It’s the biggest news this week in black popular culture: Viola Davis will help to adapt the first of Octavia Butler’s Afrofuturist patternist books Wild Seed for Amazon, a television series that has on board Nnedi Okorafor to write the script and Wanuri Kahiu to direct. This is a strong, beautiful line up of creative minds developing a project that help establish black sci-fi canon.
Okorafor is a huge fan of Butler’s works, and Wild Seed was one of the Afrofuturist books she came across as a young, aspiring writer who was yearning to see science fiction that didn’t center white characters.
Viola Davis says that the book, written by Butler who died in 2006, “shifted” her life. Speaking to Deadline, she said that, “It is as epic, as game changing, as moving and brilliant as any science fiction novel ever written. Julius and I are proud to have this masterpiece in our hands. It fulﬁls our promise and legacy to be disrupters. Octavia Butler was a visionary and we look forward to honoring the scope of her work and sharing it with the world.”
Wild Seed tells the story of two African immortals and their journey through time at two ends of a vast ideological divide. Doro is a spirit who stays powerful by killing people, and creates a network of breeding stock “seed villages” to maintain his immortality. Then there’s Anyanwu, a healer and shapeshifter who Doro uses as breeding stock for his own gain, until she eventually stands up against him and changes the dynamic of their relationship.
The novel takes place in pre-colonial America, and thematically explores issues like slavery, eugenics, and gender dynamics. However, it’s also been classified as an early and influential example of Afrofuturistic storytelling—primarily in how it sets the stage for the Patternist series, which explores a millennia of genetic development and change in a race of powerful black superhumans—a process that started with Doro’s selective breeding practices.
No release date for Wild Seed has been announced yet, but trust that I will giddily bring you all details and updates as the series develops.