Tepper, Sheri S. 1929-
Tepper, Sheri S. 1929-
(Shirley Stewart Douglas, Sheri S. Eberhart, E.E. Horlak, B.J. Oliphant, A.J. Orde)
PERSONAL: Born Shirley Stewart Douglas, July 16, 1929, in Littleton, CO; married second husband, Gene Tepper, late 1960s; children: two. Ethnicity: “Euro-Saxon.” Hobbies and other interests: Animals, gardening.
CAREER: Writer and ranch owner. Former clerical worker with CARE; Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood, Denver, CO, became executive director, 1962-86.
MEMBER: Minor Breeds Conservancy.
AWARDS, HONORS: Hugo Award nomination, World Science Fiction Convention, 1990, and New York Times Notable Book citation, both for Grass; Edgar Award nomination, Mystery Writers of America, c. 1990, for Dead in the Scrub; award for “best fantasy of the year,” Locus, 1991, for Beauty.
“TRUE GAME” FANTASY NOVELS
King’s Blood Four, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1983. Necromancer Nine, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1983. Wizard’s Eleven, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1984.
The Song of Mavin Manyshaped, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1985.
The Flight of Mavin Manyshaped, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1985.
The Search of Mavin Manyshaped, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1985.
Jinian Footseer, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1985.
Dervish Daughter, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1986.
Jinian Star Eye, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1986.
The Revenants, Berkley Publishing (New York, NY), 1984.
Marianne, the Magus, and the Manticore, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1985.
After Long Silence, Bantam (New York, NY), 1987, published in England as The Enigma Score.
Northshore: The Awakeners, Volume 1, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1987.
Southshore: The Awakeners, Volume 2, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1987.
Marianne, the Madame, and the Momentary Gods, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1988.
The Gate to Women’s Country, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1988.
Grass, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1989.
Marianne, the Matchbox, and the Malachite Mouse, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1989.
Raising the Stones, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1990.
Beauty, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1991.
Sideshow, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1992.
Plague of Angels, Bantam (New York, NY), 1993.
Shadow’s End, Bantam (New York, NY), 1994.
Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, Bantam (New York, NY), 1996.
The Family Tree, Avon (New York, NY), 1997.
Six Moon Dance, Avon (New York, NY), 1998.
Singer from the Sea, Avon (New York, NY), 1999.
The Fresco, Avon (New York, NY), 2000.
The Companions, EOS (New York, NY), 2003.
The Visitor, EOS (New York, NY), 2003.
The Margarets, EOS (New York, NY), 2007.
UNDER PSEUDONYM B.J. OLIPHANT
Dead in the Scrub, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1990.
The Unexpected Corpse, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1990.
Deservedly Dead, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1992.
Death and the Delinquent, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1993.
Death Served up Cold, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1994.
A Ceremonial Death, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1996.
Here’s to the Newly Deads, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1998.
UNDER PSEUDONYM A.J. ORDE
A Little Neighborhood Murder: A Jason Lynx Novel, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1989.
Death and the Dogwalker: A Jason Lynx Novel, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1990.
Death for Old Times’ Sake: A Jason Lynx Novel, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1992.
Looking for the Aardvark, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1993, published in England as Dead on Sunday.
A Long Time Dead, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1995.
Death of Innocents, Fawcett (New York, NY), 1997.
Blood Heritage, Tor Books (New York, NY), 1986.
The Bones (horror), Tor Books (New York, NY), 1987. (Under pseudonym E.E. Horlak) Still Life (horror), Bantam (New York, NY), 1989.
Author of a novella, The Gardener, published in Night Visions, 1987. Published poetry and children’s stories under the name Sheri S. Eberhart in the 1960s. Tepper’s works have been published in Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, Italy, France, Finland, Poland, Estonia, Israel, and Japan.
