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Grass by Sheri S. Tepper


by Sheri S. Tepper

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Arbai trilogy (1)

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    MyriadBooks: For the description of the planet.
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Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
  rossarn | Feb 20, 2014 |
And they were there. Three of them, just as there had been three horses when she and Tony and Rigo had ridden here. Three Hippae doing dressage exercises, walking, trotting, cantering, changing feet to cross the arena on long diagonals. They did everything she had done with Octavo, did it casually, offhandedly, with a practiced ease, concluding with the three animals side by side, facing away from her, the saber tips of their neck barbs pointing at her like a glittering abatis, as threatening as drawn blades. Then they turned and looked up at the place where she was hidden, their dark eyes gleaming red in the light of dawn, soundless.
Amusement, she thought at first. A kind of mime. These Hippae had seen the humans and their horses and were amused at what these little off-world beasts had been doing with their human riders. She held the thought only fleetingly, only for a moment, trying to cling to it but unable to do so. They knew she was there. They knew she was watching. Perhaps they had timed this little exercise to coincide with her arrival . . .
It wasn’t amusement. Nothing in that red-eyed glare was amused.

I first read this book about eleven years ago and have just re-read it for my book club I had forgotten how early in the book you begin to see hints that the mounts and hounds used in the hunts are not just local horse and dog analogues, and become aware that something ominous looms over the lives of the aristocrats of Grass. "In fact, never say anything where the mounts can hear you." I loved the descriptions of the grassland that covers the world; so beautiful, but marred by the dangers that lurk in the long grass.

The characterisation isn't the strongest part of the book. I didn't believe in ether Marjorie or Rigo as a character, which is a big flaw as the story revolves around them, especially Marjorie. They are a ridiculously badly matched couple, although they might have had a better relationship if they hadn't had the constant presence of the Old Catholic priests counselling Marjorie to resignation and good works. It's a pity we never saw what they said to Rigo as I wanted to know if they were equally hard on him.

I know there was a good plot-related reason why the most of the bons didn't have distinctive characters, but the story seemed to come to life every time it focussed on what was happening in the Commons, with its vibrant, forthright and above all proactive inhabitants.

It is the world-building, the unusual zoology and the exciting adventure story that made this book for me, and unsurprisingly those are the things I had remembered from the first time I read it. I remembered about the reason for the hunt, the effect of the hippae on the bons, the relationship between the bons and the people of Commoner Town ()the bons certainly got a shock at the end of the book), the misunderstanding about the mounts that led to Marjorie and Rigo coming to Grass, the revelation about the native lifeforms, and the final flight on horseback. I had forgotten about the plague and all the religious parts, whether concerning the Sanctity hierarchy, the Green Brothers or the Old Catholic priests. ( )
  isabelx | Sep 4, 2013 |
The world Sheri Tepper creates in Grass is deeply layered, fascinating and a little bit frightening. She populates her worlds with several different races of sentient creatures. Learning who they are, what motivates them, and how they interact is at the heart of the book's draw. I love that her characters to move out of the usual spectrum of motivations and allows them to act in ways that are sometimes horrifying and sometimes simply baffling. It gives their alieness a very believable quality that I think is frequently lacking in science fiction. The focus on the place of religion and morality usually serves to highlight these differences, but does get a little tedious in the thick of the climax. All in all, a very good read.

Recommended by: Dawnsisers ( )
  Snukes | Jun 14, 2013 |
This book starts slow and takes its time getting going, but my advice is to _not_ lay it aside. Keep going. It pays off in the end in ways I never would have guessed (and I'm a pretty good guesser). The planet called "Grass" is one of many which humans from Earth/Terra colonized. The majority of the land is controlled by some families of self-styled aristocracy who live and die for a kind of "fox hunt" that makes the Earth version seem light-hearted and silly. The real motive force in the planet is in the Commoners area, where people wheel and deal and learn and grow, not hide-bound by antique notions of what is acceptable behavior. We are introduced to the planet through a detailed description of a typical hunt and through two sets of off-worlders who have come to Grass under very different circumstances and for very different reasons. I don't want to discuss the plot much -- it's best to dope it out for yourself. Let me just say this: If you can walk away from the book without rethinking some of your ideas about humanity, well, you've missed the point. Beautifully done. ( )
  CandaceVan | Jun 11, 2013 |
...I do see a few problems with Grass but on the whole it is a fascinating read. There is so much in the way of social, religious and scientific ideas stuffed into this novel that the scope of it is comparable with some of the most ambitious works in science fiction. I felt the execution is not quite good enough to name it a great work of science fiction but it is not far off. The novel is essentially one big puzzle and examining the pieces is enough to keep a science fiction fan reading. It’s not often that one finds a science fiction novel that has taking in so many aspects of human life and manages to weave them into a satisfying plot. The novel may have its imperfections but for me it included so many things I like to see in a good science fiction novel that is was an irresistible read anyway. Opinions will likely be divided on this novel but I would recommend it.

Full Random Comments review ( )
  Valashain | May 19, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
When I first read Grass, I realised that Tepper is a genuine wild talent, taking SF in new and unexpected directions.
added by lquilter | editSF Site, Peter D. Tillman (Aug 7, 2009)
Tepper (The Gate to Women's Country) delves into the nature of truth and religion, creating some strong characters in her compelling story.
added by lquilter | editPublishers Weekly
Tepper's Grass is, with hindsight, one of the most significant works of 1980s SF: a spacious, well-plotted, wise and thought-provoking book with an exceptionally well-drawn central character and a beautiful twist on the 'beauty and the beast' mythos at its heart. ... Those who have not read this powerful masterpiece should be herded with cattle-prods out to the bookshops until that situation is remedied; those who have read it should take this opportunity to re-read the work. Like all great literature, it repays re-reading and close attention. ... It is one of the genuine, and one of the most genuine, classics of twentieth-century SF.

» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sheri S. Tepperprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chicheni, OscarCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Karjalainen, TapioTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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A voice says, "Cry!"
And I said, "What shall I cry?"
All flesh is grass. . . .Isaiah 40-6
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Generations ago, humans fled to the cosmic anomaly known as Grass. Over time, they evolved a new and intricate society. But before humanity arrived another species had already claimed Grass for its own. It, too, had developed a culture...
Now, a deadly plague is spreading across the stars. No world save Grass has been left untouched. Marjorie Westriding Yrarier had been sent from Earth to discover the secret of the planet's immunity. Amid the alien society structure and strange life-forms of Grass, Lady Westriding unravels the planet's mysteries to find a truth so shattering it could mean the end of life itself.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553285653, Mass Market Paperback)

What could be more commonplace than grass, or a world covered over all its surface with a wind-whipped ocean of grass? But the planet Grass conceals horrifying secrets within its endless pastures. And as an incurable plague attacks all inhabited planets but this one, the prairie-like Grass begins to reveal these secrets -- and nothing will ever be the same again ...

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:41:22 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Marjorie has to find answers about the planet known as Grass. A plague that threatens to destroy all human life is spreading among the stars, on all worlds except Grass. Why is it immune?

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