A Door into Ocean

A Door into Ocean

Joan Slonczewski / Nov 15, 2019

A Door into Ocean A Door into Ocean is the novel upon which the author s reputation as an important SF writer principally rests A ground breaking work both of feminist SF and of world building hard SF it concerns the

  • Title: A Door into Ocean
  • Author: Joan Slonczewski
  • ISBN: 9780380701506
  • Page: 372
  • Format: Paperback
  • A Door into Ocean is the novel upon which the author s reputation as an important SF writer principally rests A ground breaking work both of feminist SF and of world building hard SF, it concerns the Sharers of Shora, a nation of women on a distant moon in the far future who are pacifists, highly advanced in biological sciences, and who reproduce by parthenogenesisthere aA Door into Ocean is the novel upon which the author s reputation as an important SF writer principally rests A ground breaking work both of feminist SF and of world building hard SF, it concerns the Sharers of Shora, a nation of women on a distant moon in the far future who are pacifists, highly advanced in biological sciences, and who reproduce by parthenogenesis there are no males and tells of the conflicts that erupt when a neighboring civilization decides to develop their ocean world, and send in an army.

    • A Door into Ocean ¦ Joan Slonczewski
      372 Joan Slonczewski
    • thumbnail Title: A Door into Ocean ¦ Joan Slonczewski
      Posted by:Joan Slonczewski
      Published :2019-08-23T17:35:46+00:00

    About "Joan Slonczewski"

      • Joan Slonczewski

        Joan Lyn Slonczewski is an American microbiologist at Kenyon College and a science fiction writer who explores biology and space travel Her books have twice earned the John W Campbell award for best science fiction novel The Highest Frontier 2012 and A Door into Ocean 1987 With John W Foster she coauthors the textbook, Microbiology An Evolving Science W W Norton.


    1. I loathe this book with an ungodly passion. I want to preface the rest of my review by saying I am deeply feminist. In fact, feminist science fiction is my most beloved literary subgenre. I am well-versed in the canon of women SF/fantasy writers. And yet I cannot like this book. I wanted to, and instead ended up throwing it across the room at several points in my reading. The plot is offensively gender-reductive. Slonczewski equates femininity with every positive attribute possessed by any of th [...]

    2. Shora is a world without land. The humans who colonized it chose to reshape themselves, instead of terraforming the planet. Sharers, as the descendents of the colonists call themselves, strive to live in balance with each other and their world. Although they have incredibly advanced biological science, they try to change as little as possible about the natural ecology of Shora, even though it means losing friends and loved ones to vast monsters that roam the ocean. Their highest goal is to stren [...]

    3. Meh. As with most ideologically pacifist writing, this one left me feeling unsatisfied. The setup is good: a planet of women who live in a tribal egalitarian society, with life sciences way beyond our own, is threatened by an imperialist power that wants to exploit their planet's resources (and is threatened by their difference). But that's where it ends. The Sharers are really hung up on teaching non-violence to their would-be conquerers. The lack of imagination here is kind of offensive, not t [...]

    4. Hours after I have finished reading this book I am still trying to emerge from the vast ocean Shora. The words on each page were like a whirlpool, sucking me in, forcing me to listen to their tale. I fell hopelessly in love with Shora and the sharers that inhabit Her. I feared for their fate at the hands of man. I questioned my own humanity, and that of others around me. My entire way of thinking has been eternally changed because of this book. Perhaps, this is not as "critical" as a review shou [...]

    5. In a word: amazing. Landor’s narration is beautiful and lyrical, with well-detailed characterizations across the cultures and classes presented in Slonczewski’s award-winning novel of feminism, pacifism, and anarchism in a far-future of multiple visions of post-humanity. It immediately vaults into my all-time favorites list, though perhaps a half-step behind The Dispossessed and Parable of the Sower.

    6. As I read this book I couldn't stop comparing it toDuneby Frank Herbert. In many ways it was similar, war time, a supreme ruler, a group of people who didn't want to fight, and a young male who is out of place but still makes a difference. The main difference-Duneis set in the harsh dessert whileA Door Into Oceanis set on a planet with no land and only water. Sharers are the only inhabiter's on the Ocean Moon planet or Shora. There are the lesser sharers like clickflies and starworms and then th [...]

    7. Interlibrary loan courtesy of Collins Library, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA.Wow! What an incredible book!! Great world building, important messages about the environment and war. One world is completely covered by an ocean and populated by an all-female race that reproduces by parthenogenesis. Another world is very similar to ours with a military, traders, etc. One knows about killing, one knows about "sharing". This is a very powerful book with great characters and an important lesson [...]

