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Six Moon Dance
ISBN 0380791986 / 9780380791989 / 0-380-79198-6
Publisher Harper Voyager
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In Six Moon Dance, veteran fantasy and science fiction writer Sheri S. Tepper tells the tale of the strange planet Newholme. An intriguing human society occupies the metal-poor planet, a society with gender values quite different from Earth, resulting from a virus that kills 50 percent of baby girls at birth. Newholmians use the best and the worst of dogma, religion, and "patriarchy" to uphold a society where men manage the money but women hold the keys to power through church, reproductive control, and their own short supply. "Family men" pay exorbitant dowries in order to gain a temporary wife, contracted for wifely duties and reproduction for a number of years. When their marriage contracts are finished, the women, relieved of duty, retire to enjoy the sexual services of male "Consorts."
The plot here involves an official Questioner who visits Newholme to investigate reports of human rights abuses, the strange native inhabitants whose biology may hold the key to human survival on the planet, and a disastrous lunar alignment. Although quite creative, Tepper's plot is simply not as gripping as the sociology and society she invents for Newholme. She uses her feminist instincts and knowledge about the sexes and religion to create a world worth taking a look at. James Tiptree, Jr. Memorial Award judges should be sure to take a look at Six Moon Dance for its unique take on gender roles. --Bonnie Bouman [via]