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Bios

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3.42  ·  Rating details ·  790 Ratings  ·  68 Reviews
In the 22nd century, humankind has colonized the solar system. Starflight is possible but hugely expensive, so humakind's efforts are focused on Isis, the one nearby Earthlike world. Isis is verdant, Edenic, rich with complex DNA-based plant and animal life. And every molecule of Isian life is spectacularly toxic to human beings. The entire planet is a permanent Level Four ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published August 10th 2000 by Gollancz (first published 1999)
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Carolyn
Interesting, but a bit disappointing in the end.

Figured out the scenarios about Zoe and the planet in advance (and if you've ever read Powers That Be, you'll also have a leg up on figuring things out), so no real surprises, a lot of buildup with no actual climax to the story. Kinda tapers off into the cycle beginning again.

That being said, I loved the environment on Isis, the descriptions are great, and the idea of a whole planet that humanity can look at but not touch is very cool - especiall
...more
Peter
Apr 15, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A young woman is sent to help study a distant alien planet, full of life but that is completely toxic to Earth life... but she's been manipulated her whole life, and there might be ulterior motives for sending her to the planet... and meanwhile, the number of fatal accidents keeps escalating.

There's not much to say about this book. It was okay. I normally come to this author for two things, really great concepts with a hint of weird to them, and well-developed realistic characters. This story pr
...more
Daniel Roy
May 03, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
I really wanted to like Bios. It's from my favorite SF author, after all: Robert Charles Wilson, the author of The Chronoliths, Darwinia and Spin. If this novel had been produced by an unknown author, I might have been more lenient; but unfortunately, as a Wilson novel, it lacks many of the characteristics that make Wilson's work great.

Wilson has made his mark in contemporary SF with his blend of mind-boggling SF concepts, and intimate character story arcs. Bios does present some interesting con
...more
Sergio
Feb 01, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dominick
Sep 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a lean, economical (just over 200 pages) and yet very satisfying SF read. Many writers would have got a trilogy out of this, or at least a 500-page epic, but Wilson instead focuses tightly. We have a far future space-opera sort of environment, in which humanity has spread into space, which has led to social fragmentation and new human communities and cultural norms developing, notably among the inhabitants of the Kuiper Belt. One of the grounds of differentiation between different human ...more
Lightreads
Zoe, a carefully engineered and physiologically augmented clone, is sent from autocratically-controlled earth to an exploration outpost on a new world. It’s hoped that she will be able to cope with the virulent Isis atmosphere, which eats people alive in under a minute. But Zoe has been tampered with, and no one knows that her mind and emotions might actually be her own now.

I’m reading Wilson’s catalog backwards, pretty much by accident, and it’s kind of shocking really. Sometime in the past twe
...more
Jeff Raymond
As I traverse through Robert Charles Wilson's body of work, I'm somewhat impressed by how hit or miss it can be. This book is almost a love letter to scientific/science fictional exploration and study, but it doesn't work more than it works, even if the ending is enjoyable and the parts are greater than the whole. It's a simple tale, almost a novella, about clones and alien races and the dangers in study, and it is a markedly different take than a lot of the books like it I've read.

What is it la
...more
Angela
Jul 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is more a horror science fiction story than RCW typically goes for, but he pulled it off. It was really scary, even though there was only one way it could end, so it shouldn't have been that suspenseful. There were a lot of interesting concepts - perhaps too many for such a short work; the dystopian nature of his future Earth is only a backdrop to the broader story. But he has developed that concept in later works, for example, Vortex, and the question of whether humans could recognize inte ...more
Pan
Feb 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book. It was well written. Easy and fast read. This is the first book I have read by Robert Charles Wilson. If other books he has written are like this or better - I thinks I would give them a shot. He has a witty, philosophical writing style. His description of characters and events are not unlike watching a suspenseful space film. Although without giving anything away. With some characters I felt I was left hanging.
Mark Cheverton
Dec 28, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
I really liked this. Humanity on its first world beyond Earth, battling against a hostile environment. It has echos of Cherryth's 40 thousand in Gehenna in its vivid depiction of an alien biosphere, alongside the complexity realised in Aldiss' Hothouse.

