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Gibbon's Decline and Fall

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  1,462 ratings  ·  66 reviews
A wave of fundamentalism is sweeping across the globe as the millennium approaches, and a power-hungry presidential candidate sees his ticket to success in making an example out of a teenage girl who abandoned her infant in a Dumpster. Taking the girl's case is Carolyn Crespin, a former attorney, who left her job for a quiet family life. Now she must call upon five friends...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published June 2nd 1997 by Spectra (first published January 1st 1996)
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First Among Sequels by Jasper FfordeThe Eyre Affair by Jasper FfordeEats, Shoots & Leaves by Lynne TrussBratfest at Tiffany's by Lisi HarrisonMidnight In The Garden Of Evel Knievel by Giles Smith
Titlemania I: Puns in Titles
39th out of 258 books — 64 voters
The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le GuinGrass by Sheri S. TepperParable of the Sower by Octavia E. ButlerThe Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat by Harry HarrisonThe Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
Most Under-rated Science Fiction
295th out of 1,028 books — 1,046 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,961)
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Ben Babcock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Possibly it deserves more stars, because it stuck with me for years between reads, but the flaws (IANAL, but I don't think trials work like that; some extrapolations of the year 2000 would have been far-fetched even in 1995; the bad guys seemed a little cartoony - I think most misogynists of that kind think they're not woman-haters but decent guys who make a realistic valuation of women; more seriously, she's not very good at intersectionality) jumped out at me more this time round. On the other...more
My husband calls this my 'feminist rage' book. And it is, at least a little. But it's also about what it means to be a woman in this modern world, and all the myriad ways women (and people) are.
The first Sherri Tepper book that I read... great story.. great heroines...I loved it.
If you only read 1 book by Sheri Tepper, read this one!
Suzie Quint
Several books came to mind as I read this. If I were pitching this as high concept it would be The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants meets American Gods meets Ayn Rand.

The story starts when 7 young women meet in college and become lifelong friends. This is a tough opening for me. I don't do well when an author throws too many new characters at me too quickly. It always takes me forever to get them sorted out in my head. Given the way the story is structured, I'm not sure how else it could have b...more
Sanya Weathers
The depressing thing about this terrific story with its eerily accurate depiction of just how much fundamentalist Catholics, Protestants, and Muslims have in common when it comes to women... is not the accuracy.

No, the depressing thing is how many people won't read amazing speculative fiction because Ms. Tepper is a "woman's writer." The people who most need to read stories that perfectly capture the struggle of trying to flourish as a woman in a culture that hates women are never, ever going to...more
I tried. I did. This book has been on my to-read shelf since I was in high school (I went through a major Sheri Tepper phase for a while), and I was really looking forward to revisiting an author I'd really enjoyed in the past.

Unfortunately, I cannot get into this book to save my life. Several months' hard slogging brought me about halfway through, and I still can't bring myself to care much about the characters one way or another. It's militantly, didactically "feminist" in the way that kind o...more
This is a smart, near-future sci-fi (at least, it was near-future at the time; now it's ten years behind us) that really brought something home to me.

A smart woman can write a book for other smart women about the sacred feminine, and a small number of readers will enjoy it.

A man can write a thriller for a wider demographic about the sacred feminine, and it will become so pervasive, so widely read, that for some people it will be the only novel they have read in their adult lives.

Gibbon's Decline...more
A mysterious young woman draws together disparate fellow students to form a band of women that remains close for decades. But insidious forces of misogyny threaten each of them. Now older, less reckless, and without the guidance of their oddly wise friend, can they nevertheless draw together and create a more egalitarian future?

The villains and their plot are cartoonishly evil, but the heroes of the story are well-drawn and interesting. Whole plot threads are abruptly dropped. The dialog is natu...more
Karen Klink
The first book I read by Sheri Tepper was "Grass," and I loved it. I liked several after that, too.

Her latest books, in particular this one, have been too preachy for me. I am into women's rights, but I don't want them shoved down my throat in a story. I don't care for characters that are all black or all white. I don't like predictable plotting. "Gibbon's Decline" is all that. Her soapbox has become more than the story, rather than part of it.
Michael Battaglia
There's something to be said for reaching for a hammer when perhaps a more delicate instrument might do the job nicely.

I never read anything by Sheri Tepper before and as a woman writing SF I didn't want to automatically paint her with the "feminist" brush and assume that because she's a woman everything she writes is cloaked in metaphors about the dichotomy between men and women, just set on other planets or in the far future. Fortunately for me, she didn't bother with the metaphors and went st...more
Jason Fischer
3.5 out of 5.

An interesting idea, but the wheels fall off close to the end. Caricature EEEVIL misogynist club just came off as ridiculous rather than a plausible antagonist. I loved how Tepper explored similar themes in the Gate to Women's Country but Gibbon's Decline and Fall works more as an allegory than a novel. Lastly, the SFnal elements of this book Just Don't Work. Hand wavium doth not a SF book make.
I only read about 2/5ths of the way through. Tepper deals with some complicated and serious issues about relationships, including abusive ones, here. Important to do, but I grew exhausted and felt beaten down, and put it aside.
Feb 21, 2011 Audrey added it
Another book by my favorite author about life in the year 2000- fundamentalism run rampant,women threatened,abused killed by power hungry men like prosecutor Jake Jagger. A dead baby is found in a dumpster and he intends to see the mother,fifteen year old Lolly Ashaler, punished for it.
Retired lawyer,Caroline Crespin,one of a group of women who met at college is her defender.Caroline and her friends have made a pact not to decline and fall and meet each year to support each other and share. One...more
Even with a past as an English major and as someone who enjoys long yarns about literature, its themes and symbolism... a book can have too much. This one did. The characters here, other than the lead, were only memorable as caricatures. This included the villains.

