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Grass (Arbai #1)

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  6,847 ratings  ·  397 reviews
Generations ago, humans fled to the cosmic anomaly known as Grass. But before humanity arrived, another species had already claimed Grass for its own. It too had developed a culture......

Now a deadly plague is spreading across the stars, leaving no planet untouched, save for Grass. But the secret of the planet's immunity hides a truth so shattering it could mean the end o
Paperback, SF Masterworks, 544 pages
Published February 2nd 2002 by Gollancz / Orion (first published 1989)
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Ender's Game by Orson Scott CardDune by Frank Herbert1984 by George OrwellFahrenheit 451 by Ray BradburyBrave New World by Aldous Huxley
Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books
106th out of 5,149 books — 17,558 voters
Grass by Sheri S. TepperParable of the Sower by Octavia E. ButlerThe Anubis Gates by Tim PowersThe Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat by Harry HarrisonBlood Music by Greg Bear
Most Under-rated Science Fiction
1st out of 1,103 books — 1,244 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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mark monday
'tis the season...


once upon a time there was a delightful young story named Grass by Sheri S. Tepper. this story seemed to know exactly what i was longing for: Horror in Space! and so she provided it to me. a fascinating planet full of strange multi-colored grass, bizarre fauna, the ruins of an alien civilization. a backdrop based around a particularly esoteric and semi-totalitarian theocracy. an expertly portrayed and atypical heroine who felt alive and real (and who r
One of my favorite science fiction books in recent years, this intricately plotted book creates a complete world and is utterly absorbing. Tepper reminds me a bit of another favorite woman sci-fi author, C.J. Cherryh, in that she takes a somewhat anthropological approach to the alien societies she creates. I won't go into details of the plot -- it's one of those complex sagas that doesn't summarize too well, but I will mention that I enjoy her style, which is lyrical and lush, much like the plan ...more
Jul 26, 2011 Wealhtheow rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wealhtheow by: Julian
Shelves: sci-fi
When a plague sweeps humanity, a diplomatic mission is sent to Grass, the only human-settled planet without signs of the sickness. Grass is nominally run by the bons, a patriarchal society modeled after old European nobility. But the bons are far more interested in the Hunt than in the running of the planet, or even the certain extinction of humanity. The ambassadors are as ill-suited to saving humanity as the bons are. Lady Marjorie Westriding Yrarier is consumed with guilt, and her husband Rod ...more
3.0 stars. Even thought I liked this book, I was surprised that I didn't like it more. It has a lot of things that I look for in book including, quality prose, well developed characters, an interesting plot and solid world building. At the end of the day, the story just progressed too slowly for me and I found myself anxious for the story to move along. That said, after finishing the book I am impressed by the story that the author created, I just didn;t enjoy it enough to rate it higher. Good, ...more
I read Grass within a couple of years after I read The Gate to Women's Country. It is, once again, a science fiction novel with a great mystery guiding the action.
This book is more highly reviewed than any of Tepper's other books. It is intriguing, and it is one of the books that I like to read of Tepper's because it challenges me. It forces me to ask what I believe about humankind. Are we inherently good and trustworthy, as I've believed in the past? Or, are we inherently least some
Oliver Wilson
I've no idea how this makes lists such as "most underrated sci-fi", or how it's in Gollancz's SF Masterworks range - despite one or two interesting ideas it is, on balance, absolute drivel.

