Patternmaster is a 1976 science fiction novel by Octavia Butler, first book in the publication order of the Patternist series, and the final book chronologically in the storyline.
The story takes place in a distant future where the two dominant groups of humanity are the Patternists (powerful networked telepaths that are the result of selective breeding for telepathic traits) and the clayarks (semi-human creatures created by mutated human DNA altered by an alien plague). The Patternists have long been the dominant group, with their powerful telepathic, telekinetic, and healing abilities (with individuals being stronger at certain abilities), and the clayarks mostly living as roving bands with stolen weapons in the wilderness between defended compounds.
But the order of everything is in jeopardy as the Patternmaster, the most powerful telepath who ties all the rest together, may not have long to live. The clayarks seem to sense the uncertainty and seem to be massing for greater attacks.
The protagonist of the novel is Teray, one of the children of Rayal. With the upcoming succession, assumptions and understanding about the existing order no longer stand and Teray finds himself just trying to find a place to stand in the world that seems to be shifting all around him.
This is the chronological conclusion that the rest of the series was backstory to. Wild Seed is still my favorite but I can see why this spawned the rest of the series–political intrigue between powerful telepaths and their powerful enemies. Well worth a read!
Drabblecast is as good as ever, still one of my favorite fiction sources. Still edited by Norm Sherman. Still has a stellar Lovecraft month in August when they publish one Lovecraft stories and three unpublished stories by contemporary authors in the cosmic horror subgenre. They published 48 stories in 2013.
1. The Electric Ant by Phillip K. Dick
Of course the classic tales by big authors whose stories last the ages have an advantage on such a list. I love PKD, and I’d never come across this story about an android whose entire experience is dictated by the data stored on the paper tape fed into his system and what happens when he starts messing with the data. As with much of PKD, it is more than just straight up SF, it blurs the boundaries between genres and makes for a very surreal experience. This might be my favorite of PKD’s work, and his work is so often stellar.
2. Bloodchild by Octavia Butler
Another big story by big name. In this world, humans are not the dominant species and are mostly kept around as birthing vessels for an alien race who have babies like maggots that need to live in flesh to incubate. This story is about a boy raised to be such a birthing vessel, and his relationship with his owner.
3. Hollow as the World by Ferrett Steinmetz
One of the stories in the Lovecraft month, all based around a cosmic horror version of Lovecraft, questioning the very nature of reality.
4. Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain by Cat Rambo
This was one of my Hugo nominations for last year, out of Cat’s Near+Far short story collection. It takes place on a planet where the inhabitants are all made of sentient clay and is told from the POV of one of the cruder class clays who has taken a rare class-skipping occupation as a tourism writer. The story is written from her POV in a tourism-style writing of making lists of five.
5. The Revelation of Morgan Stern by Christie Yant
A post-end-of-the-world romance story as two lovers try to reunite after the collapse of civilization based on their pre-collapse plan for such a circumstance. If you like the story, be sure you listen to the comments afterward to hear about the origin–it casts everything in a whole new (and totally awesome) light.