The Margarets by Sheri S. Tepper | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble
The Margarets

The Margarets

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by Sheri S. Tepper

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The myriad alien civilizations populating far, distant worlds have many good reasons to detest the blight called "humankind" . . .

The only human child living in a work colony on the Martian satellite Phobos, little Margaret Bain has invented six imaginary companions to keep boredom and loneliness at bay. Each an extension of her


The myriad alien civilizations populating far, distant worlds have many good reasons to detest the blight called "humankind" . . .

The only human child living in a work colony on the Martian satellite Phobos, little Margaret Bain has invented six imaginary companions to keep boredom and loneliness at bay. Each an extension of her personality, they are lost to her when she is forced to return to Earth. But they are not gone.

The time will come when Margaret, fully grown and wed, must leave this dying world as well—this Earth so denuded by thoughtlessness and chemistry that its only viable export is slaves. For now Margarets are scattered throughout the galaxy. And their creator must bring her selves home . . . or watch the human race perish.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Full of fascinating characters and beautifully detailed settings, Tepper's complex and multifaceted far-future SF novel follows the many selves of Mars colonist Margaret Bain on a mission to save the human race from annihilation. Long ago, hairless bipeds earned the eternal hatred of the foul-tempered Quaatar after some prehumans stowed away on a Quaatar survey ship. Now humankind is at the brink of self-destruction through overpopulation and ecological collapse. The farsighted Gentherans have taken up the human cause within the Interstellar Trade Organization, but as Earthgov struggles to conform to ISTO's enforced sterilization laws while trading excess children for offworld water, the Quaatar continue plotting to destroy humanity. Only Margaret, a secret organization called the Third Order of the Siblinghood and the truth behind an old Gentheran folktale can stop the genocide and give humanity a future. As always, Locus Award-winner Tepper (The Companions) wields grand science fiction themes with skill, vision and a twist of black humor. (June)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Kirkus Reviews
Another sprawling, speculative yarn from Tepper (The Companions, 2003, etc.), this time nibbling at the boundaries between fantasy and science fiction. Long ago, the malevolent alien Quaatar stole part of humanity's birthright, rendering the race incapable of learning from past mistakes. So, in the far future, Earth is one vast, teeming city, forced to export its surplus population as bondservants, colonists or slaves. The Quaatar and their equally sadistic kindred races are plotting to exterminate humanity altogether, torturing human children as a means to create wormlike, parasitic ghyrms, which feed on pain and horror and suck the life-force out of their victims. To counter the Quaatar, the human Siblinghood, with their benevolent alien allies, have set up a scheme to produce a human who can mystically walk seven roads at once in order to evoke the godlike Keeper-who may or may not be disposed to restore what was taken from humanity. The key is Margaret Bain of Phobos and Earth, soon declared surplus population and forced into space-where, somehow, she becomes seven separate individuals, each with different talents. On planet Cantardene, for instance, Margaret becomes Ongamar, a ghyrm-ridden spy; on Hell (this planet's a story in itself) she is Wilvia, a princess fleeing Quaatar assassins; on Chottem she's psychic shaman Gretamara, while on Thairy she's expert strategist Naumi, a male! Gradually, the Margarets intersect-but can they learn how to walk the seven roads before the Quaatar catch them?Supremely imaginative, intriguingly peopled, always challenging and frequently astonishing-but overwrought, with mere complexity becoming an end in itself.

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Read an Excerpt

The Margarets
A Novel

Chapter One

What the Gardener Told Me Might Have Happened

Once a very long time ago, between fifty and a hundred thousand years, a small group of humans fleeing from predators took refuge in a cave. Clinging to one another during the night, they heard a great roaring, louder and more fierce than the roars of the beasts they knew, and when they peeked out at dawn, they saw that a moon had fallen out of the sky. The sun was just rising, the changeable baby moon they were used to was with Mother Sun, so the fallen moon belonged to someone else.

The someone elses were walking here and there, clanking and creaking. Ahn, the leader of the people, noticed holes around the bottom of the moon, open holes as large as caves. The clanking things were frightening, but not so scary as the animals howling among the nearest trees. Ahn, the leader, had no memory of such things; neither did any of the other of his people. No clanking things. No falling moons.

