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(Semiosis Trilogy #1)

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  8,824 ratings  ·  1,289 reviews
In this character driven novel of first contact by debut author Sue Burke, human survival hinges on an bizarre alliance.

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

Forced to land on a planet they aren't prepared for, human colonists rely on their limited resources to survive. The planet provi
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 6th 2018 by Tor Books
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Kayla The first thing I mentioned in my review was that I'm glad I read Hidden Life of Trees prior to reading Semiosis. Glad I'm not the only one that thoug…moreThe first thing I mentioned in my review was that I'm glad I read Hidden Life of Trees prior to reading Semiosis. Glad I'm not the only one that thought of it!(less)
Patrick Stirling I found the early parts a bit of a struggle, the writing is a little dry and definitely slow moving. But I'm glad I stuck with it! The story grows on …moreI found the early parts a bit of a struggle, the writing is a little dry and definitely slow moving. But I'm glad I stuck with it! The story grows on you and Burke introduces some really interesting ideas.(less)

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JV (semi-hiatus)
Jun 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Year 108 - Generation 7

The name of this Planet and Commonwealth shall be Pax as a reminder to ourselves for all time of our aspirations.
— from the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pax

Earth — a fruitful planet once dear to my ancestors. Rummaging through the history of our own civilisation, Earth was indeed a magnificent place to live in until the day animals and plantations began to die. The ecological disaster was irreparable. A privately-funded project was then initiated to send a c
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: ?
Recommended to carol. by: Cillian
Shelves: meh, sci-fi
I need a good solid hate read in my life, or at least I need to find a book that doesn’t leave me with this much ambivalence. A buddy read with Cillian, she found this one far more displeasing than I. (spoiler: though with reviewing, I edged further into the negative). I, in typical carol. endurance fashion, persevered, and found it to be a very uneven experience.

The premise is straightforward: a group of colonists has landed on Pax, fleeing Earth’s environmental catastrophes and endless wars. T
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)

💀 DNF at 42% 💀

Why, despite uncanny, superhuman (and quite heroic) efforts on my part to finish this book, I ended up DNFing the fish out of it and making a quick, life-preserving escape with the help of Edward my ferocious, ballistic missile-like pet snail.

The Let’s Bail Snail™, never leave home without it! Now available at the ridiculously low price of $1,256,559! Please contact Fleet Admiral DaShrimp, our homicidal sales manager, for details.

Survivalist/apocalyptic type stories me like not v
Apr 25, 2018 rated it liked it
So, imagine eating a bagel. When you're eating, you think, "Now that there is amylose and amylopectin starch entering my system, I should increase transcription of amylase-producing genes so that I can break down these starches into glucose and initiate cellular respiration to turn glucose into ATP to power my cells. Yes! I can feel my ATPase getting ready for action."

Uh, no. I'm pretty sure this isn't what's going through your head (in mine: creamy cream cheese! chewy gluteny toasty!). But the
Mar 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sue Burke’s debut novel Semiosis is an episodic novel that combines contemporary social science fiction with pulp-era adventure. A combination of Colony SF and first contact narrative, it tells the story of successive generations of human settlers – fleeing an earth ravaged by disease, disaster and war – on a planet they call Pax, and their attempts to coexist first with the planet’s sentient plant life, then with an insect-like alien race that had colonized the planet long before. Each section ...more
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
3.25 stars. Review first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Semiosis is a science fiction novel with an appealing hook: what if space-faring humanity found a world where plants are intelligent — in some cases arguably more intelligent than humans — and can communicate in their own unique ways? In the latter half of the 21st century, a group of fifty idealistic humans leave Earth, which is beset by a global warming crisis and social problems, to settle another planet far away, which they name Pax. Two
Sep 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This novel was a most pleasant surprise, driving way beyond my character-oriented expectations and diving right into some hardcore generational storytelling on an alien world with an EXTREMELY interesting dominant life form. :)

I really loved the whole pacifist angle and loved how many problems it caused. But on the other hand, it set up a very cool mutualism with the aggressive bamboo.

I recommend this book for all you folks who loved Children of Time, Grass, or any other hard-SF author dealing
Kayla Dawn
Nov 03, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned-books
3,5* - this was a veeeery slow read for me. I don't know why exactly but it never felt like I was making any progress.. which did not help regarding my enjoyment. Which is unfortunate because I really enjoyed everything else.