The pacing is terrible. The science is woeful. The characters are tedious and one-dimensional, and their dialogue wholly convincing. However, much worse than that, the entire novel turns out to be some vehicle for the author to explore some uninspired hokum about Catholicism (guilt, original sin, etc.) and hor
This started absolutely brilliantly, but I found the resolution a little ridiculous. It's quite a long book and the resolution started to come at about half-way through, so it added up to quite a lot of ridiculous. I think this is a manifestation of a common problem with this sort of book (intriguing alien world with a strange underlying secret): the build-up to the revelation makes it seem like it will be something utterly revolutionary, but the reality is inevitably disappointing. Also she nev ...more
A family of ambassadors comes to the planet Grass, inhabited by isolated, rural aristrocrat families and one large commoner town, to figure out why it's the only human-inhabited planet where people are dying of plague. Really great human-alien interaction as well as between humans of extremely different cultures. The whole thing takes place in a universe dominated by a religion called Sanctity that is trying to cover up the existence of the plague. On the planet, the aristocrats could care less ...more
A wonderful book, with beautifully realised characters and a totally involving setting. It put me in mind of the SF classic 'Dune', but reduced to a more personal, less epic scale with a cogent human future and accessible characters. The planet of Grass and its societies are finely crafted and its alien inhabitants are some of the most intriguing I've come across. The storyline is interesting from the very beginning and continually develops and accelerates. I very rarely give a book a 5 stars (i ...more
Mike Franklin
I have given Grass 4 stars though I would have given it 4.5 if I could but it just didn't quite make it to my top rating.

It is, however, a very good book; thought provoking, entertaining and believable (mostly).

The first half of the book has an almost claustrophobic feel to it that put me in mind of a Hitchcock movie. The full picture is deliberately hidden from us (somewhat crudely at the beginning of the book), instead the writing is filled with a sense of building threat from a menance that s
This is probably one of the most unusual first contact stories that I have ever read. For a start, the story begins long after the aliens in question have been first contacted, on a planet long settled by humans.

Grass, a planet covered in swathes of multi-hued grasses with exceedingly long solar cycles and inhabited by strange creatures seemingly analogous to Terran horses, hounds, foxen and vampiric bats. Grass, with it's deeply isolationist policy and deeply entrenched class system, whose ruli
A plague threatens humanity's demise. There is the vague hope of finding a cure on the planet Grass, eponymous for a grass-covered planet with alien living forms. The planet's human aristocracy doesn't allow anyone to enter besides of a an ambassadorial family whose target is to find a cure.

Mrs Tepper needs a very long exposition for her world-building and introduction of the main protagonists. The aliens - similar to large mounts and hounds - are a creepy factor and I'm quite glad that it didn'
Neil Powell
An odd read. Like alot of sci-fi, this book is packed full of ideas. Some of these are very thought provoking and insightful, others less so.

I thought the story started strongly, a nice sense of brooding and mystery is generated when the main protagonists arrive on the planet Grass. However, the first of several "reveals" come a little too early, and comes at the expense of a interesting subplot concerning a breakaway religious sect.

The several other twists aren't particularly convincing, logic
Daniel Roy
Some reviewers have called this book "social SF", and I feel this label is a disservice to what SF should aspire to be. Yes, it features very intricate social bonds and relationships, but isn't that what SF should always do? Good SF shows us how a society twists and bends when some fantastical pressures are applied, and the resulting is social. Dune was political, but also social SF.

In Grass, the social intricacies are multi-layered. The first half of the novel concerns itself--brilliantly, I mi
Plague threatens to ravage all of mankind, and only one place is exempt: an isolated planet called Grass, with its strange human culture and stranger native residents who may be nothing that they seem. Grass is reminiscent of Mary Doria Russel's The Sparrow: spiritual/philosophical issues brought to light by human exploration of a truly alien world and society--so alien that humans are initially unable or unwilling to realize the world's true nature, to their own detriment. The Sparrow has more ...more
Maggie K
What a thoughtful, beautiful book!

I was surprised how much I enjoyed this...I thought it would be a little more 'preachy'. Although there was a little of that near the end, it was mostly philosophical.
I did have some issues with the Foxen, and the MCs attraction to them came off a littlebestial to me. But maybe its because they never are described very well.
I also thought that the fact that EVERY eligible male in her vicnity seemed to fall head over heels for the MC. Didnt seem real to me. Kind
Sam Grace
Dec 09, 2008 Sam Grace rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Joaquin Munoz
I have a friend who was literally scared off by another of Tepper's books, and I can see why. This book is dark and, yes, scary, in a very human way. It takes on religion and faith (not necessarily the same thing) as essential questions, and answers them in ways that I ended up likely immensely. Which is not to say that I necessarily agree with the conclusions, but they fit the heroine very well.

