Patternist Series – Books, Characters, and Plot Notes

IntroductionThe BooksThe Characters
The ThemesThis Browne Girl ReadsConclusion
Page Breakdown

The Patternist Series is Octavia’s first multigenerational novel series. It spans over 3,000 years. Pictured below is all of Octavia Butler’s work that I could easily pull together. Follow over on @herstunreads for realtime reading highlights.

Patternist Series by Octavia E. Butler

“In her classic Patternist series, multiple Hugo and Nebula award-winner Octavia E. Butler established the themes of identity and transformation that echo throughout her distinguished career. Now collected for the first time in one volume, these four novels take readers on a wondrous odyssey from a mythic, primordial past to a fantastic far future. In ancient Africa, a female demigod of nurture and fertility mates with a powerful, destructive male entity. Together they birth a race of madmen, visionaries, and psychics who cling to civilization’s margins and back alleys for millennia, coming together in a telepathic Pattern just as Earth is consumed by a cosmic invasion. Now these new beings—no longer merely human—will battle to rule the transfigured world…”

Grand Central Publishing

The Books in Universe Chronology

Summary sentences are adapted from the back covers.

1 – Wild Seed – 1980

“In an epic story of love and hate, two immortals chase each other across continents and centuries, binding their fates together – and changing the destiny of the human race.”

2 – Mind of My Mind – 1977

“A young woman comes into her own power and challenges the ruthless man who attempts to control her and dictate her future.”

3 – Clay’s Ark – 1984

“A powerful story of survival in unprecedented times, a complex rendering of the interior journeys of families dragging themselves actoss a violent and lethal future world.”

4 – Patternmaster – 1976

“In the far future, humans are connected by a telepathic web that is controlled by the Patternmaster, a man whose sheer mental power has made hum the uncontested ruler of humankind.”

For more complete book summaries, visit

10 Most Memorable Patternist Series Characters

  1. Anyanwu
  2. Doro
  3. Mary
  4. Rachel
  5. Clay
  6. Eli
  7. Jacob
  8. Amber
  9. Teray
  10. Coransee


The Patternist Series is the first featured on Positively Black’s web home but it won’t be the last. There are questions and conversations the series poses. Some of the themes:

  • Paranoia and Surveillance
  • Love and Hate
  • What does it mean to be strong? Weak?
  • What have we been bred to accomplish?
  • And what does it mean to be human?
  • Where is home? And how do we recognize it?

The Year of Butler on This Browne Girl Reads

This Browne Girl Reads is a really DOPE space that CENTERS Black, African diasporic literature of all kinds. Over the last couple of years this space has taught me so much. It is safe. And we have a lot of folks that LOVE talking about books. So join us, if you dare! We finished the Patternist Series and we are moving on to more Butler this summer. (Of course, Positively Black Books will be languishing with the pattern a little longer, we hope you can dig it!)

Check out WD, Dee, and more on our talk about Wild Seed, Doro, Anyanwu, and all of their mess.

Mind of My Mind Chat with WD, Jaimey, and Dee exclusively on This Browne Girl Reads:

Clay’s Ark chat with the same folks on the same platform:

And, the Patternmaster:

Positively Black Books

Books are a huge part of liberation. +BLK is committed to tackling as many book-related topics for the culture as possible. This is just a beginning on the Patternist. Check back here for updates and more writings about the series.

A Note On Octavia Butler Fandom

The cult of the artist may apply to Octavia Butler’s work. Her legacy is surrounded by Black women and non-binary scholars and artists that continue to engage critically with her work. Butler’s reach appears infinite when you are a part of the club. Again, check back frequently because I hope to write a post that highlights all of the fandom I participate in across the virtual-universe of book-loving Black folx. In the mean time and inbetween time, please visit Sistah Sci-Fi for even more merchandise, events, and/or audiobooks relating to Octavia and other amazing Black sci-fi writers!

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