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Sideshow Paperback – February 1, 1993

20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Loosely related to her earlier books Grass and Raising the Stones, Tepper's newest big novel questions the desirability of further evolution. A sentient fungus has infested most of the galaxy, reworking the life forms it inhabits to enhance their physical and spiritual comfort. The people of the planet Elsewhere, however, see the fungus's contented hosts as slaves; to preserve free will on Elsewhere, the rulers have imposed absolute cultural relativity within which pleasant and unsavory societies coexist, their integrity rigidly maintained by Enforcers. But powers have arisen to challenge the status quo: creatures resembling dragons are reported in unexplored regions, and evil entities in the computer network are manifesting themselves in a deadly way. The planetary provost, Boarmus, sends a crew of three Enforcers with an assortment of misfits to investigate the dragons, while he tries to thwart the net-beings. The pointlessly complicated plot veers off into long digressions that add only pages to the main story, and though Tepper tries to raise the stakes with debates over current issues such as isolationism and sexism, she fails to grapple with the complex implications of these concerns. After her last book, Beauty , this one is a disappointment.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

The world of Tolerance, where each province governs itself without interference from its neighbors, suffers from a sickness at its core, and only a small group of misfits and alien travelers can find the key to the world's survival. This final volume in the triptych that includes Grass ( LJ 9/15/89) and Raising the Stones ( LJ 8/90) begins slowly, as the author painstakingly introduces her characters to the complexity of the plot, but ultimately Tepper's imaginative vision holds forth and delivers one of her most challenging works to date. Libraries interested in acquiring significant sf should consider this rewarding but difficult title.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra; 0002- edition (February 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553762893
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553762891
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,161,029 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 1, 1998
Format: Paperback
The book was just a teensy bit slow to start. Many characters, destined to meet later on, were introduced, but you also got to know them pretty well and, most importantly, care about them. Some of the premises, like the abilities of the core personalities, didn't seem quite plausible, but it didn't detract too much from the story, at least for me.
Many interesting viewpoints concerning the concept of diversity and religious practices were explored through the characters: How far should we go in respecting another's diversity? At what point should someone step in, if indeed they should step in at all, to put a stop to what others might see as barbaric practices? Are we really free or just products of our individual cultures and upbringing? Are the choices we make really our own? Do our supposedly objective views and moral codes change when events wear a more personal face?
All in all, most of the characters were pretty likable, though Danivon was a little too stiff and seemingly perfect for my liking. His olfactory abilities were rather interesting though. The different cultures visited in the book were also quite, uh, interesting--actually they were a bit frightening. A few events towards the end of the book even managed to surprise me, but just a bit. :-)
I would definitely recommend this book as a good read. It gave me food for thought, made me rethink some of my own ideals. Really, once the characters were introduced, and the action picked up, I couldn't put it down. =RTK=
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. Bradburn on November 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
This was my introduction to Sheri Tepper and, while I didn't understand all the references to the previous happenings in this trilogy, I couldn't tear myself away. I liked the characters a lot, I loved the world (altho it is a little similar to one of Jack Chalker's series), and I thought the overall plot was good. If you like plot-driven books (as most SF books are), you probably will enjoy this one. Plus, the sheer variety in this world is fascinating. I would probably recommend that you start off with Grass, tho it didn't hurt me to do it backwards. This book will always have a place in my heart since it introduced me to a great SF writer.
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Format: Paperback
I'm either getting very contrary in my old age or I just have no idea what it is I actually like. I completely expected to hate this one based on the mixed reviews from people who were fans already, especially since I find a number of the fan-favorites . . . we'll be polite and say "somewhat grating." But once it got going it . . . wasn't bad. That's not going so far as to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it, but there were very few moments where I felt a need to get a mouthguard before I gritted my teeth down to the roots or tape to keep my eyeballs facing front instead of seeking the innards of my skull. Which is progress, in a sense.

This one forms a loose trilogy with "Grass" and "Raising the Stones" and although the link to "Grass" won't be apparent until pretty late in the book, it pretty much continues the general story that was started in "Raising the Stones" . . . that is, the spread of the Hobbs Land gods from planet to planet, bringing a sense of peace and love and togetherness everywhere it touches, much like the release of a new romantic comedy.

But interestingly, and perhaps realizing that a book where everything is going swell may not be the most exciting plot ever hoisted on an audience, Tepper takes a different tactic and shifts the perspective to a system centered around the planet Elsewhere. Aware of how the Hobbs gods are making everyone the same with their good time vibes, they perceive that as a stifling conformity and do their best to keep it at bay while allowing the worlds in their systems to maintain their own individual belief systems.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 17, 1997
Format: Paperback
"Sideshow" is one of the best speculative fiction books I have read in a long time. Not only does the author present difficult ethical questions for the reader to consider, but she provides a thrilling story which through the whole book never ceases to get better and better. Though I could never have predicted most of the plot twists, everything made perfect sense in the end and I never felt 'manipulated' as with so many lesser works which seem to provide cliffhanger situations just to play on your emotions and keep you guessing.

Ms. Tepper demonstrates herself to be among the most competent world-builders in the genre with the world of Elsewhere. It has more of a fast-paced, cyberpunk environment than most of her other works, but she demonstrates that she is equally at home in this style as with her more low-tech fantasies.

I was glad to have read "Grass" first which provided a bit of helpful background on some of the situations in "Sideshow", though reading it first is not essential. I regret that I have been unable to locate a copy of "Raising the Stones."

"Sideshow" is a provocative and well-constructed work which, like all of Ms. Tepper's fiction, raises the difficult choices societies must make in order to survive.
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