that and are still technically homo sapiens. I don't think that there's anything specifically about these infected people that are any different from any of the human beings I've seen who didn't follow those societal norms that we determined are human.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think as a social species, we have norms around not killing each other, sharing all of those things.

Speaker 2:

These are all suggestions.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, but I think I do think what you're saying is a little bit speciesist, because it has this implication that animals are inherently more likely to be violent and harmful, which is not true. Some animals can do shitty things, like when lions eat cubs of another male, lion's babies, or whatever, but humans are just as capable. I think that's one of the hard things about being a human, though, is having a moral compass, being taught that, understanding that we all need each other, and then also seeing us do terrible things when people are down. But I think the other question here is are they an evolved species or a devolved species? Is Jacob, our Sphinx, play arc baby kid the future?

Speaker 2:

Yes, jacob's definitely the future, especially when Jacob snuck into Reyn's room, perched himself on top of her headboard like a cat and looked at her and said you smell like food. That's the future. If you look at how the disease mutates these people. It gets enhancing their senses. It's giving them more tensile strength in their muscles. It's making them healthier. It's doing this because it's trying to make the best possible host for that alien disease to live inside of. That's definitely an evolution. They're not reverting back to a previous primate in our evolution chain. This is definitely evolution. I think it's good.

Speaker 1:

Jacob, you think it's good. I don't think it's good, because apparently dogs die in this universe.

Speaker 2:

They get infected and they die and that's really sad. The disease doesn't like dogs, apparently.

Speaker 1:

I don't think it likes a lot of carnivores. I'm pretty sure its intention is to just make this humanoid play arc Sphinx thing like the apex.

Speaker 2:

Well, I don't know. I mean, I think it said that it didn't infect herbivores.

Speaker 1:

No, because they want to eat them.

Speaker 2:

I think it's just really picky as to what it does infect. Maybe it's just a matter of when they went to Proxima Centauri they had time for that bacteria to get used to human cells. It's infecting humans faster than it's infecting others. Maybe those dogs will eventually. The virus will eventually adapt to infect dogs Right away. It's just like what is this weird four legged human that doesn't have the same DNA as this human?

Speaker 1:

Let's kill it. I definitely want to see that's why I want to read the future books to be like what is this world now, when this virus or not virus I keep calling it a virus when this microorganism is essentially taken over because that's what we're looking at, I'm sure, a whole bunch of Jacobs. The book also raises a lot of ethical questions, as most zombie books do, about the choices individuals make in extreme circumstances. One of the key what would you do here is okay, you've been abducted by this family that is a bunch of alien zombies and they scratch you and you learn that you are now, whether you like it or not, highly infectious and anywhere you go, you're going to infect people. What do you?

Speaker 2:

do you know? I thought about this, you know, once I escaped. It's just like you know, the whole world, the way that Octavia describes it, is kind of fucked anyways. Like if there's some highways that they don't even call roads anymore, they just call them sewers. Yeah, sewer people, and you know what? I just just to affect everyone, Just you know what. Just like, let's just fuck this whole place up.

Speaker 1:

Maybe this alien microorganism is the solution.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, that's what I think, because, like you know, jacobs seems pretty happy. He's really sweet too.

Speaker 1:

Yeah he just wants to eat people. Yeah, he's like the girl with all the gifts. Kids, you know, they deserve a chance. Yeah, they have rights.

Speaker 2:

You know what? The girls with all the gifts they were. The future, yeah, and I think Jacobs, the future too. We're all going to be little cat boys.

Speaker 1:

Yep or eaten by them.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, we'll be. We'll either be food or we will be them.

Speaker 1:

So you would. You would go with the I'm not going to do this slow approach where I hide myself in the desert and just occasionally infect people because I'm desperate slash, need them to have somebody to have sex with. You are of the approach of I'm going to like go straight into town and scratch everybody.

