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The Gate to Women's Country

The Gate to Women's Country

Book - 1989
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In a futuristic society where the sexes are separated, men are warriors, and women cultivate the arts, Stavia disobeys the group's prohibitions by loving a man forbidden to her, setting the stage for a momentous decision.
Publisher: New York : Bantam, 1989
Edition: Bantam edition
Copyright Date: ©1988
ISBN: 9780553280647
Branch Call Number: SCI-FIC TEPPER 1989
Characteristics: 315 pages ; 18 cm


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emilyhart66 Oct 05, 2020

This novel has the very best twist ending ever. If The Handmaid's Tale has you gnashing your teeth read The Gate To Women's Country. You will feel much better.

FindingJane Feb 11, 2017

Ms. Tepper has created a strange and wholly compelling look into the future, a possible outcome and solution to the threat of nuclear warfare. Most of the protagonists live in a society largely run by women with the outlet and choice of a minor enclave of warriors as an alternative lifestyle for the men. But this is hardly a stagnant end for the human race. The women have an agenda for the survival of their species, one so secret that many of its females are unaware, save for a prescient few, and of which the men are kept completely in the dark.

The story is an electric drama, filled with vibrant characters and thrilling situations that stick with you long after the final page is turned. The narrative darts between past and present and is interwoven with passages cribbed and altered from Euripides’s “The Trojan Women”. The play deals with the aftermath of war and has significant bearing on the novel’s action.

I was so enthralled with it that I read it all in one sitting. For readers who crave plausible, spectacular science fiction set in matriarchies, this is a book to ponder.

Apr 16, 2014

Kept my interest, creative plot

JCLDianeH Jul 24, 2013

Long after the world has gone through a cataclysmic devastation, society has solidified into two interdependent groups – the women and children inside the cities and the warrior men outside the walls of the cities. Much knowledge and technology was lost during the calamity. What’s left is carefully preserved, handed down, and added to. There is a very strong divide between the men’s and women’s attitudes, beliefs and actions. Could such a system last? What would it lead to? It’s not beyond probability for the world to suffer through a shattering disaster, either human or naturally made. Is it possible for the future described in this book to become reality?

Jul 21, 2013

Sheri S. Tepper's The Gate to Women's Country is one of 21 works added to the SF Masterworks list this year. Of all the works on the list, this may be the one with the strongest and most well written female character, but I found the story itself irritating. This novel is set in the future, after a great war has created areas of "devastation" and most of the population is wiped out. The population (of this area at least) is divided, with women living in the city and the men live in a garrison outside the walls to protect them. At first glance, a feminist fantasy. Except the women have some men living with them, and these men are actually superior specimens, and... well, the fantasy just breaks down. The society portrayed is matriarchal. The protagonist Stavia is a strong female character, intelligent and sensitive. Over the course of the novel she learns and grows through adversity. Her mother is on the ruling council and possesses a lot of secret knowledge about her society, revealed towards the end of the book. Each few chapters had a wrapping metaphor of a play that the older Stavia was studying, then rehearsing, and finally presenting. Towards the end of the novel, this all made sense, but in the middle I found it an interruption. Both the play and the story of young Stavia moved very slowly at the beginning of the book, establishing the character and the scene more completely than necessary. The novel picks up towards the middle as Stavia returns from medical training in a nearby town. She is then tasked with taking a trip to the south, which does more to reinforce just how bad things used to be (and by comparison, how much better things are in Women's Country). There she finds the inbred Holylanders who treat women as chattel (or cattle) and are generally bad – shades of Mormon Fundamentalism. The later portions of the play (the story within the story) also demonstrate a Greek society where women are treated badly, as observed by ghosts who can no longer be abused. Neither of these counter examples are particularly subtle. Many of Sheri S. Tepper's science fiction works fit into the category of ecofeminism – the idea that men are responsible for oppressing both women and the environment. Without spoiling some of the novel's secrets, I found the morals of the women particularly gray, and not just because of my gender. I also disagree with the assertion that violence is a male trait, one that can be bred out. The same is said of Homosexuality here, netting this book the undesirable description of "Chillingly Homophobic". I am glad I read this story, and will definitely track down Grass in the near future. Strong writing and a solid female lead are stuck in a slow and somewhat distasteful story. The description on Goodreads calls this her finest novel – I hope that isn't true – I rate it 3½ stars. (Jul 12-19)

jennywilliams May 07, 2013

This is one of my favourite books of all time, blending a fantastic tale of a very different future society with elements from the classics.

Jun 12, 2012

read partly, too wordy for me


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