SINGER from the SEA

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9780380974801: SINGER from the SEA

Locus magazine has called Sheri S. Tepper "one of SF's most distinctive voices." Few writers in any genre possess her astonishing ability to combine intelligence, imagination, humor, and humanism in equal measure. Her latest novel is yet another remarkable feat of world-building that employs uncommon insight, literary creativity, and truth to say much about our own sphere.

An accomplished student and heiress to a great title, Genevieve has been well brought up to be a Proper Young Lady on the isolated, seemingly backward planet of Haven. She has been carefully instructed in the Covenants - the inflexible laws governing the women of her class - and knows she must soon take up the time-honored responsibilities of adult womanhood: to marry a nobleman of her father's choosing in her mid-twenties and to bear a child at age thirty.

There is another Genevieve, however, who does not wish to be proper - a Genevieve who longs to heed the call of the sea, though she has never even seen the vast waters that cover most of her planet's surface. For she remembers the stories and secret knowledge she learned from her mother, now long-dead. And Genevieve questions in silence what is forbidden her to know: why noblewomen must wait until thirty to have children...why so many like her die in childbirth while commoners thrive into their eighties...and, especially, why she must wed the horrid Prince Delganor, whom she detests, rather than the wonderful - if common - Colonel Aufors, whom she adores.

But the simple customs that rule and confine her life are merely a smokescreen masking a terrible truth, one that Genevieve is fated to uncover. For an unheard voice crying out across the centuries must be answered. And a forgotten destiny - something inborn passed for untold generations from daughter to daughter-must be fulfilled. If not, the entire civilization of Haven is doomed to be swept away on a cosmic sea of oblivion; to vanish without a trace, as if it had never been.

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Review:

Sheri S. Tepper has crafted a far-future fantasy that reads like the best of whodunits: murder, religion, treason, a mysterious ailment called batfly fever, interplanetary spies, true love, and planetary consciousness are the strands that make up this colorful tale. She limns the culture of this new world so skillfully that the reader never has cause to doubt its 1000-year history.

A nontechnology planet, Haven was seeded by one of the Ark ships that carried humanity away from a dying Earth. Purchased by a consortium of wealthy men who chose peace over progress, the planet and its people appear to be thriving--all except young noblewomen. In the millennium since Haven was settled, it has become a sad truth that these women often die in childbirth or shortly thereafter, while commoners flourish and produce bountiful offspring. Noblewomen are raised to live, marry, and give birth as custom demands, adhering to strict religious and cultural tenets, for they "have been taught that women are happiest in gracious submission to the covenants."

Lady Genevieve, motherless from a young age, experiences visions and knows that somehow she is fundamentally different from those around her--but how different she is may surprise even the most experienced Tepper reader. An ancient voice is calling Genevieve to her destiny, although her path continues to be unclear. Together with the gentle Colonel Aufors Leys, she pieces together a horrifying revelation that will change their lives forever--but don't fear: there is good and wonder mixed in here as well.

Singer from the Sea begins with a deceptively simple storyline and evolves into an ecofeminist tale of the struggle to save the women of Haven, and indeed the planet itself, from a uniquely hideous end. --Jhana Bach

About the Author:

Sheri S. Tepper is the author of several resoundingly acclaimed novels, including Gibbon's Decline and Fall, Shadow's End, A Plague of Angels, Sideshow, and Beauty, which was voted Best Fantasy Novel of the Year by the readers of Locus magazine. Ms. Tepper lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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