Although the concerns of religion have been typically marginalized by science this is often not the case with science fiction. Indeed, modern science fiction frequently addresses matters engaged by theology and metaphysics, in part perhaps because science has often abandoned them. Much of the best science fiction speculatively reaches beyond the delimiting empirical matters which scientific rationality and technology paradigms largely concern themselves to assess individual and cultural needs for reconciling or fusing scientific knowledge with religious faith. Astronomer and historian of science Steven J. Dick seeking to define a new “cosmotheology” speaks of the contribution of science fiction to studying the theological implications of cosmic evolution and particularly the implications of extraterrestrial life: “Although science fiction is often dismissed by serious scholars. . .the best of it is a source of original thought that should not be ignored” (199). Citing examples ranging from Olaf Stapledon to Arthur C. Clarke to the recent novels of Mary Doria Russell as well as others, Dick goes on to conclude:
These stories of mythic proportion broaden our horizons; they force us to consider our place in the universe; they make us wonder whether the universe is full of good, as in E.T. , or evil, as in Alien. And they make us realize that terrestrial concepts of God and theology are only a subset of the possible (199).
We live of course in a world of increasing subsets of the possible, especially of high-powered scientific-technological knowledge with its daily accelerating application. Such knowledge and application consistently--often insistently--raises issues of meaning, religious-philosophical reflection, ethics, subjectivity, and the need for informed consideration individually as well as in the larger world community. Joan Slonczewski’s 1986 award winning A Door Into Ocean provides a stimulating science-theological storyline foregrounding the science ethos and practice of her alien Shora women. Undergirding Slonczewski’s fictional extrapolations of Shora’s alien world is a matrix of Quaker-informed values that brings her story’s conflicts into a thematic focus of an ethical-theological nature.
A Door Into Ocean, in part through its special aura of science verisimilitude, explores how narrative itself makes possible truth claims pertaining to an alien world’s “life-shaping” values praxis echoing historical Quaker beliefs and practices. The case for analyzing narrative as a significant contributor to moral and values knowing, at least in the sense of engaging with “otherness” that establishes a religious world view, finds some of its most effective argument and application to science fiction through its paradigm creation of possible “life-like” worlds. Worlds that discover virtue and possess a religious or ethical ethos. Narrative and scientific structure in A Door Into Ocean portray a dynamic encounter with otherness; a world that posits and informs human existence with values-oriented knowing in its biotechnological and medical themes as an undergirding of science praxis.
Slonczewski’s novels generally are grounded in Quaker values, reflecting that group’s historic moral-ethical tenets of non-violence, gender equality, and idiosyncratic spirituality that saw Quakers particularly attracted toward the observational sciences in their regard for the natural world as displaying what Quaker botanist Joshua Richardson saw as: “the unlimited, and incomprehensible greatness of Him, who in infinite wisdom created the heaven and the earth (Cantor 4). Asked about the importance of Quakerism to her fiction Slonczewski has responded it forms the “central focus” of her early books (Levy 14). And further:
My experience with the Quakers permeates everything I write. I have been shaped by the Quaker example of listening and relating to that of God in everyone and every creature. In my books, wherever people resolve differences by intersecting seemingly irreconcilable views--that comes directly out of what I’ve seen among Quakers. (Schellenberg 5)
A Door Into Ocean is frequently cited as a feminist utopian parable. Undeniably the author is a feminist SF writer, yet her underlying thematic ideology remains very much Quaker-based utopian in its values expression and ethical imperatives, even when these are reflective of particular feminist concerns. Transformatively veiled, A Door Into Ocean appropriates Quaker typologies as central story elements in the lives of her all-female aliens who practice an activist non-violence, Quaker-like governance, and a values-based eco-science on their sea-covered moon world that has allowed them to peacefully prosper for eons past their long-ago separation from genetically compatible human ancestors. Peacefully and prospering however until the coming of the nearby planet Valedon’s trader-extractors who, although initially welcomed as human sisters, have cast serious doubt on their humanity through their destructive actions and exploitation of Shora’s water world eco-system and it’s inhabitants.
