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The Companions: A Novel by Sheri S. Tepper
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The Companions: A Novel (edition 2003)

by Sheri S. Tepper

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484921,248 (3.66)33
Member:jillnienhiser
Title:The Companions: A Novel
Authors:Sheri S. Tepper
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Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****
Tags:fiction, science fiction, scifi

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The Companions by Sheri S. Tepper

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An interesting science fiction novel, in the tradition of humans overpopulating Earth and destroying all other lives in the proces.
The World building is interesting and the detailing makes it believable despite the occasional lack of internal Logic or explanation. The narrative use of Jewel, the protagonist, as first person narrator through most of the novel works well, and the things we, as readers are kept ignorant of until it benefits the plot, are Well handled in her telling of the story. Her occasional injektion af commentary is Never to the point of distraction, and adds a bit of personality without being overpowering or distracting.
The story suffers a bit from the Common theme of good races and bad races - the good races, the elder races revere and respect all lifeforms, whereas the bad races, amongst which most of the human race is counted, only considers itself valuable and destroys other species - Either actively, because they want all the ressources to themselves or because their interpretation of their religion, or passively by crowding out others and disrespecting their needs. Our hero is ofcourse one of the fem humans who respect other species, and belong to an organisation, Arkists, who work to save the biodiversity of Earth through purchasing Ark planets (planets hat May sustain Earth lifeforms, but with no other value! That Can be bought cheaply) all through the Universe, and populating them with plants and animals that are becoming extinct on Earth due to population pressure as Well as active malice and political manipulation.
Jewel has traveled to a number of alien planets as a companion to her brother, an accomplished linguist. Through her travels, she meet both the good kind of aliens (which becomes important later) and bad aliens, who, linke a lot of humans, believe that they are their gods chosen, and that they should destroy other lifeforms because they are not the gods chosen. Functioning as a spy for the Arkist movement, she, and a dog breeding program is sent to e newly discovered planet when her brother is offered a job finding and translating the language of the (potential) inhabitants of the planet.
Once on the planet, Jewel makes contact with a colony of humans who have been stranded for several houndred years, as Well as a representant for the Local population, who Can speak with the planet-mind.
The dogs, two alien races as Well as the several contingents of humans all collide with dramatic results. ( )
  amberwitch | Apr 12, 2015 |
A while ago, I read and reviewed Sheri Tepper's "The Margarets". Had I known, I would have read "The Companions" first because this book, written only a few years earlier than "The Margarets", treats the same themes using different characters but very similar plots with fascinating details like the centrality of Mars to the story. Almost as though Tepper, not satisfied with "The Companions" returned to the same concerns with the later novel. Both are good reads but I read them close together in time by chance--lucky chance, so I hope others read them in any order but close enough together to enjoy the similarities and differences. ( )
  nmele | Apr 6, 2013 |
The Companions added to my deepening love of Tepper's writing, after starting me off on the wrong foot. My initial worries of either/both a) getting beaten about the head by gloom-n-doom ecopocalypse themes (and that's coming from a bleeding heart liberal!) or b) having my heart ripped to shreds for 300 pages at the prospect of the remaining few canines in that god-forsaken world being exterminated, happily were dispelled all around.

I found the humans-wreck-everything theme and story-lines plausible and thought-provoking without being preachy or beating me about the head. I connected strongly with the protagonist characters and felt substantial active dislike/revulsion of the disreputable characters and races. There was a pleasing amount of suspense and some-but-not-too-many bread crumbs that kept me engaged and turning the pages until the end.

I don't know that Tepper is the first to hit upon the notion of scent-based language, but she does a fantastic job of weaving the structure of the story and all of the characters and pieces around and through the scent-language notion.

A great story - I felt like I thoroughly got know the characters and by the end I felt like I'd been there and part of it. Tepper has an ability unlike anyone else that comes to mind to really personally and emotively draw you into her stories, and to the connect with the themes and characters therein. ( )
  tinLizzy | Sep 9, 2010 |
Tepper once again weaves her poignant imagination with superb writing to tell a story brimming with insightful notes for our contemporary era.

Like most of her novels, The Companions is richly and imaginatively told. The story centers on dog-lover Jewel Delis and her experiences growing up on an over-populated Earth in the grip of interstellar alien conflict. Delis travels on assignment to the mysterious planet Moss, where a "world consciousness" is discovered. Tepper deftly explores the themes of "human nature," language, ecology, and ecofeminism. She especially focuses on the issue of the endangerment of animals and what cavalier disregard for "whole systems" can cost humans.