This was my first Sherri Tepper novel and it was very very good. I will be picking up more Sherri Tep
Nihal Vrana
Grass is a special book, I wouldn't say it is one of my favourite Sci-fi; but the ecology of the Planet Grass and how some literature themes that are generally avoided in sci-fi like plague (like love triangles) are masterfully imbibed in the story make it a great read. Foxen, Hippae, Hounds... All are creatures that tickled my imagination.

The loose way the book is written (Abrupt POW changes, sudden jumps between writing styles etc.) was a bit disturbing at first; but it is really masterfully
Man, this was a weird one. It was a bit of a ponderous read for me. There was good and bad in Grass, and I think other people might enjoy it more than I did.

I said in my last status update for this book that reading it was "like having a vivid, strange nightmare that didn't quite make sense." I think this captures both the good and the bad of Grass. Sheri Tepper's world building is excellent. Her universe is nuanced, vibrant, original and memorable. Unfortunately, that's really where my praise e
I'm re-reading one of my favorite books by my very favorite author. As the years go by, I find that there is no other author quite like Tepper. I still think about them years after I've finished them. 'Grass' is among her best. It builds layer upon layer like an onion. Or perhaps a rose. That's the point: you can never be certain exactly what the hell Tepper is building. It's almost never what you think. I often wonder how she evolves her intricate plots and addictively accessible worlds. I'm al ...more
Horrific, strange things happening on this far-future planet of humanity where the grass grows in all colors of the rainbow and the decadent feudal lords are driven by the (not-so) traditional hunt. A romantic quadrangle helps to retain interest in characters while the mysteries of this planet are slowly uncovered by outsiders from an equally sinister far-future human society. A very odd and hard-to-categorize SF novel.
Megan Mudge
Grass is heavy on themes of morality and religion. Tepper's introduction of another sentient species to explore these themes was very well done. Strong female characters (predominantly Marjorie) brought an emotional complexity that is sometimes missing from the science fiction genre.

One of my favorite lines from the book..."And though the grass be numberless as stars, there must still be a first shoot set out to make a garden..."
This is the second Sheri S. Tepper book I’ve read. It’s also the second Sheri S. Tepper book I’ve read that prominently involves “aristocrats” of dubious origin who bring ambassadors along on ominous hunts. In Beauty, it’s fairies hunting for “deer” that are actually visually-transfigured humans, and in Grass it’s humans riding (Bad Guy) aliens after (Good Guy) aliens. Also the second Sheri S. Tepper book I’ve read where she debates over ascribing original sin to nonhuman species: there fairies, ...more
Kelly Flanagan
Sep 02, 2013 Kelly Flanagan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
OK, I have a new favorite book and Grass is it! I haven't been on this good of a ride for so long I can't remember. I have to say at least 6 stars out of 5 and it deserves every one of them.

So as the book begins the Galaxy is in trouble. A plague is slowly starting, with people on many planets getting sick and dying. Marjorie Westriding Yrarier and her family are sent to the world Grass as ambassadors, but are really there to see if rumors are true. Rumors that people with the plague landed on G
A fairly intriguing story, more ecological than science fiction, about a planet named Grass, the only in the known galaxy where people were immune from a plague that threatened to wipe out mankind. Ambassadors were sent to work with Grassians, to persuade them to cooperate in learning about Grass, and understand why Grass was immune to the plague. Various cultural and ecological issues arose, the most interesting of which were some of the sentient creatures they discovered, and the relationships ...more
S.C. Jensen
Sheri S. Tepper’s novel Grass is definitely one that all lovers of science fiction and speculative fiction should give a shot. If you’re not into SF, you might also be interested in this book if you like any or all of the following: strong female characters, philosophy, theology, horses.

I know you can just search it on or whatever other source you use to creep new reads, but I’m going to give you a summary anyways. For my benefit. Otherwise I might miss something import
Tepper is new to me. Not only new, but before I read Grass, I had not even heard of Tepper. I had no preconceptions, I had no idea of the plot - completely fresh.