Sidelights: Since the publication of her first novel, the intricate fantasy King’s Blood Four, Sheri S. Tepper “has developed into one of the best novelists in the field, with the humane intelligence of classic [Ursula] Le Guin plus her own signature skill at creating exotic ecosystems quite distinct from Earth and humanity,” Faren Miller asserted in a Locus review. Tepper’s novels often combine rich imagery and ingenious settings with warnings against environmental destruction and an outrage at oppression, especially against women. In addition, her work “is peopled with perplexing and eminently human characters,” Rebecca Taylor noted in Voice of Youth Advocates, and as a result “Tepper’s reputation among literary and feminist SF circles has been rising.”
“If I had been born in another generation or to another family, I would have been Dian Fossey,” Tepper revealed in a Locus interview. “But in my family, girls were not encouraged to do things like that… [Religious] kinds of arguments were used against me as a girl child, to keep me from doing things I wanted to do.” Accordingly, many of Tepper’s novels feature religious fanatics who dominate and even threaten the lives of those around them. The two-volume Awakeners, for instance, features a repressive religious order whose teachings are built on a grisly lie, while Raising the Stones includes a violent male cult whose members believe that they are called to murder all others in the name of faith. After Long Silence details the struggle between rapacious business interests and native worshipers over a world where colossal crystal formations tower above the landscape. Profiling the search to discover whether the crystals are intelligent, the novel is “a story of human perseverance for truth,” a Library Journal critic wrote.
A portrayal of a post-holocaust society and one woman’s attempt to understand it, The Gate to Women’s Country is “Tepper’s finest novel to date,” a Publishers Weekly reviewer stated. “Women’s Country” consists of the fortified cities where women, assisted by a few male “servitors,” govern the community and supply it with food, medicine, and education. The majority of men occupy military garrisons outside the cities, and except for semiannual carnivals, they disdain women in favor of battles and quests for “honor.” A reckless plot by the warriors to overthrow the cities and enslave the women sets the stage for “a dialectic on gender so clear and compelling that it reaffirms the absolute rightness of our struggle to liberate humanity from the macho politics of death,” Judy Simmons wrote in Ms.
According to New York Times Book Review writer Gerald Jonas, the novel contains an “antimale bias,” but he admits that “Tepper is not afraid to ask hard questions.” “What makes the story good, despite the either-or overstatement inherent in the genre, is Tepper’s experienced pen,” Ann Vliet observed in the Washington Post Book World. “She not only keeps us reading, but by carrying several feminist dreams to the point of nightmare, she provokes a new look at the old issues.”
Similarly examining issues of independence and violence, the Hugo-nominated novel Grass “is a splendid achievement, one of the most satisfying science fiction novels I have read in years,” Jonas stated in another New York Times Book Review article. The Yrarier family has been sent to Grass to discover why the planet’s inhabitants are the only people immune to a deadly plague that is sweeping the galaxy. Left to an intricate society they barely understand, the Yrariers are drawn into the deadly “hunt,” a chase involving monstrous native creatures that are an obsession with the planet’s leading families. Tepper’s vision of Grass, with its overpowering environment of innumerable grasses, unusual creatures, and perplexing customs, has led several reviewers to compare the novel to Frank Herbert’s classic Dune. But while structural similarities can be drawn between the two, “there comparisons end,” according to Washington Post Book World contributor Richard Grant. “Tepper is a wide and subtle artist. She manages things in Grass with consummate skill that other writers are well advised not to attempt.”
For example, the novel uses the perspectives of various characters from animal to human to spiritual. In addition, “richly imagined action scenes… alternate with lively dialogue that wrestles with fundamental questions of good and evil,” Jonas declared, praising in particular an examination of the hunt which is “a powerful satire of macho posturing that is both witty and chilling.” “This is a gripping mystery as well a good science fiction story,” Nancy Choice remarked in Voice of Youth Advocates. “Grass is a complex and fascinating world and Tepper unravels its mysteries in a way that makes the book hard to put down.” As Grant concluded, “Grass is so good you may want to lend it to friends who don’t like science fiction.”
