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Gibbon's Decline and Fall

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  1,753 Ratings  ·  84 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 August 1st 1996)
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Sanya Weathers
Jan 06, 2011 Sanya Weathers rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Ben Babcock
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 19, 2010 Chris rated it liked it
Shelves: sffantasy
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
Oct 25, 2011 Thoraiya rated it really liked it
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
Jul 26, 2008 Giovonnae rated it really liked it
The first Sherri Tepper book that I read... great story.. great heroines...I loved it.
Aug 21, 2008 Tracey rated it it was amazing
If you only read 1 book by Sheri Tepper, read this one!
Karen Klink
Dec 18, 2011 Karen Klink rated it it was ok
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.
Apr 07, 2008 Kathleen rated it it was amazing
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.
Michael Battaglia
Jun 18, 2014 Michael Battaglia rated it it was amazing
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
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
Roddy Williams
Nov 21, 2014 Roddy Williams rated it liked it
More of a gender morality tale than an SF novel, arguably Tepper’s most feminist novel starts realistically enough in 1959 where a group of girls swear an oath to always be friends and to reunite regularly.
Years later, odd waves of behaviour are sweeping the world. Sexist and patriarchal views are in the ascendancy. One of the friends, a beautiful enigmatic mystery, is now dead but seems to be mysteriously appearing to them.
In America, a male-dominated organisation called The Alliance seeks to r
Suzie Quint
Mar 19, 2012 Suzie Quint rated it really liked it
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
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
Nov 27, 2016 Mel rated it it was amazing
Sheri S. Tepper was one of my favourite authors as a teenager. She wrote about gender issues in a way other authors didn't. She made me aware of so many things and reinforced so many ideas for me about feminism and gender equality and challenging gender assumptions. As an adult I read much less fantasy and science fiction but when I heard she died I went back and decided to read some of her works again.

This one is particularly appropriate for today. While written in the mid 90s and set a few yea
Jason Fischer
May 26, 2013 Jason Fischer rated it liked it
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.
Albert Myburgh
Nov 02, 2016 Albert Myburgh rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-books
Sheri Tepper's writing style is a wondrous enigma. She can write about pertinent and disturbing issues regarding humankind and still make the story as adventurous and engrossing as any other good science fiction book out there. And maybe that is the point of good sci-fi anyway.
Although the themes are much more overt and less subtle than in most of her other novels I didn't find it 'preachy' at all and neither did I see it as a raging feminist at work. Don't be fooled. This is not a 'all-men-are
Richard Derus
Oct 24, 2016 Richard Derus rated it liked it
Rating: 3* of five

Saddened to learn of Ms. Tepper's death at 87. What a career! Public service as director of Planned Parenthood out West, owner and manager of a guest ranch, and a solid authorial corpus. Damned fine legacy to leave.

This was a fun read for me. Tepper's prose is facile and gracile. I won't say the book changed my life, but it made me smile and gave me some hours of pleasure.

Dec 31, 2016 Jeanine rated it it was amazing
Incredibly frightening in light of all that is happening in today's world.
Dec 18, 2015 Heather rated it really liked it

In 1959 a group of college freshmen bonded over making a very beautiful girl look ugly in order to help her avoid male attention. Part of her disguise was carrying Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. The women call themselves the Decline and Fall Club.

Now it is the year 2000. The group still gathers annually.

Bettiann- A former beauty queen who became anorexic. She married a rich man and spends her time on charities.

Ophy - She became a doctor in an inner city ER.

Jessamine - She is a P
Dana Ragnarok
Mar 04, 2015 Dana Ragnarok rated it liked it
First note: WHOA ABLISM. Second note: this made me hella uncomfortable in a race perspective - not sure if it's actually racist, but be aware. Third note: if you have difficulty reading about children and babies dying in awful ways, this is not a good book for you.

What I liked about this that I didn't about, say, Native Tongue (to use another example of feminist literature I read and enjoyed) was that they manage to show evil misogynists, actual decent men, AND general assholes who abused the pr
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
Mar 26, 2013 Marie rated it liked it
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
M 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
Apr 06, 2013 Lola rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Nobody
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 08, 2008 Liz rated it did not like it
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
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
Sep 23, 2013 Gillie Lewis rated it really liked it
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
Carly Kirk
Jul 05, 2015 Carly Kirk rated it it was amazing
Very interesting book that I very much enjoyed... Different-ish take on good vs evil concerning all the evil done to women by some men. Which is a very simplistic take on the story because it's so much more than that and so well told. It's funny/weird, but I love an author that can write a character that I despise (or that aggravates me) but still keep me reading. And even better this character finally saw the light, hooray! It also helps that there were other characters that weren't as annoying ...more
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Sheri Stewart Tepper was a prolific American author of science fiction, horror and mystery novels; she was 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 G
More about Sheri S. Tepper...

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“It's not what your reproductive organs do that counts, it's what your mind intends before that moment.” 4 likes
“Perhaps it is meant to be hard. Perhaps there are some things so previous that one can only be tested when one is asked to give them up.” 2 likes
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