Genre: Science Fiction
Page Count: 213
Publication Date: 1980
Why I read it: I like the author
Fleeing the final war that would destroy Earth's civilization, a small group of Friends--Quakers--found refuge on the uncharted planet they named Foxfield. Somehow they managed to survive, with the aid of the bizarrely gifted native life-form, the Commensals--and, even more extraordinarily, they kept up the practice of their gentle but demanding beliefs. Then, after nearly a century of silence, Earth contacted them--human civilization had miraculously survived the war and had spread out to the stars, flourishing to an undreamed-of richness. And the Friends of Foxfield were a part of it--whether they agreed or not.
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.