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Also called the Patternmaster series, fully contained in the Seed to Harvest omnibus, the Paternist series is a science fiction tetralogy written by Octavia Butler. The series spans the appearance and rise of powerful psychics among the human race as well as the invasion of the Clayarks, containing the books Wild Seed, Mind of My Mind, Clay's Ark, and Patternmaster, in chronological order, though Patternmaster was written first.

This series contains examples of:

  • After the End: Mind of My Mind heralded the end of the world as we know it, It Got Worse in Clay's Ark, and Patternmaster took place in a future so alien it might as well be a different planet.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The "Clayarks" were orginally humans infected by an alien virus. Infected humans just turn pale and thin, but their children...
  • Blessed with Suck: Telepath-type psychics rarely learn to completely control their power, constantly being bombarded by other people's thoughts, emotions, and even dreams. They tend to slowly turn anti-social and unstable, even unable to raise their own children. By the time of Patternmaster, all psychics give up their children to boarding schools, where they're raised by special psychics who can handle them. The children usually never meet their own parents.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Doro. He's an ancient psychic predator that eats people's minds and steals their bodies. He can sense other psychics, and it's his life's work to track them down for his selective breeding program. The only morality he follows is "Obey me," and he won't think twice about devouring anyone, ANYONE who crosses him or tries to escape him.
    • His "true" daughter Mary stops just short, preferring to draw other psychics into a "pattern" so she can feed of them evenly instead of killing anyone...whether they like it or not. She can also siphon other psychic's mental energy to use as her own, which allows her to fend off and absorb Doro. Her progeny become the titular Patternists.
  • Grand Theft Me: Doro does this by devouring the host's mind, and abandons the old body to die. Mary's the only one who's ever been able to stop him, and Doro can't even stop himself from switching bodies if he's badly injured or frightened. People who have known him long enough can identify him in any body.
    • Later Patternists tune this into a fine art, allowing them to temporarily take control of another psychic's body and mental abilities to use in tandem with their own.
  • Growing Up Sucks: Normally around young adulthood, a psychic will go through a kind of puberty wherein their bodies fall into a wreck and their abilities drastically increase, forcing them to handle their own abilities before they die of the strain. It is not unheard of for psychics to kill themselves or loved ones, forcing those same loved ones to put them down.
  • Never Mess with Granny: Anyanwu is several hundred years old, but it doesn't show unless she allows it and it has no affect on her ability to produce supernatural strength. The last group of young idiots who thought they could jump an old witch got straight-up eaten.
  • Secret Keeper: Doro has people all over the world who handle business affairs for him.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Doro. His parents were the first people he ever absorbed, out of simple fear and confusion.
  • Shapeshifting: Anyanwu's hat trick, written as the culmination of her cellular manipulation abilities. She can make subtle changes like increasing her strength and agility, changing her sex, even turning into a different animal completely.
    • Shapeshifter Baggage: Averted. It is explained that Anyanwu, and later healer-type psychics, can grow, regenerate, and absorb cells at will.
    • Humanshifting: Anyanwu, and later healer-type psychics, are implied to be capable of this, though it's much more difficult for them.
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