I shared my pick for the top 5 fiction and non-fiction books I read in 2018 earlier this month. I don’t read too many books and whatever I read, usually is within my sci-fi interests, largely.
A recent science fiction novel that I thoroughly enjoyed for its novel plot and sci-fi theme, and is my no.1 recommendation under fiction, was Sue Burke’s Semiosis. I’m a big fan of first-contact sci-fi, where human race makes first-contact with an alien, not-from-earth life form/species. I constantly look for newer expressions of this sub-genre in sci-fi.
Semiosis offers a premise that I have not heard or read in any other first-contact book so far. Most/all first contact novels focus on human race on the one side, and an alien race that is either insect-like, animal-like, invisible, very superior humanoid form, water-based and so on. Semiosis is the first novel that imagines intelligent plant life in another planet! Not just that, it also goes on to explore plants that start to communicate with the humans who land in that planet. The communication is highly creative – it first starts with those intelligent plants realigning their internal chemistry to produce multi-coloured leaves and fruits, and eventually fruits to manipulate human emotions (to let them or not let them what the plants intend!).
It’s an utterly fascinating premise that has me thinking how terribly we treat the flora in Earth and what if they turn intelligent and turn on us? They could release poisonous gases and exterminate our species too, since they clearly outnumber us. The only problem is that at present their speed of operation/growth is terribly slow compared to humans. But intelligence could change that.
Given this background, this creative concept from Havas, the agency, is definitely interesting. It creates an illusion of trees communicating with humans, even though it has very limited on-ground effect or impact so far. Almost like an award-only concept.
But the crux is fascinating! What if we use technology to let plants communicate with us? Give trees and plants, the often taken-for-granted flora, a voice! Imagine the amount of information we can gain from them to understand our planet!
In Semiosis, the main plant (a bamboo tree collective) gets so intelligent and integral to the human colony that it even gets voting rights and becomes the leader of the human pack at one point! I highly recommend the book even if you have a passing interest in sci-fi or good, imaginative fiction.