The Gate to Women's Country

The Gate to Women's Country

by Sheri S. Tepper

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“Lively, thought-provoking . . . the plot is ingenious, packing a wallop of a surprise . . . Tepper knows how to write a well-made, on-moving story with strong characters. . . . She takes the mental risks that are the lifeblood of science fiction and all imaginative narrative.”—Ursula K. LeGuin, Los Angeles Times

Since the flames died three hundred years ago, human civilization has evolved into a dual society: Women’s Country, where walled towns enclose what’s left of past civilization, nurtured by women and a few nonviolent men; and the adjacent garrisons where warrior men live—the lost brothers, sons, and lovers of those in Women’s Country.

Two societies. Two competing dreams. Two ways of life, kept apart by walls stronger than stone. And yet there is a gate between them. . . .

“Tepper not only keeps us reading . . . she provokes a new look at the old issues.”—The Washington Post

“Tepper’s cast of both ordinary and extraordinary people play out a powerful drama whose significance goes beyond sex to deal with the toughest problem of all, the challenge of surmounting humanity’s most dangerous flaws so we can survive—despite ourselves.”—Locus

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553280647
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/28/1993
Pages: 315
Sales rank: 173,009
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Sheri S. Tepper (1929–2016) is the award-winning author of A Plague of Angels, Sideshow, Beauty, Raising the Stones, Grass, The Gate to Women's Country, After Long Silence, and Shadow's End. Grass was a New York Times Notable Book and Hugo Award nominee, and Beauty was voted Best Fantasy Novel by the readers of Locus magazine.

Read an Excerpt

STAVIA SAW HERSELF AS IN A PICTURE, FROM THE outside, a darkly cloaked figure moving along a cobbled street, the stones sheened with a soft, early spring rain. On either side the gutters ran with an infant chuckle and gurgle, baby streams being amused with themselves. The corniced buildings smiled candlelit windows across at one another, their shoulders huddled protectively inward—though not enough to keep the rain from streaking the windows and making the candlelight seem the least bit weepy, a luxurious weepiness, as after a two-hanky drama of love lost or unrequited.

