After Long Silence by Sheri S. Tepper
On Jubal the only way to travel around the colonized part of the planet is with a Tripsinger. The crystal formations only stayed quiet when the correct sounds were sung to them. The harmonics of the formation had to be correct in order for it not to crumble from the other sounds of humans passing through. Tasmin Ferrence is a Tripsinger in Deepsoil Five. His acolytes, Jamieson and Clarin, are his support, especially when his wife dies at the formation called Enigma. In order to discover the truth to the reasons of his wife’s death, the trio go to the main settlement on Jubal.
There they meet Donatella “Don” Furz, an Explorer. The Explorers keep looking for new, safe paths on Jubal. Don joins their group on their journey. Humans have strict rules about sentience on new planets to colonize. There isn’t any natural sentient being on Jubal that they’ve discovered. Sometimes the furry, singing viggies seem intelligent, but the viggies die when they are captured or given too much human attention. If the planet is declared to have no native sentient beings, it will be razed to grow the plant that will provide medicine and an alocoholic type beverage to the star system.Tasmin, Don, Jamieson, and Clarin are seeking the truth. But soon they learn they are being followed by someone who wishes them ill – deadly ill.
After Long Silence is not as complex as Tepper’s later works. It is a straightforward story of human first contact and good versus evil. The story line has some unexpected twists and turns within the overall story. Two of the evil men are very evil. The one that catches the gruesome imagination is the man who can’t feel pain, so inflicts it on others to observe them clinically. The end is obvious to any reader of this genre, but there are some unexpected happenings along that way that don’t fit the normal expectations.
After Long Silence is a good book with a moral tale that doesn’t sound moralistic. The characters are empathetic and the reader can enjoy the story. The characters never quite come off the paper, but they’re never totally flat, either. If you like space opera, you’ll do well with this book by Sheri S. Tepper.
Although not currently in print, used copies may be found if you look.