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Raising the Stones

de Sheri S. Tepper

Séries: Arbai Trilogy (02)

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8911124,566 (3.95)29
A moving, compulsive science fiction novel from one of the best writers in the field When the human settlers arrived on Hobbs Land, the native intelligent species, the Owlbrit, were already almost extinct. Before the last one died, a few years later, the humans had learned a little of their language, their ideas and their religion. It seemed the natural thing for the settlers to maintain the last Owlbrit temple, with the strange statue that was its God. When that God died - disintegrating overnight - it seemed equally natural to start preparing its replacement. Maire Manone came to Hobbs Land to escape the harsh patriarchal religion of Voorstod, but Voorstod hasn't forgotten her - or forgiven her. But the men who arrive on Hobbs Land to find and return Maire to her homeland haven't taken Hobbs Land's God into account ...… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 11 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Much more complicated than Grass, and tied to it only loosely. Also a much bigger, more wandering book. In some ways it was much better, and sometimes impossible to put down--other times I wandered away for a day or two and had to push myself to return to it. A lot of the Voorstod stuff is a little on the nose even for me, less sympathetic to the patriarchal religions than anyone. But it was definitely worth reading. I wish it had been a little bit tighter--a clearer story. I suppose it's Sam Girat's journey, but if so, there are a lot of detours. ( )
  Adamantium | Aug 21, 2022 |
Grass, Raising the Stones, and Sideshow are known as the Arbai trilogy because humanity has expanded across many planets, and everywhere they go, they find the ruins of Arbai civilization and the mysterius Arbai gates found on all those worlds. Grass introduces us to the extinct Arbai, their gates, and explorations of good and evil; these are the elements that connect the three books that have otherwise unrelated stories, being separated by hundreds of years and on distant planets.

Grass features Lady Marjorie Westriding on overcrowded Terra and then Grass, home to the alien Hippae. Raising the Stones features Samasnier Girat on Hobb's World, a very boring agricultural colony that humans settled amidst the last of the native Owlbrit who went extinct soon after.. Sideshow opens on present-day Terra (the 1990s when the book was published) and then largely takes place on the planet Elsewhere. The other connecting element that unites these books as a trilogy is the recurring characters who go from protagonists in their origin novels to a retrospective cameo in the middle story, to important supporting characters and key plot points in the final story. That these are the same characters are not immediately obvious, which is a nice touch on Tepper's part.

Of the three stories, I think I liked Raising the Stones best. I appreciated how Hobb's World was developed and how the gods organically emerged and human society adapted in response. Plus, I thought the portrayal of the different human reactions and interpretations to what was happening was well done. It was all intriguing and interesting and well played.

However, I didn't care for the Islamophobia that was a huge part of the story in terms of the fundamentalist patriarchal misogynist religious terrorist society featuring men in turbans and women in hijab (though neither of those terms were used), and headed by the supreme leader, the Awateh (see what she did there?). Admittedly, Tepper claims that this fundamentalist religious sect is a fusion of three Old Earth tribal religions, which clearly includes both Catholic and Protestant Christianity along with Islam (with its prophets, priests, and pastors for the 3 different levels of society).

In contrast to the zealot men of Voorstod devoted to the Cause (ie, destruction of the infidel) and committed to the brutal enslavement of the diminutive Gharm are the Baidee who are far more egalitarian and tolerant and not interested in dominating others but instead living rightly among themselves. And yet, they are capable of just as much religious zealotry that can lead to atrocities, admittedly due to misguidance and fear more than religious hatred. Extremism is extremism, in effect.

And then there are the gods of Hobb's Land. Not so much human institutions as ecological symbiosis leading to maximum human cooperation. These gods are also responsive to human (and Gharm) needs, resulting in semimiraculous terraforming and other pseudomagical manifestations that can change reality. So what happens when these different religious trajectories collide?

Of course, the evils of organized religion as a human institution is the main focus of this book. The story also explores the role of history, legends and myths, matriarchal vs patriarchal social systems, the evils of chattel slavery and generational resistance and survival of the enslaved.

