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Her Smoke Rose Up Forever Paperback – November 1, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
The stories of Alice Sheldon, who wrote as James Tiptree Jr. ( Up the Walls of the World ) until her death in 1987, have been heretofore available mostly in out-of-print collections. Thus the 18 accomplished stories here will be welcomed by new readers and old fans. "The Screwfly Solution" describes a chilling, elegant answer to the population problem. In "Love Is the Plan the Plan Is Death," the title tells the tale--species survival insured by imprinted drives--but the story's force is in its exquisite, lyrical prose and its suggestion that personal uniqueness is possible even within biological imperatives. "The Girl Who Was Plugged In" is a future boy-meets-girl story with a twist unexpected by the players. "The Women Men Don't See " displays Tiptree's keen insight and ability to depict singularity within the ordinary. In Hugo and Nebula award-winning "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?" astronauts flying by the sun slip forward 500 years and encounter a culture that successfully questions gender roles in ours.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc.
There is just one great collection of Tiptree’s fiction in print...Her Smoke Rose Up Forever from Tachyon Publications. It contains all of her major short stories.’”
New York Times Book Review
Tachyon’s handsomely produced catch-all collection Her Smoke Rose Up Forever is the perfect place to begin: a lovely piece of book production, from its attractive John Picacio cover art through each of its eighteen indispensable stories printed across well-laid-out pages. It’s a beaut, and you need to read it. Or to reread it.”
Her Smoke Rose Up Forever showcases what are undoubtedly the best of Tiptree’s stories.”
The stories of Alice Sheldon, who wrote as James Tiptree, Jr. (Up the Walls of the World) until her death in 1987, have been heretofore available mostly in out-of-print collections. Thus the 18 accomplished stories here will be welcomed by new readers and old fans. The Screwfly Solution’ describes a chilling, elegant answer to the population problem. In Love Is the Plan the Plan Is Death,’ the title tells the talespecies survival ensured by imprinted drivesbut the story’s force is in its exquisite, lyrical prose and its suggestion that personal uniqueness is possible even within biological imperatives. The Girl Who Was Plugged In’ is a future boy-meets-girl story with a twist unexpected by the players. The Women Men Don’t See’ displays Tiptree’s keen insight and ability to depict singularity within the ordinary. In the Hugo and Nebula awardwinning Houston, Houston, Do You Read?’ astronauts flying by the sun slip forward 500 years and encounter a culture that successfully questions gender roles in ours.”
One of the first hardbacks I ever bought and still one of my most read.”
“I can’t recommend this book enough, and we are so lucky to have had Tiptree in our genre.”
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Top Customer Reviews
Not with this book. These are incredible stories; passionate, beautiful, painfully moving, lyrically written, exquisitely crafted. If you should ever happen across a literary fiction snob who thinks that science fiction just can't measure up in artistic terms to the best lit-fic, this is the book to raise high in both hands and bludgeon the snob over the head with.
Fair warning: On the last page of the last story in this collection, one character says to another, "You carry despair as your gift." Those words could stand as an epigraph to the whole of the book and to Tiptree/Sheldon's writing career. Despair and the dashing of hopes are a hallmark of these stories, so don't come to the book expecting sweetness and light, pretty butterflies and hopping bunnies. But in Tiptree's hands, despair is truly a gift. Take the fruits of that gift; read these stories, and be enriched.
Tiptree really got rolling in 1973, when she published her three best-known stories, "The Girl...," along with "Love is the plan the plan is death," and "The Women Men Don't See." Along with 1976's "Houston, Houston, do you read?" these are the quintessential Tiptree tales. "Love is the plan..." is my favorite science fiction short story, and one of the best short stories of any kind ever written. It has not a single human character, and depicts the unbearably touching efforts of a gigantic, heavily-armored, multi-limbed alien to tackle and solve three deadly problems faced by his species, two internal--- stemming from instinctively programmed behavior--- and one external, a global climate change. That he will fail, and why he will fail, is evident early on from many clues fairly planted within the narrative. But he does his level best, which is indeed far better than you and I could hope to do, and like most Tiptree aliens, he is totally charming and lovable throughout his hopeless task. Our own species is currently failing completely to deal with a global climate change, and we are neither charming nor lovable in our miserably conflicted efforts.
"A Momentary Taste of Being" is another quintessential Tiptree story; an expedition of interstellar exploration inadvertently discovers the true purpose of human existence... a purpose which reveals all human effort, achievement and aspiration to be utterly pointless and futile. "With Delicate Mad Hands" is a key story, from 1981, that catches Tiptree in transition from symbolic War of the Sexes tales to space-operatic adventure. Almost all her stories from 1981 to her death in 1987 were space adventures set in the distant future.
Several tales here were completely new to me, particularly "Slow Music," from 1980, in which a chance (?) encounter of the earth with some alien stream of disembodied consciousness has made suicide so irresistibly attractive that there are only a handful of living humans. This story seems to contain a sly self-portrait of Tiptree herself, as the dying ancient human wreck that the two main characters discover on their way to see "The River," as the stream is called.
There's not a bad or mediocre story in the volume. And, alas, this is probably the only collection of Tiptree fiction currently in print in the US. Get it while it's still available.