Haven't read it? You should! Combines sf and suspense well. Understand the human side of aliens better than before.
Sci fi meets fantasy meets mystery. Surprisingly good read.
I've read several books that won the Tiptree Award:
(Candas Jane Dorsey - Black Wine,
Elizabeth Hand - Waking The Moon,
Nicola Griffith - Ammonite
Maureen F. McHugh - China Mountain Zhang
Ursula K. Le Guin - The Left Hand of Darkness -
all books I'd highly recommend!)
but somehow, I'd never read a book by Tiptree (Alice Sheldon), only a short story or two.
So I picked up this book, which the cover says is her 'greatest novel.'
I guess the hype got to me, because I was a little disappointed - it wasn't a bad book, but I'd say ALL of the previously-mentioned books were better. 'Brightness Falls From the Air' doesn't even particularly discuss gender issues! (not that a good book needs to, but considering that that's what the author's known for, I was expecting it.)
On a planet known as Damiem, a small hostel/research outpost staffed only by 3 team members is in charge both of providing hospitality to tourists and guarding the native aliens, the beautiful and delicate Dameii, who were previously the victims of human mercenaries who tortured them for their bodily secretions - a rare pleasure-inducing drug, to humans.
A dozen or so tourists arrive to watch a unique phenomenon - the light of a star that has been induced to nova in a terrible interstellar war is passing Damiem, showering the planet with bizarre radiation and causing strange effects such as time-flurries.
But perhaps not all the tourists are on the up-and-up - are some of them in cahoots, in a plan to again, torture and exploit the Dameii?
The action plays out pretty much like a typical ensemble mystery, but one where it's less of a mystery than usual who the bad guys might be.
The characters are a diverse bunch... a rich woman and her paralyzed sister, a young prince, an Aquaman, a movie director and his team of four porn stars, an elderly doctor.... etc.
There are a couple of annoying failures of logic in the plot. For instance, why would someone in a coma not physically age? (They would!) And how, on the other hand, could someone who was induced to age preternaturally quickly hide it through an act of will? (They couldn't!)
Overall, an entertaining sci-fi adventure, but not really a classic for the ages...
Tiptree's novel of a paradise profaned and of its defense against a second fall is luminous and affecting, but is flawed by a too-large cast of characters and a somewhat muddled resolution. Still a great read.