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The Visitor Mass Market Paperback – April 29, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Do people change their ways? The Visitor explores this question on a number of levels in a postapocalyptic setting. Centuries after a catastrophic asteroid strike on Earth, survivors have rebuilt a society of religious conservatism and repression. Past technology is remembered as magic, and violent sorcery is a common political tool. Young Dismé Latimer is only concerned with surviving her abusive childhood until she discovers the journal of ancestor Nell Latimer, a scientist chosen to survive the asteroid and preserve as much human knowledge as possible. As the forces of good and evil, of science and magic, begin to converge and conflict, Dismé learns the truth about the world that came before and begins to understand that she, like Nell, has a role to play in the current preservation of Earth.

Tepper's writing is always skillful and eminently readable, and she's not afraid to tackle big ideas as well as individual stories of growth and change. Although the novel loses some focus toward the end, it paints a compelling picture of a society on the point of disintegration and graphically demonstrates how humans who are unaware of their own history are in fact likely to repeat it. --Roz Genessee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Known for her thoughtful and sensitive exploration of such subjects as religion, politics and familial relationships, Tepper (The Fresco) here weaves two stories into an intriguing, and frequently chilling, vision of the future. After the mysterious deaths of her brother, her father and her stepmother, Dism‚ Latimer is left to the disdainful care of her ambitious older stepsister, Rashel. In a world where the ruling Regime regards questioning authority as un-Regimic, the government trades with demons for precious technology. Admitting to the existence of magic can get you "bottled" in a living death. Dism‚ must tread lightly particularly after Rashel gains a high post as conservator of the famed Faience Museum, once home to one of the last practitioners of magic. Magic disappeared, history says, during the Happening, a cataclysm so lost in time that no one knows exactly what happened no one except astronomer Nell Latimer, Dism‚'s many-times-great-grandmother, and a handful of hidden survivors who strive to keep science and learning from being lost forever. As Dism‚ strives to understand and disguise her growing magical abilities from Rashel and the Regime, Nell and her colleagues prepare for the worst: the Visitor who caused the global wreckage of the Happening is on the move again, getting closer to their hidden redoubt every day, threatening to finish the job it started millennia ago. Once again Tepper has created a mesmerizing story full of intriguing characters, resonant images and powerful themes. (Apr. 1)awards.
Copyright 2002 Cahners 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: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Voyager (April 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380821001
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380821006
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,445,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Absolutely worth a read for the beginning and middle, but perhaps make up your own, more satisfying, ending.
Kara Coryell
As I was reading this book, I found myself saying "It looks like she's avoided everything bad I've heard about her."
David Roy
Tepper has a strong and vibrant voice in her books that knits incredible, terrifying, beautiful worlds together.
C. MacMillan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By David Roy on December 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The Visitor, by Shari S. Tepper, is a post-apocalyptic science fiction novel set 700+ years after a giant object slams into Earth. I've heard many good things about Tepper, and I read one of her books a long time ago (After Long Silence) and really enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to dipping back into one of her books. However, after a very promising beginning and middle, the book screeches to a halt, falling apart at the seams.
Tepper really has a flair for interesting characters. The story of Disme is almost heart-wrenching at times, as we see her go through despair after despair at the hands of her stepsister, Rashel. Tepper portrays her vividly, making the reader care deeply about her. From the very first pages, when she goes out alone at night to get away from her family and to think about things, she is seen as an innocent who seems fated to feel nothing but despair. It seems that every time she is shown to love or treasure something, Rashel is there to take it away. As the story progresses and Disme grows into what she will become, you are overjoyed with the way she starts to handle things. The book follows her from a very rough childhood to when she becomes a woman who can look after herself, and the transformation is remarkable. She is a wonderful main character.
The villains in the novel are also well-portrayed. Rashel, of course, is thoroughly evil, but Tepper provides enough backstory to show not only why she is, but also makes you almost pity her instead of hating her. Her mother saved her life once by making a dreadful bargain, a bargain that Rashel must live with for the rest of her life. It feeds on her natural selfishness, but you still feel a little bit sorry for her even as you're rooting for her to get her comeuppance.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on April 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Her older stepsister Rashel, who cares nothing about her except to insure she does not get in her way, raises (a loose verb for Cinderella-like slavery) Disme Latimer following the strange deaths of family members. As Rashel becomes conservator of a renowned Museum, Disme finds a book written by an ancestor that explains the "magic" that followed the asteroid catastrophe that destroyed the planet. The book hints that her distant relative Nell, author of the tome, still miraculously lives.

Disme knows she must hide this book from Rashel who would turn her and her book in to the authorities to further her own career. The youth begins to learn the ancient magic. If the government finds out what she is doing, they would "bottle" her away and her relative would gladly turn her in. However, THE VISITOR who caused the pandemic destruction in the long ago twenty-first century is apparently returning. The world needs a hero, but could that person be a so young, too frightened, and clearly all alone female hiding her activities from her guardian?

THE VISITOR is science fiction at its bleakest best as Sheri S. Tepper paints a dark panorama of a distant future filled with repression and gloom. The story line is as complex and furnished with intelligent concepts as much as any genre novel contains yet THE VISITOR is also loaded with action and deeply drawn charcaters. As Zager and Evans break into song, readers will agree that Ms. Tepper has written a tale that will be on everyone's short list as a candidate for the genre's book of the year.

Harriet Klausner
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By C. MacMillan on April 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Tepper has a strong and vibrant voice in her books that knits incredible, terrifying, beautiful worlds together. The Visitor is a shining example.
A book to answer the questions of what happens to us in the very near future after the Earth is struck by an asteriod, it leaps eons to raise issues of science, magic and science as magic. Its underpinnings are futuristic and fantastic, but its story is an emotionally honest tale of the herione's life, disasters, and future consorting with "gods."
The characters in this book are wonderfully broad and deep, providing true warp and weft to a fantastic story. Tepper reaches into each of them, pulls out their loves, dreams and fears, and lays them bare for reweaving into a solid story. The imagery of the book's unbelievable violence is tempered by the delicate empathy in its touching humanity. Strong, warm, bloody, icy: you care about the people in this book.
Strongly recommended, I wish it had never come to an end.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By wysewomon on May 29, 2002
Format: Hardcover
One thousand years from now -- give or take -- the Earth and her population is recovering from a 21st century asteroid impact that wiped out a good deal of life forms and introduced some things hitherto unknown. Humanity survives in a number of independent city-states, each with its own particular values. One of these is Bastion, settled by religious fundamentalist survivors of the strike. In Bastion, the inhabitants' lives are bound up by dehumanizing rules and dogmas. The main occupation is the search for "the Art," real magic that, as an article of faith, existed before the asteroid strike wiped everything out and will be rediscovered some day. Unfortunately, the search for true magic is so bound in rules, regulations, and dogmas that when it does appear, it is immediately destroyed. Born in Bastion, Disme' Latimer is an odd changeling who neither understands nor subscribes to the dogmas surrounding her. In the process of escaping from her abusive step-sister, she discovers that she is not alone in her feelings and that, in fact, her personal struggles and those of her friends are part of something very much greater than any of them.
To readers familiar with Tepper's work, _The Visitor_ reads something like a cross between _Raising the Stones_ and _A Plague of Angels_, although the tone is both more serious and less angry than that of either of the previous novels. There is not a lot of humour to leaven the message, yet the simple, matter of fact way that even horror is presented only makes it that much stronger. Tepper does not try to sway the reader to her point of view; she merely states her case and leaves you to make up your own mind.
Like many of her previous books, _The Visitor_ is concerned with the nature of god and the nature of evil.
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