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Courtship Rite

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  411 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
A vast alien landscape, a human culture based on our own, yet evolved in strange ways by the forces of an inimical nature provide a panoramic backdrop for the romantic adventures of a large cast of memorable & attractive characters.
Courtship Rite is a sf novel by American writer Donald Kingsbury, originally serialized in Analog magazine in 1982. The book is set in the
Paperback, 409 pages
Published September 1st 1983 by Timescape / Pocket (first published 1982)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 933)
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Dec 31, 2010 Brian rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
A heartwarming tale of cannibalism and group marriage.

Courtship Rite is set in a lost colony stranded on a desert planet without much life above insects and somewhat regressed technologically, with the exception of biology and bio-engineering, which is above present-day levels. The cultures that have developed are rather pragmatic about survival (creches where children must prove themselves by a certain age or become food), though not entirely without morality (after all, our protagonist's cultu
So on the one hand: the writing is turgid, the pacing is bizarre, and the political lecturing interminable. Also there is cannibalism (did I mention the cannibalism?) on almost every page. Spousal abuse and child rape both make appearances and are treated as the unexceptional actions of reasonable people.

And on the other hand: I loved this book.

Partly it's the culture. (Or cultures. Geta is not a monoculture, and its clans' beliefs frequently clash.) Courtship Rite is more "here, let me show you
Courtship Rite takes place on a human colony world, Geta, that has forgotten it is a colony. Their legends tell them "God" brought them across the stars to protect them from "war", and "God" still watches over them from the sky. We learn later that their word for "God" was the original colonists word for "ship", and the colony ship does indeed still orbit above them.

The only source of protein the colonists have are bees and human flesh, so cannibalism is common and accepted. They also practice g
Jan 25, 2009 Terence rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
I just can't get into this book. Perhaps it's that the writing is "harsh" and "clunky," at least to my mental ear. There are points where a character says something and I'm jarred out of the scene, asking "huh?" Perhaps it's the characters, of whom I like or care for none.

It's a shame for two reasons: One, the world (Geta) is potentially fascinating. A harsh world, most of whose flora and fauna is poisonous to human life. A situation that has forced the development of ritual cannibalism, and liv
Mar 19, 2016 Daniorte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
La novela parte de una idea original. La historia de una civilización surgida de una nave seminal proveniente de la tierra. Una civilización hecha para vivir en un mundo en donde la biología del lugar es incompatible con la humana por lo que el canibalismo es la forma de vida aceptada e integrada en la sociedad. Esta idea, junto con los conocimientos que la civilización posee de las naves seminales, va creando una historia muy bien hilada con tramas palaciegas y conflictos éticos que te atrapan ...more
Feb 13, 2008 Dianne rated it it was amazing
This is one of the better alternative societies created for a science fiction book. In this society, the perfect marriage consists of six people, and there is a complicated food imbalance in the native food availible that impacts who and when a family can court another member. Humans are not native on the world, earth plants and animals are hard to maintain, and native food is poisonous, but some hungry people are adapting to eating it. I read this book every few years.
Dec 13, 2008 Sybil rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
A little known classic of the genre that blew me away when I read it 25 years ago. The author does an incredible job of world building in the first part of the novel. The characters are all well-drawn and complex.

Marjorie Turner
Dec 21, 2009 Marjorie Turner rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Wow! This definitely got me thinking about morality and mortality! I'm such a novice sci-fi reader that I think I probably didn't "get" some of the sub-context. But it was a real page turner and I enjoyed it!
May 07, 2015 Kyle rated it really liked it
Easily the best book about the political machinations on a planet filled with polyfidelitous cannibals that you'll ever read. Life on Geta is harsh--the mostly-desert environment means the only animal life around is insectoid, so the only source of labor or meat is other humans. And to make matters worse, all but eight "sacred" plants are poisonous to humans. This gives rise to a very specific set of social institutions where cannibalism is seen as perfectly acceptable in certain situations and ...more
John Park
Jul 14, 2013 John Park rated it really liked it
A recent reread after a couple of decades. I found I'd forgotten all the plot and some of the setting.

Geta is a far-future, mostly desert world precariously colonised by humans, who have no other surviving vertebrates (the Horse is known only as a chesspiece) and so must be their own source of meat protein, through ritual cannibalism. The biosciences are well developed, but physics is also making progress as the story develops. Kingsbury employs the traditional assumption that such a civilisati
May 02, 2016 Kathryn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, favorites
I read this book many years ago and it remains in my memory after 33 years. This story was so amazing and compelling. It opens your mind to different thoughts about cultures and social mores and norms. One thing that I did not see mentioned in other people's reviews was that tattoos and scarring were the norm and having no body modification was considered exotic. I highly recommend this book. It's sci-fi. It's not sexually explicit but there are sexual events. If you can find a copy of this in a ...more
Dec 03, 2008 Margaret rated it it was ok
O.K. I didn't actually finish it. I found it slightly confusing in spots and then it would get really interesting and then it would get confusing again. The character build up was nice and the premise of the book was interesting I just kept finding other things to do and to read and that usually doesn't bode well.
Storyline: 4/5
Characters: 3/5
Writing Style: 3/5
World: 5/5

Granted, 2016 is not even half-way over yet, but this is the best book I've read this year. If I had to give the review in one word: fascinating.

