[Book Review] This Alien Shore

This Alien Shore / C. S. Friedman

So this made it onto the Virtual Speculation reading list based on curiosity and recommendations of this novel as a key piece of SF literature.  I expected a Space Opera with some of the normal dissection/discussions of society that one often finds in rich speculative fiction.  What I did not expect was to find a book that respectfully not only included non-neurotypical characters, but actively embraced neurodiversity.  Overall an excellent piece of speculative fiction.

Discussion Fodder:
  • In this story, what is alien?  What makes it alien?
  • How do the different societies embrace or reject neurodiversity?  What do you think of the handling of neurodiversity by the author?  What is done right/wrong?
  • How do the Hausman societies contrast with that of Earth, be it Earth of today or the Earth of the novel?
  • What points does the story make about hacking and security?  How do they hold up as the book has aged?  How does malware differ (or not differ) in this advanced society?  What about advertising?
  • What symbolism do we get from the virus they battle in the story?
  • Brain implants are a universal in this society.  What are some of the flaws or problems attendant?
  • "How much power a single pronoun could have, she thought.  Just one word.  Not even a long one.  And yet it frightened her, and she didn't understand why."  What roles do pronouns and identity come to play in the narrative?  How are they shaped and labeled?


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