An intriguing emblem throughout the novel is that the women of Shora go unclothed, in all their amethyst-skinned glory. Not that this is a particularly erotic nudity, though Sharers (as they call themselves) are clearly sexual in their same-sex society--generations of male-less breeding through biotechnological ova-merging no longer enables heterosexual coupling. As fundamentally water-adapted humans on a temperate world clothing holds no practical value--in fact seems a bit foolish, if not suspect, to them. Symbolically there’s an obvious edenic-utopian resonance here. Slonczewski’s Sharers are innocently naked and unashamed. Furthermore, an unassuming straightforwardness is emblemized: Sharers have nothing to hide physically and are likewise guileless in their dealings with outsiders. By contrast, the novel’s clothed Valan antagonists emblemize all that is cloaked outwardly in guises of patriarchal power with its hierarchy of rankings, duplicities, and oppressions. The “soldier’s plumage” of invading troops is an especially contrastive symbol to the naked and seemingly defenseless amethyst women. Soldiers, who share-killing--a concept unknown to Shorans except as a rare pathology--are outwardly appareled in militarist rigidity, muting if not actually confirming an underlying lack of humanity.
Disconcerting nakedness offers an interesting historical Quaker analog. To the consternation of their contemporaries early Quakers practiced a kind of turbulent witnessing they called “going naked as a sign.” This symbolic communication was an extreme public enactment challenging conventional norms and attracting attention to their message of prophetic warning for others to repent or reform their ways. These Friends would appear in a public street, marketplace, or religious gathering shockingly unclad or arrayed in scant sackcloth, thereby enacting a visual metaphor to their verbal message. Such naked semiotic truth, however, was generally ill received by their seventeenth century English audience and roundly maltreated even when understood as shock-effect parable (Bauman 92-93).
Slonczewski’s Sharer’s employ “witnessers” in much the same way early Quakers saw moral enactment as empowered reproof. Fundamental to Quaker belief is the notion that all human beings can be responsive to Truth because of a universalizing Inward Light in each person. Friends sought to “answer that of God in every one,” indicating both motive for action and that which calls forth in others an acknowledgment of the divine Light in themselves. (Childress 18) Through this central linking theme Slonczewski’s Sharers use their alien science to confront their off-world invaders while seeking to answer their antagonist’s presumed soul-deep humanness.
Early on in the story exploratory teams leave their Ocean moon to investigate Valedon so they might “share a fair judgment of Valan humanness” (77). Slonczewski quickly established the novel’s utopian/distopian tensions around contrasting Valedon-Shora values. We follow two main Sharer characters, Merwen and her lovesharer mate, a scientist-healer named Usha, on their information gathering visit. They encounter a host of contrasting elements between the two cultures: alarming poverty, violence, stratified social disharmony, an exploitive materialist economy, and all overshadowed by a ruling pan-galactic patriarchy that mars Valan life. Can Valans indeed be human themselves? “Truth is a tangled skein. . .” (15) as Merwen notes to an eighteen year old Valan youth who, facing few prospects on his world, returns with them to Shora under Merwen’s sponsorship and tutelage. Spinel will be a test case to determine for her sisters if this dry-world species might after all be human.
Sharers govern themselves through the Gathering, reflecting the Quaker Meeting for Business. A common misunderstanding of Quaker governance is that it is based on consensus. Rather, Quakers seek a Spirit-guided Unity around whatever issues or “concerns” arise. Despite even contentious dispute Friends seek to discern the divine will in a “firm unity of conviction,” as William Penn observed, not imposing a majority or narrow leadership’s will. (Endy 314) This means listening to perhaps a single opposing voice, since that could well be the singular expression of wisdom or divine revelation. Neither majority nor minority may be right, instead a “sense of the meeting” arises when all minds are “clear” thereby allowing unity for action. If serious difference remains the meeting will defer decision seeking later unified clearness.
The novel’s Sharer Gatherings are based upon similar Quaker-like effort to discern right action in unity. Such Gatherings are central to the novel’s plot movement as well as thematic development. We first experience a Sharer Gathering where the crucial struggle over Valan humanity is raised. Everything hinges on the potential for inward human confirmation of the off-worlders. Slonczewski has her protagonist Merwen express tentative doubt that the Gathering’s proposed boycott of traders will elicit a necessary moral response against harmful gemstone trading. Her concern is that proposed outward action will miss its sought after inward goal: “If Valans are our sisters, will our action reach into their hearts or will it glance away?” (86). Ironically, the boycott’s outward action does succeed temporarily but, worse, it also precipitates Shora’s military occupation. Speaking in Gathering against those who now wish to respond with force to Valan brutality through a released virus, Merwen offers a solution more in keeping with peaceful Shoran efforts: “Consider this,” Merwen said at last. “It may be that we can dispel the Valan plague by sharing force. . . . I hesitate to guess what force the Valans will share in turn. It may be too late, afterward, to try to share mindhealing instead” (222). Out of the Gathering’s Quaker-like centering silence Merwen finds her empowerment to answer inwardly perceived truth: “In the stillness, Merwen reminded herself that as a wordweaver she had to weave not just her own words but those of all others into a truth that all could share” (976).
