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Six Moon Dance Mass Market Paperback – April 6, 1999

43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

In Six Moon Dance, veteran fantasy and science fiction writer Sheri S. Tepper tells the tale of the strange planet Newholme. An intriguing human society occupies the metal-poor planet, a society with gender values quite different from Earth, resulting from a virus that kills 50 percent of baby girls at birth. Newholmians use the best and the worst of dogma, religion, and "patriarchy" to uphold a society where men manage the money but women hold the keys to power through church, reproductive control, and their own short supply. "Family men" pay exorbitant dowries in order to gain a temporary wife, contracted for wifely duties and reproduction for a number of years. When their marriage contracts are finished, the women, relieved of duty, retire to enjoy the sexual services of male "Consorts."

The plot here involves an official Questioner who visits Newholme to investigate reports of human rights abuses, the strange native inhabitants whose biology may hold the key to human survival on the planet, and a disastrous lunar alignment. Although quite creative, Tepper's plot is simply not as gripping as the sociology and society she invents for Newholme. She uses her feminist instincts and knowledge about the sexes and religion to create a world worth taking a look at. James Tiptree, Jr. Memorial Award judges should be sure to take a look at Six Moon Dance for its unique take on gender roles. --Bonnie Bouman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Ambitiously choreographed and executed without a misstep, Tepper's complex new novel follows her acclaimed The Family Tree into a profound ecological and sociological commentary on human individuality. Originally settled by now-vanished immigrants from the testosterone-rich planet of Thor, the matriarchal world of Newholme faces imminent volcanic destruction. To determine whether Newholme's ruling Hags and their society deserve to be saved, the galactic Council of Worlds dispatches a cybernetic super-grandma, the Great Questioner, who collects a brilliantly conceived multispecies team to probe mysteries deep in Newholme's past. Tepper courageously tackles touchy issues like gender dominance with grace and wit. Through handsome charmer Mouche, sold by his parents into Hunk toy-boy training, Tepper unveils the Hag-ridden female will-to-power, just as threatening to individual freedom as that of the horrid male supremacist-schemers she depicts. Tepper deftly conjoins a superb awareness of otherness with penetrating insight into selfhood in this shining, bravura performance. (July) FYI: Tepper's Beauty (1991) was voted Best Fantasy Novel of the Year by readers of Locus magazine.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager (April 6, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380791986
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380791989
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,200,290 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Steve Benner VINE VOICE on October 6, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
There are those who say that Sheri Tepper has only one story to tell and that she tells it over and over again in her books. There is a degree of truth to that statement. Certainly, in "Six Moon Dance", Tepper spins her usual futuristic speculative yarn of mankind threatening a wider planetary intelligence through ignorance and greed, in a world run by a matriarchal society rigorously controlled through the creation and manipulation of religious taboos. As usual, her tale is supercharged with gender issues and cultural curiosities, as she holds up her giant mirror for us all to gaze upon. No doubt many readers of her works will feel they've heard it all before...
With writing this good, though, I for one will forgive Tepper her constant recycling of ideas (and it has to be admitted that she draws on a good many ideas from her earlier books here). Indeed, I consider this to be her best book to date, featuring an involved and complex plot, crafted with Ms. Tepper's impeccable eye for detail, as well as her uniquely wry sense of humour and wit - to say nothing of her sense of the bizarre! All of the book's many strands fall beautifully into place, constantly luring the reader on, whilst continually keeping one guessing.
As always, there is the deep, dark secret - alluded to throughout but kept carefully concealed until the end. And naturally, there are the usual shocks and jolts for the reader along the way, too. Indeed, she manages to keep the surprises coming right through to the very last page, this time.
This book may make you mad, or it may make you weep, and even at times laugh, but ultimately its true worth is like that of the special pool it features: impossible to pass through without being altered forever. Highly recommended, whether you're an established Tepper fan or just looking for a cracking read.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Joanna Daneman #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 6, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I love most of Sheri Tepper's books. But I keep going back and re-reading this one over and over. It's just fascinating!
The plot involves a planet with some DEEP problems; earthquakes, mysterious monsters, a virus that kills 1 of about 2 girl babies at birth, and worst of all, a visit pending from the Questioner; a robotic device designed to make sure all sentient planets are in compliance with "human" rights laws. OR ELSE!
The society on Newholme is downright strange; men wear veils so their faces won't excite lust in women. Women are the dominant sex; they go for high bride prices and the birth of daughters is a cause for celebration. They make or break a family fortune. Every man gets to father his own genetic line, that is, if he can afford a wife. And so that women are not just chattel, when they are finished with their procreative contracts, they are free to hire consorts, or trained companions of the opposite sex. Consorts are fantasy men, who dance, know wines, duel gallantly (but mostly harmlessly) and accompany their patronesses to cultural events, plus give them the love and companionship missing in their contractual marriages. Married men are free to conduct business and need not spend the time to pleasure their wives. Everyone gets something they want.
But all is not totally peachy on Newholme and this forms a very inventive plot for a cast of very diverse and interesting characters. This is one fun and interesting book. I think it's one of the most inventive science fiction novels in years and it is fun to read. Don't miss it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Adam Georgandis ( on June 20, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Though I won't remember this novel as one of my favorite Tepper books, I enjoyed reading it, and I'm glad I saw it through to the end. The story seems confusing at times (though a single chapter late in the novel does clarify much of what previously had me confused), and the large number of difficult-to-pronounce proper nouns was a bit frustrating. But the story of the Timmys, the so-called "invisible people" - this is what I found compelling about the book. I think all sorts of meaningful links can be made to those "invisible people" in our own world. Factory workers in Haiti striving to produce plush "One-hundred and one Dalmations" dolls for subsistence-level pay...Workers in southeast Asia struggling to survive on the wage-slave payments they receive for sewing $150 pairs of sneakers...Our American (and more generally, our first-world) prosperity is built on the subservience of hundreds of millions of "invisible people." This is exactly the case in the novel - a planet's colonists are all aware of the Timmys, but - to a person - they are unwilling to admit that these invisible natives even exist.
Also very interesting is the novel's reliance on the compelling idea of the planetary life-form, the planetary consciousness. Tepper makes this idea work very effectively in Six Moon Dance (again, despite the confusing names), and her writing caused me to think again about the popular Gaia theory discussed here on our own planet.
All in all, definitely worth reading, though I would certainly place Gibbon's Decline and Fall, The Family Tree, Grass, and Shadow's End before it on my list of Tepper favorites.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By ultrafuchsia on January 14, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
A well written book with an engaging plot and some fine twists towards the end. Very evenly written, but not for the impatient. The author leaves multiple trails of breadcrumbs, all of which you must follow for the plot to fully blossom. After my first reading, I immediately turned back to page one and started over, to savor consistency and complexity that I could only taste briefly on the first reading.
Tepper provides a lot of information about the history of gender interactions and why we think the way we do, which I found quite believable and interesting. (but, being of an age where Women's Studies classes were not commonly available in college, I don't know whether this is WS101 or BS101) She occasionally slips into pedantry, as in her other books, but in this novel she does it by introducing too many superfluous characters, which, while moderately interesting on their own, ultimately exist only to pass on the information, rather than advance the story.
Despite this drawback, which is actually pretty minor since the characters themselves and their cultures can be pretty intriguing, I found this book engaging enough for me to go hunting for a hardback copy for my personal library. Approach it with some patience and you will find it rewarding.
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