Speaker 2:

I see yeah, I think at a certain point, like I think that there was some programming that went into like building that little inoculation station of the ranch where they they were allowing the disease to like really learn the human body and figure it out, and it was going to go come out eventually. And it's like now, now that it's out, it's like this, like super good version of itself, that's just like I know what to do with humans. It's just now. Now it's time to spread. You know, it's like when we had, when we had original COVID and then we got COVID light and like and like diet COVID and caffeine free COVID.

Speaker 2:

You know like now we're getting like like crystal COVID and crystal COVID is going to be great.

Speaker 1:

Pretty sure that's not how it's working, but you're doing a great job of promoting people just spreading COVID everywhere. Yeah, get COVID. We have not, as far as we know, just probably because we live in the woods. But I think what's interesting here and I appreciate it because I've seen this happen, particularly when I was a teacher is, at the beginning, blake really believes that these people are fucking horrible, and by people I mean the Clay's Ark people, the people who are already infected for doing this. Like, why would you do this People? Why wouldn't you just go to a hospital, get yourself quarantined and have this fixed? Like he could not comprehend the impulse to do it and he thought that they were just disgusting people. But then eventually he himself was infected and it realizes that, like, this is nothing you can control.

Speaker 1:

And I think this is actually a situation frequently for people in real life not being horny, incestuous zombies. But what is real is I think people assume that when they hear horrible situations, other people are in, and then they hear people do things that they see as horrible, that they would never do that in a million years, like, for example, I remember teaching about residential schools Indian residential schools, as they were called then indigenous folks, being kids being forcibly taken from their families and being put into these schools where they were abused, sexually assaulted, killed, neglected, had their culture torn from them. It was just horrible. And I remember when I shared this in one class, one student just would not believe that they would let their kids go. They were convinced that they would protect their children. They were convinced that they would protect their children and like nothing would ever allow that to happen, or like people who are like, well, if I was born in Germany, germany, if I was born in Germany, jeremy 1940.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, if I was born in Germany in the 1930s, I would never become a Nazi, yeah, and that's the same.

Speaker 2:

It's the same mentality of like. Well, if somebody comes to my house, I'm going to fight them off in the lawn. Yeah, If a grizzly bear comes at me in the woods, I'm going to rattle him.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's like we all want to believe that we would be the good person. Or, like you know, if I was a white person earlier, I would not do all these atrocious fucking things to people who are. I have, through the sheer power of my calling myself white, labeled as a lesser than me and my family, like I want to believe I would never do those things. But I don't think that's how this stuff works. I think sometimes you're put into a context where you don't really have a lot of choice because we are products of our environment and our genetics. That's my deep thoughts.

Speaker 2:

Would you capture people and turn them into zombies?

Speaker 1:

I think I would, because I'd have this thing inside of me that forced me to yeah, that's what I'm saying. Like I want to believe that I would be this ethical fucking beacon in all of these like circumstances that we know historically are horrible. But the reality is is probably not. Probably not, you know, unless I had the rare privilege of having different experiences. But odds are, I probably would have been a shitty, shitty white person. Maybe I am already, I don't know. Yeah, we're shitty white people. We're like recovering shitty white people, I guess.

Speaker 2:

Survival tips. Leah, Do you have any good survival tips?

Speaker 1:

Hmm, don't drive on roads that say they're unprotected. But if you do and you get scratched, just go ahead and spread it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, just spread it.

Speaker 1:

That's a big one, Dan. I think you really want to see this next survival tip.

Speaker 2:

Cat people are the future. Just spread it. Yeah, yeah, just become a cat.

Speaker 1:

Just succumb to your base animal instincts.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and spread it.