Her spoken opposition forestalls a violent response from “doorclosing” sisters. But the price Sharers must pay for sustaining their non-violent principles is high. Occupying soldiers are initially unsettled when hundreds of unarmed, naked Ocean women show up at their bases silently protesting the hostage taking of Sharer sisters. General Realgar, their commander, is as much disconcerted by Sharer nakedness, this “growing wall of purple flesh,” as he is puzzled by their fearless, overtly fruitless tactic (244). Neither gas canisters, forced removal, or finally a death-dealing guardbeam deter the non-violent protests. Additionally, Realgar is expressly embarrassed, and later violently angered, by his betrothed Lady Berenice, or Nisi as she is known among Sharers, who has gone native with her long-held sympathy for and identity with Shora. Lady Nisi goes about not only fully purple from the sea world’s breathmicrobes, but as an unclothed adopted Sharer. A habit, or lack of habit, her male-possessive fiancée finds disapprovingly repugnant. Near the novel’s end when Nisi has failed and been captured after a misguided suicide attempt to blow up Realgar’s headquarters, she’s brought before the general for interrogation. His anger is compounded by her having been found Shora-naked, “. . .you sabotage my base, and my troops drag you in here shameless as a field whore” he rails (333). Losing control, he beats her viciously, promising she will witness the execution of her co-conspirators—despite protests she has acted alone and against Shoran principles.
Realgar who believes everything which has transpired makes sense only in terms of his own military goals or patriarchal outlook embodies the novel’s negative clash between Shora/Valedon, as well as the underlying motif of a dubious humanity in the face of so much contrary evidence. The Valan youth Spinel, appalled at the attrition and killing of thousands of witnessers laments: “You’ll never make a Sharer of a Sardish soldier, not in a million years.” But Usha is far more hopeful: “It’s not a matter of making, but of finding what is lost and buried” (346). A bedrock echo of Quaker belief in the Light bearing witness to the Light already within others.
The designated stonesign that permits Valans to function economically and also indicates social status is not requisite wear on Shora. Indeed, naked is the sign of Shora, rejecting all externals of socio-economic status for a naked egalitarianism and value system that will successively confuse, confront, and controvert the dystopian values of Spinel’s world. Arriving on Shora, Spinel experiences his first literal unclothed Shorans, including the disrobing of Lady Berenice who had joined them on their trip back to the moon planet. They land on one of the living eco-rafts that dot the ocean world and disembarking are greeted by three naked children, daughters of Merwen & Usha, who with chattering excitement tug at their mothers’ off-world shifts until finally the Shoran women are unclothed:
Spinel burned with embarrassment. He had not believed that Sharers went unclothed, any more than he believed they were witches. He glanced back at Lady Berenice, wondering how she would take this. To his amazement even she had slipped off her Iridian talar, stonesigh and all, and had rolled it into a neat bundle under her arm. Coolly she returned his stare, as if daring him to run back to the moonferry. (52)
When the children try to tug off Spinel’s clothes and begin playfully tousling his hair—a plumage unknown to their species—their mother has to call them off noting the newly arrived Spinel “is still shy.” Spinel remains initially clothed but as he grows more comfortable with Shora’s water world he too doffs his clothing—partly because the children impishly filch all but his shorts. Yet an identity crisis assaults Spinel when he notices his own skin turning faintly lavender. Naked is one thing but he had no intention of actually becoming a Shoran “fish.” To his horror, “he was metamorphosing into a moon-creature.” (98) Spinel’s panic at this discovered beginning alien-other transformation speaks to the novel’s focus on his character as a symbolic bridge between the two worlds that must take place on an individual scale if there is to be a recognition of mutual humanity between Valedon & Shora. He must, as it were, get into an alien skin to experience Shoran humanity as well as to be recognized as human himself by the ocean world sisters.
