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Semiosis by Sue Burke


by Sue Burke

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Semiosis Duology (Book 1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2831062,563 (3.9)17
"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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  1. 00
    Interference by Sue Burke (GreenVelvet)
    GreenVelvet: It's the sequel - haven't finished yet but so far I'm loving it as much as the first. Such an inventive world full of thought-provoking scenarios.

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» See also 17 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
Semiosis combines a political story about the struggle to create a utopian society--this time a space colony on another planet--and a first contact story with a truly alien alien--a sentient rainbow-colored bamboo. The story covers several human generations with different points of view so the reader can experience how both the society and its relationship to the alien evolve, and it ends with a suspenseful encounter with a third alien species that introduces ethical questions about genocide and assimilation. I always enjoy when an author does something different within the science fiction genre, and Semiosis certainly qualifies. ( )
  sturlington | Nov 17, 2019 |
A bit episodic to start with - and some conclusions were reached rather too glibly at first - but the big ideas drew me in and I was fascinated by the exploration of ethics, sentience, and communication that developed. Highly recommended ( )
  SChant | Oct 19, 2019 |
A good story that mostly deserves 4 stars but fell flat toward the end and left me feeling unsatisfied. 3 stars overall. ( )
  dcunning11235 | Jul 27, 2019 |
My footing in the genre of Science Fiction is still a little rocky. I've been trying to stretch outside my comfort zone, and pick up more books that I wouldn't normally read. So when Semiosis came along as a review opportunity, I jumped on it. What caught my eye about Sue Burke's story was the fact that this book isn't just about space colony survivalists, but also about their deep connection with the nature around them. Give me a book about sentient plants, and you have my attention! I'm happy to report that this book really impressed me.

I'll admit, it did take me a whole generation (essentially a chapter) to really settle in to this book. The humble beginnings of the colonists were intriguing, but confusing. I had to learn their day to day workings, their history, and even their speech. However as I read, and as the generations of colonists slowly started to float by, I became fully immersed in this story. Burke does an amazing job of picking the perfect spokesperson from each generation, someone who is right on the inside, to tell the current story. I watched as the people when from barely surviving, to thriving within the ecosystem that had once terrified them. As they learned, I learned, and it made me feel like a part of it all.

Semiosis has so many ethical quandaries to consider. Whether to live with nature, or to force it to conform to humanity is one of the biggest. The colonists slowly learn that giving the intelligence of the world around them the credit that it is due, helps everyone. There is also a fascinating discussion of merging two cultures. When faced with a the prospect of whether to completely destroy one another, or to work together, things are predictably split. I actually loved this portion of the book. It was a bit violent, but also fascinating. To watch two sets of beings who can't understand one another ever so slowly learn to mesh. I was so caught up in the debates of the colonists. It was intriguing to watch them essentially forge a brand new society from the ground up, and try not to make the same mistakes as on Earth. After all, if we don't learn from our mistakes we are doomed to repeat them. Right?

To wrap things up, because I don't know how to really discuss this book without ruining anything, Semiosis was so much more than I expected. Yes, it was a little slow at the beginning. Yes, I had to push through the first chapter to learn how this new world worked. However the multi-generational storytelling really caught me up, and I ultimately finished this book with a smile on my face. It was surreal how obsessed I became with these people as I watched them grow. That's a huge nod to Sue Burke's writing. ( )
  roses7184 | Apr 9, 2019 |
Purely as a story, this works very well, from the landing on the planet Pax through the growth of the colony and its struggles to adapt to the environment. As a lesson in how cultures adapt to strangers and the balance between confrontation and accommodation, it offers lessons that are entirely relevant to the state of the world today.

This book should be compulsory reading for all politicians everywhere. ( )
  Philogos | Mar 19, 2019 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sue Burkeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Stafford-Hill, JamieCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Note: A version of chapter one previously appeared in the magazine LC-39. (This may be the story "Adaptation", in issue 2, from 1999.)
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