Still, Tepper's work always sticks with me and never bores, despite laying it on a little TOO thick in this particular novel. Her commentary on American society, feminism, and male-female relationships is eerie in its ability to strike...more
Delicious Strawberry
Like all of s. Tepper's other works, this shows a lot of insight into issues such as women's rights, reproductive rights, sexism, religion, and the like. Ms. Tepper shows a true talent for exploring these issues and for making convincing characters. I've enjoyed her books for a while now.

But like many of her books, this one is flawed with a deus ex machina that rapidly assembles the ending with strange twists that don't fit the rest of the story. This happened in 'Family Tree', 'The Visitor', an...more
Apr 06, 2013 Lola rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Nobody
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Passive Apathetic
"For instance, in your religion your priests say woman brought sin into the world when she bit into the apple, but my people would say man brought sin into the world when God ask who did it and Adam blamed Eve. Which is the greater sin? Intellectual curiosity? Or betrayal? Scientific experimentation? Or disloyalty?" (loc. 2453)

"No God can be bigger than the gate that lets people into the presence. If the only way to that God is through a narrow little gate with picky little gatekeepers, then tha...more
Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides
This is something I originally read about ten years ago, maybe a little less. Coming across Amy Efaw's After reminded me of it, and I thought I'd give it a re-read. My thought now is that the social/philosophical questions are more interesting than the story, but that the story and the questioning somewhat interfere with eachother. Also, the ambiguity of the ending kind of bugs me, in that I can't figure out what actually happened.

Latest re-read reaction is here.
Gillie Lewis
Great book eventually. Interesting idea of Vatican and Islam ganging up together against women. What about the epidemic,that was not resolved. Loved all the women obviously chosen for the different facets of women. The whole lizard thing was like that Tv programme where they were baddies disguise as humans. Strange that the lizards disguise was a veil, which felt like a burka. Loved the yellow us and Joseph . Some of the SF ideas have either been stolen or developed by others. Hal was the perfec...more
Lisa Murray
alternative reality in present with men and machismo overtaking entire civilized world
Sep 15, 2008 rr added it
I read this book recently because I'm interested in how women writers of speculative fiction use Classics in their work. And Tepper does some interesting things with Classics here--from her various invocations of Gibbon's Decline and Fall throughout the novel to her refashioning of the Pygmalion myth. (The latter may be especially interesting since in Tepper's version the Pygmalion figure is female, which seems rare in renditions of this myth.) But there's a preachy, didactic tone throughout tha...more
I'm rereading Tepper this week - always a good read!
In our society, it would be very easy for a woman to feel there's some kind of conspiracy against women, aimed at oppressing and repressing. This book is reassuring (?) in that it makes the conspiracy real.

Strongly feminist (but *not* anti-male), fast paced, and beautifully written, I found myself racing through this book to find out what happens next. There were a few parts where Ms. Tepper seemed to want to pontificate through her characters, but also plenty of places where she makes her point...more
Flawed, so flawed, but captivating all the way to the end; though I was irritated by the TOKEN stamp embossed on the foreheads of some of the characters, the ambiguity of the end (when clearly, logically, according to the dictates of the story, there is ONE. RIGHT. CHOICE. and only one!), the clumsiness of the speculative/sf elements, and the breeziness with which, despite having been built up throughout the book, the bad guy is dispatched, I still really liked it and blew through it in a few ho...more
I love this book for the clever title that ties so well into the story, the things it taught me and the pure entertainment value. I don't necessarily agree with the points it makes or the overly preachy delivery, which has been a feature in many of Tepper's books that I've read. I still admire her as a writer and respect her opinions and the way her work challenges my opinions. Intelligent science fiction that isn't also obscenely cynical is a gem, as far as I'm concerned.
Amazing and depressing. A somewhat alternate time-line of our modern world, where "good" religious and family groups are essentially forcing women back into burqas, baby-making machines, put up with men's abuse because it's their right, and not being allowed to work. It's eerily similar to what's going on now, though we aren't yet at the extreme as in the book.

A bit slow and long, but overall, another amazing book by her.
Brilliant fantasy novel from this author: very feminist, very anti-religion. Fans of Tepper will know what to expect. Set in the very near future, it proposes a world-wide conspiracy of fundamentalists to put women in their place -- back in the kitchen, having babies -- while a small group of women, friends since college, try to figure out what's going on and how to prevent it. Good fantasy, good writing. Recommended.
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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
More about Sheri S. Tepper...
The Gate to Women's Country Grass (Arbai, #1) Beauty The Family Tree Raising the Stones

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“It's not what your reproductive organs do that counts, it's what your mind intends before that moment.” 2 likes
“With us the inner nature accords with the outer expectation. The body follows the mind, and the mind seeks the soul, which it strives toward but has not yet won. With you it is otherwise. The mind follows the body in pursuit of the soul you have been told you already have. Because you cannot find it, you assume you have lost it somewhere in your past, and this keeps you from achieving it in your future.” 1 likes
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