Octavia E. Butler
Imago Cover



BACKGROUND: The Oankali are an alien race that took what was left of the human race after a nuclear holocaust and began the process of integrating and combining human and alien DNA to not only save humanity but create a new species (something which they do routinely as part of their cycle of life throughout the galaxy). Dawn describes their contact with the first human who is made to become cooperative with them (both on her own and as a result of their influence), Lilith (the trilogy has since been renamed Lilith's Brood). Adulthood Rites tells of her son (a human-alien hybrid) Akin and how he becomes sympathetic to the cause of the resisters -- those humans who continue to fight and refuse any contact with Oankali.

Imago follows the story of Jodahs -- the first ooloi construct. 'Ooloi' is the term used for the Oankali "3rd sex", who are required to facilitate reproduction between male and female. 'Construct' refers to the fact that Jodahs is part-human. It (as opposed to 'he' or 'she') is the first of its kind. This the last and best book of the Xenogenesis series.

Butler exercises all of the themes of what it means to be human within the character of Jodahs and it is a very satisfying conclusion to the series to boot. Her writing style is very minimalistic, but if there was ever an author to exemplify the "less is more" motif, it is Butler without a doubt. The reader identifies and cares for her protagonists. There is good closure both in the general storyline and the specific characters. Well worth the read, even for non-genre readers.