Lori's Book Nook

A great SF writer

Posted on: November 21, 2006

Have you ever picked up a book by Sheri S. Tepper?

Known for her women-centered novels, like The Gate to Women’ Country (1988), Tepper’s writing is so much more than her early feminist sf roots. Oh, all of her books expand upon themes that are obviously dear to her heart — women’s issues, the environment, the evils of religious extremists — but her writing is so much more.

Her books are virtually indescribable.  How do you explain a book in which such unusual events take place?

“Well, her book Grass is about this planet where, uh, there are these things like, uh, horses, but they’re not horses, see? They’re malevolent beings that take control of their riders…”

Merely describing a Tepper book makes it sound so flat, so lame. But she can truly make it happen, make you feel the wonder, and the fear, along with her characters.

I just finished reading (and re-reading) her book The Visitor (2002) — a pre- and post-Apocalyptic story of magic and religion.  I was trying to explain it to my husband, in terms he would understand: “It’s like Terry Pratchett meets Stephen King.” Very off-the-wall unusual things happen, and it’s quite scary in spots. Again, inadequate.

Most of her books are stand-alones (very important to many readers, in this world of series after series) — even the books in series (like Grass (1989), Raising the Stones (1990), and Sideshow (1992)) are often essentially stand-alone.

Warning — to truly appreciate the book The Family Tree (1997), do not read anything about it prior to opening it up. You’ll ruin a wonderful moment if you get a spoiler.


8 Responses to "A great SF writer"

I just picked up The Visitor. Thanks for the recommendation. It looks quite promising.

Drop by and let me know what you think when you’re done. Or contact me through booktalk, and we can talk about it!

I will. I’ve decided to make a second attempt to scale The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann before I start The Visitor. I’ve had Mann’s novel out from the library two times now, and it’s due in two weeks.

I finished The Visitor last night. It was quite fascinating. I thought the fantastical elements would turn me off, but I hung in there and, in the end, the whole thing worked for me.

I really enjoyed the characters, and I thought the description “the visitor” gives of the ills of the pre-Happening world – obviously Tepper’s take on the present state of our world – was dead-on. I just ordered several more of her novels from the library.

I’m glad you’re a convert. What I like is that while she uses her values very obviously as springboards for ideas for her novels, they turn out to be about so much more than just ‘the environment’ or ‘women’s issues’ or …

Hope you’re picking up “Grass” from the library, as well as “The Family Tree”…to especially tasty ones.

I’ve got The Family Tree, Shadow’s End and The Fresco. I’m going to try for Grass, but they only have two copies and one is library use only, while the other is overdue. I hope someone hasn’t lost it.

Whoa, I see what you mean about The Family Tree. That moment was quite the surprise.

I’m glad you liked it!!

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