As someone who is exploring what decolonization looks like for me as a white person, I think a lot about relationships to place and people and past, and how we need connections to both our ancestors and our future descendants and our present environment, and that the stories we tell ourselves tell us who we are and how we relate to the world. Tepper argues that we should get rid of the stories of the past: "we need no bloody heroes...no more heavy legends, full of death and pain. No more heroes raising the stones to find marvelous things, and leaving the holes to become graves for those they've killed." Maybe I am misinterpreting, and she doesn't mean severing all ties with the past (it is that severing of aspects of identity that seems to be part of the violence of colonialism, both internally for white people who immigrate and become white and also externally acted upon the colonized peoples). And yet, I make that interpretation based on exactly how Hobb's Land was settled by people escaping their past and effectively reinventing themselves. Maybe this too is part of why I like this book best--I need to think about it more. ( )
  justchris | Feb 6, 2022 |
This is the second book in the Arbai trilogy, although it might as well be a standalone as knowledge of the previous book, Grass, is not needed, and any references to it in this one barely affect your understanding of the story. I’m not entirely sure when it takes place – clues seem to suggest several thousand years after the events of Grass, although human society seems pretty much unchanged. Which is part of the problem. Tepper’s targets are plain – abundantly so – which means the societies she depicts have to hew closely to present day ones, or rather ones derived from those extant at the time of writing. And Tepper was never afraid to push something into implausibility in order to make a point. So, on the one hand, we have the peaceful agrarian settlements of Hobbs Land, who have found themselves building temples to alien gods (actually some sort of alien fungus), but since it makes them happy and productive, where’s the harm in it? Meanwhile the patriarchal sexist slave-owning violent (seriously, they couldn’t be made more worse) Voorstodders, inhabitants of a region on another planet of the system, have triggered the final stages of their plan to attain apotheosis by killing all the unbelievers. Tepper was not one for subtlety and there’s certainly an argument the sf audience is incapable of processing subtlety – just look at the current crop of genre award winners… For me, Tepper’s novel are like a brick in the face, but I’d sooner there were writers like her than the books appearing on award shortlists these days. I plan to read more Tepper. You should too. ( )
  iansales | Jun 20, 2020 |
A black-and-white tabby cat came into the room with a live ferf in her jaws. She jumped onto the plinth and laid the animal against the base of the mass, then jumped down and left the room, purring loudly.
Two other cats came in with similar burdens.
"That was Gotoit's cat," Jep remarked after a time. "That stripey one. She calls it Lucky."
Saturday nodded and brushed the surface of the plinth with her bare palm, cleaning away the few scraps of scruffy ferf hair that remained on the stone. The bodies of the ferfs had disappeared silently into the
mass before them.
"The God was hungry," said Jep. "We're the Ones Who have to take care of that."
"I think the cats will take care of that," returned Saturday.
"How come the cats didn't take care of it before? With Bondru Dharm?"
"Bondru Dharm didn't know about cats," Saturday answered. "There weren't any cats here when Bondru
Dharm was raised. But we know about cats, and Birribat was one of us, so the cats will take care of
that. We're the Ones Who have to take care of all the rest of it."


I was fairly sure that I had read either this book or "Sideshow" a long time ago, as I was aware of the Hobbs Land Gods when I first read "Grass", and thought of them as being related even though the Gods are not mentioned in that book. So I was not surprised when an accident with a fuel pod in an early scene rang bells, and that other scenes seemed familiar as I continued. "Raising the Stones" is not a direct sequel to "Grass", and although the Arbai are mentioned, it is only as a lost race who died out long ago. When I got to the part about the Baidee religion being founded by a prophetess with an invisible dragon who came through a door from another world, I turned the page, then stopped and thought, 'What did it say her name was?' and 'A dragon-like creature that you can't see properly?' and turned back to read it again to confirm that it really was a link to the previous book.

The matriarchal society of Hobbs Land and the other planets was interesting, and I liked the subtle influence of the Gods on the people, although I wasn't keen on Sam. His conversations with with Theseus and roaming about the countryside with a sword at night confused me, and he was my least favourite character, but by the end I realised that the Hobbs Land Gods had seen him as redeemable but needing special handling to get rid of the parts of him that were warped by Voorlander influence and being parted from his father at a young age.

The Porsa made me laugh, especially when they were lured into the Noxious Substances waste disposal. If ever there was a species that could be classed as a noxious substance it would definitely be the Porsa! ( )
1 vote isabelx | Oct 31, 2013 |
Book 2 in the trilogy started with Grass... Not quite as enthralling as Grass but still excellent. ( )
  leslie.98 | Jun 26, 2013 |
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Sinks whoever raises the great stones:
I've raised these stones as long as I was able
I've loved these stones as long as I was able
these stones, my fate.
Wounded by my own soil
tortured by my own shirt
condemned by my own gods,
these stones.

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The God's name was Bondru Dharm, which, according to the linguists who had worked with the Owlbrit before the last of them died, meant something to do with noonday.
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Conspiracy is dark and dirty and vengeance is heavy as rock and being a slaver presses a man down until he can see nothing but black dirt around him, like the walls of a grave. Men become accustomed to that darkness when they are in the habit of death. It pains such men to come into the light.
A man who claims to carry the truth, carries an empty sack.
Perhaps, away from the pond, the frog would grow feathers.
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God does not know our names
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God is the overmind of which all minds are a part.
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A moving, compulsive science fiction novel from one of the best writers in the field When the human settlers arrived on Hobbs Land, the native intelligent species, the Owlbrit, were already almost extinct. Before the last one died, a few years later, the humans had learned a little of their language, their ideas and their religion. It seemed the natural thing for the settlers to maintain the last Owlbrit temple, with the strange statue that was its God. When that God died - disintegrating overnight - it seemed equally natural to start preparing its replacement. Maire Manone came to Hobbs Land to escape the harsh patriarchal religion of Voorstod, but Voorstod hasn't forgotten her - or forgiven her. But the men who arrive on Hobbs Land to find and return Maire to her homeland haven't taken Hobbs Land's God into account ...

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