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Grass (Arbai #1)

4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  7,484 Ratings  ·  432 Reviews
The new novel by the author of The Gate to Women's Country is about an indomitable woman sent to the one planet in a plague-ridden galaxy that may have the cure for the deadly illness that threatens all human life.
Hardcover, 426 pages
Published August 27th 1989 by Doubleday (first published 1989)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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mark monday
Oct 22, 2012 mark monday rated it liked it
Shelves: futuristik
'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
Aug 02, 2007 Kay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
aPriL is sometimes feral
‘Grass’ is an absolutely stunning read. Shari S. Tepper is now one of my top adored authors.

I hate to use the overused noun ‘tour-de-force’, but I do not have the imagination to use another word for this novel. It has everything a literary reader and a science fiction fan would require for an absolutely enchanted weekend of reading joy. Intelligent, forceful, fast-paced, enthralling, unique, rational - I am SO happy!

However, I have read reviews which go a bit sideways from my ecstatic positive
Oliver Wilson
Jun 27, 2015 Oliver Wilson rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: given-away
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
Jul 08, 2008 Tracy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 26, 2011 Wealhtheow rated it liked it
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
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
I have the hardest time writing reviews for the books I enjoy the most because it’s difficult to encapsulate the experience of an entire book in a few short paragraphs. This book has a plethora of characters and settings, but the author is a master at making it all distinct and setting up very unique cultures. I'm impressed. Tepper is a new favorite author for me. Strangely, I’ve found myself attracted to grass lately as well. Considering that I usually think of grass as a nuisance, it’s a bit o ...more
Mar 04, 2016 Aerin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's a pretty solid guarantee that if a book is anthropological science fiction, and it was written by a woman, and it was published in the 80's or 90's, I will love it. Don't know why those three factors seem to converge on the sweet spot, but they've rarely steered me wrong.

I would love to find the time to write a real review of this one at some point. Until then, I'll just recommend it to everyone I can. It's hard to find a copy of these days. It's worth the effort.
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
Oct 09, 2007 Julian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
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
May 06, 2010 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 07, 2015 fromcouchtomoon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 07, 2012 Simon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-masterworks, sf
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
Feb 09, 2014 Andreas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction, 2014
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
Oct 10, 2012 Daniel Roy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, br-bookclub
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
Oct 15, 2012 Maggie K rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 15, 2015 Nihal Vrana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Aug 06, 2011 Nick rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fizzle
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
Jan 25, 2011 Alicia rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 01, 2014 Alexa rated it really liked it
Shelves: fab-14
This is a wonderful combination of biting feminist commentary and a gripping plot. One of my return-to favorites!
Jan 19, 2016 Bellagbear rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Love it. Trying to save the world while simultaneously trying to fix your own fucked up life. So human.
Rachel (Kalanadi)
The beginning was probably the best: the setup, the mysteries, the danger, and Grass. So much grass. Grass the planet is amazing.

Marjorie slowly became a layered character that I wanted to read about, but by the end, this was noticeably conveniently plotted (ooo, a letter fell out of his pocket! the nasty hierarch just runs away! wait, is this about a plague or religion or aliens or exobiology or a failed marriage or...) and it was heavy handed on the religious themes.

I've really enjoyed religio
This book is set on a human colony planet called Grass. One of the main characters Marjorie is the wife of an ambassador sent there to investigate the planet. A plague is sweeping the universe, but Grass seems to be the only planet where people are immune. But the settlers there are very isolated and don’t care about this plague, instead they are obsessed with hunting in a sort of symbiotic relationship with the alien creatures native to the planet. The story largely follows Marjorie as she and ...more
Kelly Flanagan
Sep 02, 2013 Kelly Flanagan rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 13, 2016 Estibaliz79 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sheris S. Tepper keeps doing a superb job in writing sci fi books that are not all about space shifts and aliens, but more about the social part of the story, when not the moral one.

In this case, the aliens are depicted as animals mostly, but we'll slowly discover through the reading that not everything is what it seems. And that's an accurate thing to say, because, truth be told, it takes a little while to know what's really happening there... but, at the same time, the mistery and the unknown
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Goodreads Librari...: Please Add Audible Edition of Book 2 15 Jul 31, 2016 08:19PM  
Beyond Reality: Grass: Finished Reading **SPOILERS** 6 21 Apr 24, 2016 01:25AM  
Beyond Reality: Grass: Roll Call & First Impressions **NO SPOILERS** 9 18 Apr 17, 2016 06:09PM  
2016 Reading Chal...: Grass by Sheri Tepper 1 11 Mar 04, 2016 03:13PM  
Science Fiction A...: * Grass--June 2014 Themed Read 30 55 Jul 02, 2014 03:28PM  
Sci-fi and Heroic...: Grass by Sheri Tepper 16 65 Feb 14, 2014 07:27PM  
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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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