Gibbon's Decline and Fall

Sheri S. Tepper, Author Spectra Books $22.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-553-10054-9
Tepper (Shadow's End) ) can be characterized as a quirkily feminist writer whose novels often question whether humanity might be better off with a smaller, more docile male population. This theme, combined with the author's ambivalence about Catholicism, informs this fable of ethics, feminism and transcendence, which employs an intriguing concept involving an alternate branching of the evolutionary tree. Carolyn Crespin comes from a stultifying family that believes women should be seen and not heard. When she escapes to college in the early 1960s, she helps form the Decline and Fall Club, comprised of herself and six other women (including a devout nun, a radical lesbian artist and a brilliant scientist). They band together to protect one of their members, an exotic beauty named Sova, from unwanted male attention. During a 40-year gap in the narrative, conservatism and misogyny increase, a focused evil grows and Sova mysteriously disappears. The tale resumes at the dawning of the Millennium, when terrorist bag ladies are on the rise and sexual desire is on the wane. Now, Carolyn and her friends must defeat an embodiment of violence and ultra-patriarchal masculinity or see women reduced to the level of walking wombs. As always, Tepper creates excellent female characters transported by a swiftly flowing plot. Her proposed solutions for the world's problems, however, may leave male readers wondering why they should settle for being little more than ambulatory sperm banks. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1996
Release date: 07/01/1996
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-0-307-57345-2
Mass Market Paperbound - 480 pages - 978-0-553-57398-5
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