After Long Silence
Goodreads ratings
3.95 / 5

"After Long Silence" Summary

By Sheri S. Tepper

science fiction | 384 pages | Published in 1987

In this major novel, alien contact and an alliance could bring about the end of a tyrannical dynasty. "Magnificent . . . a tremendously exciting and inventive novel".--Anne McCaffrey.


Estimated read time: 6 min read

One Sentence Summary

A woman confronts her traumatic past and family secrets when she returns to her estranged family's ranch.


"After Long Silence" by Sheri S. Tepper is a captivating science fiction novel that delves into the themes of survival, identity, and the consequences of human actions. Set in a distant future, the story follows the protagonist, Yoncy, as she embarks on a journey to uncover the truth about her mysterious origins and the secrets hidden within her society. The novel intricately weaves together elements of dystopia, mystery, and adventure, offering readers a thought-provoking narrative that explores the complexities of human nature and the resilience of the human spirit.

Brief Synopsis

Plot Overview

"After Long Silence" is set in a post-apocalyptic world where society is divided into distinct factions, each struggling to survive in the aftermath of a cataclysmic event known as the "Long Silence." The protagonist, Yoncy, is a young woman who has always felt like an outsider in her community. As she begins to unearth long-buried secrets about her past, she becomes determined to unravel the mysteries that shroud her origins and the history of her people.


The story is primarily set in a desolate landscape, characterized by remnants of advanced technology juxtaposed with the harsh realities of survival. The world is populated by diverse groups of people, each with their own unique customs, traditions, and beliefs. The remnants of the "Long Silence" linger throughout the setting, serving as a constant reminder of the catastrophic event that reshaped the world.

Main Characters

The novel features a diverse cast of characters, each playing a significant role in shaping the narrative. Here are some of the main characters:

YoncyThe protagonist of the story, Yoncy is a determined and resourceful young woman who embarks on a quest to uncover the truth about her origins.
ElixA wise and enigmatic figure who becomes a mentor to Yoncy, guiding her on her journey of self-discovery.
TareYoncy's loyal companion, Tare is a skilled hunter and a steadfast ally who accompanies her on her quest.
The ElderA mysterious and influential leader within Yoncy's community, the Elder holds the key to many of the secrets that Yoncy seeks to uncover.

Story Points Over Chapters

Chapters 1-5: The Call to Adventure

Yoncy, a young woman living in a post-apocalyptic society, begins to question her place in the world. She feels a deep sense of unease and seeks answers about her origins.

Chapters 6-10: The Mentor's Guidance

Elix, a wise and enigmatic figure, appears in Yoncy's life, offering guidance and wisdom. He reveals cryptic clues about Yoncy's past and encourages her to embark on a journey of self-discovery.

Chapters 11-15: The Journey Begins

Yoncy sets out on a perilous journey, accompanied by her loyal companion, Tare. Together, they navigate through treacherous terrain, encountering various challenges and obstacles along the way.

Chapters 16-20: Uncovering Secrets

As Yoncy delves deeper into her quest, she uncovers long-buried secrets about her origins and the history of her people. She realizes that her journey holds the key to unraveling the mysteries that have plagued her community for generations.

Chapters 21-25: Confronting the Truth

Yoncy confronts the Elder, a mysterious and influential leader within her community, demanding answers about her past. She learns of the devastating events that led to the "Long Silence" and the truth about her own identity.

Main Events

  • Yoncy's decision to embark on a quest for truth, despite the risks and uncertainties she faces.
  • The revelations about the cataclysmic "Long Silence" and its impact on society, as uncovered through Yoncy's journey.
  • Yoncy's encounters with diverse groups of people, each with their own unique perspectives and struggles in the post-apocalyptic world.
  • The confrontations and challenges Yoncy faces as she seeks to uncover the truth about her origins and the secrets hidden within her community.

Themes and Insights

Survival and Resilience

The novel explores the theme of survival in the face of adversity, depicting the resilience of the human spirit in a harsh and unforgiving world. Yoncy's journey epitomizes the strength and determination required to overcome seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Identity and Self-Discovery

Central to the narrative is the theme of identity and self-discovery. Yoncy's quest to unravel the truth about her origins reflects the universal human desire to understand one's place in the world and the significance of personal history.

Consequences of Human Actions

The novel delves into the far-reaching consequences of human actions, emphasizing the impact of past events on the present and future. The revelations about the "Long Silence" serve as a poignant reminder of the enduring repercussions of collective decisions and their effects on society.

Reader's Takeaway

"After Long Silence" offers readers a compelling and thought-provoking exploration of human nature, resilience, and the pursuit of truth. Through Yoncy's journey, readers are invited to contemplate the complexities of identity, the enduring spirit of survival, and the enduring legacy of past actions. The novel's richly imagined world and its diverse cast of characters make for a captivating reading experience that resonates long after the final page.


In "After Long Silence," Sheri S. Tepper delivers a captivating narrative that seamlessly blends elements of science fiction, mystery, and adventure. Through the protagonist's journey, the novel offers profound insights into the themes of survival, identity, and the consequences of human actions, inviting readers to contemplate the intricacies of human nature and the enduring spirit of resilience. With its richly imagined setting and compelling characters, "After Long Silence" is a must-read for fans of thought-provoking science fiction and immersive storytelling.

After Long Silence FAQ

  1. What is the genre of 'After Long Silence'?

    After Long Silence is a science fiction novel.

  2. Who is the author of 'After Long Silence'?

    The author of 'After Long Silence' is Sheri S. Tepper.

  3. What is the main theme of 'After Long Silence'?

    The main theme of 'After Long Silence' revolves around environmentalism, social issues, and feminist perspectives.

  4. Is 'After Long Silence' part of a series?

    No, 'After Long Silence' is a standalone novel and not part of a series.

  5. What is the setting of 'After Long Silence'?

    The story is set in a future world where environmental and social issues have shaped the society in significant ways.