Fleeing a ruined Earth, a small group of colonists land on a planet they name Pax. There they strive to create a perfect society free of the tyrannical systems which doomed their home world. There are many obstacles they must overcome, both human and extraterrestrial. The most fascinating challenge they face is learning to live in balance with the ecosystem of Pax and a massive, sentient plant.

Each chapter jumps ahead a generation making the seemingly immortal plant, which they name Stevland, the main character of Burke’s wildly imaginative novel. Parts of the story are told from Stevland’s perspective; what could have come off as hokey in the hands of a lesser author will instead leave readers contemplating the myriad forms that language and intelligence can take. As the colonists and Stevland learn to live with each other, they learn that humans might not be the only non-native life living on Pax. Can three intelligent species of different origin live in harmony? Semiosis is a must-read for all fans of hard science fiction.

Reviewed by Kalum Meyers, Zauel Library