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Fish Tails: A Novel by Sheri S. Tepper

Fish Tails: A Novel

by Sheri S. Tepper

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645263,396 (2.92)9



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As much as I enjoyed a final visit with old friends, I thought the timelines could have been much more creatively jiggered to achieve the delightful results. What would throwing in a couple of thousand years between stories have hurt? So sad that there will be no more Sheri Tepper books. No one has her particular angle on getting our problems eliminated.
  quondame | Dec 16, 2017 |
Sherri Tepper has been one of my favourtite authors for many a long year. This is her 35th novel, and mayhap she sees the end nigh, as, reminiscent of late Heinlein, she sees the need to link many of her earlier characters and stories in this tome.

It is overly long. and discursive, and a bit uneven. As always, there is the overarching theme, a coutionary tale about the stupidity of men. This will annoy some, but much of the calumny is deserved. Just laid on too thick with a trowel in this case!

Not sure I'm so sanguine about meddling aliens, playing as gods as a driving force for the drowning of the world. This seems to me one of those things that a yourger Tepper would rage virulently against.

If you have never read her before, don't start here. ( )
  orkydd | Feb 2, 2017 |
Fish Tails by Sheri S. Tepper is a highly recommended fantasy novel with a message - alongside notable world building and character development.

Fish Tails, the official third book in The Plague of Angels series, continues several storylines and brings back numerous characters found in many of Tepper's previous novels. Specifically this time the main focus is on Abasio and Xulai and their aquatic enabled children (think merbabies). The earth will be flooded soon and become a water planet. Abasio and Xulai's twins, a boy and girl, Bailai and Gailai, have gills, fins, and a tail for legs. They can breathe air and water - in otherwords they are the hope for the future of the human race after the aquatic apocalypse. There is a way for others to have their future children resemble the twins, thus ensuring the continuation of their bloodlines.

The problem is that Abasio and Xulai need to be careful and cautious when approaching others about the future water-world because there are sects that oppose any alteration of the body (and we are talking alterations as minor as pierced ears, let alone having children resemble merbabies.) Adding to their complications, they end up having two other children traveling with them. And then there is the griffen problem...

Most of this novel seems to be a road novel and consists of the main characters traveling and encountering problems as well as supportive people along the way. Tepper does a good job in her world building and descriptions of various despicable and misogynistic groups they encounter. There are talking animals, creatures that were made by surviving, misguided humans after the Big Kill, and a host of ignorant, unworthy bad guys. Her characters are well developed and stay true to their nature as the plot progresses and their knowledge advances.

I have enjoyed several other Tepper novels in the past, but am unfamiliar with the storylines continuing from A Plague of Angels and The Waters Rising. This may actually be to my benefit because much of the information and backstory presented in Fish Tails was new to me. Other reviewers have found way too much repetition in this novel. I enjoyed the world building and the character development.

Admittedly, Fish Tails did go on and on and on a bit too long for me. Note that at 720 pages it requires a commitment - I was good with most of it through the first half but began to grow a bit weary toward the end and wanted things to pick up, the writing to tighten up, and the action to advance forward. I should also mention that some readers may find Tepper's underlying message in the novel objectionable.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of HarperCollins for review purposes.

( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Mar 21, 2016 |
This is a strange book, a weird book. A very well-written book. A analytical book. A philosophical book. A book about the environment, social order, and just about the stupidity of men. We really are a stupid race.

The book had so many lovely quotes, I'd love to write down all of them but that would be one long review:

They were talking about old religions

"I am not joking. While millions of children were starving at various places on the earth, some religions were still insisting that it was sinful to prevent excess births. I am fascinated by the religions of that time. Without exception they simply denied reality. They were completely myth-driven. Self-inflicting pain was a common religious practice..."

"If a man seeks to make his faith a law, this action alone disproves his faith, for the law cannot define kindness."

"If a man seeks to kill others who believe otherwise, this action alone disproves his faith, for those who kill are not kind."

It was a long time since I went quote crazy, but she just tells it so well, so clever. About every subject.

This is a sci-fi book. It takes place in the future where we have killed the earth, then we invented machines that went on killing us. Those left leave in a strange medieval world mixed with some tech at times. And people are still stupid and do stupid things. But some are trying to save the human race as the waters are rising and soon we will all drown.

I would not recommend this book without having read earlier books. Sure it is strange, so for that reason I am sure you could jump right in and still understand, but to really grasp it you really must start at book 1.

The main characters of Abasio and Xulai, Needly and her grandma, are all fascinating. And truth be told, i can't really tell you much. Because as I have said before, Tepper writes strange books. You have to be in the zone. To read about them discuss monkey-brain willy-waggers, the future of the earth. To see them meet new people and strange things man have created. There is a lot of talking going on, and I found myself nodding my head and agreeing.

I do recommend this series, just, take your time with it. ( )
  blodeuedd | Mar 2, 2016 |
I really wanted to love this. Tepper is one of my favorite authors, and I have read many of her books multiple times.

Unfortunately, it is in need of a better editor which became apparent quite early when Chapter 2 had large sections identical to the prologue, read only 50 pages or so before. That plus small errors (such as calling Bertram the tailor "Bernard") were irritating but not very important. What I found more disturbing was problems in continuity, as they call it in the film industry. Various comments or plot elements which were contrary to the world as it had been portrayed previously (either previously in this book or in the other books in the series). One example was in Chapter 11, when Coyote is tracking the stinkers. He has various memories involving Xulai, such as "(Xulai said that a lot. "Are these pans clean enough, Xulai?" "Just barely.")" or "Xulai had told him the most difficult things about giving animals speech had been to fit words with how their brains worked rather than changing their brains so much that they would lose their coyote-ity, or their bear-ity, or their horse-ity." but Coyote has only spent one day in Xulai's company!! When were these memories supposed to have been made? Is this supposed to be Ollie he is remembering? And what would Xulai know about the genetic engineering that went into making animals talk? Did she get scientific training in the 8 months since the end of The Waters Rising while taking care of the newborn twins? Precious Wind is now apparently "like a sister" to Xulai both in age & relationship -- odd for a woman who helped to raise her & had been her teacher.

I was also disturbed by the much increased use of machines -- by the Artemesians in particular as it seemed contrary to the philosophy they espoused in A Plague of Angels. And Xulai & Abasio's ul xaolat's internal dialogue appeared to me to be indicative of walker mentality, a problem which is never explored but struck me as ironic in the extreme.

But the main reason I was disappointed in this novel was the deus ex machina ending of the plot. Fixit swoops in with his mysterious and powerful machines (& 3 people from the True Game series) and explains how everything is going to be OK. Phooey.

I did like the short story that I discovered after the Author's Note called "The Story of the Kindly Teacher". Very well done with a similar message as one of the themes in the Grass trilogy (esp. in the second book) about the Baidee. ( )
  leslie.98 | Jul 17, 2015 |
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In Fish Tails, two of Sheri S. Tepper's beloved characters--Abasio and Xulai (A Plague of Angels and The Waters Rising)--and their children travel from village to village scattered across the sparsely populated land of Tingawa. They are searching for others who might be interested in adopting their sea-dwelling lifestyle. Along their journey they encounter strange visitors from the far off world of Lom, characters from Tepper's nine-book True Game series of novels--Mavin Manyshaped, Jinian Star-eye, and Silkhands the Healer--all of whom have been gathered up by an interfering, time-traveling, rule-breaking do-gooder to do one last good deed on earth before its metamorphosis is complete. For the waters are rising and will soon engulf the entire planet, transforming it utterly and irrevocably.… (more)

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