A Door into Ocean: The science of being human
This year is the 25th since publication of A Door into Ocean. Written during Reagan/Thatcher, with “the bomb” ten minutes away, A Door into Ocean asks: How can we defend our freedom yet remain human?
A Door into Ocean won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, ahead of runners-up James Morrow’s This is How the World Ends and Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead. It was noted by Isaac Asimov on his list of the year’s top books. Three years later, the European Revolutions of 1989 accomplished what most Western political scientists called impossible: the overthrow of communist dictatorships–including the USSR/Russia itself–by largely nonviolent popular movements. Czech student protesters wrote my family that they read A Door into Ocean during their struggle. Much of my background research came from nonviolence historian Gene Sharp, whose methods were used in Europe and this year at Tahrir Square–and in Tunisia, voting today in their first free election.
In A Door into Ocean, the nonviolent Sharers must defend their ocean-covered planet Shora from invading soldiers of planet Valedon. The Sharers appear physically defenseless; but in fact, they have genetic weapons. Should they use these weapons–although their use will destroy themselves? Or can they use their Sharer way, even against the soldiers?
It’s important that the Sharers are genetic engineers; their molecular biology, and the ecology of their planet–with its raft-trees, seaswallowers and flying squids–are consistent with science. (See posts to come this week.) A Door into Ocean is “hard science fiction,” while embracing the full range of human experience. Today, more than ever, our planet faces threats from war, pollution, and greed. Can we use the way of Sharp and Sharers to defend our planet–and our humanity?