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(Semiosis Duology #1)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  2,986 ratings  ·  507 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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3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,986 ratings  ·  507 reviews

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✘✘ 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 ve
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
Sh3lly (
Review also found at:

Semiosis is a debut novel about a small group of humans who travel from an environmentally-damaged Earth to a new planet, in hopes of starting over in a new community based on peace, mutual respect, and hope. Troubles arise as soon as they begin making the planet, which they name Pax, home. Much of the story is about survival – learning how to farm new fields and plant native crops, which animals can be tamed, and which are predators,
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
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
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
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, stars-4-0
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
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.
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
***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
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
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
The Captain
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Ahoy there me mateys! I received this sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. So here be me honest musings . . .

Well mateys. I learned a new word from this novel. Semiosis. Cool sounding word. Wasn’t sure of it’s exact meaning. So I be sharing with me hearties:

semiosis : a process in which something functions as a sign to an organism.

Yup, this book was indeed all about that. A bunch of folk from Earth have dreams of creating a new space colony dedicated to being in harmony w
Mar 13, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Sue Burke's "Semiosis: A Novel" is shallowly written, flat, and poorly characterized. I waded through 21% of it before it added in truly nonsensical and distasteful events. At that point, I threw it down in disgust. Horrible 1 star out of 5.
Michael Scott
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Sketch of a review:
+ There have been numerous sci-fi writings about the value of a communion human-biosphere. This being sci-fi, the communion does not need to take place on Earth, and does not need to be harmonious or even successful (e.g., as in the horror-grade story of Solaris, by Stanislaw Lem). The cultural community of Japan, especially Manga, has taken up and expanded on a version of Gaia, e.g., Hayao Miyazaki's entire work in manga including Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.
+ In the 1
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!
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Read as an e-book after my library acted on my suggestion to buy this.

I have to admit, I am still inexperienced with e-books and I'm afraid that I don't process them quite the same way I would if I were reading the paper edition. So, I don't know for sure if I'm evaluating the different aspects of this the way I would 'normally' ... the way you're used to if you read my reviews regularly.

That being said:

I *love* the premise of this story, starting with first contact with aliens who are truly al
Jun 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-unread-ebook
I had high hopes for this and while there were aspects I quite enjoyed, overall I found it a tad underwhelming.

RTC later! I need to think about it more tbh.
Semiosis follows the first hundred years or so of human settlement on the planet Pax, moving between the generations of colonists. My favourite sections were the descriptions of the planet's animal and plants, both of which have certain characteristics that are reminiscent of animals and plants on Earth but, in other and more fundamental ways, are entirely different. How much more challenging it is for human society to evolve in its new home when the plantlife takes such an interest.
Lilyn G. | Sci-Fi & Scary
I read this as a buddy read with Jess from Storytime in the Stacks.

Semiosis was an odd book that evoked many different emotions. I started out loving the book because of the sheer imagination displayed, but was pretty sure at some points that I was going to end up hating it. However, my affection for the book would gain ground again just a few chapters later. I can't say I outright loved the book, but I actively wanted to finish it - and that's been difficult for me to do lately. 

There are aspec

Mar 10, 2018 rated it liked it
This book details a multigenerational saga on an alien planet which an idealistic human group escapes the conflicts and struggles of Earth’s society to build their own utopia: Pax. The hostile environment of the adopted planet and the succeeding human generation interpret both the intention, laws, and actions of those who went before them. Then there are intelligent plants which starts to make you feel like this is going to be Little Shop of Horrors. It seriously took at least 80% of this book b ...more
May 29, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
Read 112 pages before deciding to move on. The writing is solid, the story is quite original. Colonists have left earth to set up a Utopia on a planet called Pax. The plants begin to rebel and cause problems, and so does the new society. The science about plants was interesting enough, but I wasn't overly sold on the characters or the episodic structure. Brings something pretty cool in concept but just didnt execute it well enough for me. Solaris does it better and somehow brings it all together ...more
Jessica Woodbury
Sometimes I get some audiobook anxiety. (Lol, nice one Jess, like you're all casual and chill about it when in fact you are NOT.) The day of my audiobook anxiety unfortunately happened to be the day that CHILDREN OF TIME had an audiobook promo, which only reminded me of how much I enjoyed that audiobook and then made me want to get that book's twin so I could have that experience again. This is setting yourself up for disappointment. Maybe in some genres you can get really close readalikes, but ...more
Dec 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Semiosis is the story of a group of like-minded individuals who are fed up with humanity decide to leave Earth and find a new planet far away to colonize. They are against war, pollution, rich vs poor, etc. They have lofty goals and have even gone so far as to create a new constitution but things don’t go quite as planned.