Tepper juxtaposes different types of relationships in the story as a means to explore the social and ecological ramifications of the idea of companionship. The characters wrestle with both positive and negative relationships between family members, between genders, between spouses, and between species. She contrasts the mutually supporting companionship between humans and dogs, to the "companionship" between master/slave and owner/concubine.

Tepper is skilled at evoking thoughtful consideration of some of the key issues of today through story. My only wish would be to have a smoother balance between character development and action-packed narrative. ( )
  jollyhope | Jan 12, 2009 |
This book had a promising premise. That Earth suffers from overpopulation due to retirees returning from off-world colonies, basically the planet Earth becomes the state of Florida. That due to population pressure, religious extremists create a movement to ban all animals from Earth because only man is created in God's image. A group of animal lovers run an underground railroad for pets.

In theory, all this is great. But unfortunately, the story decends into absurdity. Throw in an ancient alien race of environmentalists and another nearly extinct race of super-shapeshifting aliens bent on destruction (and responsible for the creation of humanity), who take the form of dogs - they actually think that dogs enslaved humans rather than humans domesticating dogs - and you get a complex mess of polemics. Is it intended as satire? Or is it bad writing? It is hard to tell. Without giving the ending away, Tepper relies on a deus ex machina to extricate the heroine from the crisis at the end of the book.

This is not one of her greatest efforts - but Tepper on a ordinary day is better than many on their best day! ( )
1 vote Jawin | Apr 4, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060538228, Mass Market Paperback)

Three planets have been recently discovered in deep space, and prosaically named to reflect their respective environments. Jungle, lush and foreboding, swallowed up an eleven-member exploratory team more than a decade earlier, while hot, harsh, and dusty Stone turned out to be phenomenally rich in rare ore, the most profitable new world to be found in a century. But it is the third, Moss, that could well prove to be the most enigmatic . . . and dangerous.

Enlisted by the Planetary Protection Institute -- an organization founded to assess new worlds for potential development and profit -- famed linguist Paul Delis has come to Moss to determine whether the strange multicolored shapes of dancing light observed on the planet's surface are evidence of intelligent life. With Delis is his half sister, Jewel, the wife of one of the explorers lost on Jungle. Working together, they are to determine the true nature of the “Mossen” and decipher the strange "language" that accompanies the phenomenon.

Yet the great mysteries of this bucolic world -- three-quarters covered in wind-sculpted, ever-shifting moss -- don't end with the inexplicable illuminations; there is the puzzle of the rusting remains of a lost fleet of Earth ships, moldering on a distant plateau. Perhaps the biggest question mark is Jewel Delis herself and her mission here at the far reaches of the galaxy. Leaving an overpopulated homeworld that is rapidly becoming depleted of the raw materials needed for human survival, Jewel is a member of a radical underground group opposing a recent government edict that will eliminate all of the planet's “nonessential” living inhabitants. And it is here, at the universe's unexplored edge, where the fate of endangered creatures may ultimately be decided -- though it will mean defying ruthless and unforgiving ruling powers to repair humankind's disintegrating relationship with the beasts of the Earth.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:45:05 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"Three planets have been recently discovered in deep space, and prosaically named to reflect their respective environments. Jungle, lush and foreboding, swallowed up an eleven-member exploratory team more than a decade earlier, while hot, harsh, and dusty Stone turned out to be phenomenally rich in rare ore, the most profitable new world to be found in a century. But it is the third, Moss, that could well prove to the the most enigmatic...and dangerous.". "Enlisted by the Planetary Protection Institute - an organization founded to assess new worlds for potential development and profit-famed linguist Paul Delis has come to Moss to determine whether the strange multicolored shapes of dancing light observed on the planet's surface are evidence of intelligent life. With Delis is his half sister, Jewel, the wife of one of the explorers lost on Jungle. Working together, they are to determine the true nature of the "Mossen" and decipher the strange "language" that accompanies the phenomenon.". "Yet the great mysteries of this bucolic world - three-quarters covered in wind-sculpted, ever-shifting moss - don't end with the inexplicable illuminations; there is the puzzle of the rusting remains of a lost fleet of Earth ships, moldering on a distant plateau. Perhaps the biggest question mark is Jewel Delis herself and her mission here at the far reaches of the galaxy. Leaving an overpopulated homeworld that is rapidly becoming depleted of the raw materials needed for human survival, Jewel is a member of a radical underground group opposing a recent government edict that will eliminate all of the planet's "nonessential" living inhabitants. And it is here, at the universe's unexplored edge, where the fate of endangered creatures may ultimately be decided - though it will mean defying ruthless and unforgiving ruling powers to repair humankind's disintegrating relationship with the beasts of the Earth."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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