A short book, but well constructed with a refreshing conclusion - well worth a couple of evenings.
Kevin
Sep 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: paperbacks-home
This was a decent story and well written with good characters, but it was very short. I was just getting invested in this when it came to an end. I did like the world building and sense of adventure combined with a bit of political intrigue so that was a plus. Overall I would recommend it although with tempered expectations.
Josh
Aug 29, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Since reading Spin, I'll buy any book with the name Robert Charles Wilson on the binding. I haven't encountered a book of his that I like better than Spin (though Spin is one of my favorite novels of all time, so that might be unfair) and Bios definitely isn't the exception. It's not a bad read however; it just barely feels like a whole book.

All of RCW's books are captivating in their own way. If nothing else, he is a master of prose. His writing has no repetition and always flows smoothly from
...more
Ian
Jul 18, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Bios was a quick, fun read. Only 207 pages and chalked full of ideas, it read like a novella, maybe even like a short story. Indeed, the main downfall of Bios is that it presented too many ideas. There was too much to chew on and digest for a book of that length.

The characters were developed in a hurry in order for their motivations/actions to make sense, the way you would expect of characters in a short story. Accordingly, they came across a little robot-like, too obvious, a little too flavorl
...more
Christy
Robert Charles Wilson's Bios is a short but rewarding novel about the exploration of Isis, a distant planet that is earthlike in many important but that is also toxic to humans. Humans can only leave the protected outposts in bulky and not always reliable containment suits. Until Zoe arrives. Zoe brings with her new technology, both external (a new type of suit) and internal (she has been biologically modified in order to better withstand the toxic environment of Isis). The book is concerned wit ...more
Lara
So, C4 told me I should read Spin, and since we're both in love with Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice I figured I'd trust him and finally give it a try. But inexplicably our library doesn't have it, even though it won a Hugo! What on Earth? Anyway, we had like three other books of Wilson's in at my branch, and this one was the shortest and sounded the most interesting to me so I just checked it out instead because *shrug*.

Anyway, I'm still trying to decide what I think about it. I love stories ab
...more
Mr
Dec 09, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In an episode of the original STAR TREK series, “The Way to Eden” (Feb. 1969) a duplicitous pack of space-hippies hijack the starship to make landing on a legendary paradise planet. Eden is beautiful, but the plant life & fruit are full of a powerful, deadly acid. Enter Robert Charles Wilson’s unfortunately named planet “Isis” (his book was first published in 1999). The entire “Isian” biosphere, although deceptively earth-like, down to the molecular level, wants to break down and absorb alie ...more
Penny
Aug 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an interesting story. A short book (200 pg) packed with ideas and themes and enough to make me think about the story for a very long time. I liked the writing and how the story unfolded.

From the humans' point of view, there was so much potential - the potential of exploration, of new technology, of bright heroes and tech to save the day, of love unfolding, of discovery on every level. It was also about connecting with others and how humans are so poor at that - particularly the focal chara
...more
Sargeatm
Aug 02, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Im Prinzip handelt es sich bei Bios um eine Horrorgeschichte, die in wissenschaftlicher Nüchternheit erzählt wird. Zu Beginn ist das noch nicht ersichtlich, als es um die Erforschung eines neuen Planeten geht, bei der man auf Schwierigkeiten stösst. Doch relativ bald merkt man, dass der Mensch und seine ausgeklügelten Werkzeuge nicht mehr Herr der Lage sind.(view spoiler) ...more
Colleen
May 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are 4 outposts on a toxic planet filled with life, maybe intelligent life. The girl chosen by the Earth elites to join one of the outposts has been genetically modified to handle any infection, but someone removes her emotional stabilizers. What could possibly go wrong? Tight plot, characters who act logically, and an alien planet that is horribly real. It's a future where Earth has broken into a heirarchy of ruling elites, technocrats and the starving masses. The asteroid belt it home to ...more
Perry Whitford
Interesting, scientifically convincing warning prophecy about the hostile environments of alien worlds, very much in the vein of an updated Arthur C. Clarke.

There is plenty of hard science, "protein envelopes" and "Turing devices", but there are sympathetic, if thinly sketched, characters too, such as Zoe Fisher, a future human not dissimilar to Star Treks Data with his emotion chip turned on.

