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Generations Ago, Humans Fled To The Cosmic Anomaly Known As Grass 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, Leaving No Planet Untouched, Save For Grass But The Secret Of The Planet S Immunity Hides A Truth So Shattering It Could Mean The End Of Life Itself Not my favorite Sheri Tepper book I totally loved The Awakeners and Plague of Angels but Grass was a bit too wordy and tedious, even a little preachy at times An average book from a usually above average author. tis the season13 TALES OF TERROR BOOK 4once upon a time there was a delightful young story named Grass by Sheri S Tepper this story seemed to know exactly what i was longing for Horror in Space and so she provided it to me a fascinating planet full of strange multi colored grass, bizarre fauna, the ruins of an alien civilization a backdrop based around a particularly esoteric and semi totalitarian theocracy an expertly portrayed and atypical heroine who felt alive and real and who rather reminded me of Deborah Kerr in her various classy roles a perfect introduction to the planet s aristocrats, well rendered through the eyes of an uncomfortable young lady on her first foxhunt a foxhunt that is not a foxhunt, but something else entirely something inexplicable, something horrible a feeling of claustrophobia but, uniquely, a claustrophobia based on an entire planet, one filled with huge living spaces and wide, windy open ranges an atrocious plague spreading like wildfire from planet to planet the unsettling sound of beasts stamping out a threatening dance from not so distant caverns my gosh, those bizarre fauna the various moments portraying them gazing silently and malevolently at characters, up close and even eerily in the distant grasses such brilliantly sinister tableaux and those foxhunts this story was full of twisted emotions, strained familial relations, ambiguous motivations, intriguing mysteries, and a constant yet subtle sense of increasing dread how enchanting wonderful chills ensued from this delightful story i looked on Grass by Sheri S Tepper as the child i ve never had but always wanted a sort of Wednesday Adams Monday i was filled with pleasure at the sight of her alas, the child grew up somewhere around page 200, i think that winsome feeling of terror just on the horizon, that sweet sense of horror lurking just around the corner, all the subtlety and strange wonder vanished it was replaced by confusing xenobiology, a didactic chemistry lecture, a ham handed coincidence oops, that extremely important and provocative letter just dropped out of that villain s pocket , increasingly two dimensional characters, an extremely lame vision of God, creepy alien sex and not the good kind , the idea that a rebellious daughter is better off with her mind wiped clean, and repetitious obsessiveness with original sin what makes a good wife who is in love with who now and why and why won t they a precocious child grew into a distinctly tedious adult.but i will try to remember that child because the first half or so of this book was awesome. Grass Millions of square miles of it a hundred rippling oceans, each ripple a gleam of scarlet or amber, emerald or turquoise the colors shivering over the prairies Sapphire seas of grass with dark islands of grass bearing great plumy trees which are grass again So opens Grass, Sheri Tepper s first fully successful novel and her masterwork, I think.If you ve read any Tepper, you ll have noticed that she takes a pretty dim view of human nature, especially among men and of religion, especially patriarchal religion The standard Tepper themes are here of course, they weren t standard back then but handled lightly and thoughtfully, with only a bit of the didactic ham fistedness that mars some of her later books What I didn t remember about Grass is the splendid sense of place she evokes Grass emerges as a fully formed, beautiful, and thoroughly alien world The formative image of Grass, to the Colorado born raised Tepper, is that of the American Great Plains after a good spring, which is indeed an oceanic experience one that your Oklahoma raised reviewer has shared, and misses.Sanctity, the noxious world religion of Tepper s Earth, is explicitly modelled on Mormonism Mormon readers saints will not be flattered though Tepper has exaggerated for effect Sanctity is not nice At times it verges on cartoonish, but then I would reflect on the banality of evil Tepper does a good job, handling evil Beauty 1991 is her masterwork of evil a remarkable book, but not for the squeamish Down, down, to Happy Land Ugh.The Hippae aren t nice, either Neither are the Hounds, another Grassian species she introduces in the Hunt, and splendidly develops as the novel progresses I ve seen criticism of Grass s ecology, but to this non biologist it seems reasonably sound, certainly good enough for fictional background.The extreme isolation and strange behavior of Grass s rural aristocracy are again drawn from Tepper s Western experience Larry McMurtry has written eloquently of just how strange isolated pioneers could get, and I remember similar stories from Oklahoma Tepper, McMurtry and other senior Westerners like me are just one lifetime distant from the frontier.Marjorie Westriding besides having a wonderful name, and a remarkably irritating husband remains Tepper s most memorable character The NY Times says she s one of the most interesting and likable heroines in modern science fiction Well, me too Westriding appears in two of Tepper s books, but is far less memorable in those But she s great here.The Great Plague, ah, that s where the dodgy biology lies, and it s a pretty contrived MacGuffin, too And the wrap up gets a little mooshy and pat But these are quibbles I had a great time re reading Grass, and you will, too Highly recommended.Review commissioned by SF Site in 2002, I ve no idea how this makes lists such as most underrated sci fi , or how it s in Gollancz s SF Masterworks range despite one or two interesting ideas it is, on balance, absolute drivel.The pacing is terrible The science is woeful The characters are tedious and one dimensional, and their dialogue wholly convincing However, much worse than that, the entire novel turns out to be some vehicle for the author to explore some uninspired hokum about Catholicism guilt, original sin, etc and horse riding fox hunting.Any opportunity to discuss colonisation of alien worlds, first contact with an alien race, the differing philosophical outlook of that race, telepathic control, sexual submission, genocide, or indeed any of the potentially interesting themes that emerge in this book, all ultimately become discussions about Catholicism and or horse riding Even the eponymous grass that comprises the alien setting for this novel serves no purpose other than to allow horse riding in space.I cannot recommend this book.