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The Margarets Mass Market Paperback – June 24, 2008

32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Full of fascinating characters and beautifully detailed settings, Tepper's complex and multifaceted far-future SF novel follows the many selves of Mars colonist Margaret Bain on a mission to save the human race from annihilation. Long ago, hairless bipeds earned the eternal hatred of the foul-tempered Quaatar after some prehumans stowed away on a Quaatar survey ship. Now humankind is at the brink of self-destruction through overpopulation and ecological collapse. The farsighted Gentherans have taken up the human cause within the Interstellar Trade Organization, but as Earthgov struggles to conform to ISTO's enforced sterilization laws while trading excess children for offworld water, the Quaatar continue plotting to destroy humanity. Only Margaret, a secret organization called the Third Order of the Siblinghood and the truth behind an old Gentheran folktale can stop the genocide and give humanity a future. As always, Locus Award–winner Tepper (The Companions) wields grand science fiction themes with skill, vision and a twist of black humor. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

In her sprawling seventeenth novel, Tepper envisions humanity's existence in a crowded league with alien races as tentative. More-advanced yet ill-tempered extraterrestrials, such as the Quaatar, would rather rescue a perfectly good planet like Earth from its environmentally toxic parasites. To forestall humanity's wholesale extinction, Earthgov cuts a deal with the Interstellar Trade Organization by selling off 90 percent of its citizens as slaves and pets. One of the contract's unwitting victims is Margaret Bain, who, as the only child on the sparsely populated Martian moon Phobos, finds companionship by creating imaginary versions of herself as, for example, a queen, a warrior, even a boy. Each time Margaret faces a crisis, the other Margarets split off and grow to adulthood on other worlds. In the end, however, the separate Margarets must reunite, skills and experiences intact, to save Earth from ultimate destruction. Tepper's multiple worlds and story lines offer a broad canvas for penetrating cultural observations and for a spectrum of colorful characters, who enliven one of her most inventive novels to date. Hays, Carl --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Voyager; Reprint edition (June 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061170690
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061170690
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,002,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Mary L Wagner on June 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As ever, Sheri Tepper starts with a very interesting concept. But her execution is becoming formulaic. The "magical aliens who save the human race, but we have to prove ourselves worthy" story, is becoming overused.

Each Margaret, in her individual world, could have been an interesting character, but since there are seven Margarets, no one gets enough time to develop. Tepper builds fascinating worlds, but with seven of them, there isn't enough time to explore.

The Margarets lacks the grandeur of Grass or Beauty, the immediacy of Gibbon's Decline and Fall, the surprise twists of Family Tree, and the humor of The Fresco. Those are the things that I read Sheri Tepper for, and I missed them here.
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By R. L. Greenwood on July 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
"The Margarets" is a complicated book and it is necessary (and enjoyable) to pay close attention to all of the storylines while reading it. The close attention is certainly worth the trouble: no less than the future of the human race is dependent on single bored child, Margaret Bain.

"The Margarets" are creations of the mind of Margaret Bain is the only child on the Mars station, Phobos. The six Margarets that she invents have their own complex, and very different, personalities. As Margaret gets older, the invented Margarets split off from her, leaving only the original Margaret behind. This book tells the stories of all 7 Margarets in alternating chapters with that Margaret speaking in that chapter in the first person.

While I was expecting part the ending of the book, the more I read, the more possibilities presented themselves. The entire culmination of "The Margarets" was unexpected -- and completely unsuspected (at least by me)!

I really enjoyed this book and am going to read it again shortly so I can pick up anything I could have missed the first time around. I may even take notes! The story feels so real -- Sheri Tepper's novels are like that -- and rereading them is a joy. I always find something new in them, even when I reread them more than once.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Teresa G. Whyte on June 18, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Sheri Tepper has an amazing ability to take you to new places that not only facinate but make you go hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. I have been reading SF for over 45 years and she has the ability to surprise me by taking me to new places, new ideas, new thoughts while so many others have become predicable. She enlightens while she entertains. My only complaint is that she can't write faster. Her books are of the kind that you want to rush through because you can't put them down, but you also want to make them last. She is a gourmet chef of literary achievments.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are many paths to success in Science Fiction. The author must have a vision of the future, definite opinions about the present, a good story to tell, and weave them together skillfully. This book has it all - suspense, cool creatures, and humanity hanging in the balance. I suspect that each reader will have a different 'Margaret' they relate to most. Personally, I enjoyed the spy character, Ongamar.

The Margarets takes place approximately 150-200 years in the future. It mentions the years 2080 as being in the relatively recent past. The authors vision of the future is dystopian, with the humans having despoiled the earth and facing grim choices for its future.

Central to her vision is that humans need a 'racial memory' in order to advance to a higher level as a species. While I don't agree with this, she does develop the theme well in the book. Her other theme is the relationship of a people to their gods and religion - that we create our gods rather than the other way around.

All in all, I was sad when I had to put this book down. It was thought provoking with a suspenseful plot and likeable characters.

In fact, one thing that did strike me was that all of the characters mentioned by name were likeable. All the evildoers were identified only by their race or title. What does this say about the nature of evil? For example early in the novel we meet 'A Thongan spy', or 'The KFamir Chief Planner' All of the 'enemies' were vague and distant. There were a only couple of evil 'individual' in the novel per se, and very much in the background. Evil was generally performed only on a racial level. The K'Famir plot to destroy humanity was central, but only three K'famir in the whole novel have actual names. Basically, the evil that existed was mostly faceless.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Harnett VINE VOICE on July 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Tepper, who generally explores big themes with literary skill, posits humankind in peril from one alien race and on probation with another.

Although the brutal, xenophobic Quaatar cannot count above six, they have acquired advanced technology by selling their rich planetary mineral rights. They nurse a long-standing hatred of humans whom they have already partly lobotomized, early in our prehistory.

Meanwhile the more benevolent Gentharans would like to see earth survive and join the Interstellar Trade Organization, which it can only do if it gets its wastrel ways under control. One way it helps humans do this is by buying the excess children, of which there are still many despite draconian birth restrictions.

Bits of this back-story are revealed piecemeal to Margaret, born on a work colony. As the only child on the colony Margaret staves off boredom by inventing six alternate personas as imaginary playmates. But as the work project ends and her family is returned to earth, Margaret's alter egos disperse to various planets and destinies.

Each one develops her unique talents and all will eventually come together in a grand scheme to save humanity.

Tepper is a good writer with lots of well-put ideas. The trouble with this story is that all the Margarets remain alter egos. They have their special traits and in addition they have Margaret's earnest, independent character. None of them comes across as entirely whole and real. Which makes for more of a polemic than a fully engaging novel.

Still, Tepper is a talented storyteller. Her ideas are thoughtfully developed and the various worlds are highly visual, vivid, and intriguingly mysterious.
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