The story was very unique and interesting, I especially liked the concept of it being told through different generations. While it was harder to connect to the characters that way (too many short povs for that) it gave a great insight on everything that was going on and it
Mogsy (MMOGC)
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

Semiosis is a multi-generational story that takes place over the course of many years, following a group of human colonists who have traveled light years from Earth to settle on a planet they dubbed Pax. The first pioneers, made up of mostly young scientists and activists who were saddened by the plight of their polluted and war-torn world, hoped to start over and establish a peaceful society on this newly discovered plane
Allison Hurd
Argh, this was almost so freaking awesome. Instead it was just fine. Lots of cool bits. Lots of parts that annoyed me, but well packaged enough to be quick entertainment.

CONTENT WARNING: (no actual spoilers, just a list of topics) (view spoiler)

Things that were awesome

-The world. Exceptionally well realized and diverse. The author did a fantastic job making it feel foreig
Peter Tillman
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An impressively thoughtful and original science-fiction novel. As always, please read the header blurb first. 4.5 stars, rounded up. Bravo!

50 colonists flee a future Earth, wracked by warfare and ecologic collapse. They hope to make a fresh start on a new planet far, far away. After 150-some years in hibernation, they awake to find a promising green world below. The landing doesn’t go well: one of the landers crashes, killing 12 settlers and destroying irreplaceable equipment. Another four die f
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Space colonization, first contact and non-human intelligence feature in this wonderful generational story with lots of crunchy science fictional sociology and biology.

The planet of Pax has had a billion years more evolution than Earth ecosystems. Intelligence abounds, sometimes in unusual places like in plants that can communicate with the rest of their rich ecosystem and manipulate animals for their own ends. This novel tells the stories of descending generations from the very first settlers as
Plants are everywhere and they might also be our overlords. Sue Burke, in her essay, gave apple as an example. Apple trees hope you’ll eat their fruit, then throw away the core with its seeds so apples can expand their range. They originated in central Asia and now get tender loving care in orchards all over the world. In some regions, they even shape the economy and the lives of many people. Mission accomplished.

In this novel, Burke brought us to Pax, a newly colonized planet where a handful of
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: stars-4-0, r2018
I usually find books that have ‘generational’ narrators, the story jumping several years/decades ahead, a tad difficult to connect. Semiosis was different in the sense that it caught my interest early and didn’t relent. We follow a group of human colonists trying to start anew on a different planet, escaping the excesses and horrors of Earth. However this world of Pax has a very different vegetation, one that first puzzles, but ultimately endangers them. These plants are ‘aware’ and even attaini ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
Chek-ooo! Kak!

'Semiosis' is an astounding science fiction read. There are so many ideas written into the plot book clubs could extend discussions of the book to two nights! Yet YA readers will have lots of action and suspense to enjoy. Only those readers who dislike generation sagas might be disappointed in the book. However, unlike many sagas, this novel is fast-paced and character-driven.

The author concentrates on a few characters from several generations in the establishment of a human colon
***Note: I received a copy curtesy of Netgalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge in exchange for an honest review.

Wanting to leave behind numerous conflicts, warfare and ecological disasters, a group of colonists departs Earth, to create a new, better life. They decide to land on another planet than the one they set out to, based on very good readings from their ship, so they arrive on PAX (latin for peace) with few casualties. Here, they try to form a society based on peace and harmony, avoiding conflic
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-read
A solid 4 star read for me.

This is a first contact, multi-generational planetary settlement story that focuses on the characters and group sociology. I personally love this kind of book, so it was a winner for me right from the start. Such an interesting take this was too, with the sentient local species that engages with the human settlers being a plant. I liked too that while some of the expected patterns of behaviour do play out, there is a realistic commitment to a higher ideal by the settl
Renee Godding
Jun 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Actual Rating: 4.25/5 stars

Not a perfect novel, but exactly the kind of sci-fi I love. Really enjoyed this read.

Full review to come
Oct 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-read
Semiosis is the first book in a duology by Sue Burke about a small group of around 50 human colonists trying to survive on a planet they call Pax which is populated with exotic fauna and flora, in particular a sentient plant.

