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.
- 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?