Joan Slonczewski,
Still Forms on Foxfield
(Del Rey, 1980)

This is not space opera. While some of the conflicts have wide implications, author Joan Slonczewski keeps the focus narrow -- on THIS colony, and THESE issues -- in Still Forms on Foxfield. I really like that. I am getting bored with science fiction that always seem to have to Save The Universe!!! I prefer things on a more human scale.

The culture clashes are depicted very thoughtfully -- the ones the colonists had with the aliens (mostly historical); the ones the colonists had with the Authority that swept in and demanded allegience, and the ones said Authority had with the aliens. One could see and sympathize with all the various motivations, and that made this story fascinating to me.

Nothing super-dramatic happens. It's about the small stuff -- the stuff that makes up our lives -- like figuring out how to negotiate with those who are very, very different. In some ways, it reminded me of Ursula Le Guin's The Dispossessed in terms of culture clash, and there is not higher praise I can give.

Don't read it for the explosions, which are rare and not plot-central. Read it for the interactions, and the hope that entities with good hearts can find common ground.

book review by
Amanda Fisher

7 February 2015

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