E-book, 333 pages

English language

Published Feb. 5, 2018 by Tom Doherty Associates.

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5 stars (4 reviews)

Human survival hinges on an bizarre alliance in Semiosis, a character driven science fiction novel of first contact by debut author Sue Burke.

Forced to land on a planet they aren't prepared for, human colonists rely on their limited resources to survive. The planet provides a lush but inexplicable landscape – trees offer edible, addictive fruit one day and poison the next, while the ruins of an alien race are found entwined in the roots of a strange plant. Conflicts between generations arise as they struggle to understand one another and grapple with an unknowable alien intellect.

Only mutual communication can forge an alliance with the planet's sentient species and prove that humans are more than tools.

Content warning: Describes sexualized violence

3 editions


4 stars

I don't usually seek out hard scifi, because I feel like the story often gets drowned out by scientific minutiae, but Semiosis does a great job of balancing that. I love that each chapter is a vignette in a potentially different style. Will this one be a whodunit? Political thriller? Let's find out!

Not many books have chapters narrated by bamboo.

5 stars

Semiosis is a fascinating take on space colonization, intelligence, and language. The multi-generational story starts with the founding of a small human colony on an alien world where, as they soon discover, plants have evolved intelligence and use animals for tools. Needless to say, things don't work out the way the colonists intended, and their descendants find ways to adapt to a world where they can't forget that they're only one part of the ecosystem -- and not a necessary part, either. And the plants have their own ideas!

Each chapter picks up a character from a different generation. Burke gives them all distinct voices and attitudes, and while each looks back at the previous narrator from this new perspective, their stories are their own.

I found the middle chapters the most interesting. At this point the colony has established itself, and all the founders have died off, leaving only …

Great read! Realistic and yet positive and hopeful.

5 stars

Loosely a Cli-Fi but with out any unbearable dread. Not usually a fan of that specific scifi subgenre (not because it isnt good but because you know..the whole world.), and kind of exhausted with generation ship or space colonies, but damn the action kept coming and the world building was amazing. Loved all of the characters and felt attached to their hardship, struggle and success. Would highly recommend. Also good for plant lovers 🌿🌿🌿🌿!


  • Science Fiction