Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Sentenced to Prism (Humanx Commonwealth, #12)” as Want to Read:
Sentenced to Prism (Humanx Commonwealth, #12)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Sentenced to Prism

(Humanx Commonwealth #12)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  1,488 ratings  ·  64 reviews
The company had a big problem, it was illegally exploiting a fabulously rich planet maned Prism, a world where even the tiniest creatures were living jewels. But somehow, all contact had been lost with the scientist of the survey team. The Company didn't want to draw attention to itself by sending in a rescue mission so they assigned Evan Orgell, a self-confident problem-s ...more
Mass Market Paperback, First, 273 pages
Published September 12th 1985 by Del Rey (first published August 12th 1985)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Sentenced to Prism, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Sentenced to Prism

Dune by Frank HerbertThe Martian Chronicles by Ray BradburyDragon Dawn by Deborah O'Neill CordesMatter of Resistance by Raymond VogelFoundation by Isaac Asimov
Alien Planets
217 books — 82 voters
The Mote in God's Eye by Larry NivenThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardA Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor VingeRingworld by Larry Niven
Best aliens.
296 books — 267 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Rating details
Sort: Default
Paul E. Morph
Jul 31, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is no prison or jail in this book. The title is a pun. I love bad puns so this book had me onside from page one.

In this novel, Alan Dean Foster is entering horror territory. It's not like he doesn't know the terrain; he did write the first three Alien novelisations after all. What makes this science fiction/horror novel unique (in my reading experience anyway) is that it manages to be scary at the other end of the visible spectrum.

What unifies virtually all horror stories? That's right; th
Jan 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I love this book. It is one of my favorites.
I went to a book signing for Alan Dean Foster a number of years ago. I know that you are supposed to buy their new book and have them sign it. Instead I went there with a very beat up copy of this book and embarrassingly handed it to him and asked him if he would please sign this book for me. He got a huge smile and told me how happy he was that I had brought that book in for him to sign. He said he could see that I loved that book. It is so beat up an
Sep 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Perfect book for me. I love engineering/tech heroes, for obvious reason (I'm an engineer IRL). I've read this book multiple times. The creatures and ecosystem of Prism are brilliant and intriguing.

I love the silicon based life forms and their approach to function. If only modifying our own bodies was that simple. Also, Foster's handling of the main character's neurosis and conditioning was really well done. The main characters reactions to things were very plausible, especially transition from t
Forrest Norvell
May 16, 2011 rated it liked it
Oh, Alan Dean Foster, you're so entertainingly daffy.

I first read this as a teen who was a huge fan of Foster's Flinx books, and only now as an adult can I see and appreciate the pulpy tradition of adventure sf that Foster works / worked within. The protagonist is a Space Yuppie brought to question his company's / society's values through environmental trials and the intervention of friendly Space Muppets, and the story is a stock adventure yarn that would have seemed completely familiar to any
Dec 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Never having read any of the Humanx Commonwealth stories but having determined that this was a stand-alone tale, I decided that it would give me a toe-test into that universe without commiting me to read the next in a very long sequence and so on and I'm very glad I did so.

Prism is a planet with a uniquely crystaline enviroment and which supports both silicon and carbon-based life forms and when the company loses communications with its research group on the planet, they send in their best troub
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
When I first read this book a dozen years ago, my favorite thing and lasting impression was Prism itself, a planet with life-forms based on silicon instead of carbon. It took me years to find the book again based on such scant information, but thanks to the internet and a blogger who cataloged his favorite sci-fi novels, I was able to read it again. While that was certainly a nostalgic trip, I feel like it stood up well to my, now adult, expectations. It's no wonder the silicon-based world stuck ...more
Steven Odhner
Aug 05, 2012 rated it liked it
I'm only writing a review to complain about one thing. This book tries to hook the reader in by starting in the middle of a crisis and then going into a flashback. One problem... the book never catches up to itself. The scene on the cover is the one I'm referring to. The main character has fallen, and he can't get up. But as the story progresses, the suit he's in is disabled and destroyed rendering the opening scene impossible. It seems odd that the editor didn't catch that one.
Dec 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
3.5 / 5

From Casual Debris.

