Tepper, Sheri S. – Grass


Tepper, Sheri S. - Grass

Sheri S. Tepper’s novel “Grass” is a beautiful example of science fiction at its best. Set in a distant future on a mysterious planet called Grass, the story follows the members of the aristocratic Bonner family as they uncover dark secrets and fight for survival.

The world of Grass is a unique and intriguing one. Covered entirely in grasslands and inhabited by deadly creatures, the planet holds a deep fascination for the human colonists who have made it their home. However, as the Bonner family soon discovers, there is much more to Grass than meets the eye.

Tepper’s writing is both captivating and thought-provoking. She seamlessly weaves together elements of mystery, adventure, and social commentary, creating a rich and nuanced narrative that keeps readers hooked from beginning to end. Through the different perspectives of the Bonner family members, Tepper explores themes of power, religion, and the consequences of unchecked ambition.

With its intricate world-building, complex characters, and masterful storytelling, “Grass” is a standout work of science fiction. It challenges readers to question their own beliefs and values, while also offering an exciting and thrilling journey through a world unlike any other. Tepper’s ability to create a compelling and immersive fictional universe is truly impressive, and “Grass” is a testament to her talent as a writer.

The Author and Her Background

Sheri S. Tepper, born Shirley Stewart Douglas, was an American science fiction and fantasy author. She was born on July 16, 1929, in Littleton, Colorado. Tepper had a diverse and interesting background which influenced her writing.

Early Life and Education

Tepper’s family moved to Wyoming when she was young, where she spent much of her childhood on a ranch. She grew up in a rural setting, surrounded by nature and wildlife. This love for nature and the outdoors would later be reflected in many of her works, including “Grass”.

Tepper attended the University of Colorado, where she earned a degree in psychology. She went on to work as an executive secretary and then as a research technician for various organizations.

Writing Career

Writing Career

Tepper began writing in the 1960s, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that she gained recognition as a science fiction and fantasy author. She wrote over 40 novels and numerous short stories, often exploring themes related to feminism, environmentalism, and social justice.

“Grass,” published in 1989, is considered one of Tepper’s most significant works. The novel combines elements of science fiction and fantasy, as well as a deep exploration of complex societal issues.

Influence and Legacy

Influence and Legacy

Tepper’s writing has had a lasting impact on the science fiction and fantasy genres. She was known for her thought-provoking storytelling and her ability to tackle important social and environmental issues within her works.

Tepper passed away on October 22, 2016, leaving behind a rich legacy of influential writing. Her works continue to captivate readers and provoke discussions about the role of science fiction and fantasy in addressing real-world problems.

Synopsis of “Grass”

“Grass” is a science fiction novel written by Sheri S. Tepper. Set on a distant planet called Grass, the story follows the intertwined lives of three main characters: Marjorie Westriding-Yrarier, Rigo Yrarier, and Barlennan.

The World of Grass

Grass is an inhabited planet that is covered by vast fields of grass, with only a few areas of trees and shrubs. The grass on the planet is not like terrestrial grass; it is acidic and dangerous. The planet is also home to various deadly creatures, including both flora and fauna.

The human society on Grass is organized into various aristocratic families known as the bonedancers. These families have different ranks and each family is in charge of a different region of the planet.

The Mission

The Mission

At the beginning of the novel, Marjorie, Rigo, and Barlennan are selected by the bonedancers for a mission to investigate a mysterious disease that is affecting the horses of Grass. Horses hold great cultural and religious importance on Grass, and the bonedancers are determined to find a cure for the disease that is killing them.

The three main characters, along with a group of other volunteers, travel to Grass to carry out their mission. They face numerous deadly challenges and encounters with the planet’s dangerous flora and fauna.

The Unraveling of Secrets

As the story progresses, Marjorie begins to uncover dark secrets about the planet and the bonedancers. She discovers that Grass is not as it seems, and that the bonedancers are hiding a shocking truth about the planet’s origins and its connection to the deadly disease.

Marjorie and her companions must navigate through treacherous political and religious intrigue, while also trying to find a way to save the horses and uncover the truth about Grass.

