Still Forms on Foxfield

{4.5/5} “Communication is the first right. Life is communication. What is death but the irrevocable absence of communication? … Freedom, too, is communication. How can anyone be a prisoner when she can contact any person in the world at any time? ”

Still Forms on Foxfield by Joan Slonczewski, published in 1980

It’s not often that I reread books — there are just too many to read that I haven’t read. But once in a while I go back for a second look. I first read Still Forms on Foxfield around 20 years ago, and I had only the vaguest of memories of it.

Foxfield is a world colonized by Quakers. They assumed that something terrible had happened to Earth because they hadn’t heard from them in 100 years. But then they receive a message from the United Nations Interplanetary — and their representatives have arrived at Foxfield for a visit.

The Foxfield people are both excited and wary — the visitors have very different ways of doing things. But so do the Commensals, creatures native to Foxfield — plant-like beings that once in a while join together to form the One. They communicate naturally with chemisense but are able to communicate with humans, sometimes imprecisely, by sign language.

There’s a lot of dialogue in the book, as opposed to action, but it’s interesting dialogue — about such things as religion, democracy, and freedom. The Quakers have Meetings in order to discuss what needs to be discussed and make decisions by consensus. Slonczewski is a biology professor, and puts a lot of fascinating biological speculation into her books. She also creates interesting characters and dilemmas.

Slonczewski is one of my favourite authors — I even created a web site about her books. All of her books are worth reading — unfortunately for her fans, she’s too busy being a biology professor to write many books. When asked what my favourite book is I say Slonczewski’s A Door Into Ocean.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012 at 7:51 pm and is filed under Reviews of books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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