As a pre-teen in the mid-1980s, I read a modest of amount of science fiction, and for a few years enjoyed the campy works of Alan Dean Foster. I read about thirty of his books published in the 1970s up until about 1990, including a number of the novelizations. The books are quick reads and I found them to be colourfully imaginative, though many I found, even at that time, to be quite dull (Cachalot and Voyage to the City of the Dead come to mind). Eventually I abandoned
Mar 24, 2009 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Barbara Dycus
Jul 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
When you read books from ADF you can visualize the world he has so carefully described to you. Makes you feel that he has been there and invited you to look through a photo album. I can't get enough of his books.
Jun 24, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
If you don't like sci-fi you won't like this one, but for sci-fi it wasn't bad. Alan Dean Foster's descriptions of the planet get a bit verbose after a while, but that is part of the genre.
Drew Grgich
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
First - one star of this rating is easily due to nostalgia. This was one of the first "harder" science fiction books I read. It is not really hard sci-fi - more like gentle medium - but it is definitely not a simple lasers and spaceships sci-fi tale.

The story is straight forward. A freelance explorer/problem solved who lives life on a planet where humans are protected 24x7 in exosuits of one kind or another is tasked with finding out what happened to an exploration team on a strange new world -
Joshua Pike
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Foster is one of my favorite authors, in large part because of books like this. The book is about a man who is sent to Prism to investigate the problems an outpost is having. Prism is potentially a very profitable, but is very hard to work on, planet. The fact they have to keep what it is and where it is secret makes it all the more hard (partly because they are operating on a gray area legally, partly to stop competition).
To that end he is given the best mech/survival suit that money can buy. H
Malgorzata Wilk
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-reading
This is one of my comfort reads. I don't remember how many times I have read it. It's a great story about first contact and how our conceptions about life, the universe and everything else may not be the only ones and not necessarilly correct. There may be others who view it differently. It's a book about tollerance, about deceiving appearances and friendship. I particularly like the gentle humour that Foster writes into the storyline and generally his writing style. Even after so many years it' ...more
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Except for a few minor continuity issues, I loved this book! I’d never read anything by this author before, but my boyfriend gave me this book for Christmas thinking that I would like it. He was right. The author has created a really fascinating and unique world. I could barely put the book down as I had to know what happened next. Very easy to read.
Kevin Ryan
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
How could a book with an intelligent talking glass caterpillar friend and other similar aliens get anything but 5 stars. I really enjoyed it. Reminds of the first books that Heinlein wrote for teens. He wrote for teens not down to teens.
Ruby Hollyberry
This does not seem to be one of Foster's better known books, which surprises me as it is truly awesome. The best "new wrinkle" on the Mechanized Suit theme in SF I've ever read. Also a really amazing, beautiful world, one of my all-time favorites. It is alarming and disgusting but also exquisite and appealing by turns. There are frequently books in SF about the first human ambassador to a new sentient alien species (very often rather than choosing to be such they are selected inadvertently, perh ...more
Mar 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Another great Alan Dean Foster novel. In some ways ADF reminds me of Michael Crichton. Both wrote of richly detailed places that existed only in their imaginations. Both put a lot science into their science fiction. Unlike Crichton, Foster is a great writer and his characters are interesting.

I usually write the date that I finish a book on the first page. This one had no such notation. After reading it for a while, I realized that I had read it before, probably about 15 to 18 years ago. I had f
Lynnea Taylor
Jun 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This was a fun quick read but rife with great descriptions of an alien world. The intelligent inhabitants are so wonderfully developed and in such a creative way. I loved that they were not your typical bipedal humanoid aliens. The protagonist, Even Orgell spends much of the time just surviving the hostile and unknown world of Prism. Through sheer luck, he meets with a Prism inhabitant of intelligence and not only becomes friends but is accepted into the 'tribe' the alien is from. From there, we ...more
Vaughn Ohlman
Jun 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a book about redemption. An immoral man is sent to a strange planet by an immoral company to figure out why their immoral actions are not working. With an abundance of hubris and technology the man lands on the planet, and is quickly and definitively relieved of his pride and his machines. Only once he hits bottom does his redemption begin.