The well-reviewed novel The Margarets presents Margaret Bain, a woman who has coped with her isolated childhood existence on Phobos by creating different personas. The warlike Quaatar harbor a vendetta against humankind for past transgressions, which they intend to carry out by exterminating the race, which is currently suffering from debilitating overpopulation and ecological collapse on planet Earth. Margaret is recruited by the benevolent Siblinghood, an organization working to counteract the Quaatars’ plan. Her seven personas, which include a spy, a princess, a shaman, and a man, are sent to seven different planets to defeat the Quaatar. A writer for Kirkus Reviews considered the tale “always challenging and frequently astonishing,” and a Publishers Weekly reviewer praised Tepper’s ability to “[wield] grand science fiction themes with skill, vision and a twist of black humor.”
Although she has also written horror fiction and earned an Edgar nomination for her mystery novel Dead in the Scrub, Tepper remarked in Locus that “I prefer science fiction or speculative fiction because it throws new light on the human condition. One cannot discuss it simply as something one’s mother or sister experienced.” She continued: “If you put it one hundred or 500 years in the future and throw some strange and exotic elements in, it’s like throwing a searchlight on the whole thing so that you can perhaps, one hopes, see it more clearly than you can today, to light it or illustrate it in a way you could not do if you were stuck with the reality of today’s world.”
As B.J. Oliphant, Tepper has written a series of mystery novels (including the well-received Dead in the Scrub) featuring Shirley McClintock, the owner of a guest ranch in Santa Fe. As A.J. Orde, her whodunits star Jason Lynx, a Denver antiques dealer whose penchant for puzzles has led to a sideline as an amateur sleuth. In Death and the Dogwalker: A Jason Lynx Novel, for instance, Jason’s dog sniffs out a dead body in a park, which happens to be an old acquaintance of Jason’s. As he sets out to discover how this dead body came to be lying on a park bench, he uncovers a host of suspects and motives for murder.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 15, 1994, Carl Hays, review of Shadow’s End, p. 582; July, 1996, Carl Hays, review of Gibbons’s Decline and Fall, p. 1812; May 15, 1998, Ray Olson, review of Six Moon Dance, p. 1566; April 1, 1999, Roberta Johnson, review of Singer from the Sea, p. 1389; December 1, 2001, Regina Schroeder, review of The Visitor, p. 636; September 15, 2003, Frieda Murray, review of The Companions, p. 218.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2002, review of The Visitor, p. 24; June 15, 2003, review of The Companions, p. 840; May 15, 2007, review of The Margarets.
Library Journal, December, 1987, Jackie Cassada, review of After Long Silence, p. 130; July, 1998, Jackie Cassada, review of Six Moon Dance, p. 141; April 15, 1999, Jackie Cassada, review of Singer from the Sea, p. 148; October 15, 2000, Jackie Cassada, review of The Fresco, p. 107; July, 2003, Jackie Cassada, review of The Companions, p. 131.
Locus, September, 1989, review of Grass, p. 15.
Ms., October, 1989, Judy Simmons, review of The Gate to Women’s Country, p. 22.
New York Times Book Review, November 13, 1988, Gerald Jonas, review of The Gate to Women’s Country, p. 26; October 1, 1989, Gerald Jonas, review of Grass, p. 40; April 29, 1990, Marilyn Stasio, review of Dead in the Scrub, p. 18; October 21, 1990, Gerald Jonas, review of Raising the Stones, p. 35; April 28, 2002, Gerald Jonas, review of The Visitor, p. 20.
Publishers Weekly, July 29, 1988, Sybil Steinberg, review of The Gate to Women’s Country, pp. 223-224; June 10, 1996, review of Gibbons’ Decline and Fall, p. 90; April 21, 1997, review of The Family Tree, p. 65; June 8, 1998, review of Six Moon Dance, p. 51; March 29, 1999, review of Singer From the Sea, p. 96; October 16, 2000, review of The Fresco, p. 53; February 4, 2002, review of The Visitor, p. 58; May 21, 2007, review of The Margarets, p. 40.
School Library Journal, June 2002, Christine C. Menefee, review of The Visitor, p. 173.
Voice of Youth Advocates, February, 1990, review of Grass, p. 376; February, 1991, review of Raising the Stones, p. 368.
Washington Post Book World, October 2, 1988, review of The Gate to Women’s Country, p. 8; September 24, 1989, review of Grass, p. 8.*