[A Door Into Ocean]

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Shora. The watery world of women who "share"--their language, their lives, even their reproduction. Weavers of seasilk and mystery, their culture is based on the highest ethical evolution.

Valedon. A place where soldiers are honored above all things and war is the only event more gripping than trade. Now Valedon has invaded peaceful Shora. But there can be no battle if one side refuses to fight... can there?

A Door Into Ocean was Joan Slonczewski's second novel, and is her best known work. It was published by Arbor House in hardcover in 1986, reprinted by Avon in paperback in 1987, and reprinted by Tor in trade paperback in 2000. It was also printed in a leather bound edition by Easton Press in 1992 as part of their Masterpieces of Science Fiction collection. The novel won the John W. Campbell Memorial award.


"A world, a people, and a culture as rich and intriguing as Frank Herbert's Dune and Ursula Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness."
--Fantasy Review

"By the time the conflict she introduces so obliquely in Part One has moved to center stage, you not only know the protagonists intimately, you care passionately about the outcome. The story deals with the efforts of decent people on both sides to see beyond their culture-bound definitions of humanity."
--The New York Times Book Review

"Buy it. Read it. You will enjoy it."

"Lyrical... ranks among the best that SF has to offer the thoughtful reader."
--Science Fiction Review

"If you want a completely built world and science fiction done with the science right, this is it."
--Gregory Benford, author of Timescape

"The author belongs to that small group of scientists who grace science fiction not only with their knowledge but with their writing ability. A Door Into Ocean gave me great pleasure to read. It will be one of the important SF novels of the year."
--George Zebrowski, author of Macrolife

"Fully realized and totally convincing."
--The Denver Post

"This novel is an impressive piece of world-building, with a varied cast of characters and a theme that seems a natural consequence of its premises."

"This dreamy, poetic book builds an alien planet, ecosystem, culture, etc., very much in the spirit of Dune or Le Guin's works. It's tough to build a world, particularly if you try to get the science correct. Author Slonczewski accomplishes that difficult feat and manages a gripping plot into the bargain. Maybe Le Guin has competition."
--San Francisco Examiner

"A Door Into Ocean is an extraordinary novel, an astonishing explosion of ideas, themes, and speculation.... We get rich characterization, fascinating societies, extensively realized ecologies, and a stunning plot.... The book's most admirable trait is perhaps the way the parts relate to the sum in exact accordance to Slonczewski's theme -- an integral whole, all parts necessary, all parts contributing, every aspect vital and alive."
--James Schellenberg, on the Challenging Destiny web site (the entire review is here)

"The characters are three-dimensional, with histories and futures. Even the minor characters are drawn in painstaking detail. The world they live in is also well-drawn; taken as a whole, it hangs together well."
--Alan Wexelblat, on the Linköping Science Fiction & Fantasy Archive web site

"I heartily recommend A Door into Ocean, because its overarching main elements -- feminism, freedom, and culture clash -- are seamlessly intricate, powerfully presented, and important. People should read this book just for its philosophical implications."
--Mervius, on the Fantastica Daily web site

Study Guide

Here's a study guide to A Door Into Ocean by Joan Slonczewski.

Last modified: September 20, 2002

Return to The Science Fiction of Joan Slonczewski.