    8. It's just my luck that I seem to be reading Slonczewski's Elysium cycle backwards. A Door into Ocean is the first, and most explicitly political of the four novels, focusing on non-violent action and culture. Like most novels using this theme, *A Door into Ocean* focuses on the contrast between two cultures, with representative characters engaged in the process of discovery and conflict. The Sharers of Shora are a woman-only culture that have engineered their genes, environment, and culture into [...]

    9. I loved this novel and used it as an example of the feminism that posits that women are different from men, ie morally superior.

    10. Intended Audience: AdultSexual content: SignificantAce/Genderqueer characters: Yes (Human and Alien)Rating: PG-13/R for violence, torture, brief sexuality and rapeWriting style: 3/5Likable characters: 4/5Plot/Concepts: 4/5Travelers from the ocean moon of Shora, Sharers Merwen and Usha must judge whether the Valans who have invaded their home are human in any sense they can know. Spinel the stonecutter's son follows them back, a "malefreak" among an all-female species. In the midst of the rising [...]

    11. This is a book that, in my opinion, does not show its age. It could have been published last week, Two inhabited moons with very different cultures are part of a larger galactic empire, and increasing contact with the empire is causing its own strains. The more industrialized, military-inclined culture of Valendon wants to exploit the resources of Shora, a world virtually without land.The Shorans have different ideas.The are peaceful, cooperative, and communal. They are also all female. The reas [...]

    12. ‘From the ocean world of Shora, Merwen the Impatient and Usha the Inconsiderate travel to Valedon, the world of stone. The Valans view with suspicion the ancient female race of Shora: with their webbed fingers, their withdrawal into ‘whitetrance’ and their marvellous arts of healing. Where the Sharers of Shora hope for understanding, they are met with aggression.Joan Slonczewski pushes the moral and political philosophy of non-violence to its very limits in a powerful and gripping narrativ [...]

    13. This review is adapted from a post I made in a discussion thread about the book.I had my doubts after the first section of the story; it was a slow start, and I just didn't like the way the Valan society was structured. But about halfway through the book, I realized I was completely sucked into the story and found myself constantly thinking about it as I went about my day.I want to gush about the beautiful world-building on Shora. The ecology is believable and complex, and everything about the p [...]

    14. One Of The Classic Novels of Both Feminist Science Fiction & Space OperaJoan Slonczewski's "A Door Into Ocean" is definitely a masterpiece of science fiction literature, comparable to the best ever written from the likes of Ursula K. Le Guin, Samuel Delany, and Bruce Sterling, to name but a few of our finest American writers of science fiction. In this astonishing, thoughtful novel published originally back in 1986, whose universal themes of environmental awareness and relationships between [...]

    15. Joan Slonczewski is a science fiction writer who has more than an armchair understanding of science, and it shows. When you have solid input from the real world, your new spins on old tropes can be surprising and fresh.What follows isn't really a spoiler, but it is part of the story: When I first read DOOR INTO OCEAN in college, my classmates were saying "A whole planetful of purple lesbians? Really." But the purple color of the Shorans' skins derives from a microbe living in their bodies that s [...]

    16. Turns out I'm still in the mood for 1980s anthropological sci-fi, so I bumped this to the top of my reading list. (That, and current discourse about the ethicality of Nazi-punching made me want some pacifist philosophy in my life.) This hit both desires on the nose; Slonczewski's depiction of Sharer culture and morals is fascinatingly alien. I particularly appreciate that their pacifism is never presented as utopian; they are flawed people who may or may not be making the right choices, and thei [...]

    17. This classic feminist sci-fi book is a testament to nonviolent political opposition, genetic engineering, and guerrilla diplomacy. It's a powerful tale birthed from the uncertainty of nuclear war in the 1980s. It's a very interesting look at the tensions at play and frustrations brewing within Slonczewski during the Reagan era.I liked Spinel and Mirwen as characters and really enjoyed the women of Shora's attempts at nonviolent political opposition.Good book.

    18. All things considered, I feel that A Door into Ocean would have been a better book if it had been a bit less political. I love the worldbuilding, emphasis on ecology and the way Slonczewski handles language for instance. In some respects it is a very strong novel so I can see why it was awarded the Campbell. I can't help but detect a bit of irony there, Campbell himself would, given the content and his views on women and science fiction, most likely have detested the novel. Ultimately it's the s [...]

