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Crown of Stars Hardcover – September, 1988

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Between her first SF story in 1968 and her suicide in 1987, Tiptree (the pseudonym of psychologist Alice Sheldon) produced a body of acclaimed if sometimes difficult work. Her approach to her characters, which had often been clinical and detached, had in recent years become a sentiment-filled array of heroes and victims in which contact with aliens put the humans in better contact with themselves. The angelic octopus-like creatures of "Second Going" offer Earth a substitute for the religious faith it lacks. "In the Midst of Life," an executive shoots himself, only to find a strange fulfillment in the afterlife. Most striking here is Tiptree's sardonic variation of the Peggy Sue Got Married theme in "Backward, Turn Backward," where what the characters find in their younger selves is not hope but hate and despair. Another uneven and unsettling collection from Tiptree.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

From the psychology of war ("Yanqui Doodle") to the metaphysics of the universe ("The Earth Doth Like a Snake Renew"), this collection of ten stories (some of them previously uncollected) demonstrates the wide range and imposing talent of the late James Tiptree, Jr. Often somber and cynical but always perceptive and intelligent, these stories belong in most sf collections.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; 1st edition (September 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312931050
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312931056
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,009,148 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
If I am not mistaken, this anthology was the last to be put together by Tiptree just before her suicide, although not published until after her death. It contains 10 short stories, one previously unpublished. Knowing what happened to Tiptree and her husband in May of 1987 changes completely the way readers will interpret these tales, and it would be striking to any reader at any time how many of the stories turn on death, suicide and strange afterlives.

In "Second Going," American astronauts encounter blue, one-eyed octopus-like extraterrestrials who seem too kind, gentle, helpful and harmless to possibly be what they seem. Surprise! In "Our Resident Djinn," Lucifer visits Heaven for the first time since his abortive revolution, and finds Heaven's grieving inhabitants ready to erase the boundaries between Heaven and Hell. This simply isn't a good story. In "Morality Meat," the rich of a decaying world have implemented Dean Jonathan Swift's "modest proposal," to provide one luxury menu item they have no intention of giving up. "All This and Heaven Too" is a fairy tale in which we learn that the marriage of an eligible princess to a highly eligible prince from another realm is about the worst fate that can befall a fairy kingdom. "Yanqui Doodle" depicts a future imperial war (precisely like the ones the US is now bogged hopelessly down in, in Iraq and Afghanistan) in which "better fighting through chemistry" has been perfected to the point where no US soldier can possibly survive or thrive anywhere but in the midst of some war somewhere.

The previously unpublished "Come Live with Me" is the poorest story in the volume. Two aliens prove their sweet niceness by resurrecting two human corpses, casualties of an interstellar expedition of exploration from earth.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I approached this collection wanting it to be what some positive reviews claimed it was, a death-soaked final collection from a writer I`ve long admired for her fearlessness and originality. Her greatest works were the stories published before her true identity was revealed; maybe she needed whatever it was she got from using a pseudonym. These stories just seem flat and flabby compared to the magnificent stories in STARSONGS OF AN OLD PRIMATE, for example. `Morality Meat` for example, takes pages and pages to make its SHOCKING!SURPRISE!POINT! which you`ll see coming a few pages in. I don`t want to bring down potential fans, I want to direct them to any of her earlier collections, b ecause there you will find the stories that made the author one of the greats who used SF to deal with issues and stylistic experimentation most SF writers shy away from--`The Girl Who Was Plugged In`, `Houston, Houston Do You Read,` `The Milk of Paradise,` `The Women Men Don`t See` and so many others...just not these.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Crown of Stars is an excellent gateway into the writing of James Tiptree - in particular, "Backward, turn Backward" is approachable but disturbing. Her work tends to explore what gender means - similar to the way Phillip K. Dick explores perception of reality. Yanqui Doodle took a couple of readings before I fully understood what was going on. All in all, an excellent collection.
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