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 are no malesand tells of the conflicts that erupt when a neighboring civilization decides to develop their ocean world, and send in an army.
In her ambitious second SF novel (after Still Forms on Foxfield biology professor Slonczewski has created an intriguing ocean world with its own culture and biological adaptions. (Particularly ingenious are the clickfliesinsects that collectively serve as both a living computer and a communications network.) But the book has problems with its rigid ideological structure. On one side is the planet Valedon, a patriarchal, capitalist, mechanistic and militaristic society. On the other is Valedon's watery moon Shora, an all-female society based on life sciences and the principle of sharing. It gets by without any government, shuns the mechanical and, knowing its limits, lives in harmony with nature. In the inevitable confrontation, Shora uses Gandhian techniques of passive resistance to thwart Valedon's troops. Fortunately, this schematic political framework is enlivened by the full-blooded characters who negotiate between the two cultures. Science Fiction Book Club selection. February 7