|Publisher:||Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated|
About the Author
Alice Bradley Sheldon (1915 —1987) was an American science fiction author better known as James Tiptree Jr., a pen name she used from 1967 to her death. It was not publicly known until 1977 that James Tiptree Jr. was a woman. She was a prolific short story writer and was the winner of numerous awards including the Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, and Locus Awards. In 2012 she was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is really quite an imaginative book, with much to like, but a little bit of a disappointing conclusion. A group of humans, all of whom have suffered some sort of emotional trauma, have started to develop psionic capabilities¿hey, wait a minute, doesn¿t sound a bit like More than Human??? I guess you could say that this story is part More than Human, and part Invasion of the Body Snatchers, with a smattering of some of the few good ideas that would later be used in Star Trek the Motion Picture . . . all underlined with a great sense of optimism (this was my first Tiptree reading experience--I didn't realize how unusual the optimistism of this book is amongst her truly amazing body of work until later). The conception of the planet Tyree and the aliens who live there are the real strengths of the book. The Tyrenni are much more compelling than your average scifi alien, profoundly non-human in physiology, psychology, and sociology. On the other hand, I found the ultimate fate of the ¿life-thieving¿ body snatchers to be overly generous, and the final destiny of the good guys to be a bit facile. Nonetheless, definitely worth the time for any science fiction fan.
If you know anything about James Tiptree, Jr. (in particular, if you have read the wonderful biography by Julie Phillips) it is almost impossible to read this book without some baggage. If you come from just reading Tiptree, it may be the baggage of high expectations. If you come from knowing the history of Tiptree, the history of this book, or the responses to it, you may have the baggage of low expectations. But, shy of someone with no sense of the history of Tiptree or science fiction in general, there will be baggage. (Side note ¿ I guess there is such baggage no matter what you are reading ¿ this book just seems to have walked in from the airport with a larger valise than most.)My challenge to you is to try and approach this book wide open, trying not to let any of your previous knowledge hinder your approach. Because, no matter what you may have heard (there I go referencing that baggage) this is an entertaining and interesting book. It starts pretentiously ¿ all caps and in italics ¿ and there is the fear that you have wondered into typical 70¿s ¿oh, look what I can do¿ writing. It takes a bit to get past this. The second chapter is on the world Tiptree is creating; a world that is made up of gaseous sentient beings who live on the winds. Again, this takes a while, but you begin to get a grasp of these creatures and the world they live in. The third part of the telling is based on earth, and this section comes just in time to help ground the reader who is beginning to wonder if there will be anything to hold on to here. But that is when it all starts coming together. And the stylized writing begins to make sense as the stories and the viewpoints combine. This story could have gotten lost in itself, but Tiptree skillfully weaves the parts to reasonable conclusion.The thing that is a little transparent is the themes that she takes on. Women wanting the power of men, people questioning their sexuality, loners who can¿t find their validation. These are themes that Tiptree has explored before and, if the biography is to be believed (and there is no reason to think it shouldn¿t be), themes that Tiptree struggled with herself. This isn¿t to say that they aren¿t explored well in this book; it is just to say that they seem a little more transparent here. They are explored well and deeply, but it is a little obvious that they are being explored.Accordingly, this is not the world¿s greatest novel. Yet, it is not as bad as people have often indicated. It is a novel that will stretch the reader - not giving quick answers, but still satisfying in the end.