The story is told in a series of chapters, each of which serve as independent short stories or novelettes. These are often set a significant distance in the future, centered around subsequent generations, so characters from one chapter can reappear significantly aged in anot
Holly (Holly Hearts Books)
This is a first contact with aliens story. It begins with a small civilization of about 30 people from earth and they are living on a new planet they call Pax to create a new Utopia. Environmental devastation on Earth is what lead them to go on this mission in the first place. Immediately they begin studying the local animals, the gravity, and plant life. Villagers start dying quickly. They don’t suffer. It’s like they have fallen asleep. After some research they realize it’s the fruit that they ...more
Burke examines the secret life of plants. Specifically, "what ifs" surrounding sentience. A multi-generational human saga, while the plants have a much longer lifespan. Had a YA feel which for me is a turn off. The sentient plant reminded me of other works in which artificial intelligence attains sentience. Apparently with sentience comes ambition, guilt and a smattering of malevolence. There was some humor associated with the various types of plants and some rivalries with animals. Interesting ...more
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
Excellent SF with a focus on biology, in this case the relationship between human colonists on a planet they’ve named Pax, and an intelligent plant. Reminded me - in the best possible way - of Children of Time in the way it invited us into the interior life of Stevland, as the plant comes to be called, and the completely different connection the human build with it.
Mar 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Three and half stars.

(Apologies for my English, I’m trying to improve it, thanks!)

Much of what I comment in this review can be read in the first chapter (and I must note that the cover and synopsis of the book reveals more than this review, if you don't want spoilers don't read it). In short, “Semiosis” explains the colonization of an unknown planet, a planet with a rich ecology. The colonists call it Pax.

The Pacifists, trying to distance from Earth's wars and ecological disasters, organize the
Dawn C
Wow. WOW. Terran collonists learning to communicate and survive on an alien planet with the help of sentient plantlife. This is one stunning, engrossing piece of Le Guin-esque work of speculative scifi.

I do agree with others that it took a while for the plot to evolve, but that somehow seems fitting, as this is a generations story. We follow different individuals from different years, with each their specific story and point of view. I liked that way of telling it because even though it is on th
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Grateful for this opportunity to create a new society in full harmony with nature, we enter into this covenant, promising one another our mutual trust and support. We will face hardship, danger, and potential failure, but we can aspire to the use of practical wisdom to seek joy, love, beauty, community, and life.“

Within the first few pages this turned into a dangerous endeavor with creepy plants that seemed to be after the small band of colonists. I was very quickly immersed in the storytelling
Apr 22, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: scifi-club-read
How to justify my 3 star rating? The beginning of the book was very rough on my brain. I had an extremely difficult time getting past

1. A space faring civilization, whose A.I. picked the perfect planet yet couldn't compensate for the higher gravity when landing?

2. A space faring civilization who can send 50 people light years away but couldn't spare the weight for an extra food synthesizer? Really the loss of that could have been done in a 100 more believable ways.

3. A 50 person colony? I didn'
Sep 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
semiosis = coined by Charles Sanders Peirce to describe a process that interprets signs as referring to their objects, as described in his theory of sign relations, or semiotics.

semiotics = any activity, conduct, or process that involves signs, including the production of meaning.

This book is part one in a duology (the second one will be published this October) and tells the story of the planet known as Pax. Pax is an Earth-like planet that was therefore explored (and settled) by some humans. N
Sherwood Smith
Mar 05, 2018 added it
Shelves: sf
Fifty years in the future, a group of humans leaving an Earth troubled by global warming, for a new planet.

We begin with the the first group arriving on the world they call Pax 150 years after they took off. Pax is the name picked ahead of time to cement their intention to live in harmony with one another and with their world; they had aimed at another, but woke to find the ship off course, so they located a planet that seemed to fit their requirements.

Alas, very soon this seeming paradise prove
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't expecting much from this book, but I ended up really loving it. It's so smart, creative, and I would just totally recommend this! I've never read anything like it and 100% see myself rereading it in the future! ...more
Stevie Kincade
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was attracted to this book by Gary's review and the premise of a first contact story combined with a generational colony story, two of my absolute favourite SF setups.
In the first chapter the colonists encounter two competing sentient plant based life forms and with all the trepidation and foreshadowing of teens entering a spooky house in a horror flick, choose their botanical side.
The second chapter moves forward a generation and unearths a major cover up. At the end of the second chapter ab
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I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, lived briefly in Austin, Texas, y'all, and moved with my husband to Madrid, Spain, in December 1999. Then back to the US, specifically Chicago, in July 2016.

I've worked for forty years as a journalist, both as a reporter and editor, and I translate from Spanish to English.

I also write poetry, essays, and fiction, especially science fiction.

Other books in the series

Semiosis Trilogy (2 books)
  • Interference (Semiosis Duology, #2)

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