    19. While an interesting read, for the sake of her political imaginings, it falls short in its characterizations. Her anarchic, feminist, pacifist utopia is fun, yet she seems to have put much more of her energy into world-building rather than character building. Yet while the first half is slow, for just these reasons, the second half then truly takes off and causes a certain amount of fingernail biting. Somehow the whole just seems slightly dated, or perhaps it is just that I have moved on beyond [...]

    20. I heard about this book about a year ago, in a roundup of author suggestions of books that could help gird us for incoming Trump administration. I can't remember who made the recommendation, but it was one of the only fiction books on the list, and certainly the only sci-fi novel, which I found very intriguing. The book turns out to combine the densely textured world-building of Dune with the wryly empathic anthropological insight of Ursula K. LeGuin and, yes, the overall narrative structure of [...]

    21. TFW you agree with a book more than you enjoy it. I did enjoy it, especially after the plot kicked off in earnest about a hundred pages in. Its greatest pleasures are those of fairly-hard SF: Sudden incursions of proper biochemistry, open mockery of space opera (a soldier sometimes carries a ceremonial raygun to go with his equally-useless sabre), the payoff of detailed worldbuilding in fast-paced action. Moreover, it's a very Christian book, in a lefty feminist vein. The Sharer society, a pacif [...]

    22. If eco-feminist "hard" SF is not your bag, I get it, but what can I say? I frickin' loved this. I consumed this thing. I can't argue it's place as a literary masterpiece, but it features masterful world-building paired with a super sincere (if not reductive) political and philosophical stance. It's clear that Slonczewski is highly optimistic from the get-go about the capabilities of passive resistance against a traditionally-patriarchal military mindset. However, the tension remains high through [...]

    23. Written in the eighties (the author has her own study guide up about the political times), about a world of women, a world of no land, that comes into conflict with the more traditional militaristic moon nearby. It's a study in nonviolence and consensus (she mentioned the Quakers in her study guide, see also Dazzle of the Day), and a setting rich in ecological niches. One of the great books that I hadn't previously read. In comparison, her more recent Highest Frontier has more economics, less co [...]

    24. Old feminist sci-fi. The basic idea is that at some point, safely prior to recorded history, a group of women genetically engineer themselves to be semi-aquatic so they can go live in naked peacefulness on a water planet and not talk to anyone else for 10,000 years, at which point, traditional society led by the Man has a run in with them. I will give the author credit for trying to make the fish ladies complex and not gratuitously superior. The personal (which is political, natch) stories are d [...]

    25. An epic world spanning eco-feminist book of self discovery and conquest. Ultimately, the main thing that bothered me about it was the pacing. Some scenes were just not needed or focused on a character who we never saw again. Also, about halfway through the novel (2/3 the way through part 3) it seemed like the end to a book and then it immediately started anew. The first half we follow our off worlder protagonists through their journies of self discovery. The second we watch as a war is wages on [...]

    26. So, here's the thingI was at times totally enthralled and mind-numbingly bored by this book. The world-building is some of the best I've read in a long time! The POVs, though many, each had their own distinct voice, and I just fell in love with so many characters. But this book spans such a long period of time, the course of an entire war, and some of the time jumps left me feeling disconnected from the characters and their story. I also wasn't particularly keen on the politics, but then that's [...]

    27. The ideas of an ocean planet inhabited only by women and a plot involving non-violent resistance are really cool, but this reads slow and clunky a lot of the time such that it's often hard to tell which of the many characters are doing what. Despite its problems, this one leaves the reader with a lot to think about, so I'd recommend it for people who like their science fiction more biological and sociological. Also, this website from the author helped me navigate the book: biologynyon/slonc/book [...]

    28. I really wanted to like this book because it involves a planet full of naked women. I found it so cheesy and the characters so shallow, though, that I had to force myself to read it--I didn't enjoy it at all. I don't get what people see in this book.

    29. While slow to start, I was really impressed with how much I cared about what was happening by the second "part" of the book and I cared right up until the very last paragraph.

    30. CW: rape (though subversively and surprisingly well handled, I promise, the rapist is harmed as well), torture (also well handled though still hard to read about)Despite the moment at which I thought I was going to stop completely, reading through to the end of these 403 long pages was the right decision. At least for me. I loved the book, I need my own copy, I am so appreciative of what Joan Slonczewski was able to do with it.A Door Into Ocean takes place in a future where humanity exists on mu [...]

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