The only information I had about this book when I began was a) the author (whom I did not recognize) b) the publication year and c) its nomination (and lack of award) for the Hugo. I recommend reading this without knowing much more, and I'll give the kind of review that won't spoil it for others.
Pauline Ray
Jun 26, 2012 Pauline Ray rated it it was amazing
Just read it. It's wonderful. Thought-provoking, disturbing, and so very detailed and real.
Mark Schomburg
The heavy tone is worth savoring, especially given the food discussion which is cannibalistic. I found this fantasy world comparable to stuff by various writers ranging from RA Salvatore or Clive Barker to even Asimov. The "psychohistorical" connection here is that society is structured around "Predictors," a major theme which resonates pretty strongly with Asimov's Foundation series, albeit in a very different way. The writing is adult and sometimes explicit which sets it apart from Salvatore t ...more
Aug 24, 2015 Dominick rated it liked it
Fascinating far-future SF set on a harsh planet where humans came at some point in the past (how is not entirely clear, though the "god" they worship is apparently their spaceship, orbiting silently above the planet). They have developed a bizarre culture that glorifies pain and suffering (elaborate scarification is normative, and the "courtship rite" is in fact an elaborate death trial), polygamy (logical enough, perhaps, in a depleted environment where reproduction would be difficult), and can ...more
Mon avis
Parade nuptiale est un roman étrange, issu d’une ligne de Hard-science qu’on peut sans problème faire remonter à Dune, tant par l’hostilité du milieu que par la forme du récit, et d’autres postures d’écriture.
Cependant, il serait réellement réducteur de le positionner comme une simple copie du roman de Herbert, car Parade nuptiale est un récit beaucoup plus riche, plus fort, et plus difficile d’accès que Dune. Ce récit se situe sur une planète autre que la Terre, où des humains lutten
Still trying to decide how I feel about this book. It was hard going at first, the names and relationships were confusing, but I eventually got the hang of it. It us a book of relationships and intrigues. Some of the most interesting elements come from how the characters change and grow, but it feels very unfinished. There is a lot of untold story here. I yearn to know and understand how the culture came to be, how many generations passed to this point, and how many to come to resolve the questi ...more
Erik Graff
Jul 12, 2011 Erik Graff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kingsbury fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
Oh, if I had only read great literature or at least informative non-fiction instead of all the forgetable science fiction novels and collections I've spent so much of my life reading! I knew I'd read a lot of sf, but going over the lists of books completed which have been kept since the end of college has been sobering. With few exceptions, most of the genre isn't worth reading except as escapist literature and I never attended much to quality, simply reading almost anything to hand except when ...more
Gaines Post
Very imaginative. Ignore the comparisons to a certain book that starts with the letter "D"; it is nothing like it. Kingsbury has masterfully created a unique world and put a great deal of thought into it. I'd like to read more set this universe.

I was a little disappointed with the ending, but mainly because some at one point while I was reading I thought something was going to happen with regard to [censored -- sorry, no spoilers here hehehe], and it never did, so subconsciously I must have bee
Oct 02, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it
I liked the idea of Geta, a harsh world with an excellent culling system, and cannibalism.
Eric Post
Sep 25, 2013 Eric Post rated it it was amazing
Difficult to explain. Generations after a starship dumped its crew on a very dangerous planet they have evolve a religion about the orbiting craft and the rituals that allow them to survive on a planet where everything is toxic to humans. It is also a love story of a marriage of five people seeking another mate. It is also the story of a technical tipping point in the civilization. Complicated. Delightful.
Janine Southard
I wanted to like this book. I forget who rec'ed it to me, but it had lots of gene splicing and interesting group marriages.

Sadly, the characters all drove me crazy, the women seemed rather pointless (even the Jesus-figure), and everything was written in the overblown medieval fantasy style that turns me off of medieval fantasies. :(

This book is awesome for someone else. But not for me.
Jan 04, 2014 Juan rated it liked it
El relato no plantea un hilo conductor que lleve la trama a ningun lugar, ni plantea ideas que ameriten seguir la lectura
Jun 03, 2014 Phillip rated it it was amazing
This book does what books in its genre ought to do. It presents a fully developed world and alternative culture, much as Herbert did with Dune. The world presented is not so different from Earth. But the culture is out there, fully developed and consistent.
Dedaimia Whitney
Sep 11, 2007 Dedaimia Whitney rated it it was ok
Shelves: science-fiction
Interesting ideas, but very much overwritten. Story about a planet colonized by escapees from a devasted, war-ridden earth. Interesting commentary on "priest" classes and human nature, but too much detail not required for the plot or characterization.
Apr 09, 2016 3sm3 rated it it was amazing
So creatively strange and interesting... will look for more by the same author.
Kate rated it really liked it
Jun 16, 2016
Peter Tillman
Peter Tillman rated it liked it
Jun 15, 2016
Brad Sheffield
Brad Sheffield rated it it was amazing
Jun 14, 2016
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