As the sub title says, it's a novel of planetary exploration, but from the scientists view, not the adv
...more
Mercedes McLean-Wheeler
I read this book a long time ago, so my judgement of it could be off. However, my purpose on visiting Goodreads today was to rid myself of some part of guilt for my mistreatment of this book, and I have done that. I picked this book up haphazardly and read it with some enjoyment, but the ending was horrible. I was furious. I actually,purposefully ripped the book in half. Not only did I never want to be tempted to read it again, I wanted no one else to stumble upon as I did. This happened some ye ...more
Nathan
Apr 17, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like many sci-fi stories, this one was based around a single concept (which I can't really talk about or it'll spoil the book). There's not really anything wrong with that, but it does tend to make the characters' stories less compelling. In such a short book it's hard to to really work up much emotional connection to the characters, although the author does sketch out a reasonable back story for the two main characters.

This book is well-written and interesting. It might have been better if it w
...more
Dorian D-W
Jan 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I find it difficult to rate Robert Charles Wilson poorly - he always comes through with excellent characters, good storytelling and interesting worlds that hint at something much much bigger.

Humanity has found its first exoplanet - thriving with life - but deadly to humans. Exploration is not easy - and with it comes confinement, isolation and a constant battle for survival.

You could fault Bios for being a bit short. A lot of details about the technology, political factions and Earth's history
...more
Gendou
Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another great book, as I've come to expect from Robert Charles Wilson.
You got your space travel, your conscious alien biosphere, your augmented humans, etc.
I did groan at the wild abuse of quantum entanglement as faster-than-light communication device, and the origin of consciousness.
Both of these are childish misconceptions that nobody in their right mind should find believable.
Oh well, swallow that bitter pill, and the rest of the book was pretty interesting.
I like how the "orphan" theme was r
...more
Stephen
Jun 26, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A book with all kinds of potential that just never seems to take off. Loved the setting of a beautiful but toxic to human life planet and the idea of a explorer trained and, so some degree, built to see if the planet can be tamed but neither she nor the other the characters ever engendered much investment in the their lives. Almost seems like the story should have been cut down into a short story or expanded into a longer novel. At 214 pages it is pretty short and it suffers from too much set up ...more
Jday
Apr 30, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jeff
Oct 20, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
A short but entertaining book by Robert Charles Wilson, probably a 3.5 star book in my opinion. Really interesting world building and I like how the story morphed in to a sort of alien disaster story. One thing I didn't like was how one of the alien races on the planet became a main interest in the story but nothing significant was really learned about them even though the story concluded in their settlement. The finale was kind of quick and unfulfilled. I did like the epilogue, I thought it rea ...more
Ralph
Sep 29, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I stumbled across this book in a used bookstore. I picked it up because I had heard of Robert Charles Wilson from his various awards and nominations. It was a nice book. Nothing spectacular, though. A very traditional hard-SF novel (e.g. the heroes are scientists). The only real variant from convention was the fact that it was focused on biology rather than astronomy and/or physics. It was well-crafted, too. I wasn't dazzled but it wasn't a waste of time either, and I'm curious enough that I wil ...more
Charles Harrison
As usual I was suckered into what felt like a rich universe with some lovely geopolitical stuff going on. The story itself is fairly solid with plenty of excitement and an excellent sense of impending doom. The ending however disappoints with various characters becoming a little two dimensional (cruel manager is cruel, lovesick guy is lovesick etc.). The actual climax is clever enough but is a little forced with the explanations literally spelled out for you. An enjoyable enough read and certain ...more
Liam Proven
A slightly odd effort from RCW. Doesn't go in any of the directions you might reasonably expect, or indeed, arguably, in any particular direction at all - but has a wealth of satisfying detail for all that. The speculations about future humanity were interesting; the ones about the alien ecosphere of the title had some obvious howlers from a biologist's POV, but were nonetheless enjoyable, albeit a little implausible feeling.

Rich, varied, interesting, but it felt almost like the first half of an
...more
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I've been writing science fiction professionally since my first novel A Hidden Place was published in 1986. My books include Darwinia, Blind Lake, and the Hugo Award-winning Spin. My newest novel is The Affinities (April 2015).
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