Science fiction great -- and 2015 World Fantasy Convention lifetime achievement honoreee -- Sheri Tepper died yesterday, at the age of 87.
Tepper began her writing career at the age of 54, with 1983's King's Blood Four, and wrote nearly 50 novels, including many mysteries (under the pen-name B. J. Oliphant) and a horror novel (under the name E. E. Horlak). Her novel The Gate to Women's Country is a classic of both feminist and ecologically minded science fiction; while Beauty is a sharp and brilliant retelling of Sleeping Beauty. In his obituary, John Scalzi lauds her Hugo nominated novel Grass, which "has the sort of epic worldbuilding and moral drive that ranks it, in my opinion, with works like Dune and Perdido Street Station and the Earthsea series."
Scalzi rightly laments that Tepper isn't better known, despite her lifetime achievement award. Nevertheless, she was one of the field's most accomplished and prolific authors, and her deep backlist is all the more impressive for the relatively short span of her career.
Also a bit depressing: That Tepper, while well-regarded, is as far as I can tell generally not considered in the top rank of SF/F writers, which is a fact I find completely flummoxing. Her novel Grass has the sort of epic worldbuilding and moral drive that ranks it, in my opinion, with works like Dune and Perdido Street Station and the Earthsea series; the (very) loose sequel to Grass, Raising the Stones, is in many ways even better, and the fact that Stones is currently out of print is a thing I find all sorts of appalling.
If you haven’t read Grass, I really suggest you find it and put it near the top of your SF/F reading queue. You won’t be disappointed (and if you are, then, well, I don’t know what to tell you). It’s a stone classic. Not everything that Tepper wrote worked for me, which makes her like literally every single writer I admire; but the things of hers that did (these two novels, The Fresco, Beauty, The Visitor and others) have stayed with me year in and year out.
RIP, Sheri Tepper