Lady Nisi reluctantly offers him antibiotic pills to suppress the tinting microbes but she would have him accept this skin-deep change as not losing himself but rather as a step toward learning Sharer ways. Abhorred, Spinel will have none of this alien transformation & begs for the pills. Nevertheless, left alone, and now angry with his own panic, he calms down enough to choose not to use the pills. Emerging from the raft tunnels where he had hidden himself, he is greeted by Merwen who comforting him, asks, “Did you choose? Are you one of us, now?” Spinel’s dispirited reply recognizes that this passage is likely only a threshold one: “What else will I have to share?” he asks. (100)
Still, Spinel has only partly metamorphosed as a “moon-creature,” notwithstanding earlier fears of becoming “a monster,” shaved hairless and turned purple-tinged by the breathmicrobes. His transformation from alien “male-freak” to initiated learnsharer among his adoptive sisters is fully realized in his growing love for Merwen’s somewhat intractable daughter, Lystra, as the two eventually acceptance one another as lovesharers. In Slonczewski’s leading of Spinel into Sharer values there are plentiful setbacks but also moments of marked insight. To encounter the other with respect for their shared humanity is to become a “selfnamer,” one who recognizes the interwoven connections between all life. As Merwen mentors him, “A lesser creature sees a rival. . . and jumps in to fight it. A human sees herself and knows that the sea names her. But a selfnamer sees every human that ever was or will be, and every form of life there is. By naming herself, she becomes a ‘protector’ of Shora” (61).
Merwen herself as a protector of Shora is put to the test of her own humanity as she confronts Realgar’s attempts to break her resistance and in turn subjugate Ocean. He declares with cold military finality: “You know that we will go on killing your sisters, until you obey--or until you kill us.” But Merwen asserts her defining human principal, observing Realgar himself is “dying already inside, from the sickness you call ‘killing.’” Valans, she insists, must learn to share life not hasten death: “If we kill, we lose our will to choose, our shared protection of Shora, our ability to shape life. Our humanity would slip away, beyond even your own” (356).
In Quaker terms, if there is not that which is of God in everyone, we are all terribly lost to our darkest impulses. Yet Merwen has come to share distrust in her central vision of such redemptive goodness in all humankind. Her faith is plunged into the visible darkness of the human soul, including her own. Through Realgar she has glimpse the (dis)ease with which we all can diminish ourselves because we are able to diminish others made in our selfsame image. Even Shorans, Merwen discovers, can share hatred and fear. But that very knowledge paradoxically leaves her with the fuller realization that we still might resist submitting to our self-demons. We can, if sometimes only barely, avoid dragging ourselves into the dark hole of sub-human actions. Despite everything, in her darkest moments Merwen has confirmed healing in Spinel. He has changed, answering to hers his own inwardly and outwardly affirmed humanness. Where once he had urged her to respond vengefully against “those who carry deathsticks” Spinel is now mind-healed. “ That is why I still share hope with you,” she tells her nemesis Realgar (380).
Realgar’s seeming turnabout accords with her hope, yet becomes a final entrapment. He has found a vulnerable weak link with her investment in Spinel’s change. Merwen is brought to Realgar’s office not for further interrogation this time but to met Spinel dressed in soldier’s plumage. Despite denials as he is dragged from the room, Realgar produces a holocube showing Spinel’s deathstick murder of two witnessing Shorans. With no experience of a doctored holo image, Merwen accepts this false witnessing, she plunges into whitetrance despair. Seeking this Last Door of a Sharer’s self-induced death, she offers these final cryptic words to her tormentor: “Though Spinel has shared my betrayal, you, Realgar, shall not” (382).
Faced with Shora’s pacifist resilience in the face of his full military fury Realgar’s efforts to subdue the planet collapses as troop morale plummets and discipline turns to open sympathy with what many realize is anything but a dangerous rebel force. As one Valan officer declares: “A fool’s war it’s been, with no army to fight and no land to fight for” (373). The cost however has been enormous in terms of dead sisters and Ocean’s shattered environment. And ultimately in a soul-heavy realization that the human impulse toward killing and hatred can destroy trust in the presumptive good at the center of human identity. The novel remains ambiguously disturbing on this faith-held Quaker tenet. Can we somehow pull back from inflicted malevolence on our fellow human creatures? Is there after all a lifeshaping Truth within potentially answering more egregious, destructive forces?
At the novel’s end, all save one of the principal characters are brought back through the door of darkness into Ocean’s hope. Nisi the Deceiver has returned to Shora released by Realgar from last minute possible execution. Realgar himself has been relieved of command and forced into disgraced departure from the moon world he could not subject to his own will and the Patriarch’s rule. We last see him haunted by a mirror-glanced image of his own soul and an unanswered question Merwen posed to him: “Whose eyes do you see in mine, and whose in [yours]” (399).
