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A Woman of the Iron People Paperback – December 1, 1991


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 424 pages
  • Publisher: e-reads.com (December 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0759224161
  • ISBN-13: 978-0759224162
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,988,910 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this excellent, anthropologically oriented SF tale, Li Lixia is one of eight field anthropologists set down on Sigma Draconis II after the first starship from Earth detects pre-industrial intelligent life there. She experiences several of the cultures of the humanoid people of the planet as she travels with Nia, a female exile of the Iron People. Arnason ( Daughter of the Bear King ) introduces Nia and her way of life, then brings in Lixia and, gradually, includes others of the starship's exploratory team. While removed from the starship, the anthropologists remain in contact with it as they all struggle with the question of whether their active intervention will help or harm those whom they encounter. As in life, no clear answers are offered. With its strong prose, meticulously detailed cultures and commanding characterization, this is an intelligent, provocative book.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA-- Lixia, a human anthropologist on an alien planet, is forced to contemplate the contradictions of her species when her field work brings her in contact with an extraordinary person who happens not to be human. The experiences of Lixia, Nia, and those who travel with them are journeys in body and spirit across an unexplored terrain. Both the alienation and the affinity are emotions that YAs will immediately recognize. Strong characters, well-written dialogue, and a plot full of adventure make the philosophical theme accessible. This is not a novel for people who devour their science fiction like popcorn. The shifts in point of view and the relatively relaxed pace will discourage those who want simple entertainment. For readers willing to question themselves and to look at what makes them human, however, this book will be an exciting journey. --Cathy Chauvette, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 8 customer reviews
The story is magical.
Thomas D. Gulch
Will it be as good as I remember?
Peter D. Tillman
Yay, it's digital now!
JAT

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 19, 1998
Format: Hardcover
The world-building in this book was superb. Set on the home planet of the only other sentient species ever found, the characters in this book are anthropologists who are trying to understand this new kind of intelligent life. In the process, they discover more about themselves than the objects of their studies. Listed as a Utopian novel in many reviews, it is not. However, it does include a distinct future Earth (in the human anthropologist's memories, actions, and attitudes) that could be described as a Utopia of sorts. This is a book for those of us who like to think, and it's one of the best books of this kind I have ever read. Do try it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Monty Vierra on May 3, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed reading Arnason's A Woman of the Iron People for its detailed building of a world with a complex society and multiple languages. We learn about this world mainly from the perspective of Nia, the woman of the Iron People in the title, and Lixia, a woman of Chinese heritage born in Hawaii. The story is set about 200 years in Earth's future, where problems of pollution and economic exploitation have mainly been solved, though Earth is certainly not a paradise. In addition, humans have colonized the Moon and Mars and perhaps some other places (the L-5 colonies). Lixia is part of an interstellar expedition to explore Sigma Draconis II, about 18 light years away, a trip that takes much longer in Earth years. (There's no "faster than light" [FTL] drive or wormhole or stargate to get them there faster.) After they reach SD II, Lixia and seven other humans land and begin to explore the earth-like planet. The rest of the crew remain on the starship.

Arnason's main focus is on social interactions, especially between genders, as well as the cultures that feed those interactions and that grow out of them. This is Arnason's great strength as a writer. The story opens with Nia, her life among the Iron People, and her expulsion from her own community. The main plot of the story then revolves around Lixia's meeting with Nia, their attempts to understand each other, and their journey (with a couple of others) across much of a mainly temperate continent. The story is very clearly written, even when later more humans who land on the planet start speaking about politics and economics (a fault perhaps as much of the author as the characters, but I'll get to that in a moment).

What would it really be like to communicate with an alien humanoid species?
Read more ›
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Thomas D. Gulch on June 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
Eleanor Arnason is a gifted writer, of whom, I am sure we will
be hearing alot more from. The story is magical. The only
exception I have with the book, is the future written about
by Eleanor of earth. The book is copyrighted 1991 and the story is set at least two centuries in the future and the author
still depicts a historically viable soviet union and a marxist, Engelian
socialist future, which on the face of the story, is absurd.
Also why do they keep putting a picture of a woman holding a
skull of the cover of the hardback and paperback? What does this
have to do with the story?
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Peter D. Tillman VINE VOICE on July 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
There's always some trepidation when one begins to re-read a fondly-remembered book. Will it hold up? Will it be as good as I remember? Happily, Ms. Arnason's wonderful prose soon caught me once again in her spell....

Lixia, the viewpoint character, is a Hawaiian anthropologist from an
Earth still recovering from the excesses of the 20th century. She's
nerving herself up to enter her first alien village at Sigma Draconis --
'There was no point in sneaking around. If they caught me spying, I'd be
in real trouble. The best thing was to walk right in.

The technique hadn't worked in New Jersey, of course. The people there
had tried to sacrifice me to their god, the Destroyer of Cities...'
Nia, a woman of the Iron People, is a smith and a pervert - she once loved
a man. Her neighbors drove her from their village in disgrace. Now
she has a smithy near a village of the Copper People -- the village Lixia had
come to study. Lixia's first contact doesn't go well -- she is driven out. Nia
takes her in, befriends her, and they become travel companions. The next
village they visit is kinder:
"This person without fur is amazing. She knows nothing about
anything. But she is willing to listen, and she doesn't interrupt."

Lixia and Nia are joined by Dexter Seawarrior, Ph.D., an Angeleno
aborigine. His people prize mellowness and truth; Dexter is devious
and ambitious. He left his tribe, went to school, and is now a tenured
professor at Berkeley....

The book is filled with complicated people, some of them human,muddling through life.
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