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Brightness Falls from the Air [Paperback]

James Tiptree
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 382 pages
  • Publisher: St Martin's Press; 1st Orb Ed edition (31 Dec 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312854072
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312854072
  • Product Dimensions: 20.9 x 13.9 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,486,964 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I could barely finish it... 10 Feb 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I am really surprised to see the 4 and 5 star ratings other readers gave this book. One of Tiptree's short stories 'Love Is The Plan The Plan Is Death' is one of my favorite short stories of all time, very moving, brilliantly written. I can't believe 'Brightness Falls...' was even written by the same author. Shallow characters, very slow pace, unnatural conversation, unconvincing plot. I was very disappointed by this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful novel 11 Aug 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
The sheer beauty of the language Tiptree uses to tell her compelling tale is incredible. I have always thought that if I could ask Tiptree what the meaning of life is, and why I should go on living, she'd know...her passing is unfortunate.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sad, beautiful tale - Tiptree's best 28 Sep 1997
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This is a tale of beauty, horror and greed. On a faraway planet, a nearly extinct species of beauty and love lives, now protected by the very same humans that earlier exploited them in the cruelest ways imaginable. And man returns. This book tells us about the darker sides of humanity, as well as of beauty and love. It made me cry. Recommended.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An intense but incomplete novel 14 Jan 1999
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
A group of humans gather on the planet Dameii to see the light of a war-destoyed star, on a planet that was itself the site of terrible atrocities against the native inhabitants. Some come out of interest, others revenge, and still others plan to start the horrors all over again. As with Tiptree's (aka Alice Sheldon) other work, this features the beautiful, intense prose which sets her apart from other sci-fi authors. It's very moving and, as you near the climax, very suspenceful. Quite a work of art. The story, however, doesn't really start until the story is at the halfway point. Many of the characters seem to lack depth, and the aliens only rarely appear. It is not quite equal to her earlier work, "Up the Walls of the World". I can only give this 4 stars. Had the characterization and pace been better, I would have rated this the best book I'd ever read
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  15 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An intense but incomplete novel 14 Jan 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
A group of humans gather on the planet Dameii to see the light of a war-destoyed star, on a planet that was itself the site of terrible atrocities against the native inhabitants. Some come out of interest, others revenge, and still others plan to start the horrors all over again. As with Tiptree's (aka Alice Sheldon) other work, this features the beautiful, intense prose which sets her apart from other sci-fi authors. It's very moving and, as you near the climax, very suspenceful. Quite a work of art. The story, however, doesn't really start until the story is at the halfway point. Many of the characters seem to lack depth, and the aliens only rarely appear. It is not quite equal to her earlier work, "Up the Walls of the World". I can only give this 4 stars. Had the characterization and pace been better, I would have rated this the best book I'd ever read
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful novel by one of SF's greatest short story authors 31 July 2000
By "sdixonsf" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
One of the most surprising announcements in science fiction history was when award-winning but reclusive science fiction writer James Tiptree, Jr. revealed that she was actually Dr. Alice Sheldon.
Sheldon wote some of the best short fiction of the 70s, including such classics as "The Girl Who Was Plugged In" (which anticipated many cyberpunk themes years before William Gibson), "The Women Men Don't See", and "Houston, Houston, Do You Read?".
Brightness Falls from the Air was Sheldon's second (and final) novel. Although Sheldon's best work was certainly in her short stories, my favorite thing about this novel was seeing Sheldon express many of her recurring themes in a longer form, weaving several seemingly disparate plot lines into one. The novel works well both as a mystery and as science fiction, and offers a nice helping of excitement as well.
This is one of my favorite science fiction novels of all time, and is an excellent introduction to the work of James Tiptree, Jr.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Different Book 9 Oct 2006
By NotSoWize - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I can see why the reviewers are pretty much split down the middle on this one. The set-up is extraordinary, the writing style is unusual, and the payoff is less than the reader hopes for. Even so, I really enjoyed this novel. There are more ideas in this book than in a dozen average SF novels, so I can look past the fact that many of the ideas are never fleshed out. It is the first "James Tiptree" novel (or short story) that I've read, and now I will definitely search out some of her earlier and more highly regarded works to see what I think of them.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed, melodramatic, but worth attention 25 May 2008
By Rory Coker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This late novel by Tiptree, better known for her short stories and short novels, has not been popular with either reviewers or readers. It has a number of flaws, but it held my attention throughout.

There are a large number of characters, but they are all so nicely delineated that I had no trouble remembering who was who. The plot involves a small terrestrial caretaker base on an alien planet whose inhabitants had earlier been horrifically physically exploited by earthmen, a base which receives an unusual number of visitors who have supposedly come to see the spectacular final passage of a supernova shock wave through the system... a supernova triggered by one of the novel's main characters, and a supernova which apparently destroyed an entire race of intelligent, artistic creatures and their ultimate artistic creation. Naturally the last surviving alien, in disguise, has come to seek revenge, while three criminals in not very believable or effective disguise have come to torture the natives a bit more to extract some (as usual in sf) impossibly rare and valuable secretion that only pain and torture bring forth, kill everybody at the base in a staged accident, and then depart.

The plot works only because the three main characters are incredibly stupid, lazy, easily distracted and passive in reacting to the very obviously looming "situation". And a preposterous fantasy element (the fact that time can run backward in fits and starts during the passage of the supernova shock wave) allows several sympathetic characters who have been killed off or mutilated beyond recognition to be restored to life (with mixed results, I might add).

Given the glaring flaws, however, the novel ultimately succeeds (at least for me). There are many likable characters, many suspenseful situations, an action-filled climax, and some plausible yet unexpected plot twists.

This is far from Tiptree's best work, but she was clearly getting some ideas important to her off her chest and into print, and the discerning reader is the ultimate beneficiary.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad, beautiful tale - Tiptree's best 28 Sep 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is a tale of beauty, horror and greed. On a faraway planet, a nearly extinct species of beauty and love lives, now protected by the very same humans that earlier exploited them in the cruelest ways imaginable. And man returns. This book tells us about the darker sides of humanity, as well as of beauty and love. It made me cry. Recommended.
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