Human survival hinges on an bizarre alliance in Semiosis, a character driven science fiction novel of first contact by debut author Sue Burke.
2019 Campbell Memorial Award Finalist
2019 Locus Finalist for Best Science Fiction Novel
Locus 2018 Recommended Reading List
New York Public Library—Best of 2018
Forbes—Best Science Fiction Books of 2019-2019
The Verge—Best of 2018
Thrillist—Best Books of 2018
Vulture—10 Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books of 2018
Chicago Review of Books—The 10 Best Science Fiction Books of 2018
Texas Library Association—Lariat List Top Books for 2019
Colonists from Earth wanted the perfect home, but they’ll have to survive on the one they found. They don’t realize another life form watches...and waits...
Only mutual communication can forge an alliance with the planet's sentient species and prove that humans are more than tools.
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Translator Burke takes new science and drives it to the logical extreme for her impressive debut novel, a classic multigenerational story of space exploration and colonization. When scientists on a colonizing mission veer off course and land on the distant planet of Pax, they run up against the sentient native flora. Intrigue and secrets divide the generations, and the efforts to commune with the plants on Pax take on a cultish quality. Communication is at the heart of the story: debates among the human colonists, the intricacies of plant communication, and the challenge of reaching across the species divide. Burke's writing is as lush as the environment of Pax; her characters show considerable depth, and she unflinchingly captures the horrors of space exploration. She has rendered an alien planet in beautiful, believable detail. Fans of space adventure will eagerly await Burke's future books.
Deliciously Different Story of an Alien World
Sue Burke has done an amazing feat of telling a multi-generational story that chronicles the colonization of a very alien world. A group of humans leave the slowly dying Earth to found a new colony on a distant alien world. They bring their highest ideals, but they also bring the problems inherent in human nature.
On the planet they find, the ecosystem is a billion years more advanced than that of Earth. Symbiosis and mutualism exist in strange new forms. The flora isn’t the passive plant life they are familiar with. They must find a way to fit into this alien ecosystem, because their survival depends on it.
“Semiosis” is a fresh take on alien life that avoids the conventional. It contains very different ideas about sentience, and about relationships, both human and otherwise.
I liked the book! Would recommend for anyone interested in a sci fi! Just so you know the there is mature content.
Delightful premise, weak execution.
This is a book with a very interesting premise about a group of essentially stranded humans interacting with several different alien species and both using and being used by those “others”. For those who enjoy interesting sci-fi premises it will be mildly enjoyable.
The work suffers, however, from low-quality writing in a number of ways. The sentence structure tends very much toward the short and declarative, almost stilted. In that way it seems more appropriate for a young audience, though the subject matter really isn’t.
The character development is weak, and characters often act in inexplicably antisocial ways to advance the plot. The book takes the format of presenting what amount to a series of short stories as successive generations interact with local aliens. The result unfortunately is that just when you begin to identify with and understand character motivations that might be more complex, the need to move on causes stilted interactions and then POOF we’ve got a whole new set of characters.
Ultimately, a very interesting premise is a let down, as the author increasingly anthropomorphises the very physically different aliens. It would have been soooo much more interesting if each alien species maintained its own distinct sentient thought processes limited in different ways by the physical structures involved. In doing so, the science in the science fiction starts becoming preposterous.