Speaker 2:

And also my next survival tip is that sometimes putting your humanity on pause is the only way to get out of a bad spot. And what I'm referring to is when Rain was abducted by the car family and bad things happened. She went on a shooting spree but she stopped. She spared a bunch of people, she stopped and she was like it's like I'm human, I can't kill all these people. So she tried to intimidate them and escaped and lost her head in the process. So I feel if Rain had switched her rifle from semi to full and just wholesale executed the whole car family instead of trying to spare their lives, she might have made it out with her head attached. That's sad, yeah, but you know what I think? That's the type of those are the quandaries that I've had to find myself in. Anybody who's been in the military has had to have that light switch for humanity. Like you know, am I going to make this out? Make it out if you're alive, or am I going to? You know, try to spare people.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, compassion versus the desire for survival.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so yeah, just flip that light switch, just turn it off. Sometimes that's fine. Do it at the grocery store, just like I need some grated cheese and there's only one package left and I see some kid down there eyeballing it. I'm just going to kick them out of the way and grab it.

Speaker 1:

That's as with all the stadium dogs, the younger stadium dogs, they're in stock.

Speaker 2:

And my last survival tip is don't eat raw meat from a car family fridge unless you're infected with an alien virus and that needs to feed. Then eat all of the meat.

Speaker 1:

Is that survival tip inspired by our binging of bar rescue and all the disgusting kitchens that we've seen?

Speaker 2:

Oh, no, I just remember the scene where Rain before the scene that we had to have a trigger warning for she just decided to go to their fridge and just start eating all the raw meat it's probably you know. It fed the virus inside of her and she started to feel like her abilities increasing, you know, which was great, except it made her really horny and then bad things happened. Raw meat makes her horny.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, there are some like Achilles heels of this zombie microorganism for sure. Like, sometimes these things are good, sometimes not. Well, this brings me to my favorite part, which I'm not going to call the racist, sexist, classist, misogynistic of living dead. I'm just going to call the race. We're going to talk about a race, we can talk about sex, and no longer am I talking about sex like having the sex. I'm talking about your sex meaning like are you a guavadoche? Or look that up if you don't know that is sex identity.

Speaker 1:

It's somebody. There's two, there's probably a few other places in the world. There's two cultures that I know of, or ethnic groups that I know of. One of them, I believe, is in Papua New Guinea, and the other one is somewhere in Latin America, where they have a genetic predisposition to this thing, where kids are born but you don't know gender. They are all the time, because their testicles don't drop till they're 12. That's why they're called Guavadoche, and so they're considered a third sex. So you have male, female and Guavadoche.

Speaker 2:

You know, I think that was probably me when I was a kid but then, man, they dropped, and they continue to drop every day.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, but there was no Guavadoche category for you, so this is going to be like Anthropology 101 for a minute. So the idea that people are only male or female is actually a cultural concept, not a biological fact, and there are many cultures around the world that have what are called supernumerary sexes, so they would have like male female, Guavadoche, male female, two-spirited male female. Trying to think of the, there's a people, they're people with penises who choose to cut them off to worship a goddess, and I believe in Gujarat, India I forget what they call themselves so they actually change their gender as adults.

Speaker 2:

That's commitment.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, but anyways, this is like there's lots of sex identities beyond just male and female, not to mention just being intersex, and that it's just biologically untrue that there's just two opposites. So anyways.

Speaker 2:

Thank you for explaining that. This has been quite a diversion from where you were going with that, but I learned something now.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, my point is I wasn't talking about incest or sexual salt. I'm talking about your identity and category, which, again, is cultural, not biological. Okay, so the reason why I'm not calling it racist, sexist, misogynistic or whatever is because, actually, unsurprisingly, octavia Butler does a pretty good job on most things. Obviously, she passes the race test as one of the first famous black female authors of science fiction. So just a reminder of what the race test is it assesses the work, has meaningful representation of racial and ethnic diversity among these characters, and there's certainly that in the book you have lots of black characters. Eli is a black man, blake was married to a black woman, so Kira and Rain are mixed race. There's a few other side characters that are Latinas, nene or Asian not clear where Stephen Canisciro is from.

