A Door into Ocean

Joan Slonczewski
A Door into Ocean Cover

A Door into Ocean


Six books in, and not a single dud from this year's Women of Genre Fiction challenge.

A Door Into Ocean is the story of the peaceful ocean moon, Shora, and the attempts of its planetary neighbour, Valedon, to assert its control. How do you fight a war when one side refuses to take part?

The culture of Shora is fascinating. They are all female, and are masters of genetic manipulation, using strange biological labs. Their belief system is entriely non-violent, and their most extreme punishment is Unspeaking. They struggle to comprehend the mindset of the Valan "invaders", and regard them as sick children.

The book occasionally pushed as being feminist. I think that's a damaging label that turns away people who would really enjoy the book. Yes, the Shorans are all female, but there's nothing that especially asserts that their culture is as it is because they are female. Indeed, some of the major villains are also female, and one of the key protagonists is male.

The science is interesting. The struggle is convincing. The story is highly readable. I gave it 4/5. (I think I generally tend to underrate books by half a mark, but I'm attempting to correct it from here on.)