Goodbye Sheri Tepper –

I’m not surprised when someone who is 80 dies. But it’s the end of a universe of memories and experiences. Tepper was a big influence on me, and I’m adding “The Gate To Women’s Country” to my recommended reading list. (News on Locus Magazine)

gate-to-womenHer book “Grass” has been billed as “science fiction horror” and is probably a better book than “The Gate To Women’s Country” – when I read it, I was in the middle of training my own great big percheron/suffolk poopoo head (a technical name for a certain type of horse) I immediately recommended it to some of the dressage club that used to hang out at the barn where P-nut lived at that time. The responses were … mixed. But most of the dressageites stopped talking to me after that.* Tepper’s turning equines into creatures of horror mirrored my horror at the time. She asks “who is really riding whom?” and the answer is unsettling. When I read Charles Stross’ “Equoid” I had flashbacks to “Grass.”

“The Gate To Women’s Country” came into my mind at a time when I was watching a lot of David Attenborough biology shows – I realized that one side of humanity, at least, is now able to decisively and permanently win the battle of the sexes – like termites and wasps have done. Tepper was directly involved in humanity’s battle of the sexes, working as Director of Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood; I must surmise that her involvement there (1962-1986) had some impact on “The Gate To Women’s Country” (1988)

When I wrote my piece on “Testicles in Space” I have to admit “The Gate …” was kicking me in the subconscious the whole time. Men aren’t needed. Ant queens (Wasps) and termite queens figured that out long long ago.


(*I used to lie out in the field with P-nut, using his chest as a sort of couch, reading together. We dug it. He learned not to try to groom me, and picked up an adorable trick of pointing his nose at horse-flies he wanted the primate to kill with its clever paws. We used to jog down to the river together with gatorade and soap and have summer sudsdays. And the dressageites would always ask me if I’d taken a fall when we came walking back to the barn covered in mud with big grins on our faces. That was how I discovered that going on walks with horses can be way more fun than riding them. Safer, too.)


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    Tepper was a fine rare talent: Six Moon Dance and Gibbon’s Decline and Fall both rank among my favorite sf books of wild imagination and meticulous follow-through.

    Pls note also that she built PP of the Rocky Mountains into the largest of the mostly-independent Planned Parenthood affiliates, with clinics across Colorado, most or all of the bordering states, and at least one out in West Virginia.

  2. says

    Pierce R. Butler@#1:
    I had forgotten about “Gibbon’s Decline and Fall” Now I have to go re-read that.

    I hadn’t known a thing about her involvement in PP until reading a bit about her on the death-notice. Lately, I’ve noticed I am no longer interested in knowing about the personal lives and thoughts of many of my favorite authors. That’s been disappointing all too often. Of course you lose the good with the bad, that way.

  3. felicis says

    An excellent book – though I prefer ‘Beauty’. Well – really, I like all of her books that I have read.

    It is sad that she has died.

  4. stellatree says

    I’m sad to hear she’s gone. I often recommend “Grass” and “The Gate To Women’s Country”. Her “Marianne” trilogy was a favorite in my tween years, I wish it was still in print.