It’s hard to give this minor collection of stories more than a three because it’s only two stories and they’re kind of well-worn territory for Butler and one of them was even commissioned, and it’s fine, but it’s just not quite the same as something a little more inspired.
That said, these are definitely Octavia Butler stories. There’s all the trademarks, and if you’re especially familiar with her work, namely the two early series of novels she wrote, then these feel either very familiar or a little uncanny.
The first story, which is a long novella, is about a being who is from a class of people renowned for their leadership and organization talents. Because they are rare and because they are so important, they are treated more as slaves and captives and exploited than as vaunted. Sort of like royalty, but with actual built-in skills. Anyway, two of these beings meet in an unexpected way, connect, and there comes a nexus where a decision must be made. Do you inflict the same fate you yourself experienced on someone else like you or do you allow them to go free. The choice is not really between right and wrong, because, you know, foreign culture and all that, but between loneliness and companionship. This story is not directly connected with the Xenogenesis series, but man if it doesn’t feel like it.
The second story is about a distrustful woman with psionic powers in a world where they have those coming across a young girl also with the powers. If this sounds a lot like something from Patternmaster, well you’re right.
Anyway, it was a nice hour’s worth of reading and gives a sense of fleeting joy remembering what it was like to read Butler for the first time. I found these on Overdrive so if you have a decent library, you should be able to too.