Today I am interviewing Sue Burke, author of the new science-fiction novel, Semiosis.
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DJ: Hi Sue! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Sue: Hi DJ! Beyond what it says in my bio, I always wanted to be a writer, even as a child before I learned to read. I worked for a long time as a journalist and loved that job. But I always loved science fiction, too, and after a while, I decided to try writing that. Now, twenty years later, my first novel is being published. I couldn’t be happier and more excited.
Science fiction draws me in because of the kinds of questions it can ask. In this novel, I ask about intelligence: how can different kinds of intelligence coexist? How will they inevitably misunderstand each other?
DJ: What is Semiosis about?
Sue: A small group of humans arrives at a planet to found an agricultural colony. Soon they discover the planet has its own dominant life forms that have their own demands. Can the colonists afford to agree? The story continues from one generation to the next as they try to survive and adapt to their new home and its inhabitants.
DJ: What were some of your influences for Semiosis?
Sue: When my houseplants began misbehaving, I discovered how horrible plants are. A vine called a pothos wrapped around another and blocked all light and killed it, and a philodendron tried to sink its roots into a neighboring plant. With a little research, I learned that, as one botanist put it, “All plants of a given place are in a state of war with respect to each other.” And plants are armed and deadly. For example, the strangler fig, a jungle plant, grows on an existing tree, using it as a prop, and when the fig is strong enough, it strangles the tree and takes its place. Continue reading