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The Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S.…

The Gate to Women's Country (1988)

by Sheri S. Tepper

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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» See also 144 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
This is very well-written, and an enjoyable read, but it's based on a totally faulty premise. It's so second-wave feminist: all the world's evils are caused by men, through something innate in men's biology/psychology. Not enough thought has been given to what actually causes patriarchy. No thought is given at all to any other forms of oppression. Homosexuality has been totally erased - "bred out". The solution presented, which will supposedly stop women's oppression, is eugenics(!).

Also very second-wave feminist - in the post-apocalyptic USA, the major foundational texts are the Odyssey and the Bible. Totally Eurocentric, Western Canon, old ideas. A feminist reading of the Odyssey is the ideological basis of Women's Country, as though that millenia-old text is a realistic universal example of men's behaviour.

No real criticism is given to the way Women's Country is run. Morgot is a total Machiavellian leader, but the book seems to say that any atrocities the Council commits, or lies it tells to its citizens, are necessary in order to achieve a utopia where women are not oppressed by men. ( )
  xiaomarlo | Apr 17, 2019 |
(original review, 1987)

“The Gate to Women's Country”, remains the best written and most provocative of the lot when it comes to Feminist SF. It's one of the few books where I turned the last page and flipped back to the first and read it straight through again when I realized how deceptive the text, itself, was. I love when Septimus Bird tips Tepper's hand by noting that all good magicians keep us riveted on the left hand when the real trick happens in the right. That ends up being an ingenious clue about the ways we, as readers, are about to be hoodwinked. It's the very rare book that surprises me (my wife swears I have a seventh sense for foreshadowing; and I thought I was just a regular guy...) but this one did; once you know the secret it's everywhere. Having read it many times I continue to marvel at the superb architecture of the novel; its form holds up to the complexity of its vision. I always ended with a debate about whether what the women are really doing is justified, and those were among the most ferociously animated and intense moments in my class. It's like a torture test for those of us who are pacifists but who would have to test how far we're willing to go to prevent war. It's brilliant.

A novel that could be imagined to be a kind of sequel to Atwood's “Handmaid’s Tale”, but much better written. Atwood’s seems pedestrian by comparison. In Tepper’s novel, the women don't run away, they take action. It's pretty draconian action, too, with a revelatory moment that comes down on the reader like a hammer. ( )
  antao | Sep 29, 2018 |
I'm so glad that I finally got around to reading this book. I'd been putting it off for a while now, because somehow I'd gotten the impression that this was old, and a sci-fi classic. However, it's not nearly as old as I'd assumed it was going to be (only early 1990's) though it IS without a doubt a classic.

This book is a fierce and heartrending look at an attempt at utopia, and the sacrifices that must be made and lies that must be told in order to have any chance at all at achieving that utopia. It is an engaging book, and generally a joy to read, except for those couple of moments towards the end when it made me cry.

This is a feminist work that takes a long, hard look at differences between men and women, and what a female-led society might look like. It has issues with homosexuality & bisexuality, but those are mostly confined to a single paragraph (where both are written off a "cured") and easily ignored. The impact that this book has had on me easily overshadows that single paragraph, so I still wouldn't hesitate to recommend that everyone read this book. ( )
  VLarkinAnderson | Sep 24, 2018 |
The author certainly doesn't hold your hand when starting out this book. With the switching between flashbacks older than others and current, it certainly took me several chapters to feel like I had a grasp on anything--the characters, the story. But then things clicked, things were explained further once you were involved; and once the plot picked up, oh. Did it pick up.

While seemingly slow-going in the beginning, there are whispers and hints of betrayal, and then betrayal openly discussed, and once all the pieces are adequately set in place, the latter half's main conflict is culminated and revealed to a plot that was both infuriating (on behalf of the main character) and intriguing. It swept me up--though I admit, a feeling that came perhaps a bit late in the general course of the story--and the "mysteries" revealed in the end were not all unexpected, but entirely satisfying. ( )
  omgitsafox | Jul 23, 2018 |
A extremely well-written post-apocalyptic dystopian society and their highly gendered response to the man-made apocalpyse, as told throughout the life or Stavia. The story jumps perspective between Stavia as a an adult woman and a youth, and a few other POV's of important characters from her youth, connected by a fictional play "Iphigenia at Ilium" set immediately following the Trojan War. The quality of the prose and the unusual narrative style set this novel apart as a fantastic work of literature. I personally found it just as complex as "Six Moon Dance" while being significantly easier to navigate.

