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Search tags: SHERI-TEPPER
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review 2018-03-22 01:55
The Gate to Women's Country
The Gate to Women's Country - Sheri S. Tepper

If I had read this when it was first published, in the 80s, I think I would have really liked this book. Alas, I read it now and it mostly made me angry.

 

This book channels second wave feminism pretty heartily, and unfortunately it also falls into some of the movement's pitfalls. Powerfully negative attitudes towards men lie the foundation for this story - an idea that men are innately violent and aggressive, and women are not, is the true dividing line. This book pretends that personality is based purely on nature with nurture making little difference. Bodily autonomy and emotional connectivity fall to the wayside in favor of eugenics and manipulation. And to make it even worse the lack of gender non-conforming or non-heterosexual individuals in this world is not an oversight - the book flat out states that queer characters were bred out (see page 76 in my edition). To say that the story is misandrist, gender essentialist, and aggressively heteronormative would not be inaccurate nor unfair.

 

As much as I wanted to throw this book across my room at times, or to give it a half star rating, I will give it some credit where credit is due. This book is of its time, and it came from an angry place. And I get that. I've felt that. A lot of people have. It is interesting to use science fiction to play around with thought experiments, and our book club had an excellent discussion about this one. Tepper quite obviously put a lot of thought into her world, and the world-building was fairly intricate. The characters were drawn well enough that I truly hated many of them, and some mirrored individuals I've known in my past. There are some really excellent insights in here, and even passages that I reread because they struck a chord with me. However, I just couldn't get past the politics. It's a great book to talk about and critique, but it is not a book I feel I can recommend outside of that capacity.

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review 2018-01-09 21:48
Grass - Sheri S. Tepper

Plaque, teleportation, mind control and wiping, monster killer "horses" called Hippae, monster "foxes" called foxen, a planet covered almost entirely in grass, fox hunts, a long dead alien race called the Arbai.... these are a few on my favorite things.

This is a great story. While some of the characters seemed a little shallow at times, the story moved at a good pace. I must say I was a little surprised with the ending.

Highly recommended!

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review 2017-12-22 18:46
[Book Review] Grass
Grass - Sheri S. Tepper
Grass / Sheri S. Tepper

It was good for me to return to this book, ten to fifteen years since I read it last.  I think, on reflection, while I loved the story then, a lot went over my head.  Which is a bit surprising since Tepper isn't exactly subtle in this book...  Not all science fiction is political, but you can count on examinations of politics, morality, and gender in Tepper's works.  This does end up with some instances of archetypes rather than characters, but she makes it work well, in part by using an archetype with depth that other characters to reflect off of.  Some of the mystery is lost in a re-read, but there were still enough details that I missed or forgot that I hunted for clues throughout.

I throughly enjoyed my reread, and plan on hitting up the other two Arabi books in the near future.  At almost 20 years old, Grass does not suffer from anachronisms, neatly sidestepping how society and technology has changed between 1989 and now.

Discussion Fodder:
  • How does the story play with preconceptions?  What do you think of the reveals?
  • Sanctity imposes birth restrictions but bans abortion.  How does Tepper frame and examine issues regarding birth control?
  • What is the role of religion?  How have religions as we know them changed?  What are the strengths and flaws in the religious powers? 
  • Let's talk about the Hunt, and the Foxen and Hippae.  What's going on?  How are things revealed and obscured?  What about the deliberate ignorance, how much of it is true due to manipulation and how much of it is ignoring the truth?
  • Several different cultures and society exist within the story.  How do they contrast?  How are they similar?  What are their blind spots? 
  • What character tropes are used in the story?  What purposes do they serve?
  • How are virtues and vices handled?  What about guilt, mercy, morality, and forgiveness?
Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/12/book-review-grass.html
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text 2017-11-12 05:24
November Read: Grass
Grass - Sheri S. Tepper

I'm taking time to re-read some of my favorites, like I need an excuse to re-read Tepper.  I haven't read Grass since high school, so it should prove interesting what I remember and what I missed.  I know there are layers and connections I didn't see on my first read, including the connection between Grass and Raising the Stones and Sideshow.  It goes without saying that there are likely nuances I'll pickup on as an adult that I missed as a teen.

I'm a few chapters in already, and may need to go on and finish the trilogy once I'm finished up.

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review 2017-09-08 19:27
Grass / Sheri S. Tepper
Grass - Sheri S. Tepper

Generations ago, humans fled to the cosmic anomaly known as Grass. But before humanity arrived, another species had already claimed Grass for its own. It too had developed a culture......

Now a deadly plague is spreading across the stars, leaving no planet untouched, save for Grass. But the secret of the planet's immunity hides a truth so shattering it could mean the end of life itself.

 

There’s a lot of things going on in Grass. Religion, tradition, health & illness, education, relationships—all these things get batted around during the course of the book, and that’s a big load for just 500+ pages, but not unusual in a planetary romance of this sort. However I liked the main character, Marjorie Westriding, with her love of her horses, her ability to ask the right questions of the right people, and the willingness to put herself in danger.

As in her book The Gate to Women’s Country, Tepper explores human relationship territory in which men and women seem to talk past one another, with Rodrigo not taking Marjorie seriously enough and Marjorie taking him way too seriously. They do approach mutual comprehension several times during crises, only to back away quickly.

Also explored is the issue of who is worth caring for. The church of Sanctity has decided to let the plague run its course and the resurrect only a chosen few (although they refuse to admit publically that there’s a plague at all). Marjorie has done charitable work, helping the people who have run afoul of Sanctity, and wonders why they are treated so unfairly, even if it’s according to the church’s rule-book. When she & Rodrigo change planets, she begins to wonder if the native creatures of Grass give or receive consideration? What about the noble class on Grass, who believe themselves in charge but are actually humoured by the so-called lower class who run the planet’s economy and are much more educated than the aristocrats? When aristocratic children are abducted and abused by the mysterious Hippae on Grass, are they heartlessly forgotten by their parents or are their minds being controlled? And ultimately, are the people of Grass, who are immune to the plague, obliged to do anything for the rest of humanity?

Unsurprisingly the aristocrats and the priests come out of this tale looking poorly and I can’t help but think that Tepper had colonialism in mind as she crafted this tale. I can see where I’m going to get thinking about this tale for several days to come. Also, I’m disappointed to note that the following two Arbai books follow different characters—no more Marjorie.

Book 262 of my Science Fiction & Fantasy reading project.

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