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  • Grass
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Showing 1-10 of 47 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 107 reviews
on October 12, 2015
I'm a fan of Sheri Tepper anyway, but this one is my favorite of all her novels. It's the perfect combination of sci-fi imagination mixed with relevance. I especially like her take on futuristic religions, a theme that seems to run through all of her books. This book stands alone, but it is the first part of a trilogy. Raising the Stones comes next and Sideshow after that. Her vision of the future is often chilling and bleak, but she also weaves beauty and love and magic into the mix.
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on May 27, 2017
A strange and unique book. This story has stayed with me for a long time, and now I find I want to read it again. I love finding a book that is interesting enough to read again, and this is well written, complex, and very enjoyable. Thank you, Sheri Tepper!
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on December 2, 2016
I'm so sad I only found out about Sheri S. Tepper upon her death. This is the first book of hers that I've read, but it won't be the last. I hesitate to say too much about the story, since a great deal of its power comes from the surprising ways in which it unfolds. It's a mystery in the truest sense of the term. It also does what only the best science fiction does (which is why I've always loved the genre), which is to explore and challenge some of our deepest moral and social assumptions.
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on June 27, 2017
Quite different than most of what I read, but I quickly got sucked into it. Can't wait to read the next one.
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on May 19, 2002
Grass presents a very interesting alien world, one where the entire planet is covered by grasses of various kinds except for small treed areas, with a very original set of aliens. The Hippae and their associated Hounds are the type of thing that can give you nightmares, an enlarged, horrific parody of horses, capable of mentally controlling those around them, with a totally egocentric and blood-thirsty attitude. And the human society that has formed around the Hippae is also intriguing, somewhat modeled on the South American estancias, but with a strong English manor element, as the humans use the Hippae as mounts for the Hunt, a direct parody of the sport of fox hunting, with the object of the Hunt being the Foxen, a creature never really seen in its entirety, but only glimpsed from the corners of the eyes. The ecology and relationships of the various species of the planet form the major scientific underpinnings of this novel, relationships that are somewhat surprising and very interesting.

Into this world come Marjorie Westriding, her husband Rigo, her children Stella and Tony, Rigo's mistress Eugenie, and the family Catholic priests, sent as ambassadors from Sanctity, the controlling religious body on Earth, to investigate why Grass is the only known planet that does not seem to be infected with a fatal plague that is slowly wiping out humanity. The novel's action is driven by the consequences of the family learning about the strange social structures and alien life forms of the planet.

While Marjorie, the main character, is fairly well drawn with a fair amount of depth, most of the other characters are very much stick figures that are supporting spear carriers only. This is a pity, as Rigo, Stella, and the dom Sylvan show intimations of being intriguing people, but they are never portrayed in enough depth to make them come alive. The total cast of characters is fairly large, and at later stages in the book it becomes difficult to remember just who each one is due to their limited portrayal.

Grass is at least partially an investigation of religion, faith, and original sin for both humans and for two different alien races. As such, it invites some comparison with other science fiction works that have dealt with these themes - Walter M. Miller, Jr.'s A Canticle for Leibowitz, Orson Scott Card's Speaker for the Dead, and the one closest in theme to this, James Blish's A Case of Conscience. Unfortunately, Grass does not meet the high level shown by these other books, as the crisis of faith experienced by Marjorie and the Foxen is dealt with somewhat shallowly. There is little deep explication of the problems, ambiguities, and paradoxes that entail from the concept of original sin applying to an alien race that were so well investigated by Blish's work. Marjorie's own changing concept of God from the traditional Catholic picture to one where humans are mere instruments of God's will, a virus that He unleashed to perform a specific action, where individual humans are not known by name to God, is a better formed and portrayed concept, but still not at the depth and emotional level that Canticle for Leibowitz achieved.

This is an ambitious work, with many sub-themes twined around the main one, each of which is deserving of in-depth portrayal. As written, this book is just too short to do justice to either the sub-themes or the main theme, not to mention the need for greater character development. It probably should have been twice its current length to fully develop all of the richness of ideas that Tepper presents here. Still, a very original work, more focused on anthropology and with difficult thematic material than is common in science fiction, items which make this a worthwhile reading experience.
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on October 13, 2014
Its a solid "grand epic" style science fiction chronicle, set on a single planet, but with the background galaxy very much playing a role. Its nicely written, and bears comparison to Dune. (Though, it is NOT on the same level as Dune). If you like thoughtful, well written, interesting science fiction world building, then you'll probably enjoy this book.
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on December 19, 2014
This is a very creative book by a very interesting writer. Saw it on John Scalzi's "most influential" list, and I understand why he likes it. Very interesting reflections on sexual and religious politics, and the ways we (western humans) perceive intelligence, social strata and civilization generally. Not a light page turner. Very though provoking.
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on March 24, 2015
Grass is one the finest, and most under read science fiction novels. Beautifully written with unique, compelling and truly alien landscapes, this novel takes the reader to a new world that challenges and enthralls. It's a great novel in any genre and a must read in science fiction.
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on June 1, 2017
Not Tepper's best. A little too religious for my preference, but her ability to create worlds and build thousands of years of history is still impressive and very much present in this text.
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on June 25, 2011
This is one of Teppers best! I have read almost all her books and while they are almost always good, this one really drew me in. I could easily imagine the vast planet of Grass and the people who inhabit it. I loved the old society who had adjusted to make their home there even as the planet corrupted them. This is one of those books you will read again. I hope they never make a movie out of it because Teppers writing is so vivid I could envision every inch and every beast, and the mind seems to always prove better than TV or movies.
If you are looking for a book to curl up with and be taken away to a far away land, choose this one but be prepared to stay up late!
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