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In the Company of Others

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,161 ratings  ·  67 reviews

When humans set out to explore the universe, they found a number of planets suitable for colonizing. The one thing they didn't find was intelligent life. And so the terraforming of worlds began, with eager immigrant families temporarily housed in space stations till their new home planets were ready.

But the technicians made one all-important mistake by
Kindle Edition, 579 pages
Published June 1st 2001 by DAW
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Average rating 3.93  · 
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 ·  1,161 ratings  ·  67 reviews

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Oct 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books of all time and one of my favorite Czerneda books. I also love A Thousand Words for Stranger. This was a very character driven novel and I think this was the first time I was really aware of a character driven story vs. a plot driven story. I loved the characters in this book. (I read it years ago and so I don't remember anyone's name.) What happens to people when they are offered an entire universe to settle, and then are forced to live on space stations due to an alien ...more
Oleksandr Zholud
This is SF space opera/first contact novel. It was a Philip K. Dick Award Nominee (2002). I read is as a part of monthly reading in January 2020 at The Sword and Laser group.

The book starts very interesting: a couple flies to an unregistered terraformed world. The wife is about to give birth, when she find out that her husband is a grandson of the terraformer, who changed this world (which is great) and that the terraformer’s name was Susan Witts (which is very bad), who, it assumed, infected
Mar 12, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
One star is for if I wasn't able (through some failing of the book) to finish it. Two stars is for if I was able to finish but wish I hadn't bothered. Some background:

For me, a book is worthwhile if it stimulates me emotionally (through the characters) or intellectually (through the ideas). I love the characters in the Liaden series series to death, but I can't say that the ideas appeal to me in any particular way. Karl Schroeder, on the other hand, writes some of the most dazzlingly imaginative
Feb 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
When humans reach space and start terraforming new worlds, they first encounter an extra-terrestrial organism they called the Quill. The terraformers thought them a barely sentient oddity, and kept them as a sort of pet. But when the first wave of colonists try to land on the new worlds, the Quill turn mysteriously lethal, killing any who land on the new planets. As panicked colonists turn back to the space stations who don't have room for them, and an overcrowed Earth fires on returning ...more
May 19, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was OK. I was just expecting a bit more, that's all.
It wasn't bad though. Still a good time if you have nothing else to do.

Why wasn't it excellent? Well, probably because I was too pissed off at the main female character for most of the book, after a while I just felt disappointed with Gail.

In the book it's stated that she is such a genius and oh so smart but I never saw evidence of it. Supposedly she had handled conspiracies and intrigue to get the academic career that she had, why then is
This an usual take on a first contact story with a twist and some morality questions at the end.
Overall I enjoyed this book once I finished it. But during the reading I found it slow and a bit of a chore. At 500+ pages I only just finished it before my library load expired, and that was over a weeks vacation at Christmas.

There were a few good characters but most of them were a bit stereotypical. Not necessarily a bad thing in a story driven plot, but in such a long book I expected more. I also
Dave Packard
Jan 17, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible, laser
This book never really grabbed me - I liked the characters ok, but didn’t love them, you know? The plot was ok and the premise was interesting, but just not enough to get my engines going. (view spoiler)
Feb 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Saw this book on a list of sci-fi books you "have" to read and decided to give it a whirl. After all, I haven't read much sci-fi lately and the premise, coupled with a female author, seemed to promise something new. So I gave it a shot. Turned out to be a decent book, but it was far below my expectations.

The premise is pretty much as the synopsis tells it. But from there everything felt two-dimensional. So much so that at one point about halfway through I put this away. After 200 pages I just
Nathan Burgoine
Jan 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really decent and deep delve science fiction novel from Canadian Czerneda, this puts humanity in far-reaching space stations, when their attempts at terraforming went terribly wrong. Biological disaster left Earth with no choice but to quarantine all those settlers - trapping them in the midst of nowhere on the stations, and unable to land on the planets that were contaminated.

One man holds the key to potentially reversing the disaster, and giving those space-born individuals a second chance
Feb 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This book looks at the prospect of living off-planet in a closed society. It looks at what it means to be different--so different that you are alone. How do people act when they are in fear of you? What will you do about it. And all from an well-written science fiction base.
An interesting concept, but a mediocre climax.
It's been many years since I first read this, and upon re-reading I wondered a little why it had stuck in my mind as particularly good. My reading tastes must have developed a lot more than I realized. Not that it's bad, mind. But it's not that impressive, and parts are outright... embarrassing. I'm guessing it was because it had interesting aliens, for which I am a total sucker, and believable characters, which often is a crapshoot in SF-- when you get big ideas, characters can get short ...more
Have read other science fiction novels by Julie Czerneda and loved them (in particular, her Species Imperative series). Therefore, I began reading this book with hopeful anticipation.