Speaker 1:

My point is that all of them have rich lives and they're not just like one dimensional characters, like that one guy you told me who was like writing that zombies the whole time without describing race, and then decided to just describe the one black zombie. He saw the opposite of that and, as Dan said in the intro, octavia Butler is considered a key figure in Afrofuturism, which is a super cool genre that centers black history and culture and incorporates science fiction, technology and futuristic elements into literature, music and visual arts, just like imagine what the future could be. So, really, this goes well beyond just passing the test. I think that she does an excellent job of not centering white people, because I think that's what is the beauty of having literature written by not just white people.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and actually I kind of had an issue the opposite direction with this, and I don't know if it was said at the beginning or some point, but I didn't know Blake was white. Yeah, I didn't know until the very end, and then I was like oh well, that changes how I picture this person in my brain.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's interesting because, like, race is present in the book, but it's not the center of the book, and so there are definitely times where people's races are ambiguous and that's probably intentional on Octavia's part. I'd have to read more to know for sure, but I would bet that that's intentional for Octavia. Yeah, yeah, sexism, let's talk about this, my favorite. There are pretty strong, complex female characters, particularly Kira and Rain. So it does pass the Bechtel test, which is three criteria at least two named female characters, a conversation between them that's not about a man that happens multiple times in the book. So, yeah, it easily passes the Bechtel test and I think that is probably progressive for its moment in time. 1984, the year of my birth Also a great book.

Speaker 2:

And the year of my first birthday. Yeah, I got three matchbox cars and I put them in my mouth.

Speaker 1:

Now you all know how old we are Oldies over here.

Speaker 2:

Do the math.

Speaker 1:

But my point is is that, while it is progressive in many ways, I think that it's also of its time in the sense that it's not really interrogating gendered stereotypes or norms Like, for example, women's appearance is featured a lot, especially related to their sexual attractiveness, and especially related to men who have become infected with this zombie microorganism, who are like surprised that they're like looking at a woman who doesn't meet this criteria that we have invented as a culture of what's attractive and be like I still want to fuck her. What's happening?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean it's. You know I'm paraphrasing, but I'm pretty sure it goes basically like this Like you, look at that, I'll go. I want to banger, yes.

Speaker 1:

And there's like a lot of that and there's a lot of just like, sexualized descriptions of women and, again and like not so much sexualized descriptions of men. Again, I think like it's 1984. Women have barely had the right to own their own bank account. So I think Cockdivio is doing pretty good. It definitely fails the veto Russo test, which is the test for whether or not there are meaningful LGBTQIA characters that talk to each other about something other than or like are represented other than their sexuality or gender identity.

Speaker 2:

In fact, I'd say that, like the virus basically eliminates LGBTQIA in general, because it's like the virus is like you have penis, you have a vagina, now make babies.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, they don't seem to exist in this world period, but if they did, it seems like that would be the solution, because you just want to. Yeah, yeah, peeve goes in. V.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it would be interesting to see like the struggles that somebody would have if they were somebody who was LGBT and got this virus and now suddenly, like the virus is telling them to procreate with the opposite sex.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, who knows? I mean, yeah, maybe that's in the future books, but either way, there's lack of awareness here, and that's not to be unexpected for this time frame. However, octavia is always excellent at interrogating class and classism, so this is a big part of this dystopian future. I mean, you can already see it in 1984. It's certainly present then, and now it's more exacerbated in 2021, according to Octavia. So you have this really extreme discrepancy of people who are living in these gay communities called enclaves they're like islands that are surrounded by these vast, crowded, vulnerable residential areas that are called sewers, which are utterly lawless. They are quote unquote economic ghettos and they just like eat each other alive. It's essentially zombies, really, in the way that you just described them. It's desperate people, really really desperate people, who are just compelled to survive.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it sounds a lot like Detroit after 2008.

Speaker 1:

Yeah Well, that's not. Let's give the Detroit people some credit For one. Detroit is one of the coolest places that's ever been imagining society because of the collapse of that state.

