Grass (novel)

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Author Sheri S. Tepper
Country United States
Language English
Genre Science Fiction
Publisher Doubleday
Publication date
Media type Print
ISBN 978-1-85798-798-0

Grass is an 1989 science fiction novel by Sheri S. Tepper, and the first part of her Marjorie Westriding series, known as the Arbai trilogy. Styled as an ecological mystery, it presents one of her earliest and perhaps most radical statements on themes that would come to dominate her fiction, in which despoilation of the planet is explicitly linked to gender and social inequalities.

Considered to be among her best work, as well as being a definitive work of science fiction literature, Grass was nominated for both the Hugo and Locus award in 1990. It was included in the SF Masterworks classic science fiction paperback collection in 2002.

Plot summary[edit]

Chief protagonist Marjorie Westriding-Yrarier juggles family issues and her conflicting religious beliefs as her family is sent to the little-understood world of Grass to seek a cure for the mysterious alien plague afflicting all of humanity, save for Grass. The first stage of this search will be to befriend the human aristocracy of the planet who have seemingly become obsessed with a localised variant of fox hunting using the planet’s native fauna in place of the horses, hounds and foxes found on Earth.


In the distant future Terra (Earth) has become massively over-populated and its resources overstretched. Partially as a result of this, the human race has spread out across the galaxy and populated new worlds. One such world is the eponymous Grass, so named because almost its entire surface is covered in multi-coloured prairie.

The spread of a seemingly incurable plague across human settlements throughout known space prompts the authoritarian religious rulers of humanity, Sanctity, to send investigators to Grass, the only place the plague does not seem to have affected, in the hope of finding a cure. Given that the mainly aristocratic inhabitants of Grass have developed an obsession with a localised variant of fox hunting using the planet’s native fauna in place of the horses, hounds and foxes found on Earth, Sanctity choose the Westriding-Yrarier family, whose equestrian background and upper class roots they expect will best enable them to successfully infiltrate the society and learn more about the hitherto secretive planet.

Grass is the first novel of the Arbai trilogy. The sequels are Raising the Stones and Sideshow.


Grass was shortlisted for both the Hugo and Locus SF book awards in 1990.[1]


  1. ^ "1990 Award Winners & Nominees". Worlds Without End. Retrieved 2011-01-06. 

External links[edit]