The story is very good and the big ideas intriguing. However, they too often get lost. This novel would have benefited from an editor requesting that it be cut by at least one-third. (Editors sometimes ask authors to lengthen their novels, which might have happened here.) Too much of the book includes unnecessary
Nov 17, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I hated this book. There were great moments and incredibly vivid characters but it also seemed really drawn out. I am glad I read it but at the same time when I was finally done I wanted to donate it to my brother's pet rabbit. I kept it in the end.
Stephanie Foust
Apr 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great world building in this novel of terraforming meets accidental introduction of a seemingly harmless alien life form,the Quill.Realistic and intelligently written characters in this stand-alone book.Highly recommended.
John Stimson
A complex build-up concluded with a magic resolution. I enjoyed reading it but felt let down by the ending.
Genesee Rickel
I thought the Quill were cool, and how they related to Aaron was interesting. But damn did this book move slow! The romance that evolves is pretty much insta-love, but it seems like it takes WAY longer to develop than it truly does because of the book’s pacing. Let’s not forget the choices the author made to refer to the only prominent character of color (a woman) as “exotic” (within a sexual context, in the thoughts of a white man considering how his friends would react). Just because I’m ...more
Richard Eyres
This is the first group read of the year for the Sword and Laser group. Never heard of this author before as it falls in an area that i am not really bothered about - space opera.
The story is fine, but the characters felt a little flat to me and i didn't form a strong connection with any of them. The story pacing was sometimes a little slow - then suddenly jumped to the next segment of the story.
This is a stand alone book, which is a plus in my book. Too many times the author want (or is
Michael Pritchett
Not exactly my cup of tea. The narrative and world building was a bit clunky and took effort get through.

The story concept work well and creating nice tension and the characters were enjoyable to follow.
Laser pick for Sword & Laser January 2020. And Janny Wurts highly recommended it.
Mar 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
SF involving the implications of an epidemic caused by Earth scientists seeding other worlds for colonization. One of them picked up a plastic filament, called a Quill, to wear as jewelry, which generally acts as a tranquilizer but also somehow ends up, sometimes, killing people. Earth panics and quarantines everyone currently in space for decades, creating overcrowding - not to mention resentment and reconfiguration of social norms - on space stations. Enter a new Earth scientist who has a ...more
Nov 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: SF Fans, first contact fans
Shelves: sf_fantasy, space
Really great book! I would have given it 4.5 stars if possible, just because a few things felt a little contrived (the love story was a little weird and I felt like the revelation of the 'siders on the space station was kind of confusing - like, so what about it? The mystery/combustible nature of that secret was not clear to me for quite a while, I just couldn't understand why it was such a secret/revelation). But overall, this was just a really solidly written SF story. The characters are ...more
S.A. Parham
Aug 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, aliens
I had serious trouble putting this book down while reading it, and considering the length, it swallowed a large amount of my time. The alien Quill have taken over Earth's terraformed worlds, stranding colonists on overcrowded space stations. Since the Quill Effect is deadly, no one has been able to grasp a sample to figure out a way to clear it off the colony worlds. Throw together a determined scientist, a man who survived the Quill Effect as a newborn, a jack-of-all-trades stationer, and a ...more
Aug 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoy Julie Czerneda's books. This book does read differently than her other books. There were parts of the story that were hard to understand on what she was trying to get across. Overall, I couldn't put the book down and was in deep with the story. It is a large book and well worth the read. I love the characters and thought they were unique and loved how she portrayed how the human race reacts to alien life, what it means to be alone (& not) and humanity's need to colonize.
Apr 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Julie the biologist shines in this book. I love how you can't just guess the ending, but when it happens it totally makes sense. And I loved the biology/alien life questions she raises. The aliens aren't sentient, but they make a huge impact on extra earth life.
Jun 21, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Incredible book. It took a few chapters to warm up to the story, however the characters were instantly engaging. Like another reviewer mentioned, the ending was surprising but in retrospect made complete sense. I enjoy how the titles always become pivotal moments in her books.
Morgan McGuire
Mar 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
More aggressive than Czerneda's other books that I've read in terms of sci-fi ideas, this is also slightly more flawed with a handful of jarring mistakes. As always, the emotional situations and impossible romance are gripping and tender.
Erin Burns
I adored this book when I read it many years ago, and I fianlly came across it again recently and found even the grown up me still adores it.
Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this stand alone book and look forward to reading more by this author
Doranna Durgin
Aug 30, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's obvious from my ratings that I enjoy of all Julie Czerneda's books, but this--and her first--are my very favorites.
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For over twenty years, Canadian author/ former biologist Julie E. Czerneda has shared her curiosity about living things through her science fiction, published by DAW Books, NY. Julie’s written fantasy too, the first installments of her Night’s Edge series (DAW) A Turn of Light and A Play of Shadow, winning consecutive Aurora Awards (Canada’s Hugo) for Best English Novel. Having completed her Clan ...more