Sue Burke’s debut novel, Semiosis, is a fascinating and totally original take on that old science fiction chestnut, human colonization of a new world. Burke’s innovation is to insist on telling her story from the standpoint of biological, environmental, and Darwinian realism. As her characters struggle to survive in the alien world, they must inevitably give up their old earth-derived ideologies, social institutions, and finally their very biology. Immigrants into a new natural reality, they undergo the most radical of melting pots, and become something wholly other and strange. Brilliant and thought-provoking.— From David's Diamonds
Human survival hinges on an bizarre alliance in Semiosis, a character driven science fiction novel of first contact by debut author Sue Burke.
2019 Campbell Memorial Award Finalist
2019 Locus Finalist for Best Science Fiction Novel
Locus 2018 Recommended Reading List
New York Public Library—Best of 2018
The Verge—Best of 2018
Thrillist—Best Books of 2018
Vulture—10 Best Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books of 2018
Chicago Review of Books—The 10 Best Science Fiction Books of 2018
Texas Library Association—Lariat List Top Books for 2019
Colonists from Earth wanted the perfect home, but they’ll have to survive on the one they found. They don’t realize another life form watches...and waits...
Only mutual communication can forge an alliance with the planet's sentient species and prove that humans are more than tools.
Praise for Semiosis
“This is up there with Ursula K. Le Guin: science fiction at its most fascinating and most humane.“—Thrillist
“A fascinating world.”—The Verge
“It makes the reader reexamine ideas about sentience. It is superbly written without an ounce of fat. Very cool indeed and highly recommended. It goes on my pile of books to be re-read.”—Tade Thompson, author of Rosewater and The Murders of Molly Southbourne
“A solid debut.”—SFRevu
“A magnetic meditation on biochemistry and humanity.”—Locus Online
“This first-contact tale is extraordinary.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“Sharp, evocative . . . Semiosis unfolds the old science fiction idea of first contact in ways that are both traditional and subversive.”—The Christian Science Monitor
“A clever, fascinating, fun and unique debut.”—Kirkus
"Burke’s world building is exceptional, and her ability to combine the intricacies of colonization with the science of botany and theories of mutualism and predation is astounding." —Booklist
“Impressive debut novel . . . lush . . . beautiful.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“A fresh and fun perspective on planetary exploration.”—The Bibliosanctum (4 out of 5 stars)
“Filled with questions about the nature of intelligence and how we value it, and humanity’s place within the universe, Semiosis is a provocative novel . . . ”—Fantasy Literature
“A very… different and super engaging novel.”—The Book Smugglers
“A fresh and thought-provoking take.”—Open Letters
“Semiosis combines the world-building of Avatar with the alien wonder of Arrival, and the sheer humanity of Atwood. An essential work for our time.”—Stephen Baxter, award winning author of The Time Ships
"Intelligent, riveting and ultimately uplifting, Semiosis asks big questions and gives satisfying answers."—Emma Newman, author Planetfall
“This is top class SF, intelligent and engaging and I loved every moment of it.”—Adrian Tchaikovsky, winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Children of Time
“In Semiosis, Sue Burke blends science with adventure and fascinating characters, as a human colony desperately seeks to join the ecosystem of an alien world.” —David Brin, author of Earth and Existence.
“A first contact novel like none you’ve ever read. . . . The kind of story for which science fiction was invented.” —James Patrick Kelly, winner of the Hugo, Nebula and Locus awards
“Sue Burke has created one of the most fascinating alien personae science fiction has seen in this decade.” –David Nichols, early American historian and author of Engines of Diplomacy
“A gripping story of colonization and biological wonders.”—Gregory Frost, author of the Shadowbridge novels
“A fantastic SF debut . . . Semiosis will remain relevant for years to come.” —Prof. Daniel Chamovitz, award-winning author of What a Plant Knows and Director of the Manna Center for Plant Biosciences at Tel Aviv University.