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3.73  ·  Rating details ·  253 ratings  ·  67 reviews
Kalp is a widower, burdened with an unimaginable grief, who escaped his dying world with nothing but his own life and a half-finished toy for a child that will now never be born.

Gwen is a language expert covertly recruited for a United Nations plan to integrate a ship-full of alien refugees into life on earth. She becomes Kalp's teammate and lifeline.

Basil is the engineer
Paperback, 286 pages
Published April 9th 2011 by Dragon Moon Press
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Average rating 3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  253 ratings  ·  67 reviews

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Andy Taylor
Jul 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Author J.M. Frey successfully creates a complex world in Triptych, where a lot of larger events unfold around her characters, yet always makes the story feel personal and intimate. Gwen, Basil and Kalp get caught up in a plot of intrigue as various memebers of the institute are targeted and a wedge is slowly driven between the more tolerant humans and their alien guests. Frey pulls no punches in her depiction of the humanity of Gwen and Basil as they come to accept Kalp, including some very grap ...more
I. Merey
Feb 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was quite torn about what rating to give this book. I tentatively settle on four stars, because the parts I liked, I really really loved.

I won't give a synopsis--many others have done that already. I will reiterate that the character of Kalp made this book for me--the parts written from his perspective (3rd person, but over his shoulder) were, in my opinion, the best parts of the book, in terms of pacing, interest and writing. The voice was so strong and clear and for those parts, I would giv
Alanna King
Oct 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Triptych's exploration of heteronormativity touched me in places that I didn't even know existed. The characters and their relationships make the sci fi problems Frey creates, very real and very relevant to the human reader. It is a very brave first novel, and I found it surprisingly accessible for something that I consider outside of my genre. I will definitely pick up J.M. Frey's next novel. ...more
Leah Petersen
Mar 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure what I expected when I came to this book, but it surprised me at every turn, which is amazing for a book that starts with the end first.

From the luscious prose of literary fiction in what could easily have been stock sci-fi, the skillful use of cliches and pop-culture references for a geek-dream-come-true, the heart-wrenchingly true characters and complex relationships, to the use of time travel to NOT pull all the cinema-stunts you expect when you hear "time-travel," the book was
Karen Dales
Apr 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
What a wonderful debut novel by J.M. Frey. For a science fiction novel it really deals with new issues that I haven't found often in the genre. They way J.M. weaves her story is sometimes confusing but it all makes wonderful sense in the end. ...more
Jan 24, 2012 rated it did not like it
I could go on and on about the excruciatingly over-wrought grief scenes or the completely unfunny and beating a dead Delorian references to Back to the Future or the truly appalling way that the final section first narrates actions and then has the characters explain those actions (For god's sake, we can infer) or the mind-numbing repetition of "innit" or the mechanical prose...but I won't.

This book has indeed been heralded by a few sites--Publisher's Weekly among them, as noted by another revie
Deborah Ross
Feb 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
I would never have discovered Triptych, by J.M. Frey, had I not first met the editor, Gabrielle Harbowy. We were talking about stories that challenge conventional notions not only of sexuality but of family, and she mentioned this debut novel by Canadian J.M. Frey. The cover reveals nothing of the story within -- part queer love story, part alien first encounter story, part time travel adventure, part mystery, part exploration of polyamory, all laced with skillfully woven dramatic tension and a ...more
Mar 16, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: bisexual
I love science fiction books best when they do something a little outside the norm . . . when they push boundaries . . . and when they make you stop and think. While I do enjoy some mindless carnage on the big screen, it simply doesn’t work for me on the page. Mind you, what I like on the page doesn’t necessarily translate well to the screen, but I have a pretty solid production crew inside my head.

Anyway, Triptych is a book that I’m delighted to say falls comfortably outside the norm, pushes se
Kadin Seton
Sep 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderfully written science fiction novel about tolerance, acceptance, bigotry, betrayal and most of all, love. I greatly enjoyed the author’s departure from typical science fiction. At times heartbreaking, this book clearly demonstrates the best and worst of human nature. I was particularly moved by the displaced alien, Kalp, who desperately struggles to find his place in our society. For me, the story came to life during the descriptions of Kalp’s troubles, pain and triumphs.
I highly recommen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
Aliens in science fiction are a tricky business; they're often little more than metaphors for specific aspects of human society, like the Klingons in Star Trek, or they're a faceless menace with no goal other than destruction and domination, like Wells' Martians or Card's insect horde. Rarely are extraterrestrials given a full, rounded culture and a motivation equal to that of the human characters.

With Triptych, JM Frey has created a work that fully acknowledges the culture of science fiction th
Chris Jackson
Apr 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
J.M. Frey got some great reviews for this novel, and after reading it I can see why. She really pulls no punches. This is not a fluffy YA SF story. I won't spoil anything for you, but man, you better be ready for some grit.

She also pulls of a very unique point of view twist that I enjoyed very much. The title says it all. The primary story tellers shift from section to section, giving fresh and different perspectives of some of the same events. This is the kind of thing I like a lot, but that is
Ruthanne Reid
May 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book wasn't at all what I expected. The transition from tentative love and blinders-on joy to grief and eventual catharsis is powerful, and makes its point by simply telling the story, never by preaching.

The humans in this story are so very human in all their potential goodness and fear-fired hate. Kalp is a wonderful character, worth reading the book for all by himself.

Altogether, this is a solidly good debut. Just be sure to have a lot of tissues on hand.
Gabrielle Harbowy
A really poignant, painfully powerful human story that will grab you no matter who you are.
David Brooke
Sep 20, 2011 rated it liked it
With pictures and to see this review in the "dueling review" format go here:

This review fights Leviathan Wakes.

