Customer Reviews: Midworld
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on December 21, 2004
No one intended to settle the nameless planet covered by seven levels of steaming tropical forest. A colony ship wound up orbiting it by mistake, giving the stranded passengers no other option except to land and try their best to survive. A few of them did that for long enough to have children. Now, generations later, their adapted descendants include a hunter named Born. He's a curious young man, so much so that his people call him mad. For what good is curiosity, in a place where seeking to see the sky involves going to a place called Upper Hell?

When two giants drop out of the sky, only Born cares enough about the mystery to climb down through the trees and rescue them from their crashed flitter. Although they know less than the smallest child about surviving in this perilous place, Born manages to keep them alive long enough to reach the relative safety of his Home Tree. His tribe thinks it's seen him for the last time when he sets out to guide the strangers to the "station" from which they say they came - no one ever traveled that far before. As Born learns more and more about these fellow humans whose thinking is so very unlike that of his own people, and as he discovers how they mean to use the awesome power they've brought to Midworld, the young hunter's curiosity turns to horror. These invaders have to be stopped from carrying out their plans. But how?

The world-building in this book amazes me. Parable and adventure tale, it works well on both levels; and it ends with a chilling twist that turns what had looked predictable squarely onto its head. Followers of Foster's Flinx books - the more recent ones, especially - will find some delicious foreshadowing in that twist.
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on June 15, 2007
No one describes a creature like Alan Dean Foster! Hands down, the very best. His silverslith sent shivers down my arms. I've read it many times, and I even use it to teach my students how to write a descriptive paragraph. His mind knows no bounds when inventing animals, plants, and humans. Probably my favorite fantasy book of all times (though Mid-Flinx) comes in a close second.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon February 19, 2012
Long before the concept of world building gained currency among science fiction fans, Alan Dean Foster built one of the most imaginative worlds in the genre. Midworld takes place on an unnamed planet covered with dense vegetation, rising from the surface (Lower Hell) to the sky (Upper Hell) in seven layers. Although it is filled with predatory plants and animals, humans -- the descendants of a crashed spacecraft -- have carved out a niche in the middle levels. They have adapted to the world to such an extent that they seem to communicate in an almost worshipful way with the trees and vegetation that make their survival possible. They "emfol" with plant life, an empathic form of communication that assures the plant's willingness to be used for their purposes. A science station, illegally established on the world by a corporate entity, is unaware of the world's human population until a skimmer flown by two scientists is swatted from the air by a flying nightmare. The scientists -- Logan and Cohoma -- are saved by Born, who eventually leads them on a dangerous journey back to their station. When Born learns what the science station is doing, conflict ensues.

Midworld combines a nifty story of corporate greed with a lost world adventure. Most of the novel -- the best part of the novel -- pits humans against the many dangers that Foster imagines on a world that is both treacherous and (for those who understand it) welcoming. In the final quarter of the novel, the humans who have adapted to the world and the newcomers who want to exploit it are not playing well together. In that regard, Midworld develops a less-than-subtle pro-environmentalist message, one that cleverly transplants the Gaia theory to an alien world. The human inhabitants of the world take only what they need, and only after they emfol with the plant life to determine whether the plant is ready to be taken. The corporate outsiders are, of course, taking whatever they want, without regard to the world's needs, and are thus (at least in Born's opinion) set on a path that will lead to the world's destruction. The heavy-handedness of the "good versus evil" storyline is offset in the final pages, which challenge the reader to reconsider the nature of good and evil in the circumstances that Foster imagines.

Foster's writing style is lively; it occasionally has a literary feel that is uncommon in genre fiction. For that reason, and for the brilliantly conceived world that Foster envisions, this largely forgotten novel comes close to meriting the status of a science fiction classic. I would give Midworld 4 1/2 stars if that option were available.
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on August 11, 1998
I actually read this book a long time ago - I think it would have been in the late 70s (Note that it is a re-issue now). My local library had a copy and I re-borrowed it a number of times because I was so enamoured with the imagery of the planet Midworld. It was probably responsible for my ongoing interest in SciFi/Fantasy literature.
The book is filled with vivid images of strange, alien lifeforms that are mind-boggling real. The characters are constantly threatened by death by unusual means, making it hard to find a spot to put the book down. In ways the book is similar to the more recently written "Sentenced to Prism", although set in a quite different landscape. I was also interested by the revisiting of Midworld by the author in "MidFlinx", although I think I prefer the original, Flinx is just too good at surviving so I knew he would make it.
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on December 17, 1997
Make sure you have time to finish this book in one sitting -- you won't be able to put it down. The story is different but holds to a basic logic that shows itself a little at a time as the story unfolds. The few loose ends are tied up neatly at the end -- it makes sense, but, what a concept! I loved it.
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on August 5, 1998
I usually am a hard science fiction reader. But my brother recommended that I read this one. WOW! This was one of the best stories I have ever read, I thought I was actually there on Midworld. Loved it!
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on July 29, 1998
I first found interest in ADF when my father told me he was a friend of Mr. Foster. Aparently, dad actually had the honor of building Foster's garage. It's true. This was the first of his books that I read, and I loved it. The concept of a world where the defining line between the plant and animal kingdom is faint is an excellent one. And there is also a valuable lesson to be learned from midworld. I'll leave that to the reader to find out, though. I reccomend anyone who likes Sci/fi reads it.
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on February 20, 2013
I found this to be a very refreshing book and actually a fun read. The characters are developed okay, but the world that is created is amazing. I also loved the language that the author used and found myself using the Kindle dictionary to look up words more than I've ever used on a book before.

At first, I was a bit surprised by the abrupt ending and some of the motivations and decisions made by the main characters, but after taking some time to reflect on it, there was foreshadowing well in advance and it does all make sense.

This book really made me think about our world and how we live in it. It's kind of eye opening in a way.

The one negative I have is for the Kindle edition for this book. I'm assuming that the mistakes were made in the translation to the ebook and are not in the original novel. Many times, one of the main character's name is misspelled (Bora instead of Born). There are also some strange characters thrown about and sometimes (admittedly, rarely) where it seemed like there were even words missing from sentences. I hope these mistakes get cleaned up in future editions of the Kindle version. This probably won't bother other people as much as it bothered me though, and even with these annoyances, I'm very glad I read the book.
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on June 27, 2015
this was one of my favorite book series when I was an early teen. it remains a favorite now that I am an oldddddddd lady. the writing was and is some of the best I have ever read. the characters are in unbelievable environments that ring absolutely true. the most "out there" plot devices are just absolutely real while you are reading. you will see them, hear them, travel along with them where they live their lives. it is not a just this one and no more book, you will want them all. I bought them in paperback then hardcover and now I am buying kindle versions for my grandchildren.
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on March 16, 2016
This is one of my favorite science fiction novels. Alan Dean Foster has a tremendous imagination, and if you like biology and life sciences, you won't be disappointed. Furthermore, all of the plants & animals are believable; Foster went to great trouble to depict the life in such a way that the flora & fauna come to life and keep the reader riveted.
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