We were saddened yesterday to learn of the death of Sheri S. Tepper. Born in 1929, her career followed an unusual path; after publishing several SF poems including ‘Lullaby, 1990’ in Galaxy in 1963, she published nothing else until the 1980s, when her literary output suddenly exploded. Her first novel, King’s Blood Four, was published in 1983, beginning her signature The True Game series, and she had published an extraordinary seventeen separate volumes by the end of 1987.
Sheri S. Tepper’s writing often had a strong feminist and ecological bent, and she was among the most celebrated ecofeminist authors of our time. She won the 1992 Locus Award for Best Novel for Beauty, and was honoured with the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2015, as well as six nominations for the prestigious peer-chosen John W. Campbell Memorial Award, illustrating the high regard in which Tepper was held in the science fiction community. She also published numerous mystery novels under the pseudonyms A.J. Orde and B.J. Oliphant, but it is her highly gender-conscious, philosophical, intellectually adventurous science fiction work which will be remembered for many years to come.
On a personal note, in early 2013, we sent Sheri S. Tepper the proposed Introduction to her then-forthcoming SF Gateway omnibus for her comments and thoughts. Accompanying Ms Tepper’s gracious reply was an autobiographical note so extraordinary that we asked her for permission to post it. It was an incredibly moving piece – honest, heartfelt, in equal parts tragic and triumphant. It explains a lot about the forces that drove Sheri S. Tepper’s fiction:
When I was four, I was told by my grandmother, who was my main caregiver(?) that I had a baby brother. I said, innocently, “I’ll still be your grandbaby, won’t I Nana?” To which she replied, with great satisfaction, “I have a grandson now, I don’t need you girls anymore.” The girls referred to were my cousins and I. I have never forgotten it. This is my earliest memory. It was also my introduction to the worth of females in my world. In the family of grandparents, parents, uncles, a great aunt, later events were similar.
You can read the entire piece here; we heartily recommend it.
RIP Sheri S. Tepper (1929-2016)