Triptych is an opera, but not a space opera, a soap opera. It’s your typical love triangle between man, woman and alien. Oh wait, that’s never been done, especially like this. From Wikipedia, a triptych is a work of art (usually a panel painting) which is divided into three sections. In the case of Frey’s Triptych the 3 are three beings made one
Phred Jackson
Mar 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
How can a novel that includes time travel and aliens not seem like science fiction?

I liked that each chapter was written from each character’s POV, thot the mourning was dwelled on a bit much and lasted too long.

One point of confusion was that Basil’s flash detector detected flashes that were happening NOW but three weeks from when they returned from the past is when the ship actually left AND why did that person need a ship when Basil and Gwen did not...

Otherwise, highly enjoyable; I look for
Sep 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Not since Ursula LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness have I read such a good exploration of sexuality in a science fiction novel. Gives "marriage" a whole new meaning. Two humans and an alien form a committed triad. Hard to put down!

There's a gap in the middle of the story, though. Weirdly, though it's written by a woman, the female protagonist is the one character I can't sympathize with. It's as though she's sketched but not drawn.

Still, I enjoyed this story, was amused, turned on, heartbroken.
May 31, 2016 rated it liked it
An interesting read. It was an adventure with a mystery to uncover and perhaps moved along too fast - some of the action was not explicit. I found you had to read between the lines sometimes. The love story was sensitive and worked well.
A personal note: Having actually been a young woman in farm country in 1983, I found the 1983 protagonists unrealistically old fashioned but then I thought they were kind of old fashioned once we got to the present, too. However, I can see the story was better fo
Todd McCaffrey
Mar 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Back in April 2011, I wrote:

I finished Triptych in one go last night, couldn't put it down even. It's a very impressive first novel and if Ms. Frey continues to do with science fiction what she's done in this book she might single-handedly be credited with reviving the entire genre. Bravo! Encore, encore!
Tanya Patrice
Oct 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
I had a hard time getting into this book at first - something about the jerky transitions at the beginning - but once Kalp starts telling his story - I was hooked until the end; so I ended up really liking the story.
Aug 24, 2011 rated it liked it
Very, very intriguing and thought-provoking.
Jan 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Love it! Great plot twists, coherent and yet chunked. Couldn't put it down! ...more
Apr 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Caroline Manley
Nov 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Triptych, I think, is a pretty good example of when you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. This is admittedly one of the ugliest cover images I've ever seen, complete with its low-res quality; as an artist, it was cringe-worthy enough that I avoided carrying it to my classes. I felt like I was gonna get "Oh, what's that that you're reading?" looks.

But I digress. This is actually, all things considered, a pretty fantastic book.

Good things first! Frey's grasp of world-building was frankly incre
May 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sff
When the aliens came it was nothing like the way science fiction and popular culture had predicted it. There was no invasion, instead they were refugees. Their own planet had collapsed, killing the majority, only a few escaped. Earth took them in and began to integrate them into human culture.

Of course there were plenty of differences.

And then the rumours of a conspiracy started. And the possibility that the aliens were actually invaders, invaders by stealth.

Gwen and Basil were part of the Insti
Timothy Carter
Jul 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Triptych is one of the best sci-fi novels I've read in a long time. For a debut novel, J.M. Frey really knocks it out of the park! Keep an eye on this author, fans.
Triptych tells the story of an extraterrestrial first contact, and explores the aliens' integration into human society. Naturally humankind is delighted to find a race of others with whom to share the planet... ha ha, okay not really. Still, diplomacy does reign for a while. After that, well... the novel opens to the aftermath of an a
Jan 16, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
This was a fast read. It deals with a lot of drama and pain, so not exactly a light read, but there were some funny parts mixed in with it as well. It's a first novel, which I think shows; the author didn't quite convince me of everything she was going for. I feel like this was Gwen's story from start to finish, but we only got POV sections from other people's perspectives--her mother, her human husband, her alien husband. I don't know if this was on purpose. I'm a big fan of polyamory and three ...more
Carol March
Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
J.M .Frey’s science fiction novel, Triptych, is about time travel, aliens in human culture, one of the many faces of love, and the challenges of accepting new cultural norms. At heart, it is a character-driven and very moving love story of two human scientists, Gwen and Basil, and the alien engineer, Kalp.

Kalp is one of the few survivors of a destroyed planet who manage to make their way to Earth seeking asylum. A near-future earth takes in the shattered survivors and quarantines them in the In
Aug 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
The worst part about Triptych is falling in love with Kalp, just as the humans, Gwen and Basil do, all the while knowing that he dies. No, that’s not a spoiler. His murder occurs right in the first few pages of the book and I was impressed by the way Frey’s clipped and intense descriptions conveyed Gwen and Basil’s emotional turmoil.

Unfortunately, the next chapter was a bit problematic with Basil seeming to suddenly develop a British accent and affectations, too much focus on the inside jokes th
Jun 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
I hurriedly picked this off the library shelf, considering pretty much any new author a possible treat. I must say that I was quite surprised by what I got.

The framing devices of this story include an alien species who arrive fleeing (undeserved, of course) planetary disaster, and time travel. However, even though those are both hoary SF chestnuts, this isn't really a science fiction book: it's a romance novel. The overwhelming majority of the book is a romance between a human couple and one of
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Frey is an award-winning author and lapsed academic. She spent three years as the entertainment contributor on AMI Radio's Live From Studio 5 morning show, and was an occasional talking head in documentaries and on the SPACE Channel's premier chat show InnerSPACE. She holds a BA in Dramatic Literature and an MA in Communications Culture, and has lectured at conferences and conventions all around t ...more

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