SIDESHOW Hardcover – Apr 1 1992
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From Publishers Weekly
Loosely related to her earlier books Grass and Raising the Stones, Tepper's newest big novel questions the desirability of further evolution. A sentient fungus has infested most of the galaxy, reworking the life forms it inhabits to enhance their physical and spiritual comfort. The people of the planet Elsewhere, however, see the fungus's contented hosts as slaves; to preserve free will on Elsewhere, the rulers have imposed absolute cultural relativity within which pleasant and unsavory societies coexist, their integrity rigidly maintained by Enforcers. But powers have arisen to challenge the status quo: creatures resembling dragons are reported in unexplored regions, and evil entities in the computer network are manifesting themselves in a deadly way. The planetary provost, Boarmus, sends a crew of three Enforcers with an assortment of misfits to investigate the dragons, while he tries to thwart the net-beings. The pointlessly complicated plot veers off into long digressions that add only pages to the main story, and though Tepper tries to raise the stakes with debates over current issues such as isolationism and sexism, she fails to grapple with the complex implications of these concerns. After her last book, Beauty , this one is a disappointment.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
The world of Tolerance, where each province governs itself without interference from its neighbors, suffers from a sickness at its core, and only a small group of misfits and alien travelers can find the key to the world's survival. This final volume in the triptych that includes Grass ( LJ 9/15/89) and Raising the Stones ( LJ 8/90) begins slowly, as the author painstakingly introduces her characters to the complexity of the plot, but ultimately Tepper's imaginative vision holds forth and delivers one of her most challenging works to date. Libraries interested in acquiring significant sf should consider this rewarding but difficult title.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
Many interesting viewpoints concerning the concept of diversity and religious practices were explored through the characters: How far should we go in respecting another's diversity? At what point should someone step in, if indeed they should step in at all, to put a stop to what others might see as barbaric practices? Are we really free or just products of our individual cultures and upbringing? Are the choices we make really our own? Do our supposedly objective views and moral codes change when events wear a more personal face?
All in all, most of the characters were pretty likable, though Danivon was a little too stiff and seemingly perfect for my liking. His olfactory abilities were rather interesting though. The different cultures visited in the book were also quite, uh, interesting--actually they were a bit frightening. A few events towards the end of the book even managed to surprise me, but just a bit. :-)
I would definitely recommend this book as a good read. It gave me food for thought, made me rethink some of my own ideals. Really, once the characters were introduced, and the action picked up, I couldn't put it down. =RTK=
Ms. Tepper demonstrates herself to be among the most competent world-builders in the genre with the world of Elsewhere. It has more of a fast-paced, cyberpunk environment than most of her other works, but she demonstrates that she is equally at home in this style as with her more low-tech fantasies.
I was glad to have read "Grass" first which provided a bit of helpful background on some of the situations in "Sideshow", though reading it first is not essential. I regret that I have been unable to locate a copy of "Raising the Stones."
"Sideshow" is a provocative and well-constructed work which, like all of Ms. Tepper's fiction, raises the difficult choices societies must make in order to survive.
The book has just the right mix of mystery, a good action-laden plot and loads of interesting philosophical questsions all mixed together into a convincing and enjoyable package.
The plot of the book has already been described by others on this page. I'll just say that I think that the Great Question (what is the ultimate destiny of man?) is something that we DO need to answer.
While the story was well crafted, I didn't like any of the characters and could not make an investment in their stories. The creativity and ingenuity of the plot may however be enough for other readers.
Most recent customer reviews
IT WAS A WONDERFUL STORY UNTIL A HERO, ZASPER, WAS UNNECESSARILY KILLED OFF. The loss was wholehearted and stunning. Read morePublished on Jan. 21 2014 by Christine Brandon
I enjoy science fiction, especially science fiction by women. Sheri Tepper is one of the best sci-fi writers in the world and this is her best book. Read morePublished on Feb. 22 2002 by Jane Moore
I loved this book because of its intricate detail and the way it deals with the problems of humanity. I absolutely could not put it down. Read morePublished on Oct. 24 2001 by Sherry L. Mcdaniel
A friend warned me "I can't figure this book out." Indeed it takes some work to follow the characters and pull out the important parts. Read morePublished on May 17 2000 by TammyJo Eckhart
The Characters are addictive and strong with a contradicting nature I LOVED This bookPublished on July 12 1999