- Mass Market Paperback: 496 pages
- Publisher: Harper Voyager (May 1, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0380791978
- ISBN-13: 978-0380791972
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 95 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,521,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Family Tree Mass Market Paperback – May 1, 1998
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This technically polished novel ingeniously combines elements from traditional quests, fables, and novels. A seemingly rhetorical question is posed in chapter 1: Why did sociable, smart Dora Henry marry cold, controlling Jared Gerber? But that question is the key to the book and to the parallel stories told by Sheri Tepper. The sets of characters unravel their separate puzzles until all become different aspects of the same web of events, shaking the reader's, and Dora's, perceptions to the core. Tepper's linguistic sleight-of-hand with metaphor and image is breathtaking; her storytelling is deft and funny; her characters are memorable and sympathetic. Topical, mythical, archetypal, and provocative, this is a book no fantasy or science fiction reader should miss. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Library Journal
While investigating the separate murders of three geneticists, police sergeant Dora Henry stumbles upon [creatures] from the future who have come 3000 years into their past to prevent the extinction of their species before a plague destroys most humans. Overnight, sentient weeds and trees begins taking over the suburbs and carrying off babies from families with more than two children. Tying together the Earth Goddess Kore and ecological scare tactics leaves this morality tale a little too preachy and strident. A disappointment from the author of the Hugo Award nominee Grass (LJ 9/15/89); recommended for larger fantasy collections only.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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The story starts fairly normally...for a dual timeline, multiple plot cross between sci-fi, fantasy and normal fiction.
Dora, one of two main characters, has a bad but dull marriage and a great career in law enforcement. While investigating a murder or three, the world turns upside down all because of a vine and her husband, who has no love of vines out of place.
In another time, our second main, Opal-Ears, is a servant in a culture much like that of the old middle east and she has a new job. She starts out on an adventure through many lands, and eventually time, to solve a puzzle and stop "The End" of things.
These two threads meet up in the most unexpected way and provide a gasping, "No Way!", to most who read it. Unfortunately, I'm a terrible twist see'er and may not have seen the details, but had winkled out the basic twist already. I sure wish I hadn't because even just the details of the twist blew me away.
Others have expressed some disappointment in the book that I'd like to address. First, that there is a little bit too much political undercurrent in the ecological arena. I understand completely, but I didn't really find it so. My review is that there is some of that there, but it is certainly far less than something like "The Day After Tomorrow" or any other popular book or movie. If you are specifically sensitive in a negative way to the thought of environmentalism in any way, then it might be too much to overlook. If you're neutral or for, it should just add to the story.
Second, that the story doesn't have as many complex characters or detail. My view is that the twist requires certain physical parameters to be left out and that can be a lack for people who build the character pictures in their head and need the physical attributes to do it. I built entirely complete portraits of the characters, and had them smashed, of course, but loved the process. I also think it has to do with length. If there is one complaint heard about Grass, her most detailed one yet aside from the Awakeners set, it is of length. Family Tree is still long, but would have been encyclopedic had the same level of detail been added.
Sheri Tepper has never been afraid of twining issues around a good story and she does it better than any other author currently writing in my view. This one is a fun and ultimately enjoyable addition to that body of work.
The earth decides to rebalance itself, keeping humanity in it's proper place rather than letting it bulldoze the rest of Earth's lifeforms into nonexistence, and in the process destroying the planet itself.
This is a fantastic story of how our planet accomplishes this while not destroying mankind, but just, well, helping it find it's rightful place in the tricky balance of ecology.