Ahn nodded, thoughtfully. It was harder when it was a new thing. If they had a memory of the thing, it was easier to figure out what to do. Otherwise, they had to decide, then see what would happen. It did seem to Ahn, however, that hiding inside the moon was a good idea. When the moon went back up into the sky, the beasts couldn't follow. The holes smelled strange, so Ahn went first in case there were bad things inside.

Just as there had been no memory of fallen moons, there had been no memory of those who owned the moon: the Quaatar, who disliked being fooled with, bothered by, or trespassed upon by anything. Even if Ahn had had such a memory, the immediacy of his people'ssituation might have made him risk it. Since he did not know it, he had no qualms about leading his people up the vent tubes and thence into a hydroponic oasis.

The ship's robots found nothing worth ravening upon the world; the ship departed. Inside, the stowaways lived rather pleasantly on the juicy bodies of small furry vermin that infested the ship and the garden produce that fed the noncarnivorous creatures aboard. When the ship finally landed, the people went out to find themselves not in the sky, as they had expected, but rather upon some other world, where their eager senses informed them there were no predators at all. The world was a paradise, and they fled into it.

Ahn's people never knew how they got there; the Quaatar were and are a little-known people. The females are said to be solitary, aquatic, and planet-bound. The males return to the water only to breed. It is said if one imagines a huge, multilegged lizard, hundreds of years old, who is able to talk and count from one to six, one has imagined a Quaatar. The race became starfaring only by accident. Early in their evolutionary history, they were approached by an advanced people who offered to trade for mining rights on the several lifeless, metal-rich planets of the system. Galactic Law required that they need deal only with the most numerous indigenous group. The Quaatar demanded first that three lesser tribes, the Thongal, Frossians, and K'Famir, who had long ago branched treacherously from the Quaatar genetic line, be wiped out. Since Galactic Law did not permit such a thing, the mining concessionaires offered many other inducements, finally agreeing, among other things, to move the other tribes or races far away. The Thongal, Frossians, and K'Famir, all of whom were more agile and far cleverer than the Quaatar, had no objection at all to being removed from the dismal swamps of Quaatar and given drier planets of their own. They were accordingly transported, leaving the Quaatar alone and unchallenged in their insistence that themselves, their world, and their language were sacred and inviolable.

For generations the Quaatar traded mining rights for fancy uniforms, medals, starships, and spare parts plus an endless supply of non-Quaatar mechs, techs, and astrogators to keep the ships flying. Though Quaatar owned the ships and appropriated all the fancy titles (captain, chief science officer, and so on), they never learned how to go from point A to point B without relying on non-Quaatar crew members who could count much higher than six to take them there.

The Quaatar had not known they had stowaways until they saw Ahn's people leaving the ship and disappearing into the underbrush. The sight infuriated them. It should be mentioned that an infuriated Quaatar is something no reasonable individual wants to deal with. An aroused Quaatar is somewhat comparable to a tsunami engendered by an earthquake measuring eight or nine on the Richter scale while several supervolcanoes erupt simultaneously during a category five hurricane. The Quaatar ordered the ship to destroy the planet and were dissuaded only when the automatic system governor harshly reminded them the Galactic Court would not allow destruction of living planets.

Quaatar annoyance, once aroused, however, had to be slaked, not least because their vessel, sacred to the holy Quaatar race, had been defiled and would have to be resanctified. All non-Quaatar personnel were sequestered, for their own safety, while every deck was washed down with the blood of sacrificial victims (a supply of whom were always carried on Quaatar ships), who were first flayed to yield skins with which the entire exterior hull had to be scrubbed. Finally, skin, bones, and remaining tissue were ritually burned. This was time-consuming, yielding only mild amusement during the flaying part, and it was all the fault of the stowaways.

When the ritual was completed, the Quaatar turned their attention back to vengeance. Honor demanded that revenge be exacted upon those who had committed the trespass. Since the Quaatar could not find the beings who had fled the ship, they decided to maim them from a distance by using a . . .

The Margarets
A Novel
. Copyright © by Sheri Tepper. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Sheri S. Tepper is the author of more than thirty resoundingly acclaimed novels, including The Waters Rising, The Margarets, The Companions, The Visitor, The Fresco, Singer from the Sea, Six Moon Dance, The Family Tree, Gibbon's Decline and Fall, Shadow's End, A Plague of Angels, Sideshow, and Beauty; numerous novellas; stories; poems; and essays. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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