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Gibbon's Decline and Fall

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  1,585 ratings  ·  71 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
40th out of 266 books — 66 voters
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodThe Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer BradleyThe Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le GuinThe Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le GuinThe Gate to Women's Country by Sheri S. Tepper
Best Feminist Science Fiction/Fantasy
73rd out of 333 books — 277 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,179)
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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
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
The first Sherri Tepper book that I read... great story.. great heroines...I loved 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
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.
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.
If you only read 1 book by Sheri Tepper, read this one!
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
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
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
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
Dana Ragnarok
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
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.
Roddy Williams
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
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
Carly Kirk
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
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
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
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
Absolutely wonderful, one of Tepper's best, in my opinion. I felt like it was her answer to "The Handmaid's Tale" and loved every minute of it. A fantastic insight into the strength of women.
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
Josie B.
The climax felt anticlimactic and abrupt. It just didn't have the pacing or the good plotting of The Gate to Women's Country.
I'm rereading Tepper this week - always a good read!
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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...
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.” 3 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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