I can’t begin to say how angry I am at the blurbing of this book. It doesn’t even begin to hint at how awesome and wide-ranging and epic it is. Without prior knowledge that Tepper is amazing (which I knew from reading Beauty), I would have had zero reason to expect this to be at all something I would like.
The blurb tells you that humans have arrived at Moss to see if there’s intelligent life – which is true; that Jewel is accompanying her half-brother “to help Paul decipher the strange language of the Mossen” is not true, since she’s no linguist, and that “she has a secret mission too” is only half-true, since it’s not exactly an official thing that she’s doing. “A new law on Earth means the imminent massacre of all beasts great and small” is strictly speaking true, but it suggests that there are still many such creatures on Earth which is simply not what we are shown – almost all non-human creatures have long since been got rid of. And that “the Planet Moss, itself a living entity, is not sure it cares for any of the species currently living on its surface” is I guess kind of true but doesn’t give any indication of the complexity of what’s going on. And I certainly couldn’t write the blurb, but I’m not paid to do so.
So what should it have said? Well, clearly humanity have space travel, but personally I think it would have been good to include the fact that humanity is part of a vast interplanetary network involving dozens of different species, and in fact there’s a hugely important narrative thread that involves several different species manoeuvring around one another for dominance in ways that are depressingly familiar. That puts quite a different spin on the narrative than simply “humans are exploring new planets!!” Continue reading →