The result completely blew me. Grass sets up a complex society involving a main religion, a controlling empire, and a rogue planet detached from the rest of the Universe, and uninterested in its plight. Some would compare it to Dune, but they tackle the subjects from very different approaches. Dune takes a heavy handed approach to the m
Jessica Strider
Pros: several complex plot lines that all get resolved satisfactorily, interesting characters that develop over the course of the book, detailed world building - for the planet Grass as well as Earth and the rest of the universe (even though the rest of the universe isn't mentioned much)

Cons: can't think of any

Grass is a planet with no reports of plague victims in a universe of worlds dying of the plague.

Lady Marjorie Westriding Yarier and her family are sent by Sanctity, the dominant religion i
As any good sci-fi novel, it ponders a lot on the human nature; it questions religion and philosophy. The Grass has done a great job in this.

Grass is planet which the predominant vegetation is (not surprisingly) grass! Grass is located on the rim of galaxy wide-spread human civilization, which given its unique sociology.

The intro is a bit surprising, it does not give you any orientation. You get confused, or even let down, but once you finished the entire chapter, you are hooked (it's a spoiler,
Ever since reading her wonderful Marianne series, Grass had been on my to-be-read list. However, for some reason, everytime I picked it up I would end up buying something else.
Finally a visitor to my site recommended it to me and I figured now was the time. I'm glad I read it.
I love novels where the secrets of a planet and their inhabitants are slowly revealed and Grass doesn't disappoint. My only problem with the story was that Tepper's descriptions were a tad sparce,
and towards the end of the
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Sci Fi Aficionados: * Grass--June 2014 Themed Read 30 52 Jul 02, 2014 03:28PM  
Sci-fi and Heroic...: Grass 16 64 Feb 14, 2014 07:27PM  
Edwardsville Publ...: This topic has been closed to new comments. Speculative Fiction: Grass 9 14 Dec 04, 2013 05:28PM  
Sci-Fi Fantasy Bo...: Grass 2 23 Oct 28, 2013 02:15PM  
Reddit SF Book Club: 'Grass' by Sheri S. Tepper is the January Selection 1 10 Jan 05, 2012 08:09AM  
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Sheri Stewart Tepper is a prolific American author of science fiction, horror and mystery novels; she is particularly known as a feminist science fiction writer, often with an ecofeminist slant.

Born near Littleton, Colorado, for most of her career (1962-1986) she worked for Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood, where she eventually became Executive Director. She has two children and is married to Gen
More about Sheri S. Tepper...

Other Books in the Series

Arbai (3 books)
  • Raising the Stones (Arbai, #2)
  • Sideshow (Arbai, #3)

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“—Me dijeron que las verdades eternas…

—¿Cómo cuáles —Dios se rió—. ¡Si hubiera alguna verdad eterna Yo lo sabría ¡He creado todo un cosmos basado en el cambio y un ser minúsculo viene aquí para hablarme de verdades eternas

—No quería ofenderte. Es sólo que… Bueno sí no hay verdades eternas ¿cómo podemos saber dónde está la verdad

—No me has ofendido. Nunca creo cosas capaces de ofenderme. En cuanto a la verdad la verdad es lo que está escrito. Todas las cosas de la creación llevan mis intenciones escritas en sí mismas. Las rocas las estrellas los seres minúsculos… Para cada cosa sólo hay un camino natural el camino que Yo he concebido para ella. El problema es que los seres minúsculos escriben libros que contradicen a las rocas y luego dicen que Yo escribí los libros y que las rocas son mentiras. —Se rió. El universo tembló—. Inventan reglas de conducta que ni los ángeles pueden obedecer y dicen que Yo las he ideado. El orgullo de la autoría… —Dejó escapar una risita—. Dicen: «Oh estas palabras son eternas así que deben de haber sido escritas por Dios».”
“preferring actual ignorance to the appearance of it, he did not ask.” 3 likes
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