Spinel has a last symbolic turnabout in the novel’s ending scene. Perhaps he should go back to the world of his birth to share learning and healing as a Spirit Caller. After all, Merwen had brought him to Shora to learn his own humanity, as her “last bright hope for a oneness of Valan and Sharer” (291). In classic mono-myth terms he should return bringing salvic wisdom to his own people, yet there’s also the boy-meets-edenic-girl myth too, foretelling the rebuilding of fractured Shora. Stay, and “Help raise our daughters. . . ” implores Lystra. At the last possible turning, Spinel chooses his greater investment in a future with Lystra as his lovesharer. With a message and parting talismanic gift Spinel leaves the outbound moonferry’s captain. The gift is intended for delivery to Relgar’s young daughter, the symbolic gift is a long promised “perfect whorlshell polished by [Shora’s] sea” (123). Also conveyed is a message to Realgar himself that Lady Berenice still loves him. With a last word of hope for his own home world, “Just tell them, the door is still open,” Spinel dives from the water’s edge swimming toward Lystra’s receding image. He swims toward her with a message ringing in his own ears of “Come, lovesharer, come home” (406). Robin Roberts in her study of feminist utopias and the female alien notes of A Door Into Ocean:
The novel details the reunion of the two worlds, the reunification of the species through Spinel (a Valan) and Lystra (his Sharer lover). . . . In a sense, Slonczewski holds out a possibility of communication between the feminine and the masculine, provided the latter relinquishes control over language and science (144).
That is, relinquishes those modes of patriarchy and hierarchical control that attempt to dominate rather than learn-share Shoran-Quaker values.
But it is something of a false dichotomy between returning/staying. As readers outside the text’s referent alien-other imagery we have witnessed the triumph of right over might, seen violent, subordinating culture unlearned--or at least unraveled in the face of Quaker-echoing non-violent activism—we’ve witnessed prevailing feminist autonomy, and embraced a non-coercive view of community. While still an alien-other world, we have been presented with a vision of Sharer possibilities. Clearly not all lives, or invasions encountered, can be persuaded to Sharer ways but Slonczewski’s novel witnesses to such empowering. In Quaker terms, answering that which is of God in everyone.
The utopia paradox retains its etymological “no place” as no place most of us can or might even want to inhabit. But then dystopia as etymologically “bad” or “worst” place has little appeal as a zip code either. The utopia-dystopia tension however has much to offer as enstoried viewpoints of discontent with human folly. Gary Westfahl traces this historical science fiction paradox in a recent essay. Both sides of utopia-dystopia remain inconsistent, incomplete, and unachievable, Westfahl concludes, yet “. . .small victories in dispelling some ignorance are possible; [utopia-dystopia is] a world where ignorance can be vied with and sometimes conquered, though its final defeat is impossible” (239).
Aesthetically and narratively, A Door Into Ocean is an envisioned and thematically vied-with attempt at appropriating a religious ideology to demonstrate enacted ways in which Quaker values inform human choice and action. Slonczewski’s objectified fable offers us believable human choice and consequence. Even if we are not thoroughly taken up by the empowerment she offers, we still come away better understanding what has given alternative vision and substance to her alien-other world, its characters, and science-based extrapolations. In an interview for the SFRA Review with Michael Levy, Slonczewski has said that Quakerism has been important to her for two central reasons:
It provided a way of worship in the Christian tradition that was compatible with my understanding of experimental science and my insistence on universalism—beliefs that would translate to Alpha Centauri someday. It also provided a source of action to overcome the specters of violence that surround us, particularly (until recently) the nuclear holocaust. . . . The Sharers have a lot in common with Quakers. . . . the idea of scientists as all atheists is an untrue stereotype. . . . All great world religions have produced great scientists” (14-15).
In terms of cosmic evolution and extraterrestrial life, the alien women of Shora are genetically and sentiently fully human, they would readily translate to Alpha Centauri someday in embracing the universalism of their own and other’s “alien” humanity. The novel’s echoing question of course is “Would we?” Quakers from their 17th century inception were know as a peculiar “alien” people, who sought vigorously as radical “Publishers of Truth” to proclaim their non-propositional faith through prophetic and apologetic witness. Quaker ideology witnessed to an inwardly empowering “Light” of radical Christian experience that impacted one’s outward commitment to personal and social change.