Speaker 2:

I love Detroit, but if you ever wanted to experience what like a post-apocalyptic nightmare was like 2008,. Detroit was like the place you should go.

Speaker 1:

Also, you should watch the movie Barbarian, which is set in Detroit. Yeah, that's scary. Anyhow, the point is is that these enclaves, they're gay communities, they're rare. There are still some people who are wealthy enough, like Blake and his family, because he's a doctor. He has a highly skilled person. That is valuable. But they are getting attacked all the time, which is a theme in a lot of Octavia's books, where they get taken over by what are called car families. Cars themselves are actually very rare. Having a nice car is a status symbol, but it also makes you a target to the car families. What's interesting is that there's a real dehumanization of lower classes. They call the highways, roads and city streets, where car families are, the sewers and the people, sewer rats or sewer slugs.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, sewer slugs is especially interesting term.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's gross. I think what's interesting here is these people are desperate, that they're desperate because they have nothing. The way that you can justify doing keeping all your things to yourself and surviving and not helping these people who are desperate, trying to fix it is by calling them sewer rats or sewer slugs. Again, they're thinking of them as animals versus humans. There's again this dichotomy that's, I don't think is real Invertebrates even yeah, that's a classic thing sidebar for genocides.

Speaker 1:

With Rwanda's genocide, the Hutu started calling the Tutsi cockroaches. That's one of the classic things. If you start to hear dehumanizing language about anybody, that is an early sign of genocide.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah. Or Israeli defense forces calling Palestinians animals.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, exactly. Or savages, which by the word. By the word, by the way, don't use the word savage. It's really derogatory towards indigenous folks. I think there's been a weird cultural resurgence. Just don't look up the meaning of the word. Don't do it, don't use it to describe anybody.

Speaker 2:

It's unfortunate because I really like that word, but it's not good.

Speaker 1:

That is such a white man thing to say. I want to say the word I like it.

Speaker 2:

I'm not arguing that I should be allowed to say it, but I am saying that I did like the word not in its frame in the way that it is harmful to people.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's fair. I mean, I think that's one of the hard things about I shouldn't say hard, but one of the confusing things when you're part of a privileged group of people and you start using a word and you think we are tempted and want to abstract it from its cultural context and its history of oppression. For the people who are oppressed and have been oppressed, it is just never going to be okay. So the least we can do is not use it. Let's talk about what you love from this movie.

Speaker 2:

Oh, let's talk about what you love from this book. Yeah, I'll tell you what I love from this movie, leah. So I found the moments that the story moved forward to be very interesting. When we got a chance to see the world that the story takes place in, the interactions with the characters outside of the ranch, actavia's writing came to life, and also I rather enjoyed the gunfight at the fuel station, which served to not only showcase their enhanced abilities but also the waning state of their humanity. Yeah, it was a good scene. I loved it. Hold on.

Speaker 1:

What was something that I?

Speaker 2:

Oh, these are yours.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, something that I really love, that initially sort of turns you off but, zombified, got you around to it, which is just the unique concept of a zombie. I really thought that that was interesting and different and I love the world building Like I could picture this world. It felt scary and it felt plausible, for I mean, minus the fact that we were like traveling to distant galaxies.

Speaker 2:

That part wasn't so you know that hasn't happened. It's not the distant galaxy, it's that. So Alpha Centauri is the nearest star to our solar system. It's like four and a half light years away. Yeah, so it's like the nearest star system that we, that we could feasibly travel to with our current, with our current technology. We could probably do it in like a hundred years, maybe, I don't know, that might be Well certainly. Proxima Centauri which, but apparently there's a planet around Alpha Centauri.

Speaker 1:

Yeah so, but regardless whether it's being close, it's 2023. We have not done this. We've certainly not sent humans that are alive there and back.

Speaker 2:

No, definitely not.