Excerpted from "The Gate to Women's Country"
by .
Copyright © 1993 Sheri S. Tepper.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Gate to Women's Country 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was the first Sheri tepper book i ever read, i was a freshman in high school and fell in love with it and her. I have read almost every book she has written, only because I have not been able to find all of them. This book got me hooked on SF books. The relationships she builds amoung men and woman are what defines her books for me. She makes woman strong, the most powerful asset. I recomend this book to every woman, because it shows the power we hold.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A great self empowering book. I read it from cover to cover in one night. Every year I buy it for girlfriends that don't have their own copy yet!
Sorka-Spellbound More than 1 year ago
I first read this book back in the early '90's. Since then I have actually gone through 3 paperback copies (some lent/given away) and finally have a copy on my Nook. It is THAT great a story. A wonderful social commentary and well thought out plot and solution to rid the world of the violence of war. I can't recommend this book highly enough!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Outstanding imagination and intrigue. Don't miss out on this unique and captivating story of men and women co-existing seperately. This book ranks #2 in overall feminist fiction in my opinion. Califia's Daughter takes #1. If you liked The Gate to Women's County, you won't want to put down Califia's Daughter.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is my all time favorite book. It's for women that know men are born differently than women, and for the women that know there has to be a better way.
Red-line More than 1 year ago
The book really made me start to think about some of it basic ideas. It also is rather good to read just of entertainment. This could be a good source of items for group discussion.
FrancoisTremblay on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the very first radfem novel I've ever read, and I really wanted to love this book. But I'm afraid that, as engrossing as it was, it's very goofy and joyless. I say goofy because it has things which are hard to see as anything but bizarre in such a setting (I will list them at the end of this review, in case you don't want spoilers). I say joyless because I cannot imagine any of the main characters ever having fun or even smiling (except perhaps Septimus, albeit sarcastically), only doing "their duty" while gritting their teeth (and no, I am not talking about sex) or feeling crass self-satisfaction. I have to question what is the point of their attempts to preserve their way of life, if it's so utterly, crushingly joyless?I came out of this book feeling very depressed, and I have only experienced this reading Kafka, so it takes a lot to get me depressed. A Greek tragedy is used as the framing device, and this is very appropriate because the story itself seems a Greek tragedy, in its own way, although I don't know enough about Greek tragedies to have an informed opinion. The author clearly has a great deal of psychological insights on gender roles. It's really too bad that they're sandwiched between goofiness and crushing joylessness.Here is the list of goofy things in this book:[spoiler alert]A Country-wide eugenics conspiracy involving thousands of people which somehow has never been uncovered, clairvoyants, clairvoyant ninjas, mutated fundamentalist Mormons, a phallic cult, blatant homophobia, and perhaps the most absurd one of all, thousands of men who don't have sex.[end of spoiler alert]
2wonderY on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Whether or not this is a great book, it is certainly a memorable one. The ideas presented shook me 30 years ago, and as others have said, affected the way I think as a woman and a member of society. I was glad to introduce my daughters to it; and yes, they treasure it as well for some of the same reasons. Although strictly speaking, the premise is implausible and the men are mostly two dimensional, I think most women love this book for it's "ought-to-be-ness." I love what other women have said below in other reviews. This is a book that unites females to a vision of a better society.
SanyaWeathers on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I can no more pick a favorite book than I can pick a favorite breath of air, but this one would be a serious contender for the title. It has a message without being preachy. It's a "what might be" that feels completely plausible. The characters are for the most part complex, and products of their environment and civilization. A few plot holes are big enough to drive a truck through, but I didn't even notice until I was out of the grip of the story. Accusations of "man hating" are generally flung at this novel, but I invite the flingers to reread the story - a second reading turns up a great deal more nuance than the first reading provides. The worst men (and the worst women) were made, not born - their genes are stacked against them, but their society has deliberately created an environment in which only the truly dedicated can escape. As another reviewer said, it's difficult for me to review this novel without gushing, so I'll end with the observation that the book's meaning for me has changed as my life has changed. It was electrifying to me as a young college student, it was powerful when I was choosing a husband, and it breaks my heart when I look at my infant son.
TadAD on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I had heard a lot of "man-hating crap" comments about this book and got curious. Well, there was certainly some of that. However, I found the portrayal of the women just as unflattering¿foolish and compliant or manipulative and deceitful. Her writing is good, the plot was interesting and, though there wasn't much to like in any of the social structures, it passed an afternoon.
Waianuhea on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hard for me to read, maybe because I'm not that into Roman/Greek mythology. Very interesting society she's built here. Her characters are interesting and she makes some really interesting observations through them.Apparently a classic of feminist fiction, so if you have any feminist leanings you should pick this one up!
RBeffa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Now here is an amazing book. This has been called a classic of feminist science fiction. I've read mixed reviews of this - mostly very positive, but a few quite negative. This is the first Tepper novel I have read. I'm a man - I'll be honest, I didn't think there would be much appeal to me in a book described as feminist science fiction. I was wrong with this one. I like post-apocalyptic fiction. I admire the amount of worldbuilding that Tepper put into this novel. The setting came to life within my mind. There are a number of very strong characters in here, virtually all flawed or damaged in ways minor or major. The story is told with a lot of jumping around in time initially, primarily as a series of flashbacks, but when in those flashbacks one forgets many times that we have indeed flashed back. The story is told in a rather unique way, and we get a bit of moral teaching I suppose by the nature of the telling, as well as certain premises which underlie the entire novel. Interwoven within the book are a series of scenes from a play being rehearsed by a number of major characters in the primary story, and when not within the play itself, we tend to see it from the view and feeling primarily of Stavia, the heroine and main character of the novel. The play, "Iphigenia at Ilium", is a greek tragedy about the Trojan women after the fall of Troy, and it is full of echoes within this novel to themes of the main story.We see Stavia initially in the novel being renounced by her 15 year old son who will not return to Women's Country, but who will pursue the warrior's life, as most young men do, and live in the garrison just outside the city walls of Marthatown. Through flashbacks we eventually learn how we arrived at this point in time and we see Stavia grow within a strongly maternalistic society from a ten year old to a late thirtysomething woman. There are secrets in Women's Country. I highly recommend this book.
