Sheri Tepper, née Stewart (1929–2016), was an American author known primarily for her feminist science fiction novels, which explored gender and equality as well as ecology and theology. Though often called an “ecofeminist” science fiction writer, she preferred to describe herself as an eco-humanist. She also wrote mysteries, horror novels, and poetry, and during her life made use of several pen names, including the gender-neutral noms de plume E.E. Horlak, A.J. Orde, and B.J. Oliphant. In all, she published more than forty novels, even though she did not make her first sale until she was over fifty years old. Half her mystery novels feature Shirley McClintock as protagonist, a Colorado ranch woman who solves cases. NPR’s Genevieve Valentine said of Tepper’s writing: “…her characters can be gripping, especially the women who find themselves in their element somewhere they’re expected to wither.”
Born in a small town in Colorado in 1929, she started out writing stories for children and poetry under the name Sheri S. Eberhart. After marrying at age twenty and divorcing in her late twenties, she recalls spending “ten years… working all kinds of different jobs” while also the single mother of two children. This included a stint as a clerical worker with the international relief agency CARE. She then worked for Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood from 1962 to 1986, eventually attaining the position of executive director; one of the tasks at the nonprofit was writing informative pamphlets, notably including So You Don’t Want to Be a Sex Object (1978).
Meanwhile, her first novel for adults, King’s Blood, was published in 1982, kicking off her True Game trilogy of trilogies. She wrote a number of fiction series in the eighties as well as her noted stand-alone novel The Gate to Women’s Country (1988), a post-apocalyptic novel set three hundred years in the American future. She is remembered for her acclaimed novel Grass (1989), first in the Arbai trilogy. Her novel Beauty, a retelling of the classic fairy tale, won the 1992 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel. She lived to be a great- grandmother, residing with her second husband, Gene Tepper, for the last half century of her life in Santa Fe, New Mexico.