Speaker 1:

So I can understand that that's would be plausible to imagine in 1984, but we definitely didn't get there, and it makes me wonder about how much my imagination of the future of 38 years from now is a little bit like blown at a proportion.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, we definitely thought that we're going to have hover hoverboards and self self tying.

Speaker 1:

Nikes. I thought I was going to be in the Jetsons. I thought I'd be in a self driving car already. I know that like just getting started, but I thought I'd be in one.

Speaker 2:

We'd all have our own CN tower that we live inside of.

Speaker 1:

Or just the world's over, because climate change and political instability, you know if you?

Speaker 2:

think about the Jetsons, not the sidebar too much. But do you ever see the ground in the Jetsons?

Speaker 1:

I don't remember. It's not a long time, you don't? You never see it. They're all in the sky, you know what you do.

Speaker 2:

See the clouds below the Jetsons apartment building.

Speaker 1:

That's really sad. I want to be on the ground. It's all smog. What's going on down there Is it not good.

Speaker 2:

It's all Octavia Butler world. Oh my God I never thought about that.

Speaker 1:

That's really sad. But I'll end with my last favorite thing about this book, which is that it passed my Lea's attention span test with flying colors. I was hooked from the beginning to the end, which I am not always, as you all know, and I am definitely going to read the other three books in the series. In fact, if my real life book club would just do that with me, then maybe I would keep going, because I don't read fast enough to keep up with, like, what I want to read and what they want to read ends on me book club. But I overall really love this book.

Speaker 2:

Hey, you want to read a book where a bunch of horny cat boys go around and attack people?

Speaker 1:

I mean to be fair to the book club. That is not a zombie book club. They do love some dystopian shit.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, you know, that's a plus.

Speaker 1:

So, dan, you had a lot of feelings with this book that were different from mine. What are you like? The bad, the bad.

Speaker 2:

So I felt that the narrative of Clay's Ark could have benefited from tighter editing.

Speaker 1:

Much like this episode will need yes.

Speaker 2:

And if you're listening to it, it has been edited to perfection and you'll be like what they need to edit. This Sounds fine to me. I am talented, okay. So I am of the belief that a significant portion roughly two-thirds of this book consists of an expositionary dialogue that repetitively conveys the same information to three different characters.

Speaker 2:

She wants to drive it home, yeah. While I believe that exposition is a necessary element in storytelling, especially in science fiction, its effectiveness can vary depending on the delivery. In this case, although the dialogue is often more engaging medium for exposition compared to narration, the repetitive nature of these conversations hampers the story's pace. The novel might have been more impactful if it had presented these explanatory dialogues more succinctly. A more streamlined approach could have involved depicting that each character received the essential information while sparing the reader from repeated exposition. This would have allowed for a smoother narrative flow.

Speaker 1:

I would make the book a lot shorter.

Speaker 2:

Yes, and he said it was two-thirds of it, enhancing the reader's engagement by focusing on plot progression and character development rather than on reiterating background details. Yeah, it would have been a lot shorter. It would have been what you would expect from a first act. All of that exposition, all that shit that happens on the ranch would have been one act, one-third of the book. You would have been like oh, that's weird. These people are like cat people from space. Let's move on to something more interesting. And then they'd be like let's have some gunfights with car people.

Speaker 1:

There could have been more of that, that's true, but what's so fascinating is it just shows you how these experiences are subjective. I don't disagree, there's a lot of exposition, but I didn't notice her care. Like I said, I was captivated. And then I read about the context in which this book was written, which made me love it even more, which is that it was being written while her friend was dying of leukemia and, literally, octavia was racing against time to try and finish this books. If her friend could read it and ultimately see herself be saved by an extraterrestrial microorganism fire, zombie thing, but whatever, she was trying to push out a chapter a week for her friend to read. So I think that that's probably why some of these things are not as polished as other books from Octavia Butler.

