The Gate to Women's Country Essay - Critical Essays

Sheri S. Tepper


A native Coloradan who began writing following her retirement from another career in 1986, Sheri S. Tepper has produced an impressive body of high-quality science-fiction and fantasy novels. Like The Gate to Women’s Country, After Long Silence (1987), Grass (1989)—a Hugo nominee and a Notable Book named by The New York Times—and Raising the Stones (1990), the novels have won critical praise for their taut plotting and imaginative creations both of otherworldly locales and of plausible characters. Equally important, her novels have been commended for their deft, judicious explorations of relationships between the sexes, for observations on miscommunication between the sexes, and for drawing recognizable distinctions between widely prevalent male and female values.

In The Gate to Women’s Country, for example, the male warrior values of Stephon, Michael, and Chernon contrast sharply with the feminine values of Morgot and Stavia—indeed, with the values of nearly all of Marthatown’s women. By her careful characterizations, Tepper makes sensible allowance for the vitally important exceptions. For example, Morgot’s male servitors, Jik and Joshua, like most of Marthatown’s handful of males, are comforting figures, warmly paternal, nonviolent, secure, and wise, though when necessary they are lethal defenders and, like the women, better fighters than men of the garrison. Similarly, Septimius the...

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