Fish Tails: A Novel


In her 35th novel, science fiction master Sheri S. Tepper boldly weaves together the storylines of eleven of her previous works—from King’s Blood Four (1983) to The Waters Rising (2010).

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 ...

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Fish Tails: A Novel

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In her 35th novel, science fiction master Sheri S. Tepper boldly weaves together the storylines of eleven of her previous works—from King’s Blood Four (1983) to The Waters Rising (2010).

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The waters are rising, and soon the world will be covered in boundless sea. Abasio and Xulai, previously seen in A Plague of Angels and The Waters Rising, wander the slowly drowning land, seeking out those worthy for transformation and preservation. Few indeed seem to deserve salvation; the human population of Earth remains short-sighted, violent, and greedy. Given this portrayal, Earth’s intelligent animals should rejoice to see humans exterminated, but the other land species of Earth, innocent of any crimes, will be swept away with the humans, a fact not lost on them. In their quest to salvage the worthy of Earth, Xulai and Abasio discover the lost secrets of Earth, encounter emissaries of far-off worlds, and uncover the unknown sources of the waters below. While longtime Tepper fans may welcome old friends and familiar themes, new readers will balk at the gleeful embrace of troublesome elements; although Tepper is careful to stock her world with reprobates whose destruction seems justified, nevertheless many readers may hesitate to embrace the disturbing advocacy for what amounts to omnicide. Adequately written but profoundly misanthropic, the novel cannot be recommended to any but the most steadfast Tepper fan. Agent: Howard Morhaim Literary Agency. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Locus Award winner Tepper turns out her 35th novel, which shows us popular characters Abasio and Xulai (e.g., A Plague of Angels) traveling with their children through a barren land trying to persuade the populace to adopt their sea-dwelling ways. Good idea, since rising water will soon overwhelm the planet. With a 25,000-copy first printing.
Kirkus Reviews
Tepper continues a slow procession toward aquatic apocalypse in this follow-up to The Waters Rising (2010). In 200 years, the waters of Earth will drown all the land, and only those capable of living in the sea will survive. Abasio and Xulai and their twin sea-adapted babies, Bailai and Gailai, are traveling across the world, attempting to convince those they meet about the rising waters and the necessity of sea-adapting their future children. Along the way, the family encounters various people and beings either hostile or sympathetic to their mission, and they eventually discover the cause of the planetary flooding. There's actually not much of a coherent or well-paced story here until about the last quarter of the book; it's simply a chain of connected traveling episodes. Worse, many motifs have already been exhaustively explored in several other Tepper novels—in particular, that environmental wastefulness and damage have offended the world spirit and brutal misogyny, xenophobia and stupidly obstinate closed-mindedness persist yet can be deliberately bred out of humanity. Talking animals, whimsical galactic investigators and often groaningly awful wordplay have also featured in her other works. Characters from a decades-old (and mainly out of print) series make a cameo, but anyone who appreciates their reappearance is also more likely to recognize just how much Tepper is repeating herself here. A sad patchwork of plot scraps from Tepper's previous, and superior, works.
Booklist on FISH TAILS
“Tepper’s themes and messages are cutting, but the anger and sorrow embedded in them are delivered by the author’s enduringly optimistic humanism. This is mastery of science-fiction storytelling that could only be the result of honing over a lifetime.”
Wichita Eagle on THE WATERS RISING
“The Waters Rising delivers a strong, complex story that poses tough questions and demands a new look at the possibilities of the future.”
“This lyrical, beautifully written novel transcends the sum of its parts to become a parable of survival and hope in hopeless times.”
“Tepper has developed a dependable following with works that have an epic fantasy feel but that ultimately reveal logically consistent scientific trappings. This work is no exception, a successful blend of dying-earth fantasy and wicked-witch fable.”
Iron Mountain Daily News on THE WATERS RISING
“The Waters Rising stands as a thoughtful allegory for environmentalism.”
Ursula K. Le Guin on Sheri S. Tepper
“Sheri S. Tepper takes the mental risks that are the lifeblood of science fiction and all imaginative fiction.”
Village Voice Literary Supplement on Sheri S. Tepper
“Her novels are the old-fashioned kind, despite their futuristic settings; the kind that wrap you in their embrace, that take over your life, that make the world disappear.”
Locus on Sheri S. Tepper
“One of sf’s most distinctive voices.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062304582
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/21/2014
  • Pages: 720
  • Sales rank: 203,362
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Sheri S. Tepper is the author of more than thirty novels, including 1993’s A Plague of Angels, which is set in the same world as The Waters Rising. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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