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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

Singer From The Sea

Copyright 1999 by Sheri S. Tepper

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Good (3/5)

I first read this in 1999 and most recently in May 2001

On the planet Haven a rigidly stratified society exists, with two hereditary classes: the nobility and the commoners. Genevieve is a young noblewomen being educated to be a refined and respectable young women.

However Haven society is designed for the benefit of, and absolutely controlled by men so in reality her education is to teach her to become a pliant slave to her father and eventually to whoever her father chooses to be her husband.

Of course, under the surface the evil is far worse than simple slavery. The male nobility know a secret that has made them monsters and that will claim Genevieve's life and that of all of the women.

Meanwhile, the planet itself is dying, just as other human-colonised worlds have died.

Young Genevieve herself has a secret - a hidden talent - that she must use to find and root out the evil before the her world is destroyed

Sherri Tepper is always a superb storyteller and she has succeeded again with this novel. Normally stories of young women's voyages of self-discovery would remain in books unopened by me in bookshop shelves that I'd never willingly browse. But Tepper does it so well that I simply have to read her work.

Her noble society of Haven is a horrifying caricature of the exploitative cultures we've had and continue to have. In a world where women have no function other than to become pretty victims, the Haven religion even posits a different heaven for women, where they become butterflies flitting from flower to beautiful father. Well, I bet that would be satisfying for about five minutes.

So putting aside all the eco-religious fervour, the love, romance and twitching of the loins (yes, that phrase is there in the book), what have you got? An excellently-told story about a young woman becoming an adult and discovering and finally achieving her destiny. And putting aside all that, you've got a rip-roaring adventure. Finally, of course, you've got aliens, hidden high technology in a devolved colony world and a bizarre drug. What more could you want for a lazy weekend?

Loaded on the 16th May 2001.
Cover of Singer From The Sea

Reviews of other works by Sheri S. Tepper:
A Plague Of angels
Gibbon's Decline And Fall
The Family Tree