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Triptych Paperback – March 21, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


Time travel, aliens, and the politics of sexuality combine with tragic violence in Frey's deeply satisfying debut. [...] It never once loses its course. Frey tells the story from varying points of view in distinct voices, imagining a world at once completely alien and utterly human. -Publishers Weekly, starred review

A stirring adventure, and a tender love story, from a first-time author who truly embraces the limitless possibilities the future may bring. J.M. Frey's Triptych satisfies any sci-fi reader looking for a different take on the first contact motif, or anyone looking to explore the possible evolution of human sexuality and love. - Lambda Literary

Not only is this a wonderful story, but it's a wonderfully told story. (...) Beneath all the action and the drama, there are some big questions asked within the novel - the answers to which we're guided, but have to realise for ourselves. That's what makes a good science fiction novel memorable. -Bibary Book Lust

Debut author Frey knocks it out of the park with a remarkable tale of alien refugees, time travel, intrigue, the pervasive madness of grief, and love that transcends culture, gender, and species. Classic science fiction elements are smoothly updated for a modern audience. - Publishers Weekly, Best Books of 2011

Wonderful Canadian sci-fi about bisexual alien refugees on Earth, queer family structures, identity, and murder. -- The Advocate, Best Overlooked Books of 2011

From the Back Cover

"You know..." she said slowly, and almost so softly that Evvie didn't hear it."You know those movies where the aliens come to Earth, and they... I dunno, they try to steal our natural resources, or create a nuclear winter so they can turn the Earth into slag, or they melt the polar ice caps and New York is under fathoms of water, or they clone us for slaves, or create terrifying bioweapons and wipe us all out and use our cities for farmland, or...all that stuff?" Gwen looked up. "It was nothing like that."

Part District 9, part Lost in Translation, part Stranger in a Strange Land
, Triptych is a poignant, character-driven science fiction story about tolerance, love and loss.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Dragon Moon Press (March 21, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1897492138
  • ISBN-13: 978-1897492130
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,047,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

J.M. Frey holds a BA in Dramatic Literature, where she studied playwriting and traditional Japanese theatre forms, and a Masters of Communications and Culture, where she focused on fanthropology.

She is active in the Toronto geek community, presenting at awards ceremonies, appearing on TV, radio, podcasts, live panels and documentaries to discuss all things fandom through the lens of Academia. She was an invited panelist on the SPACE Channel's premier chat show InnerSPACE, has lived in Japan, and lent costumes to the Ontario Science Centre for their exhibition on Steampunk in Spring 2011.

She loves to travel (disguising it as research), and has visited nearly every continent. She also has addictions to scarves, 'Doctor Who', and tea, all of which may or may not be related.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Brayton on March 29, 2011
Format: Paperback
JM Frey's Triptych is an outstanding debut novel and a welcome and refreshing addition to the genre of Canadian science fiction. Brimming with richly detailed characters and a complex nuanced plot, the narrative universe contained with Triptych is captivating and engaging from the intensely vivid first opening sentences through to the stunning conclusion.

When a previously unknown race of aliens arrives on Earth - the few remaining survivors from a distant destroyed planet - humanity has to learn to adapt and adjust to the inclusion of a foreign species. As humans and aliens interact and learn the ways of each others' civilizations, both slowly begin to change unexpectedly. Each must come to terms with their own collective culture shock and confront their own assumptions and embedded social beliefs.

Specialist Gwen Pierson and Specialist Doctor Basil Grey are members of the Institute, formed by the United Nations when the alien refugees initially appear, nearly dead and desperately seeking a new home. Recognizing the complexities of how humans would react to the inclusion of aliens into the global community, the Institute is created to help the two cultures learn from one another, and more specifically, to assist the aliens in adapting to human customs and traditions. Kalp, an alien engineer, is assigned to work with Gwen and Basil and over time, an intimate loving relationship develops between them in new and unexpected ways. Frey keeps the reader constantly and consistently on edge as the story unfolds, moving back and forth in time/space, across countries, and between three differing character perspectives. Nothing is by chance, nothing is trivial, and even the most innocent seeming of background events has significance and meaning.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By -J on December 17, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
At first glance, Triptych engages alot of familiar themes and tropes for sci-fan fans. Yes, it's a love story. Yes, it's a time travel story. Yes, there are aliens. But those familiar elements serve a very different, completely unique purpose here. Frey's debut novel defies categorization as hard or soft sci-fi; while "hard" sci-fi is largely invested in the specifics of technology and the possibilities that emerge from it, and "soft" sci-fi plays those technologies chiefly as backdrop, Triptych reads like something else entirely - it has all the technical merit and investment of hard sci-fi, but it places that weight in realms of cultural theory instead of technology.

This isn't a story about alien hardware or futuristic machinery; Triptych's about social models that are really only a step or two removed from our own... and how people like you and I would deal with them. While Frey presents her re-envisionment of cultural norms and gender as literally alien in origin, the theories proposed are incredibly human when the sci-fi trappings are stripped away. The result's a character-driven piece of storytelling that's stunningly easy to identify with, and that makes a tremendous amount of sense; Triptych illustrates that fine line between fear and wonder that's inseparable from social development, and examines it from both sides with an even-handed perspective. It's as beautiful and funny as it is tragic and surprising.

Deep without being dense, Triptych's a fun ride with alot of smart stuff going on just beneath the surface.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By LeeDenn on August 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
At first glance the book looks cheesy. Less than stunning cover art and a summary that hardly covers anything other than the fact aliens have landed. The first seventy pages or so were slow and confusing, and it took me a very long time to get into the book. However, I must say that I immediately connected with the vivid characterization of both Gwen and Basil, their pain, and especially Gwen's confusion at the betrayal of a lover.

It wasn't until I hit 'The Middle' that I became completely enraptured in the book. Kalp's tentative progress in his new world was both endearing and heartbreaking, and even though he was alien he was so human. I smiled at his triumph, laughed at his honest mistakes, and winced at his more awkward moments. I couldn't put the book down until four in the morning, and that's only because I wanted save some more fun for the next day. Kalp was my favorite part of this book, and has become one of the most memorable characters I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I only regret that his part in the story ended tragically.

In fact, Kalp is my favorite character. Had I never opened this book I would've never came upon Kalp. Reading about his struggle and his life made me open my eyes just a bit wider.

This is a must read for anybody who enjoys Sci-Fi, realistic situations, and amazing characters.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Deborah J. Ross on February 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
I would never have discovered Triptych, by J.M. Frey, had I not first met the editor, Gabrielle Harbowy. We were talking about stories that challenge conventional notions not only of sexuality but of family, and she mentioned this debut novel by Canadian J.M. Frey. The cover reveals nothing of the story within -- part queer love story, part alien first encounter story, part time travel adventure, part mystery, part exploration of polyamory, all laced with skillfully woven dramatic tension and a sure understanding of the needs of the human heart.

When aliens come to Earth, they come not as ambassadors or conquerors but as refugees. They have lost their families and culture as well as their world. Their species evolved around families of threes -- one to bear children, one to work, one to nurture and protect the others. When a pair of Earth scientists, also a romantic couple, begin working with one of the aliens, their own relationship changes. But Earth, for all its claims of tolerance, is not ready for a marriage that consists of a man, a woman, and an alien. Not by a long shot.
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