Here is a post by Martha Wells on tor.com: 5 Books About Learning to Communicate with Alien Species
By a not terribly remarkable coincidence, I’ve read all five (well, six really) of her choices. (This isn’t remarkable because I read one of them on her recommendation.)
Her choices are:
Leviathan’s Deep by Jayge Carr — I loved that book and read it to pieces. I should re-read it again. The aliens aren’t too very alien in this one.
Survivor by Octavia Butler — ditto for this one, though if I remember correctly, Butler herself didn’t like it and never had it re-issued. I’m glad I have a copy because I love it. Like Martha, I read it when I was a teenager; just as she says, it had a big impact on me.
The Chanur books. OF COURSE.
A Judgment of Dragons by Phyllis Gotlieb. This is the one I read on Martha’s recommendation.
Uhura’s Song and Hellspark by Janet Kagan. YES YES YES. Both are wonderful. The first is a Star Trek tie-in and the second is an original-world SF novel. I love them both soooo much. What a shame Janet Kagan didn’t write two dozen more novels.
Okay, so, click through and read Martha’s comments about her choices.
Now, let’s make this a list of ten rather than five (or six). It’s trickier than it might be because Martha Wells already got so many of the ones I would have thought of. But let’s see:
6. Embassytown by China Mieville isn’t my favorite book ever, but what he did with the aliens and the humans and the attempts of each to understand the other was fantastic. Not totally believable, mind you.
Avice Benner Cho, a human colonist, … cannot speak the Ariekei tongue, but she is an indelible part of it, having long ago been made a figure of speech, a living simile in their language.
It’s a wild idea, and as I say, not entirely believable. But fantastic anyway.
7. FOREIGNER! The entire Foreigner series! It is this! I mean, you could put a lot of CJC’s books into this category, but the Chanur books and this series are the ones that really make communication-with-aliens the central thing.
8. Oh, I know! A Darkling Sea by James Cambias. There’s a great choice right there. Wonderful aliens, two kinds; one much more alien than the other. There’s one I truly do need to re-read, and sooner rather than later. Communication issues abound between humans and both alien species.
9. The only really believable telepathic aliens ever: The Tines in A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge. Those two kids who are lost on the planet; what a challenge they face as they try to figure out how to communicate with the aliens and whom they can trust.
10. Your entry here: ______________________________________________________________________________
What novels can you think of that showcase communication between humans and aliens?