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The Color of Distance Mass Market Paperback – July 1, 1999


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Ace (July 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441006329
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441006328
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 4.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,118,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Juna is the sole survivor of a team of surveyors marooned in the dense, uninhabitable Tendu rainforest. Her only hope for survival is assimilation into the amphibian Tendu species. Now she must take on their life--and their fears--in a frightening world of alien possibilities. Amy Thomson's first novel, Virtual Girl, won the John W. Campbell award.

A portion of the proceeds of this book will be contributed to rainforest conservation. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

An energetic and entertaining first-contact novel, complete with charming, strange, dangerous aliens and two intelligent, competent, imperfect heroines, one human, one not. -- Vonda N. McIntyre, author of The Crystal Star --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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This book made me mad, sad, and very happy.
kt
Wonderful story, colorful descriptions that bring me into a new and rich world.
marah_winslow@bmc.com
I wish I could read it for the first time again...
Robin Green

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By PurpleDiane on April 22, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the best SF books I have read in many years. Having the story told from the viewpoints of both Juna and the aliens was very different. It was fascinating to see the same things from totally different points of view, especially at the beginning before Juna realizes how intelligent the Tendu really are. I thought that the communication by colors and symbols was also very unique and well thought out. The amazing variety of the planet and the forest were very believable and the descriptions evocative - I want to go there! I highly recommend this book!
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Robin Norris on December 29, 1997
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author does an excellent job developing the language, culture and ecosystem of the Tendu. I also felt quite comfortable with Juna, the human character who was stranded on the planet with the Tendu. I was utterly fascinated by the linguistic precept that the Tendu use 'skin speach'. Also, the stratification of the culture by chronological development was intriguing. When a friend recommended that I read this book, I was kind of dubious by the description. I'm not really into alien encounter stuff or make-me-think about ecology stuff. That said, I bought three copies of this book. One as a gift for my brother. One to loan out to other people, and one to keep in the house for myself! This one goes to the desert island with me.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By mirope on February 15, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Amy Thomson has created an amazingly complete and complex alien culture in "The Color of Distance." The story is about Juna, a human explorer inadvertently stranded on an alien planet. She is rescued by the Tendu, a sentient race that adopts and cares for her until the humans will return and take her back to earth. Most of the plot is about Juna and the Tendu mutually discovering the fascinating differences between their two cultures. By far the most impressive part of the novel is Thomson's vivid description of the Tendu people and planet. She has skillfully created a complete cultural matrix that is very different from our own but that nevertheless makes sense in its own right. Particularly interesting was Juna's gradual discovery of the Tendu life cycle. That alone makes the book worth reading.
Even though I was impressed with that part of the book, I don't think the book is much more than a fun, entertaining read. There are no great themes here, and Thomson barely brushes upon the moral dilemmas inherent in the mutual discovery of other cultures. For a truly brilliant handling of that theme, read "The Sparrow" by Mary Doria Russell. My other complaint about "The Color of Distance" is that the ending was very cursory and little more than a set up for the sequel. Despite that, this is a fun read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Anna Scully on February 20, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
At some point in reading this book, I found myself so engrossed in the world Amy Thomson had created I started thinking of the emotions that I was feeling in terms of colors (a way in which the alien race in this book express emotions). I was enthralled with the rich world and culture that was created by the author. I especially enjoyed the relationships between the main character and the Tendu as she begins to learn and appreciate the complex relationships that exist within the Tendu and between the Tendu and the environment.
Perhaps, as others have noted, I did not feel that the Tendu were THAT alien. I don't think that this is a bad thing though. If they were entirely alien, neither the reader nor the main character could relate to them as well as we do. Would Juna (the human main character) feel as compelled to take care of a bami (a juvenile Tendu) if the bami didn't resemble a mix of a child and eager to please puppy?
The part of the story which was most compelling to me was the changes that Juna has to undergo - both physically and psychologically in order to adapt to the world on which she finds herself stranded. I enjoyed seeing her transform as she "grew into" her new alien body and into her part in the web of the Tendu society.
Amy Thomson weaves a spell with her use of language and imagery. And I found myself captivated by her writing as well as the world that she creates. A trully enjoyable adventure!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Glen Engel Cox on March 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
This was Thomson's first novel--she's since published at least one other, Virtual Girl--but it is one of those rare ones that are full of power. I was skeptical--this was my top choice on my Alexandria Digital Literature recommendation list, but only when I sorted using "Daring" as an option. When I finally got the book through ILL, I despaired. It was nearly 400 pages. That's a lot of words to invest in an untried author. But AlexLit's recommendations have been pretty solid, so I took the book with me to Texas for the holiday season.
It is a first contact science fiction story, but one in which the human gets stranded on a planet, changed through the biotechnology of the aliens into something neither human nor alien, and then has to act as a mediator between humans and the aliens who saved her life. Although I can't think of another story with this plot, it does not feel all that unique. Thomson's treatment of it is, though. Her alien world is based on concepts taken from our own rainforests and her aliens use organic means where humans use mechanical means. The latter is not as clear cut as it may seem, for Thomsom's milieu is far enough into the future that her mechanical computer "flows" rather than clicks, indicating a level of nanotechnology.
Once I got into the book--about 50 to 60 pages in--the characters took hold and propelled me through it. Thomson's point-of-view switches are clearly indicated, most taking place at chapter breaks, and her aliens come across as truly alien, rather than humans in fur. And I really haven't mentioned one of the central conceits of the book, and that is the aliens' form of communication--through color and vision totally, with no sound. There's a lot here, and the ending, while sentimental, is not maudlin.
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