The Fifth Sacred Thing
AVAILABILITY: Active Record (Readily Available)
Publication Date: June 1994
Publisher: Bantam Books
Binding: Trade Paper
Topics: CALIFORNIA_FICTION; FICTION_VISIONARY & METAPHYSICAL
Description: Imagine a world without poverty, hunger, or hatred, where a rich culture honors its diverse mix of races, religions, and heritages, and the Four Sacred Things that sustain all life - earth, air, fire, and water - are valued unconditionally. Now imagine the opposite: a nightmare world in which an authoritarian regime polices an apartheid state, access to food and water is restricted to those who obey the corrupt official religion, women are property of their husbands or the state, and children are bred for prostitution and war. The best and worst of our possible futures are poised to clash in twenty-first-century California, and the outcome rests on the wisdom and courage of one clan caught in the conflict.
Ninety-eight-year-old Maya has helped shape the ecumenical culture of the North by reviving and re-creating an earth-based spiritual tradition. Madrone, the granddaughter of Maya's longtime lovers, is a healer trying to thwart recurring epidemics that she suspects are biological warfare waged by the tyrannical South. Bird, Maya's grandson, returns from ten years in a Southern prison with warnings of impending invasion and an urgent request for help from the resistance in the hills.
When Madrone travels south to aid the rebels and search for a cure to the deadly viruses, she finds herself fighting for her own life alongside battle-weary guerrillas and beautiful pirates. Meanwhile, in the North debates rage about how to repel the invaders.
"All war is first waged in the imagination, first conducted to limit our dreams and visions," Maya says, and warns that by killing their enemies, they may themselves become transformed by vioience and destroy all they have built. Bird champions her alternative vision and becomes a leader of the faction calling for nonviolent resistance. When he is captured and pressured to cooperate with the enemy, the fate of the North hangs in the balance.
Richly imagined and beautifully written, The Fifth Sacred Thing is a powerful novel of ideas and the future of human life itself .
This acclaimed, best-selling novel set a new standard for fiction of its genre, continues to be widely read, and is used in numerous college courses. Winner of the Lambda Award for lesbian and gay science fiction.
Review(s): "Slated to be one of the great visionary Utopian novels of the century...It's a rare book to which I give such a high recommendation; but I spent the best part of three days reading it, and at the end, I would have loved it to be longer. I simply fell in love with both characters and setting. It's a wonderful book." - Marion Zimmer Bradley, author of 'The Mists of Avalon'
"For the future of our kind, 'The Fifth Sacred Thing' is an anthem of hope. Generations to come will bless the name of Starhawk." - Daniel Quinn, author of 'Ishmael' and 'The Story of B'
"This is wisdom wrapped in drama." - Tom Hayden, California state senator
"At once provocative and magical, political and spiritual.... An extraordinary book that stands in the great tradition of political and philosophical novels." - Margot Adler, NPR commentator and author of 'Drawing Down the Moon'
"Each time I think I've seen the impressive depth of Starhawk's wisdom, she dives deeper yet, bring back ever greater insight and clarity. The Fifth Sacred Thing is exciting, magical, and rich with extremely important treasure maps for those who really care about Life and the survival of our planet." - Merlin Stone, author of 'When God Was a Woman'
"A compelling and ingenious tale of two competing potential futures." - Ernest Callenbach, author of 'Ecotopia'
"Totally captivating.... Starhawk has created a magic land to which we can return at will for the kind of exotic romance and adventure we all crave. Her celebration of the richness of cultural diversity heralds the possibility of a mutually enhancing multicultural community. Here, too, is a vision of the paradigm shift that is essential for our very survival as a species on this planet." - Elinor Gadon, author of 'The Once and Future Goddess'
"From 'The Spiral Dance' to 'Dreaming the Dark' to 'Truth or Dare', Starhawk has led us to places of risk and guided us to think in a new way, a womanly order. Now, in fiction, with the aid of her characters, she will save the earth and all the sacred things that dwell therein." - E.M. Broner, author of 'A Weave of Women' and 'The Telling'