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(Semiosis Duology #1)

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  5,059 ratings  ·  807 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
Paperback, 325 pages
Published April 5th 2018 by Voyager - GB (first published February 6th 2018)
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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…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)
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3.93  · 
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JV (semi-hiatus)
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 colon
✘✘ 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  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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 foreign
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  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stars-4-0, 2018
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
Renee Godding
Jun 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: amazing-books
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
May 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Sherwood Smith
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
Apr 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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'
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
Stevie Kincade
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
The Captain
Feb 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
***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
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
I enjoyed the last few chapters a lot, but I really wasn't a fan of the first few. Ironically, for a book that's about mutualism and learning to work together, I didn't think it dealt very well with human relationships - there was a lack of feeling of community, family, friendship, and even romantic connection to me in almost every POV. I generally prefer stories about groups of people working together to achieve a goal, but despite the communal setting, much of the framing of the storytelling a ...more
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
Aug 13, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
I liked this, but I prefer character-driven books. This one had a time jump every chapter with new people in the POV and I found it difficult to care about anyone. The only constant is the sentient bamboo plant. Still, it was an interesting book, I just wouldn't rave about it to other people.
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.
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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
“Each of us needs to be what we are, perhaps even be more of what we are.” 2 likes
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