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Still Forms on Foxfield Mass Market Paperback – March 12, 1980

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback
  • Publisher: Del Rey; 1st, First Edition edition (March 12, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345287622
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345287625
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,573,937 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joan Lyn Slonczewski is a microbiologist at Kenyon College and a science fiction writer. She is the first since Fred Pohl to earn a second John Campbell award for best science fiction novel, "The Highest Frontier" (2012); her previous winner was "A Door into Ocean" (1987). "The Highest Frontier" invents a college in a space habitat financed by a tribal casino and protected from deadly ultraphytes by Homeworld Security. According to Alan Cheuse at NPR, her book invents "a worldwide communications system called Toy Box that makes the iPhone look like a Model-T Ford."

Slonczewski's classic "A Door into Ocean" depicts an ocean world run by genetic engineers who repel an interstellar invasion using nonviolent methods similar to Tahrir Square. In her book "Brain Plague," intelligent microbes invade human brains and establish microbial cities. She also authors with John W. Foster the leading microbiology textbook, Microbiology: An Evolving Science (W. W. Norton).

Author blog: ultraphyte.com

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John M. Chambers on December 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
I remember reading this back in the 80's, some time after reading True Names, and thinking that she not only published earlier but likely got closer to true prophecy. I've reread it recently, and found that it stands up. In fact, its predictions of a wired world are just now coming true, though she wrote about them as happening centuries in the future. The main plot is about an isolated Quaker commune on another planet that is suddenly faced with an arriving ship full of people from Earth, who start handing out a piece of jewelry that is a combined health monitor and comm device, putting them in instant contact with all other humans who exist. The story is partly about their struggle for survival on a planet not designed for humans, and their coming to terms with an interesting alien species (a sort of intelligent plant with a hive mind). Meanwhile, they now are faced with the impact of full electronic contact with some very friendly humans who are by now nearly as alien as the aliens, who don't understand them or the local aliens, and are more concerned with assimilation than with understanding. And, as a bonus, there are feminist (and lesbian) subplots to complicate matters.
It's not space opera. But if you want psych-social ideas, alien contact, and an early concept of the Net that may come true in the next decade or so, this is a book you might want to find. Too bad it's out of print.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 500 REVIEWER on February 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
This is an unusual and solidly written novel. The plot is the rediscovery of a small Quaker colony on Tau Ceti by a technologically advanced and somewhat intolerant Earth society. The confrontation between Quaker quietism and the Earth society is handled very well. Particularly good, however, are the unusual aliens that the author introduces as a crucial plot element. These are some of the most creative non-humans ever featured in a science fiction novel. This novel, like several of Slonczewski's books, deserves to be known better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Cissa on May 23, 2014
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This is not space opera. While some of the conflicts have wide implications, Slonczewski keeps the focus narrow- on THIS colony, and THESE issues. I really like that. I am getting bored with sf that always seem to have to Save The Universe!!! and 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 it 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 very, very different. In some ways, it reminded me of 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.
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By Brenda on November 19, 2010
Format: Paperback
I've read a couple other books by Joan Slonczewski, and really liked what I've read so far. So since I've had this sitting on my shelf for a few years, I figured I'd better pick it up. I have to say I was a bit disappointed. I believe this was her first novel, and she has definitely improved (although she hasn't written anything recently), but Still Forms on Foxfield left a lot to be desired.

To start with, I just kept waiting for something big to happen, something that would surprise or excite me, and it never came. The ending kind of fizzled out, and I was left feeling like I had just wasted my time. There were times when I found my attention wandering, specifically when dealing with the Commensals, who I just never understood. They were the planets indigenous, alien (at least to the humans) lifeform, and I couldn't get a feel for them. I couldn't picture what they looked like, the science behind what they were doing, how they lived. None of it made any sense to me, and it felt like the author kept going into detailed scientific descriptions about them, which is fine if you're a biologist or really into science, but I'm neither of those things. It really took me out of the story.

I also didn't feel like there were any characters to root for. Allison, the main character, was okay, but it seemed like she always just went with the flow. The whole thing was just so blah, with very little excitement for being a clash of the cultures type novel. There were some interesting things, but they seemed to be few and far between, and I just wish they had been explored further. I don't think I would recommend this one, but I would very highly recommend A Door Into Ocean by the same author. It's one of my favorite science fiction novels.
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By Judah on March 19, 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Still Forms on Foxfield is set on the alien planet Foxfield, settled by Quakers who were afraid of World War III destroying humanity. The protagonist Allison is in charge of the technology center of her settlement town (one of five), and she re-establishes contact with the rest of humanity. The basis is the UN charter agreed to by the founders of the colony. The big twist is Foxfield is home to the commensuals, an alien proto-plasm like race which base their thinking on a quantum level. They helped the colonists survive in the earlier years and are now thought of as another part of living in Foxfield.

The novel explores themes of pacifism, cultural integration, adulthood, personal choices, and the Quaker interpretation of Light. It is not space opera; I'd call it more a psychological novel. I found the science backdrop held up well in 2008 (for a novel written in 1980), and as a main character, Allison had developed emotions. She is a change for the better from the normal cardboard characters in the science fiction genre.

Still Forms comes off well as a whole novel, and it is highly recommended if you like science fiction and can handle open-minded speculation regarding future cultures. It has a slight feminist bent, but this helps builds a unique voice.

I could see this being required reading in an 8th grade curriculum given the spectrum of issues covered by the novel. Note that Slonczewski randomly spends a few paragraphs on the influence/existence of homosexuality in her future society. Not even close to the focus of the novel, but probably why I didn't find this excellent work in my school library.
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