Family Tree H

Sheri S. Tepper, Author William Morrow & Company $23 (377p) ISBN 978-0-380-97478-8
When police officer Dora Henry talks to the trees, they listen. They also provide her with fruit out of season and guard her bicycle. Why they do these things, she's not sure, but she doesn't have time to worry about it: three geneticists have been murdered and clues are in short supply. She's also going through a painful divorce from her abusive husband, Jared, after two years of sterile, sexless marriage--and Jared has vowed that he won't let her go and has begun stalking her. The trees, meanwhile, are springing up everywhere, ripping up streets, kidnapping unwanted babies and acting like sentient beings. Dora's story represents only half of what's going on in this tale, however. In a parallel narrative set 3000 years in the future, Opalears, a young slave in a quasi-Arabic society, accompanies her master on a quest to seek interpretation of an ancient prophecy. As they travel, they are joined by others on their own quests. Eventually, Opalears and her companions also run into sentient trees. Tepper (Gibbon's Decline and Fall) reprises a number of her standard themes in this novel that's at once earnest and whimsical: the evils of sexism, overpopulation and patriarchal religion; the danger of fouling our environmental nest; animal rights; the need to take drastic action to solve our problems. As always, she's highly didactic, a trait that has damaged her audience in conservative circles, but that also endears her to those who agree with her politics. 30,000 first printing. (May)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1981
Release date: 12/01/1981
Genre: Fiction
Discover what to read next