BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A human biologist named Juna becomes stranded on an alien planet where she becomes integrated with the native culture.
PROS: Incredibly detailed and captivating worldbuilding; excellent depiction of alien culture; events play out logically.
CONS: Although it seems more believable by story’s end, Juna’s abandonment of the Prime Directive seems a little sudden.
BOTTOM LINE: A wonderful story about one woman’s integration into an alien society.
Amy Thomson upholds one of the grandest traditions of science fiction — world building — and does so in a thoroughly engaging and page-turning way in The Color of Distance, a wonderful depiction of one woman’s integration into an alien society. That woman is named Juna, a biologist who becomes stranded on an alien planet at the outset of the novel. Members of the native population, the Tendu, rescue her from death by adapting her physiology to the alien environment. She wakes to find that she has claws, spurs on her arm, no hair, and skin that can change color. These are the traits of the Tendu, who live in the jungle-like environs of the alien planet, share their physiological state by joining their spurs in intense communion, and communicate not with words, but by changing the colors and patterns on their skin, with the color denoting their emotions.