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The Family Tree
Sheri S. Tepper
Avon EOS Books, 492 pages
The Family Tree
Sheri S. Tepper
Sheri S. Tepper is the author of several acclaimed novels, including Gibbon's Decline and Fall, Shadow's End, A Plague of Angels, Sideshow, and Beauty, which was voted Best Fantasy Novel of the Year by the readers of Locus magazine. She has also published novels using the pseudonyms of E. E. Horlak, B. J. Oliphant and A. J. Orde.

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Past Feature Reviews
A review by S. Kay Elmore

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Strange weeds are popping up in Dora Henry's front yard. The demure police officer ignores it, knowing her husband will pull the green offender from his pristine front garden as soon as he sees it. He is dramatically unsuccessful, and finds himself in the emergency room, poisoned by the plant. The weeds spread, and soon they are sprouting in the strangest places, turning into grand trees seemingly overnight. The odd thing is, Dora thinks the trees are trying to communicate with her, and a few of her friends think she's right.

At the same time, workers at an animal research laboratory find an eminent genetic researcher brutally murdered near the lab grounds. Dora's investigation reveals that he's not the first to die under mysterious circumstances. What connections do the dead scientists have with the mysterious sentient trees? Her work leads her to a shocking discovery of a distant future where the salvation of humanity may lie with her actions in the present.

Somewhere in the dim future, an orphan girl -- a slave in the palace where her father once managed the Sultan's affairs -- embarks on a journey to a famed cliff-side retreat. She is to be a companion for the Prince, but her duties, the expectations of the court, and her final destination are a mystery to her. The journeyers collect an unusual entourage as they travel, all drawn toward the same goal.

Mysterious neighbors, hidden libraries, great enigmas, scientific discoveries and a deranged killer all entwine to forge a story about friendship, trust and sacrifice in the face of environmental madness. This isn't the first time Sheri S. Tepper has taken on the subject of future earth possibilities, so fans will not be disappointed by this novel. Inventive and often surprising, her vision of earth's distant future is both frightening and funny. Her take on the language of the future is creative, but sometimes borders on the ridiculous.

The Family Tree is a fairy tale that should be endorsed by the Sierra Club. There is something satisfying in reading a story where nature finally gets a crack at giving humans their due. A strong sociological and ecological theme runs throughout the tale: Don't take more than you can use, be kind to each other, and make amends when you have done wrong.

Copyright © 1998 S. Kay Elmore

S. Kay Elmore is a graphic artist, writer and corporate wage slave. She edits The Orphic Chronicle, an online magazine, and tries to make ends meet by writing and developing corporate newsletters and web sites.


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