That being said, I came to this book hoping for the sort of nuanced feminism that I got in "Six Moon Dance" and was sorely disappointed. I couldn't separate my enjoyment of the technical aspects of this book from the pervasive notion that men are inherently, innately more violent than women, and vice versa. ( )
  kaydern | Jun 29, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 45 (next | show all)
"I confess this book defeated me. I didn't finish it and came away with a very low opinion of Tepper's work, which I had not previously read."
"This is, unquestionably, a serious, ambitious novel, about the roles of the sexes ..." "My advice for the future is that someone, either Ms. Tepper or her editor, slog through the dense elephant grass of her prose armed with a blue pencil and, whenever wandering herds of adjectives appear - shoot to kill."
added by RBeffa | editAboriginal Science Fiction, Darrell Schweitzer (Mar 1, 1989)
Tepper's finest novel to date is set in a post-holocaust feminist dystopia that offers only two political alternatives: a repressive polygamist sect that is slowly self-destructing through inbreeding and the matriarchal dictatorship called Women's Country. Here, in a desperate effort to prevent another world war, the women have segregated most men into closed military garrisons and have taken on themselves every other function of government, industry, agriculture, science and learning. The resulting manifold responsibilities are seen through the life of Stavia, from a dreaming 10-year-old to maturity as doctor, mother and member of the Marthatown Women's Council. As in Tepper's Awakeners series books, the rigid social systems are tempered by the voices of individual experience and, here, by an imaginative reworking of The Trojan Woman that runs through the text. A rewarding and challenging novel that is to be valued for its provoc ative ideas.
added by cmwilson101 | editPublishers Weekly

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sheri S. Tepperprimary authorall editionscalculated
Di Marino, StefanoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harman, DominicCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jacobus, TimCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jääskeläinen, JukkaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McLean, WilsonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oklander, AdrianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Olbinski, RafalCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Tate, IawaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Stavia saw herself as in a picture, from the outside, a darkly cloaked figure moving along a cobbled street, the stones sheened with a soft, early spring rain.
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Three hundred years ago, the world all but burned to ash in the flames of a nuclear holocaust. Before the embers had cooled, the survivors swore that it would never happen again. Civilization as it once was evolved into a society of two disparate parts. In Women's Country, walled towns enclose waht is left of the best of the past, nurtured by women and capable but non-violent men. Outposts of safety and security in a hostile world, places like Marthatown raise children, feed and clothe the populace, and cultivate the lost biological sciences. In adjacent garrisons are sons, brothers, lovers, lost to a code of violence and false glory once they embrace the warrior life.
This is the world that Stavia and Chernon were born to live in, a world bound by rules too strict for some children to understand. Rules too harsh for a child like Stavia to obey.
When only a girl, Stavia tried to convince Chernon to return to Women's Country. She brought him books that most men had been forbidden to read for as long as anyone could remember. Chernon took the books, but rejected Stavia and her world. Now a young medic, Stavia still hopes to win Chernon by reminding him of the love they shared nearly ten years before. Though Chernon is a stranger to her now, Stavia gives in to the voice that begs her to trust him, allowing him to accompany her on a mission to the southern borderlands.
Their journey is filled with love, hate, lust, and betrayal that divide their worlds. And when sudden violence engulfs them both, not even the secrets of Women's Country can prevent the death of Stavia's innocence. Stavia is left with no choice but to take on the responsibility for her transgressions if she is to prevent a far greater tragedy - one which could destroy humanity completely.

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In a futuristic society where the sexes are separated, men are warriors, and women cultivate the arts, Stavia disobeys the group's prohibitions by loving a man forbidden to her, setting the stage for a momentous decision.

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