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Sheri S Tepper - Fish Tails (2014)

I didn't realise when I picked this up to read that this is a successor to A Plague of Angels and Waters Rising, but I read it anyway without going back. It also picks up some material from the Mavin Manyshaped, True Game and Jinian Footseer works published in the 1980's. The prequels probably add something for those who remember those without getting in the way for those (like me) who really don't.

It really is very much good for the things Tepper is always good for, and I really enjoyed reading this. It has some really neat ideas - heating the water for tea by running the water through a wormhole close to a star. It has some really neat people - I liked Willem, the peasant boy who gets to learn better. It has some really neat cultures encountering each other even though they exist at vastly different economic levels - poor peasants, co-operating clans, high-tech civilisation. It has some really neat aliens - Balytaniwassinot is an alien from a five-gendered species who might as well be a god. Human and non-human characters are vivid, and flawed, and live, and learn.

It has some flaws. Or even quite a lot of flaws. It would be easy to write a review tearing it apart, Balytaniwassinot is rather too much told and not enough shown. It's a bit preachy in places, especially on the subject of limiting your population and not breeding from the unfit. The bad guys have no redeeming features and end up dead. The technology is a little bit too like magic. And it could do with a rigorous edit to tell a tighter story.

But who cares. There is something to enjoy on every page. I find myself thinking of Glory Road and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and thinking that sometimes you can write science fiction without taking serious subjects too seriously.


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
27th Jun, 2015 13:14 (UTC)
This seems to be one of those marmite books: I've seen people enjoy it and I've seen them hate it, but not much in the middle until you! It's a testament, I think, to how you read, that you can be clear-headed about something that's fun, and see the fun in something flawed.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )


Caroline M

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