Quakers too have traditionally held and pursued an aesthetic and value system that has sought to mediate between science and religion. Excluded from England’s universities as dissenters until the late 19th century, many nonetheless distinguished themselves as ardent amateurs and even professionals in various science, medical and technology fields throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, some even becoming Fellows of the Royal Society. Among distinguished twentieth century Royal Society members, astronomer-physicist Sir Arthur Eddington has expressed his sense of connection between Quaker faith and an attraction to science:
In its early days [Quakers frequently] called themselves Seekers. I think that the spirit of seeking is still the prevailing one in our faith, which for that reason is not embodied in any creed or formula. . . . Rejection of creed is not inconsistent with being possessed by a living belief. We have no creed in science, but we are not lukewarm in our beliefs. If so-called facts are changing shadows, they are shadows cast by the light of constant truth (Greenwood 155).
Much of Quaker values and ethical concerns have repeatedly impacted the larger world community far beyond the sect’s limited numbers. Quakers are generally remembered historically as well as held in contemporary esteem for particularly their peace testimony, social activism and general humanitarian efforts.
Walter M. Fisher reminds us that as story telling beings we are, “Homo Narrans.” And as he further proposes, story, as a “master metaphor,” becomes the subsuming paradigm for epistemological and axiological knowing, informing “various ways of recounting or accounting for human choice and action” (62). Such an assertion may be extreme without qualification but the significance of story as knowing and values transmitting clearly seems validated by commonsense human experience, as well as attested to by a range of narrative and theological theories.
A Door Into Ocean never imagines an achieved utopian demi-paradise based on fully realized Quaker informed values. Nevertheless, ideals of non- hierarchical governance, genderless equality, and the science praxis of an ecologically attuned society serve to empower various story elements offering both an implicit and explicit critique of contemporary cultural values outside the novel’s text. Slonczewski immerses us in an alien-world narrative of conscious Quaker-guided moral-spiritual actions. The novel is unquestionably a complex exploration of several thematic strands. However, its examination of human understanding permeates the central plot issues making her parable a subset of the moral-ethical possible. The human search for answers, both temporal and ultimate, while continually defying easy formulation and simplification nevertheless can discover vision and empowerment to challenge individuals and whole communities to the highest ideals of transforming faith. Ethical thought and moral action in the didactic notion that life’s centeredness can be exemplified through the witnessing and integrity of ourselves and others who have journeyed both inwardly as well as struggled outwardly combining integrative spiritual-material epistemologies into an ontology of life-shaping and life-sharing. A very Quaker-informed “cosmotheology” into the world of Ocean.
Bauman, Richard. Let Your Words Be Few: Symbolism of Speaking and Silence Among Seventeenth-Century Quakers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983.
Endy, Melvin B. William Penn and Early Quakerism. Princeton University Press, 1973.
Cantor, Geoffrey. “Aesthetics in Science, as Practised by Quakers in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries.” Quaker Studies 4 (1999): 1-20.
Childress, James F. “Answering That of God in Every Man: An Interpretation of Fox’s Ethics.” Quaker Religious Thought. 15. 3 (1974): 2-41.
Dick, Steven. J. “Cosmothelogy: Theilogical Implications of the New Universe,” in Many Worlds: The New Universe, Extraterrestrial Life, And the Theological Implications, edited by Steven Dick, Templeton Foundation Press, 2000, p.191-210.
Fisher, Walter R. Human Communication as Narration: Toward a Philosophy of Reason, Value, and Action. Studies In Rhetoric/Communication. Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 1987.
Greenwood, Ormerod. The Quaker Tapestry. London: Impact Books, 1990.
Levy, Michael M. “Feature Interview: Joan Slonczewski.” SFRA Review 235/236 (Aug-Oct. 1998): 12-18.
Raistrick, A. Quakers in Science and Industry. Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1968.
Roberts, Robin. A New Species: Gender and Science in Science Fiction. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993.
Schellenberg, James and David M. Switzer. Challenging Destiny site. “Interview with Joan Slonczewski” Online posting. Aug. 1998 <http://home.golden.net/~csp/ interviews/slonczewski.htm>.
Slonczewski, Joan. A Door Into Ocean. New York: Avon Books, 1986.
Westfahl, Gary. “Gadgetry, Government, Genetics, and God: The Forms of Science Fiction Utopia.” Transformations of Utopia: Changing View of the Perfect Society. Ed. George Slusser, P. Alkon, et. al. New York: AMS Press, 1999. 229-41.
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