Sheri S. Tepper, Author . Eos $25.95 (464p) ISBN 978-0-06-053821-7

Fans will hail Hugo nominee Tepper's latest (after 2002's The Visitor), with its compelling story of an ordinary woman flung into extraordinary circumstances, but interesting ideas left undeveloped, awkward transitions from first to third person and unfair withholding of information may annoy others. Earth, incredibly overcrowded, has passed a new law prohibiting nonhuman life on the planet. Jewel Delis, dog keeper and member of an underground animal-rights group, wrangles her way to the planet Moss with several dogs, ostensibly to help her unpleasant half brother Paul, a linguist, figure out the peculiar language of the planet's varied inhabitants. Jewel finds Moss every bit as odd as advertised, with strange and dangerous plants, fantastic dances performed by creatures that may or may not be intelligent, and a group of humans descended from the crew of a spaceship that crash-landed years earlier. But figuring out how the Mossen communicate is only the beginning, as Jewel and her dogs get sucked into a portal, where Moss, Mars, the dogs, a missing alien race and Jewel's ex-husband collide. As usual in this author's novels, overt themes of ecology and feminism combine with thrilling mystery, and just as typically, a deus ex machina—here aliens stepping in to save the day—makes for a less than emotionally satisfying ending. Still, Tepper talks about important issues, besides excelling at world-building and at creating strong and independent characters. (Sept. 2)

Reviewed on: 07/21/2003
Release date: 09/01/2003
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 464 pages - 978-0-06-197632-2
Hardcover - 376 pages - 978-0-575-07566-5
Mass Market Paperbound - 549 pages - 978-0-06-053822-4
Hardcover - 376 pages - 978-0-575-07565-8
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