I am trying to locate this SF novel and about all I recall of it was that it is about an Earth ship that reaches some alien world (but it sounds like they are people like us), and this alien planet-society worship death, and had their entire civilization centered on death as being their basis of society in every way. That is about all I can recall. I came across it on Amazon kindle somehow and now I want to buy it but can't recall the title, and unfortunately didn't add it to a list. Thanks if anyone knows!

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    Reminds me of scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/199198/…
    – DavidW
    Nov 24, 2020 at 21:59
  • Thanks DavidW. That sounds similar but the book I am searching for is a full length novel. ... Thanks for your suggestion! Your story sounss interesting too! Nov 24, 2020 at 23:26
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    You could improve this question by going through the checklists here and editing in any relevant info you can think to add.
    – Valorum
    Nov 25, 2020 at 0:04
  • That world is the Military-Industrial-Congressional-Complex! Ok, not in this case. I was thinking James Blish: "A Dusk of Idols" (Amazing Stories, 1961-03), Archive.org link where we learn about a civilization performing traditional genocide, but it's a short story and they don't literally worship death. Nov 25, 2020 at 0:54
  • Thank you Valprum and David, I did finally track it down. It is "Cards of Grief" by Jane Token. Thanks to everyone for your suggestions, Happy Thanksgiving. -Mike Nov 26, 2020 at 1:47

1 Answer 1


The OP mentioned in a comment that the book is Cards of Grief by Jane Yolen:

The year is 2132 when members of the Anthropologist’s Guild set down on the planet Henderson’s IV, or L’Lal’lor as it is known to the native population. Charged with the nonintrusive study of alien cultures, the crew discovers a society containing no love or laughter. It is, instead, centered around death—a world of aristocratic and common folk in which grieving is an art and the cornerstone of life. But the alien civilization stands on the brink of astonishing change, heralded by the discovery of Linni, the Gray Wanderer, a young woman from the countryside whose arrival has been foretold for centuries. And for Anthropologist First Class Aaron Spenser, L’Lal’lor is a place of destructive temptations, seducing him with its mysterious, sad beauty, and leading him into an unthinkable criminal act.

Told from the shifting viewpoints of characters both alien and human, and through records of local lore and transcripts of court martial proceedings, Cards of Grief is a thoughtful, lyrical, and spellbinding tale of first contact. It is a true masterwork of world building from Jane Yolen, a premier crafter of speculative fiction and fantasy.

I'm adding this so we have a record of the identification and because it looks like an interesting book.

  • Thank you John Rennie for stepping in there and showing this as answered! I am new to stackexchange. Nov 29, 2020 at 12:29

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