Speaker 2:

I rebuttal. I do agree that that is a good explanation of why it's written the way that it is and it is accepted in the lexicon of how this book was written.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and her desire to save her friend shows up in the way that Kira However, there's a thing called editing and I think that, while it's great that she wrote a chapter a week for her friend to experience this book while she was dying, that's wonderful. That is a great reason to write a book, it's a great way to write a book. But anybody who's participated in NaNoWriMo knows well at least some of them know NaNoWriMo for the crowd National November Writing Month. It's this whole thing where in the month of November, all of these people do daily writing sprints to write a book in one month Got it? That is the challenge. So anyone who writes a book during NaNoWriMo writes essentially what is a kind of a piece of shit, but if they then spend some time editing it, then it can be a good book and they can publish it.

Speaker 2:

Most people know that in NaNoWriMo and I feel like if she took this book that she wrote a chapter a week of and then did some really intense editing and cut down a lot of that exposition, she wouldn't have a book. Yeah, but you can, it would be a novella. You can write more. I know that she delivered it to her friend, but if she was then going to deliver it to the public, she could have delivered a more complete and succinct story.

Speaker 1:

I have a feeling that if writing a book is tied to watching somebody you love dearly succumb to cancer and die, as someone who's seen that, I can imagine that she probably didn't want to pick it back up.

Speaker 2:

But if this is like in memoriam, wouldn't she want this to be the best possible version of itself?

Speaker 1:

So you were doing exactly the thing that I said people do, which is you are assuming that if you were not in her shoes, that you would somehow be better at this situation, and what I'm saying is let's just have empathy that she decided that this was the book. No, I guess you feel it because you had to read it.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I just think it could have been a better book.

Speaker 1:

Probably, for friend wasn't dying from leukemia when she wrote it. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, but like it got published, you know, like it could have just gone through a few more filters before it was printed. See what's on.

Speaker 1:

Netflix. Right, you watch the reality shows that I force you to watch. That's exactly what I mean, and they're all there and there's a ton of fucking horrible exposition in TV and movies and it gets published.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I know.

Speaker 1:

I know it bothers you, but I just think, like you're holding her to a standard that we don't even hold. I hold them to that. You hold that standard, but publishers don't.

Speaker 2:

If I watch a show that is all exposition, I'm like wow, what a horrible piece of garbage.

Speaker 1:

Remember we were watching that one show that your brother really loved.

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah, that was terrible I don't know what it's called and, like, the first two episodes were really cool. And then there was eight episodes that followed that were just them meeting up and having brunch while discussing the things that were happening. Yeah, it was boring. Yeah, that's exactly what I'm talking about.

Speaker 1:

It's really. This is so interesting. So let's talk about our Zed ratings. This also just shows you how divided we are in our household about this book. I give it nine out of 10 Zeds. I fucking love it, and I only took a point off for you because you're right, there was a lot of exposition, but I didn't care or notice.

Speaker 2:

I'm giving it six out of 10. Shaking my head right now, and you know I think that this, that the story itself, is very interesting. I think the book could have been better. The idea was good, the book was okay.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, I'm definitely going to read the rest of them. You probably won't, but I'll tell you about it.

Speaker 1:

Tell me all about it. I would say, if you've listened to this and you have not read Clay's Ark and you've also not read an Octavia Butler book, I would actually say go and you love dystopian futures, go and read the parable of the sewer. There are no zombies, but there are also sort of zombies because there's this. These they're called pyros and they're addicted to this really insane drug that makes them burn everything up and attack people all the time, so they're kind of zombie like drug zombies.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's like zombie adjacent or maybe could be argued to be zombies. But I guess I don't want Dan's frustration with this book to deter you from reading Octavia Butler if you have not. I don't think that there is a ton of exposition in that book, because it's all about this one main character, like trying to move through a long distance to get to a place that's safe. Which spoiler? No one's safe, no we're safe.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, they should all just turn into cat people. I mean, that's one solution yeah, Actually I was very interested in the idea of parable of the sewer when you were reading. Yeah, maybe a really cool book.