The Conclusion

The Conclusion

In the end, Marjorie and her companions uncover the truth about Grass and the bonedancers. They find a way to save the horses and bring about long-lasting changes to the society on the planet.

The novel explores themes of environmentalism, religious fanaticism, and the consequences of unchecked power. It is a masterful work of science fiction that combines intricate world-building with compelling characters and thought-provoking ideas.

Themes Explored in the Novel

Themes Explored in the Novel

  • Environmentalism: One of the central themes of the novel is environmentalism. The story is set on a planet covered entirely by grass, where humans have to find ways to coexist with the natural world around them. The novel explores the impact of human activity on the environment and the consequences of not preserving nature.
  • Survival: Another key theme in the novel is survival. The characters in the story are faced with numerous challenges and dangers, including hostile native life forms and limited resources. The novel delves into how individuals and communities adapt and struggle to survive in harsh and unfamiliar environments.
  • Otherness: The concept of otherness is also explored in the novel. The human colonizers on the planet Grass encounter a highly advanced alien race known as the Hippae. The differences between the two species and the difficulty in understanding each other’s motives and intentions are examined, posing questions about communication, empathy, and the nature of relationships between different cultures.
  • Religion and Spirituality: The novel also delves into the themes of religion and spirituality. The colonizers on Grass follow a strict religious order, which influences their behavior and decision-making. The novel explores the role of religion in shaping society, as well as the personal and spiritual journeys of the characters.
  • Power and Control: Power and control are recurring themes in the novel. The politics and power struggles among the colonizers on Grass are explored, revealing the ways in which individuals and groups seek to gain and maintain control. The novel raises questions about the consequences of unchecked power and the ethics of authority.

Critical Reception and Awards

Critical Reception and Awards

Grass received widespread critical acclaim upon its publication, cementing Sheri S. Tepper’s reputation as a master of science fiction. The novel has been praised for its unique and imaginative world-building, thought-provoking themes, and complex characters.

The novel was nominated for several prestigious awards within the science fiction genre. In 1990, Grass was shortlisted for the Hugo Award for Best Novel, one of the highest honors in science fiction. It was also a finalist for the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel in the same year.

The book won the A.L.A. Alex Award in 1990, which is given to books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults. This recognition highlights the wide appeal and accessibility of Tepper’s writing.

Tepper’s portrayal of gender roles and exploration of social issues in Grass has also been praised by critics. The novel has been celebrated for its feminist undertones and for challenging traditional notions of power and authority.

Overall, Grass has received praise for its compelling storytelling, rich world-building, and thematic depth. It has solidified its place as a sci-fi masterpiece and remains a seminal work in the genre.

What is the overall plot of “Grass”?

The overall plot of “Grass” revolves around the story of Marjorie Westriding-Yrarier and her family as they are sent to the planet Grass to investigate a mysterious disease that is affecting the noble families of their society.

Who is the main character in “Grass”?

The main character in “Grass” is Marjorie Westriding-Yrarier, a strong and intelligent woman who is sent to Grass along with her family to investigate a mysterious disease.

What is the significance of the planet Grass in the story?

The planet Grass holds great significance in the story as it serves as the setting for the main events of the plot. It is a planet covered in dense grass and is inhabited by strange and deadly creatures. It is also believed to be a place of great religious importance.

What are some of the major themes explored in “Grass”?

Some of the major themes explored in “Grass” include religion, power, and the corruption of society. The book delves into the religious beliefs of the inhabitants of Grass and the impact it has on their society. It also explores the abuse of power by the nobility and the devastating consequences it has on the lives of the common people.

What is the writing style like in “Grass”?

The writing style in “Grass” is beautifully descriptive and atmospheric. The author, Sheri S. Tepper, paints vivid images of the planet Grass and its creatures, immersing the reader in the world of the story. Tepper’s writing is also known for delving deep into the emotions and inner thoughts of the characters, making them feel realistic and relatable.

What sets “Grass” apart from other science fiction novels?

What sets “Grass” apart from other science fiction novels is its unique blend of genres. While it is a science fiction novel at its core, it also incorporates elements of fantasy and mystery. This combination of genres creates a rich and complex story that is both thought-provoking and entertaining.

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