It’s told in changing points of view spanning about a century.
The first is one of the original travelers from Earth. Through him we learn of the hardships and losses they’ve h
This is an amazing book. The basic concepts behind it are solid and whilst having some familiar elements manages to achieve something quite special. The story and world are well developed and the characters even more so. The point of view changes and follows different characters over time. Usually a support type character becomes the next point of view character. I would highly recommend this to everyone and am very curious about the sequel which should be released in 2019.
Danielle Tremblay

I won’t summarize the story. Many reviewers did it very well. Let’s just say that’s a first novel for Ms. Burke and that’s an awesome debut.
Year 1 – Generation 1
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.
Judy Lesley
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Many thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan-Tor/Forge for allowing me to read a digital galley of this wonderful debut novel.

What a pleasure this science fiction book was to read. Author Sue Burke's construction and writing style actually made me slow down and enjoy this story she crafted for readers instead of racing through it like my hair was on fire. There are seven segments of the novel with a different narrator from a different generation to guide us through the history of the group of colonist
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it

اگر اهل خواندن کتاب های علمی تخیلی باشید، می دانید که داستان بسیاری از این کتاب ها راجع به 'اولین تماس' است: وقتی انسان ها با اولین موجود هوشمند غیر از خودشان برخورد می کنند. از بین صدها کتاب و فیلم راجع به این موضوع، هرگز به داستانی برخورد نکردم که در آن اولین موجودات فضایی که آدم ها می بینند، جانور نباشند. ولی اگر اولین موجودات هوشمندی که می بینیم، گیاه باشند چه؟ 😯

سمیوسیس اولین کتاب خانم سو برک، راجع به انسان هایی است که زمین را در جستجوی سیاره ای برای زندگی، ترک می کنند و زمانی که در طول سفر
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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 Duology (2 books)
  • Interference (Semiosis Duology, #2)
“You must control bugs,” I say. “Bugs no eat fruit,” it answers. In other words, how can you control an animal except with fruit? “Change sap for bugs. Like this.” I show a chemical. “Sap will control animals.” “Bugs no eat fruit.” “Bugs drink sap.” “Yes,” it says. “Bugs no eat fruit.” “Change sap for bugs because bugs drink sap, no eat fruit.” “Bugs no eat fruit.” I realize that we are related plants, both bamboos, in fact, and our shared physiology is the only reason I can have a conversation of any complexity. The hedge along the river is too small to have many sentient roots. The presence of other snow vines triggers an aggressive growth, but this hedge has lived alone and is content to lead a manicured little life parasitizing its aspens and putting down more guard roots than it needs, thus serving the humans without realizing it. It has no need for intelligence, none at all. “Change sap for bugs,” I repeat, hoping that repetition will of itself prove persuasive. “Big animals eat bugs.” “Bugs no eat fruit.” “Big animals eat bugs.” “Big animals eat bugs,” the snow vine repeats. I have made progress. “Yes,” I say. “Change sap for bugs.” “Big animals eat bugs.” “Yes. Change sap for bugs. Like this.” “Bugs eat sap,” it says. “Bugs are pests.” “Bugs are good. Big animals eat bugs like fruit.” The snow vine stammers some meaningless chemical compounds and finally says, “Bugs are like fruit.” This is very significant progress. “Bugs are like fruit,” I agree. “Bugs eat sap. Change sap. Sap will control two animals.” “Sap will control bugs. Big animals eat bugs.” “Yes. You must change sap for bugs and animals.” “I will change sap for bugs and animals.” At last! “Yes. Change sap like this.” I deliver some prototype chemicals.” 2 likes
“Equality is not a fact, like the length of days... Equality is an idea, a belief, like beauty.” 0 likes
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