annbury on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Top notch feminist science fiction, in which the characters are interesting individuals, not puppets with principals. In the world of this novel, women and men live apart, with two very different ways of life. Tepper creates believable societies, and the story keeps the reader hooked.
torchsinger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am always recommending books to people, but I always keep a paperback copy of this book to actually GIVE to people to read- it is that important to me that people read and discuss this book. Yes, it is overtly feminist, but not in any man-bashing way. It combines the best of feminist theory against a dystopian backdrop, overlaying classic Greek literature, and written with the pacing of a well-written mystery. The ending blew me away, and this is one book I can re-read over and over again to find subtle details I missed during previous visits. If I could, I would make this a required text at the high school where I teach!
Berly on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
[The Gate to Women's Country] by Sheri S. Tepper. Four StarsI probably would not have finished this book if it were not for two things: 1) Jim recommended this to me during his Portland visit and 2) after I got bogged down around page 90 or so, I cheated and read towards the end, which is something I never do. Between Jim's high opinion and my renewed interest after reading further on, I finished the book and I am glad I did. This is a post-apocalyptic book in which the roles of men and women are very clearly defined. In fact, the two sexes do not even live together, only meeting up for Carnivals. Women live within walled cities, preserving what's left of culture and past civilization; the warrior men live outside the walls in garrisons. The two groups are separated by the stone wall and by the greater differences of their competing dreams. But there is a gate into Women's Country. Can the two groups ever reconcile and live in harmony?The roles and fates of men and women in war are further explored by the reenactment of the story of Helen of Troy, which the women perform each year as a reminder to themselves. One of the warriors contemplates the story:" 'Put the people to the sword.' That meant they'd killed the men, killed the children, too, likely. And then they took the women, but Odysseus didn't say anything about [the women's] faces. Nothing. "Why? Why didn't Odysseus say how the women felt? How they looked? Why didn't any of the sagas talk about that?"
sturlington on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Even though this is the Tepper that I¿ve heard of most, I think I liked it least of all of her novels that I¿ve read. It¿s set in the far future, a few hundred years after an apocalyptic event¿probably a nuclear war¿has nearly wiped out humanity. The new civilization still has limited access to electricity, antibiotics, steel and some books, but has for the most part reverted to pre-industrial life. The women live inside walled cities and run the government, as well as do all the work and receive all the education. The boys are sent outside the walls at age 5 to live in garrisons, play sports, learn martial arts, and when they are old enough, go to war¿although at age 15, they may choose to come back inside the walls as ¿servitors.¿The problem I had with this feminist novel is that all the male characters are essentially caricatures. The soldiers are basically grown children who perceive women as helpless objects needing protection whose main purpose is to provide their food and clothing and bear them sons. The servitors are the flip side of the coin: wise, calm, strong, but always in control of themselves¿the ¿perfect men¿ in this women¿s fantasy. Even when I got to the ¿twist,¿ I wasn¿t convinced that this novel isn¿t more preaching than storytelling. Nevertheless, Tepper is an engaging writer and this is a fast read, if a lopsided view of a potential world.
sussabmax on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is in the running for my favorite book ever (if I could possibly pick just one).Unlike some of Tepper's other works, this book demonstrates her worldview through action and story-telling rather than preaching. There is a lot going on in this book, and she manages to get it all in with some very tight writing. When I picked this book up recently after a long time since my first reading, I was surprised by how short it was--I was convinced that it had to be much longer to get in everything that I remembered. I particularly like the way Tepper demonstrates that a pacifist society is not a weak society. The society that she creates is complex and very well-thought out. The characters strive to do what is best for everyone, but they understand that tough choices need to be made in the short run to create a more just society in the long run. I have a hard time reviewing this because I love it so much I just want to gush about how wonderful it is, but it really deserves more than that. I love it because it is so thought-provoking and richly layered. I don't usually re-read books until I have pretty much forgotten what they were about, because I get bored easily, but there is so much going on in this book, I could have happily re-read it immediately after I finished it. If it weren't for the mountain of books waiting to be read, I might have.
Gateaupain on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I remember being vastly impressed by this after the disappointment of "The Handmaid's Story".Unfortunately I passed it on to an old friend who has since lost touch. Maybe one day I'll buy it again
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If women fashioned their own society, what would be the result? What role would men play? Thought provoking. One of the best SF books ever written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of my very favorites
MJKalinowski More than 1 year ago
This book is a must read for young women to understand the ways that they allow themselves to be manipulated by men. Young women are vulnerable because they believe that what motivates the female mind are the same emotions for the the male mind. Women need to value them selves before anyone else will. Sheri Tepper encourages women to evaluate and make better choices.
Friday_Jones More than 1 year ago
Great book, i have read and reread many times. Provocative ideas and logic, pro feminist. Highly recommend!
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