Posts Tagged With: sheri s. tepper

“Six Moon Dance” by Sherri S. Tepper

Book cover imageLast year, I discovered Sherri S. Tepper’s novel “Singer From the Sea.”  It was one of the most bizarre books that I’ve ever read, and I described it in my review as a amalgamation of Dune, Fern Gully, and A Handmaid’s Tale.  When I saw more Sherri Tepper books at the used book store, I couldn’t help myself.  I knew that at the very least, I’d be in for something different.  “Six Moon Dance” is exactly what I expected–strange, beautifully written, imaginative, and yet vaguely disappointing.

The basic setup of the universe of “Six Moon Dance” reminded me a bit of Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy.  Space travel and colonization raised a host of questions about the meaning of intelligent life, and war and conflict became commonplace.  However, a wise man named Haraldson came up with a series of edicts in order to create an atmosphere of interstellar peace and cooperation.  One such rule is that one can’t set up a colony on a planet that has already has indigenous intelligent life.  In order to enforce Haraldson’s edicts, an intelligent robot called the Questioner was created to travel to different worlds and to destroy those civilizations that refused to comply.

The main story arc of “Six Moon Dance:” is set on the planet of Newholme.  Newholme has one seriously fucked up social structure, which is due to a gender imbalance.  Because women are scarce, they are given special treatment within Newholme’s society. After high-class women have produced children, which is seen as their social duty, they are allowed the service of hunk, a courtesan who’s had a vasectomy.  Meanwhile, men are required to wear veils in public and have limited rights.  Think of Western stereotypes about the Middle East, and reverse them.

Mouche, our protagonist, is in training to be such a courtesan.  He was born in a poor family that didn’t produce any girls, and so his family sold him to a brothel to make ends meet.  However, Mouche’s world is about to change, as a visit from the Questioner reveals dark secrets about Newholme’s past.  Meanwhile, an unprecedented increase in volcanic activity threatens to make the Questioner’s visit a moot point and to destroy all civilization on the planet.

To be quite frank, Newholme’s social structure made me a bit queasy.  I realize that’s the effect that Tepper was going for–to make readers uncomfortable to point out flaws in our own perception of gender roles–but I think that Tepper’s commentary on gender overshadowed an otherwise fantastic story.  The exposition of Newholme’s history and secrets was absolutely brilliant (I’d say more, but that would be going into extreme spoiler territory), but the blatant treatment of gender roles was distracting.  A more subtle approach would have gotten the point across without coming off as preachy.  I was also unsatisfied with the way that the story ended.

While “Six Moon Dance” doesn’t fulfill its full potential, it is still an enjoyable read.  Tepper is able to craft a story filled with intrigue and imagination, and the creatures that she creates are captivating and complex.  Just be warned that the eco-feminist message is pronounced, blunt, and at times overwhelming.

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I read this book as part of The 2013 Science Fiction Experience.

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Categories: Fiction, Sci Fi | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

Post-finals book buying binge

My classes for this semester are officially done, and I got A’s.  Now that I’ll (hopefully) have more time to read, I went on a bit of a sci-fi book-buying binge.

I went into the used bookstore with the intention of picking up something else by Sheri S. Tepper.  I recently read Singer From the Sea and couldn’t put it down, despite the fact that the book was so very strange and had such a strong eco-feminist agenda.  I was in luck and ended up getting two of her books, “The Gate to Women’s Country” and “Six Moon Dance.”

I had hoped to come across a copy of Larry Niven’s “Ringworld,” but they didn’t have it.  However, I did find Niven’s “The Integral Trees,” complete with the fabulous Michael Whelan cover!  I also picked up the second book in Frank Herbert’s “Dune” series.  I read Dune last summer as a groupread and have been toying with trying one of the sequels for a while now.

As I was getting ready to check out, the nice bookstore employee noticed my Sheri Tepper books and got excited.  We had a nice chat about sci-fi novels, and she ended up recommending that I try Theodore Sturgeon and Octavia Butler.  Both of these books look fantastic.  The Sturgeon one was the winner of a Retroactive Hugo award.  I can’t wait to read these two books, and it was really neat to meet someone in real life who enjoys the same books that I do.

If you’ve read any of these, how are they?  I’m so excited for summertime reading!

Categories: Other | Tags: , , , , , , , | 41 Comments

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