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(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The planet Elsewhere was established to preserve representatives of the human community in their original, albeit rather nasty, preexpansion state. Thus while the rest of the Universe prospers in terms of equity, equality, and dignity (RAISING THE STONES), the people of Elsewhere are condemned to endure inequity, indignity, and inequality in diverse circumstances.

This diversity is obtained by dividing the planet into provinces with separate social systems whose security from outside interference is ensured via the operations of the Enforcers. The Enforcers are a dedicated and decidedly lethal group who function in the fashion of the legendary Texas Rangers, i.e., one riot, one Ranger. Both the provincial governments and the Enforcers are subordinate to a technocratic board of directors, the Council Supervisory.

Unfortunately, this somewhat perverse “nest of all possible worlds” begins to function at less than optimum efficiency. The provincial government and their gods are going seemingly berserk, threatening to provoke interprovincial population shifts previously forbidden in the interest of preserving diversity. In consequence, the president of the Council Supervisory dispatches a diverse group of individuals to determine the source of the chaos and eliminate it.

Sheri S. Tepper began to redefine science fiction with the publication of the much acclaimed THE GATE TO WOMEN’S COUNTRY and the equally successful BEAUTY. Thus, although one can approach her work in a relatively superficial manner and receive a great deal of pleasure from the experience, her novels are replete with insights of a much more profound nature. SIDESHOW explores in a dramatic and evocative exposition the fundamental question of the degree to which each individual is responsible for the actions of others, as well as the fine line between benign intervention and unwarranted interference. SIDESHOW is not for the unwary, and misogynists should not apply.