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Comment: This book is usable and readable but has more than normal wear (see additional comments). Curling on cover. Ex-lib with standard markings.
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Triptych Paperback – March 21, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Time travel, aliens, and the politics of sexuality combine with tragic violence in Frey's deeply satisfying debut. [...] It never once loses its course. Frey tells the story from varying points of view in distinct voices, imagining a world at once completely alien and utterly human. -Publishers Weekly, starred review

A stirring adventure, and a tender love story, from a first-time author who truly embraces the limitless possibilities the future may bring. J.M. Frey's Triptych satisfies any sci-fi reader looking for a different take on the first contact motif, or anyone looking to explore the possible evolution of human sexuality and love. - Lambda Literary

Not only is this a wonderful story, but it's a wonderfully told story. (...) Beneath all the action and the drama, there are some big questions asked within the novel - the answers to which we're guided, but have to realise for ourselves. That's what makes a good science fiction novel memorable. -Bibary Book Lust

Debut author Frey knocks it out of the park with a remarkable tale of alien refugees, time travel, intrigue, the pervasive madness of grief, and love that transcends culture, gender, and species. Classic science fiction elements are smoothly updated for a modern audience. - Publishers Weekly, Best Books of 2011

Wonderful Canadian sci-fi about bisexual alien refugees on Earth, queer family structures, identity, and murder. -- The Advocate, Best Overlooked Books of 2011

From the Back Cover

"You know..." she said slowly, and almost so softly that Evvie didn't hear it."You know those movies where the aliens come to Earth, and they... I dunno, they try to steal our natural resources, or create a nuclear winter so they can turn the Earth into slag, or they melt the polar ice caps and New York is under fathoms of water, or they clone us for slaves, or create terrifying bioweapons and wipe us all out and use our cities for farmland, or...all that stuff?" Gwen looked up. "It was nothing like that."

Part District 9, part Lost in Translation, part Stranger in a Strange Land
, Triptych is a poignant, character-driven science fiction story about tolerance, love and loss.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Dragon Moon Press (March 21, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1897492138
  • ISBN-13: 978-1897492130
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,537,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
J.M .Frey’s science fiction novel, Triptych, is about time travel, aliens in human culture, one of the many faces of love, and the challenges of accepting new cultural norms. At heart, it is a character-driven and very moving love story of two human scientists, Gwen and Basil, and the alien engineer, Kalp.

Kalp is one of the few survivors of a destroyed planet who manage to make their way to Earth seeking asylum. A near-future earth takes in the shattered survivors and quarantines them in the Institute, where they learn earth customs from watching reruns of television programs. Kalp is assigned to work with Gwen and Basil and when they discover that he is forced to sleep in the sterile “barracks” of the Institute, they offer him the spare bedroom in their home.

On Kalp’s world, adults join in triads, one to bear children, one to work, and one to protect the others. To him, it is normal and eminently practical. One of the most endearing parts of this novel is how Kalp reacts to earth culture and to his human companions who have already formed an intimate bond. Frey brings great wisdom and humor to Kalp’s reactions to everyday human experiences.

It was easy to care about Kalp as he struggles to understand and be accepted in the alien human culture. Still mourning the loss of his former partners who were killed when his planet exploded, Kalp gradually falls in love with both Gwen and Basil, and they form the first human-alien triptych. It is a mark of the writer’s skill how all the relationships work and seem natural.

This book works on many levels. As a gripping sci-fi adventure, as a mystery, and as an exploration of gender roles and prejudice.
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Format: Paperback
JM Frey's Triptych is an outstanding debut novel and a welcome and refreshing addition to the genre of Canadian science fiction. Brimming with richly detailed characters and a complex nuanced plot, the narrative universe contained with Triptych is captivating and engaging from the intensely vivid first opening sentences through to the stunning conclusion.

When a previously unknown race of aliens arrives on Earth - the few remaining survivors from a distant destroyed planet - humanity has to learn to adapt and adjust to the inclusion of a foreign species. As humans and aliens interact and learn the ways of each others' civilizations, both slowly begin to change unexpectedly. Each must come to terms with their own collective culture shock and confront their own assumptions and embedded social beliefs.

Specialist Gwen Pierson and Specialist Doctor Basil Grey are members of the Institute, formed by the United Nations when the alien refugees initially appear, nearly dead and desperately seeking a new home. Recognizing the complexities of how humans would react to the inclusion of aliens into the global community, the Institute is created to help the two cultures learn from one another, and more specifically, to assist the aliens in adapting to human customs and traditions. Kalp, an alien engineer, is assigned to work with Gwen and Basil and over time, an intimate loving relationship develops between them in new and unexpected ways. Frey keeps the reader constantly and consistently on edge as the story unfolds, moving back and forth in time/space, across countries, and between three differing character perspectives. Nothing is by chance, nothing is trivial, and even the most innocent seeming of background events has significance and meaning.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The worst part about Triptych is falling in love with Kalp, just as the humans, Gwen and Basil do, all the while knowing that he dies. No, that's not a spoiler. His murder occurs right in the first few pages of the book and I was impressed by the way Frey's clipped and intense descriptions conveyed Gwen and Basil's emotional turmoil.

Unfortunately, the next chapter was a bit problematic with Basil seeming to suddenly develop a British accent and affectations, too much focus on the inside jokes that result when people from the future visit the past, and far too much time spent with the use of parentheses mid-sentence to redundantly point out the actual (obvious) intent and emotion of a particular character's thoughts. Fortunately, while annoying, I could get used to Basil's poor British representation as time passed, and the parenthesized thoughts were confined to that one section.

The next section introduces Kalp and is the highlight of the book. The few remaining aliens of Kalp's world who escaped its destruction have arrived on earth, welcomed by the Institute (formed by the UN or such) with integration as the goal. Kalp is teamed with Gwen and the brilliant science-type, Basil. I enjoyed reading about Kalp's awkwardness and seeing humans and humanity through his eyes. Frey did an excellent job with this and with the creation of this alien race and their physiology and customs. This part of the book clearly defines it as a bittersweet love story.

There is some tension created in the knowledge that triptych is fated to fall apart and the knowledge that perhaps it could be saved with some convenient time travelling, but I felt the conclusion of the book fell a bit flat.
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