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The Color of Distance

por Amy Thomson

Outros autores: Ver a secção outros autores.

Séries: Alien Ecology (Book 1)

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386867,411 (4.16)1 / 52
Juna is the sole survivor of a team of surveyors marooned in the dense and isolated Tendu rainforest, an uninhabitable world for humans. Her only hope for survival is total transformation--and terrifying assimilation--into the amphibian Tendu species. Now she speaks as they speak. She fears what they fear. And in surviving as they survive, Juna will come to fathom more about her own human nature than ever before...… (mais)
  1. 00
    Below the Root por Zilpha Keatley Snyder (beyondthefourthwall)
    beyondthefourthwall: Nuanced, memorable sci-fi with particular attention to ecology and questions of them-versus-us.
  2. 00
    The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet por Becky Chambers (beyondthefourthwall)
    beyondthefourthwall: Deeply character-driven sci-fi with particular care allotted to worldbuilding and major cross-species differences in culture, physiology, etc.
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Mostrando 1-5 de 8 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
Two points ruined for me what was otherwise a very good book.

The first wasn't a huge deal, but kind of irritated me throughout the novel. It's not really a spoiler to the story because it is mentioned a single time and never mentioned or addressed again, and it has little to do with the plot of the novel. The protagonist recalls the fact that she was gang raped by 5 older children when she was 8 years old. That's a rather huge bomb to drop and then do absolutely nothing with. I get that the author used it as a device to explain why she was scared of linking with the aliens or whatever, but it just felt wholly unnecessary and out of place in the story.

The second point, the thing that kind of ruined the whole book for me happens near the very end of the novel, and is a spoiler to how things turn out: She gets turned back into a human in the end. This just bums me out. The reason why this novel is interesting to me is her change, and the option to turn back to fully human is not even brought up a single time until the very end, and then it abruptly happens. She gives up mind/healing superpowers just so she can bang some dude and enjoy sitcoms again. I mean it's just lame. I couldn't even read the last chapter or so, I became so apathetic to the story at that point. Reading her alien friend likening humans having sex to their insane mind melding superpowers was just so freaking trite and annoying. ( )
1 vote jedinat | May 16, 2023 |
This is a fantastic science fiction novel with a female protagonist. ( )
  resoundingjoy | Jan 1, 2021 |
The Color of Distance was one of the most compelling first contact stories I’ve come across. At first I was a bit skeptical, sure I would be getting a story that I’d seen a million times before. However, The Color of Distance won me over with it’s focus on characterization and underlying sense of optimism.

Juna is the only survivor of a crash landing of human surveyors on an uninhabitable world. Luckily for her she is found by three aliens who are able to keep her alive. However, she is now adrift and alone in a completely alien place and culture. Ani, one of the aliens who finds her, initially sees Juna as a burden and blames her for her mentor’s death.

The Color of Distance moves back and forth from Ani to Juna’s POV. At first this made the book hard to get into since you’re being plunged into an alien world through the perspective of an alien. There’s also quite a number of alien words that take a while to get used to. However, once I got through the first fifty pages, I was completely immersed and very glad that Thomson had chosen to show us both a human and an alien as our protagonists. The Color of Distance is a story about two groups and cultures coming into contact and trying to figure out a path for the future. For that story to work, you really need to see and understand both sides.

Characterization is what drives The Color of Distance. Both Ani (and the other aliens) and Juna change and grow throughout the course of the book. At first, neither really understands the other. Ani thinks of Juna as a “strange creature” and Juna seems to think of the aliens as something to be studied rather than people to relate to. Yet both come to learn more about each other, and it was wonderful to see a friendship grow between them.

There’s also a strong environmental theme to The Color of Distance. The Tendu (the alien species) live in a dense rain forest, and they are very concerned with keeping the natural environment and ecosystems in balance. I was pretty cynical of this at first, since “nature loving aliens” versus the “destructive and out of touch humans” is a story that I’ve seen before (ex. James Cameron’s Avatar). I predicted that when the humans showed up again, they’d start destroying the environment, there’d be a violent conflict, and Juna would have to chose sides! However, The Color of Distance preferred a more optimistic path. Juna and the other humans might not understand much at first, but they have good intentions and do seek to have a peaceful and prosperous relationship with the Tendu.

At first I was also a bit wary of how well the aliens would be pulled off, but I ended up being very impressed. The Tendu are sort of amphibians, similar to frogs, and their culture ties into their biology and life cycle. The most interesting thing is probably how their skin shifts colors according to their emotions. They are also able to produce patterns and symbols on their skin, which is the basis for their language. Thus, the method of communication also provides an obstacle the humans and Tendu most circumvent to understand one another.

I think The Color of Distance is a crucially unappreciated science fiction novel. It is one of the best first contact stories I’ve read, and it really deserves a wider audience. I’d suggest it for you if you like alien cultures, stories of survival and a sense of optimism in your science fiction.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page. ( )
  pwaites | Mar 29, 2016 |
Survey biologist Juna Saari is left for dead on an alien planet after her team's flyer crashes into the jungle. She is rescued by the previously unknown sentient aliens known as Tendu, but only through their extreme medical intervention. Although she contacts her spaceship through radio, they will not be able to return for her for five years - for the meantime, she's stranded, and must learn to adapt and survive in an alien culture.

Sometimes slow-moving, the book is more concerned with the rich cultural details of the humanoid but frog-like Tendu than with action-adventure scenes. Based on the author's visits to the rainforests of Costa Rica, the arboreal and community-oriented lifestyle of the aliens really comes alive.

In the sequel, Through Alien Eyes, Survey returns for Juna, accompanied by a horde of politically-motivated researchers and experts excited to make contact with this new species. Returning to human civilization with two Tendu ambassadors, Juna must navigate treacherous waters to maintain her suddenly-precarious position as bridge between two cultures. Not just culture shock, but legal battles ensue.

In both books, Thompson uses the contrast between the Tendu and humanity to discuss the importance of ecology, issues of population control, and the importance of harmony and balance. There are a few preachy moments, but overall the 'message' is not too overt. Although humanity is shown to have problems, there is a hopeful outlook - and the Tendu are not perfect either. Rather, both cultures are shown to have things to learn from the other.

Recommended for fans of Sheri Tepper. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
I first read this book in middle school and have been trying to get my hands on it ever since. Having purchased it online and reread it instantly, I can confirm that this is one of my most favorite books. The world of the Tendu is painted so clearly that I actually smelled the forest, tasted the fruit, felt the allu'a. A lot of concepts in the book (connecting to each other and the world via allu'a, a human partly transforming into an alien body) remind me so much of James Cameron's Avatar that at some points I had the sneaking suspicion that perhaps Cameron used aspects of this book as an inspiration. ( )
  spectralbat | Apr 14, 2010 |
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Amy Thomsonautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
Messier, LindaArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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Juna is the sole survivor of a team of surveyors marooned in the dense and isolated Tendu rainforest, an uninhabitable world for humans. Her only hope for survival is total transformation--and terrifying assimilation--into the amphibian Tendu species. Now she speaks as they speak. She fears what they fear. And in surviving as they survive, Juna will come to fathom more about her own human nature than ever before...

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