Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Going out is bad, staying home is worse - the ouevre of Sheri S.Tepper

Recently I've read quite a few Sheri S. Tepper books. Until then I'd only read Beauty, which is a favourite, and another one about humans taking over the universe and destroying all the plants and animals that exist anywhere. That particular one had some very unsavoury creatures who, after disappearing through the navel of one planet, turned into all the extinct creatures from Earth. There was also something about giant air-borne jellyfish. It's been some time since I read it, so I'm a bit hazy on details.

The books I've read recently vary on the descriptions of the unsavoury creatures, and sometimes the place where things get regenerated is not described as the navel of the planet, but as a pool or door or some other thing. One of them involved frightening sentient chairs, that embodied famine, war and epidemic. I hate it when my chairs kill me and everyone I know through violence, starvation and disease. It's not what I expect from IKEA.

I am making fun of Tepper's work. It does start to get a bit funny waiting for the alien creature who represents the soul of the world to turn up, and to see exactly how that transforming world-navel is going to be described. And I'm not convinced that spreading Earth species across other planets eco-systems is really very environmentally friendly when I consider rabbits, foxes, cane toads and other nasties that people thought might benefit the Australian environment.

But despite the drinking-game regularity with which these things occur, Tepper is having a red-hot go at making people actually care about how they treat the world, and how they treat other people as well. Plus her characters are nearly all feisty women who don't have a clue (glug glug) what to do with their lives, until some kind of non-Earth based cataclysm overcomes them, and suddenly It All Just Becomes Clear. While I'm happy to do without the cataclysm I'd quite like a seasoning of direction in my life.

I am also reading The Growing Summer by Noel Streafeild to the Noodle. I don't much like the lost, stolen or strayed movie-star subplot, but the bit where the children go prawning is hilarious. I was addicted to this and Ballet Shoes as a young feller. I'm wondering if I can manage to read Ballet Shoes to the Noodle before he realises it's a girl's book. I think I might give White Boots a miss, though. It was always a guilty pleasure for me, and I don't think I can share.

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