Very deep thoughts about “Semiosis”

spectology1400The members of Spectology: The Science Fiction Book Club Podcast may have thought harder about my book than I did. In the episode Semiosis post-read w/ Nate Spence: Budding Utopia or Mutualist Dystopia? they spend two hours and nine minutes discussing that question.

Here’s their description of the episode: “Matt, Nate, & Adrian have a long, rollicking conversation about Semiosis, by Sue Burke. We all really loved the book, but also have a lot of criticism of it, and we get really in-depth on what it all means to us.”

Some of their criticisms I agree with — the book isn’t perfect, and there were problems I knew about that I couldn’t figure out how to solve. Some of their thoughts were about aspects I hadn’t been aware of — sometimes this happens with a critique, because other people can see things that the author overlooked. They also get some points exactly right, such as the long-term arc of the Constitution.

What is your favorite chapter? Is there too much violence? Is the book optimistic? Is Stevland a superhero? They have different opinions and carefully explore the reasons for their disagreements. If you don’t have your own book club to discuss the book, you can listen to these club members share their deepest and best thoughts.

2 thoughts on “Very deep thoughts about “Semiosis”

  1. I was not aware of this podcast though I enjoy podcasts about reading an writing. Some time today I’ll give the episode a listen. Thanks for sharing!

    I respect that you are an author that can hear criticism and not take it personally. Or at least if you did you’re not reflecting it here! That’s a good question about my favorite chapter, wish I had the book in front of me right now. No there’s not too much violence, that never crossed my mind. I’m not sure I would even think to say whether it’s pessimistic or optimistic. Reading Semiosis I felt like I was just on a journey, watching the history of this new world play out. I also wouldn’t call Stevland a superhero. One thing I appreciate about what you did with him is you didn’t automatically make him all good or all bad. I was convinced for a while that he was going to turn out to be the bad guy, and he did seem to lean towards wanting to control the colony, he was manipulative. But then he seems to awaken to this sense of community and his place in it. His character arc is dynamic, I’m glad it’s not all sugar and flowers.


  2. I always saw Stevland as neither good nor bad. Instead, I saw him as needy, and he will do what he has to in order to get his needs fulfilled. He needs social contact more than anything, and that motivates him to seek companions and then to keep them and protect them.

    As for criticism, I know I didn’t write a perfect book. A novel has been described as “a book-length work of fiction with one major flaw.” If the criticism is fair and well intentioned, I’m glad to hear it. That’s the only way to become a better writer.


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