Speaker 1:

We could potentially do it in the future. Give it a little bit of space and then come back around to Octavia. By the way, what a great name.

Speaker 2:

It is. I wish I had that name.

Speaker 1:

I mean, you could rename yourself Octavia.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, then maybe people on threads wouldn't diss me for being a dude.

Speaker 1:

Oh, interesting. Yeah, Feel a lot of ear in your feels about that. So Dan recommended Girl With All the Gifts on a thread about what's a book written by men that does women justice. And what did one woman say back to you?

Speaker 2:

When I suggested Girl With All the Gifts by Amar Cary, her response was says the man?

Speaker 1:

Which made me chuckle yeah.

Speaker 2:

It was a pretty weird place to go considering. It was just asking people and it didn't specify like what I needed to be.

Speaker 1:

I think they were just playing around, but let's talk about our next book for episode 30.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, If you're part of the book club and I really hope you are, we are. The next book that we are reading is Sylvester Barzee's book Planet Dead. We have a copy and we're going to read it with our eyes.

Speaker 1:

We are going to read it. I know it's an actual book, an actual physical book and, by the way, if you order something from Sylvester Barzee, there are a lot of fun surprises in it. I don't mean just the plot or the characters, I mean like goodies in the book that was super fun to discover. But in a nutshell, this is a world that goes to hell in a zombie handbasket. That is not my cleverness, I'm pretty sure that's Sylvester Barzee's. But you find out that the true evil hides among the living. Whoa yeah, in a politically isolated future where the wall is built and America has turned its back on many of its allies. Oh my God, that feels very real too. Yeah, this is very after a futurist. An unknown virus has been released into the world and those infected die rapidly and painfully, only to return as blood thirsty zombies. In this world, where you can't trust the government and survivors have proved me worse than the dead, all you can count on is family. Again, everything I just read was not me.

Speaker 2:

So it's basically the Fast and the Furious, but with zombies.

Speaker 1:

Yes, and all I know is that when we got it I knew we didn't have time to read it together yet, but I opened up the book to a random page and there was the most disturbing description of human cannibals human clown cannibals specifically. That I am sold, but there will definitely need to be a trigger warning if you have any fear of clowns or cannibalism.

Speaker 2:

And you know, I've seen a lot of people on Instagram say that this book is incredible and I'm excited because Sylvester Barzee is one of my new favorite people on Instagram and I think he's great and I want him to have all the success.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, he just had a baby. Congratulations, sylvester. Congrats, if I may address you by your first name Congratulations.

Speaker 2:

I think we can. He gave us his full name.

Speaker 1:

He did and you can find him on Instagram at Sylvester Barzee. It'll be in the show notes, but in the meantime make sure that you subscribe. Rate review. It helps us spread like a virus or an extraterrestrial microorganism.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it helps us infect new listeners through their ear holes. Thanks for listening. Follow us on Instagram and threads Subscribe, rate and review. Like Leah said I don't know why I wrote that twice we have a link tree to all of our links in the description.

Speaker 1:

Descriptions have things in them, and between listening to this podcast, being part of the book club and looking at cute puppies on Instagram, call your representatives. It could be about anything. There's lots of things. To give them a call it takes five minutes.

Speaker 2:

Give them a chat.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, just chat, it's actually become a really fun hobby of mine.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, just call them up and see what they're up to.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, just tell them what you think about things. They'll listen.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, thanks for listening.

Speaker 1:

Thanks for listening y'all. Yeah, bye-bye, bye-bye.

Octavia Butler's Clay's Ark
Octavia Butler's Clay's Ark Discussion
Debating the Concept of Zombies
Primal Instincts and Human Society
Humanity and Evolution in Post-Apocalyptic World
Octavia Butler's Representation and Social Commentary
Book Perspectives and Dehumanization
Octavia Butler and Book Recommendations Discussion