It is also a book about a fascinatingly interesting planet. One of the fun things about reading sci-fi is that the authors are allowed to stretch thei
Nov 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Eddie by: Mike Hanas
Shelves: adventure, sci-fi
A very creative world building. Different aliens that I probably have ever encountered. The story moved well, but believability was the drawback. For such a cautious fixit man, he is rather cavalier at time (when it would be important to be cautious) which I didn't buy. Also, the ending was seemed a little too easy of a wrap up for a serious adult book. It may have worked better for a young adult or children's book, but it seemed a little to easy to wrap it up in the way the heroes wanted to. Al ...more
Oct 07, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Probably not
There were a few ideas that influenced my own way of thinking about science and the real solutions that come from fiction. Other than that, this book was unremarkable. Neither good nor bad, but maybe the beginning of an appearant trend in Foster's work. I began to get the feeling with this book that he was writing for two reasons. One was to introduce more radical ideas that really didn't help his genre. The other was because he was contracted to write something and this was what he came up with ...more
Oct 05, 2010 rated it liked it
Written in 1985, this novel is an interesting study in truly foreign xenobiology, in this case, a silicon and carbon planet, with life forms from both bases and a few hybrids. Foster keeps the focus on the main characters enough that the science doesn’t overwhelm the fiction, and his sense of humor is evident throughout. Still, it’s early Foster, relatively speaking, and doesn’t have the same je ne sais quoi as his later works. Enjoyable, but not stellar. Pun intended.
Rebekah Shafer
Aug 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: in-2015
I read "Sentenced to Prism" on the recommendation of a good friend. (As a stand alone. I haven't read any of the preceding works.) While hard sci/fi isn't usually my cup of tea, I did enjoy this book and the fascinating little layers of science and world it built. It's in the older style, yes, but that lent a certain measure of charm. While I'm not blown away, it was an interesting and enjoyable read, and rather satisfying in its own prism-built way.
Robert Stanley
Apr 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
My all-time favorite of his books in the Humanx Commonwealth series. His creativity and imagination in creating alien creatures is what made me a fan of Alan, and this one is the most unique of all of his books; An entire world in which the life forms are all silicon based instead of carbon based. I've read this book several times and always recommend this one first for those looking to get into this exceptional series.
John Pombrio
Feb 11, 2010 rated it it was amazing
One of Mr. Foster's best. The world he creates is full of surprises to the people who go there and the reader who follows. Finding a world based on silicon life forms and intelligent life based on their form and function rather than just evolution is very, very clever. The story twists keeps me reading it over and over. A must read for ADF readers.
Doug Dandridge
Jun 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Any fan of classic scifi
A very good story from Foster.
Set in the Humanx space series and not starring Pip and Flix, Sentenced to Prism is about a man's quest to survive on a world populated by silicon based crystalline creatures. As always Foster is a master of creating alien life and ecologies. A quirky little book that kept me entertained on several occasions.
Wynand Schoonbee
I've read and re-read Sentenced to Prism a few times over the years. It is one of my childhood favorites. It's a quick and easy read with fascinating aliens and a diverse & interesting alien ecology. 5 stars!
Chris Mccoy
Jun 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Very underrated. Some great concepts in here about what it is to be sentient. This is hard sci-fi at it's best. It challenges your thinking and makes you look at the world in a different way. There are two truly horrifying scenes in this book that will make your skin crawl. Highly recommend you try it.
Chris King
Feb 23, 2012 rated it liked it
I read this as a teenager.

Back then I read sci-fi and fantasy almost exclusively, and this author (ADF) was one of my favorites; in particular, his Spellsinger series.

Don't know if I would like this book the same if I re-read it as an adult, but I remember enjoying it. I think I read it twice back then...
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • David Falkayn: Star Trader (Technic Civilization 2)
  • Stronghold Rising (Sholan Alliance, #6)
  • Conqueror (The General, #3-5)
  • Janus (Janus, #1-2)
  • The Hub: Dangerous Territory (The Hub)
  • Voyager in Night (Age of Exploration, #2)
  • The War With Earth (New Kashubia, #2)
  • The Nowhere Hunt
  • Phule Me Twice (Phule's Company, #4)
  • The Lifeship
  • Skyfall (Saga of the Skolian Empire, #9)
  • Lazarus Rising (Starfist, #9)
  • Pandora's Legions
  • The Giants Novels (Giants, #1-3)
  • A Different Light
Bestselling science fiction writer Alan Dean Foster was born in New York City in 1946, but raised mainly in California. He received a B.A. in Political Science from UCLA in 1968, and a M.F.A. in 1969. Foster lives in Arizona with his wife, but he enjoys traveling because it gives him opportunities to meet new people and explore new places and cultures. This interest is carried over to his writing, ...more

Other books in the series

Humanx Commonwealth (1 - 10 of 28 books)
  • The Tar-Aiym Krang (Pip & Flinx #1)
  • Bloodhype (Pip & Flinx #2)
  • Icerigger (Icerigger, #1)
  • Midworld (Humanx Commonwealth, #4)
  • Orphan Star (Pip & Flinx #3)
  • The End of the Matter (Pip & Flinx #4)
  • Mission to Moulokin (Icerigger, #2)
  • Cachalot (Humanx Commonwealth, #8)
  • Nor Crystal Tears (Humanx Commonwealth, #9)
  • For Love of Mother-Not (Pip & Flinx #5)