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After Long Silence by Sheri S. Tepper

After Long Silence (edition 1987)

by Sheri S. Tepper

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469522,081 (3.91)5
Title:After Long Silence
Authors:Sheri S. Tepper
Info:Bantam Spectra (1987), Mass Market Paperback, 345 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:science fiction

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After Long Silence by Sheri S. Tepper



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I can't help suspecting that this book was written directly after Tepper read Anne McCaffrey's "Crystal Singer" (1982), was horrified by its portrayal of the exploitation of alien worlds, and said, "I'm going to show a different perspective on this!"
Both books feature an alien world of harsh yet dramatic aspect, covered with large crystals that respond to sound (esp. singing), are extremely sharp and dangerous, prone to slicing up people, but yet have an elite/apart group of people (singers) to work with them. But in McCaffreys book, the 'Crystal Singers' sing to shatter the crystals in specific ways for mining, and in Tepper's the 'Tripsingers' sing to *avoid* shattering the crystals, allowing caravans and other travellers to pass through them unharmed.
It fits with Tepper's usual ecological awareness.
Of course, there are other elements on the planet: governmental, corporate, and religious, who would just love to destroy the unique crystals, for their own immediate profit... which of course leads to much dramatic conflict.
Published in 1987, this book is not quite as adeptly written as many of her more recent books, but, if one can disregard the distracting resemblance to the earlier book, it's a pretty good sci-fi thriller with an action-filled climax. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
I really liked this one. It felt realistic both the characters and the situation. I really loved the little indigenous sentient life forms on the planet that sang to the crystal life forms, and that the one crystal formation that humans had spent so much puzzlement on was mad. ( )
  firebird8 | Sep 16, 2012 |
Alien first contact… it takes a while because the humans get shunned for years on account of not being truthful.

I am very fond of this bit: “…sang of greed and pride, things that the viggies understood to some extent. She sang of lying, which they did not understand but were willing to take on faith. Then together they sang of what they had learned,…” ( )
  Black_samvara | Jan 22, 2010 |
I love the viggies. they make a lot of sense to me. ( )
  farandolae | Sep 26, 2009 |
Vintage Tepper. And a lovely piece of work it is.

Jubal, a planet in the process of colonization by humans, is a world full of strange and wonderful things, some amusing, some dangerous. The Presences, large crystalline structures scattered throughout the land, are dangerous, and they are everywhere, preventing easy travel between settlements. They can be passed only with the aid of a Tripsinger, a trained vocalist and musician who accompanies a group of travelers and, in essence, sings the party past the fragile crystal mountains. Each structure requires a different song; the song seems to set up some sort of counter-resonance peculiar to the individual structure that prevents the crystal from fracturing due to the vibrations made by the mules, wagons, and humans as they pass. Even one wrong note could cause a potentially fatal shatter. One structure, called Enigma, has thus far proven impassable: no one has discovered the proper song which will allow safe passage. Except, perhaps, one person.

And then there are those who want to see the Presences destroyed because they hinder free trade and easy commerce. A strange cult which worships the Presences has also arisen. Amid much intra-planetary politics, money grubbing, and, umm, a few alluded-to deviant sex games, the fates of Jubal and the Presences will be decided.

In this early novel, Tepper establishes some of her touchstone themes which she continues to develop in her later work: responsible use of natural resources; religious fanaticism; tolerance of differences; human (and non-human) rights.

Tepper's vivid imagination stands her in good stead here. As a trained vocalist myself, I was intrigued by the notion of literally singing for one's life. How would the knowledge that one wrong note could kill affect the quality of my song? I was captivated by the viggies, small indigenous mammalian-like creatures, who are so much more than they seem, as are the Presences themselves: beautiful and deadly and awe-inspiring.

My only quibble with the story is insufficient information on the cult of the Crystallites. Did they want to preserve the Presences? Or were they allied with those who wished to destroy them? Either I missed it or Tepper never made clear what precisely was their purpose, their agenda. The agenda of the leaders was made quite clear, but not the purpose of the cult they established -- what was the propaganda they preached? At any rate, it's a relatively minor quibble in an otherwise wonderful read.

While surfing about the internet, I discovered this book is also known as The Enigma Score. A rose by any other name, etc. etc. [grin] ( )
1 vote avanta7 | Apr 22, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sheri S. Tepperprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bradbury, SteveCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Youll, StephenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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When Tasmin reached for the gold leaf, he found the box empty.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"After Long Silence" is also published as "The Enigma Score"
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The Presences mean something different to each of Jubal's colonists. IN some, these flowering crystals inspire awe, n others fear.
A small band must break through the long silence between humanity and the Presences to strike a new alliance - and bring about the end of a tyrannical dynasty.
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