Monday, October 21, 2019


Interference by Sue Burke
Tor/Forge Books: 10/22/19
eBook review copy; 320 pages
ISBN-13: 9781250317841
Semiosis Duology #2

Interference by Sue Burke is a very highly recommended science fiction story following colonists on Pax and continuing the story from Semiosis.

"Over two hundred years after the first colonists landed on Pax, a new set of explorers arrives from Earth on what they claim is a temporary scientific mission. But the Earthlings misunderstand the nature of the Pax settlement and its real leader. Even as Stevland attempts to protect his human tools, a more insidious enemy than the Earthlings makes itself known. Stevland is not the apex species on Pax."

This is a totally engaging and fascinating science fiction story. The opening chapters set up the Earth as a disturbing dystopian society and introduce some of the new group of scientists that will be setting out to visit Pax for research. Then we are reintroduced to the planet Pax, a habitable planet fifty-six light years away, where a group of colonists already live. On Pax there is a stable community and a relationship between three species that are now living together as pacifists on the planet. The humans, who were originally colonists from Earth, are living in a community with the Glassmakers, large arthropod-like beings, and Svetland, an intelligent bamboo species. On Pax, both Glassmakers and humans coexist with Svetland, who privately considers them service animals. When the research group arrives, it upsets the balance the community has established. But there is something else afoot that is threatening every species.

I haven't read Semiosis, but I was able to follow the narrative in Interference without a problem and pick up enough clues to fill in anything I missed. (I am buying Semiosis, though, based on how good Interference is.) Svetland narrates much of the book, but chapters are also told from the point-of-view of other characters - Earth humans, Pax humans, Glassmakers, and plants. The characters newly arriving from Earth, started out their mission with conflicts that they bring to Pax, and immediately cause problems. The conflicts and tension the Earth humans introduce are compounded by a new group of humans arriving and an unknown threat.

The wide variety of characters are all interesting and well developed in relationship to the narrative as a whole. The single chapters from the point-of-view of different characters help provide a richness to the story as they furnish insight into what characters are thinking. These chapters add depth and discernment to the plot through the wide variety of opinions and thoughts. The writing is excellent, thoughtful, astute, and intelligent. It highlights how assumptions (on all sides/ from all species) can lead to problems, but also revelations. This is an outstanding novel.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Tor/Forge Books.

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