Still Forms on Foxfield

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Still Forms on Foxfield is a 1980 science fiction novel by Joan Slonczewski. It was her first novel.

Plot summary[edit]

The planet Foxfield is inhabited by people who left Earth on the brink of a nuclear war. After a century on their new planet, the inhabitants are contacted by people from Earth. Foxfielders are members of the Society of Friends, or Quakers, who have kept their faith while dwelling on a rather inhospitable planet. The Foxfielders' survival was made possible only by the natives of Foxfield, the Commensals, who were initially assumed to be hostile, but whose chemical talents have made human survival on Foxfield possible. When Commensals finish their life span, they go to the jungle, to a mysterious structure known as the Dwelling, to add their body and mind to the collective consciousness, the One.

Allison Thorne, a widow with a twelve-year-old son, David, who is in charge of the main settlement's technical center, is the one contacted by the Earth dwellers, United Nations Interplanetary. The UNI, who have been observing Foxfield secretly for years, are welcomed by the Foxfielders, who learn the history of the past century — that the war occurred, but was not as bad as thought — and begin to catch up on technology.

Friction soon begins to develop between Foxfielders and the newcomers. Credometers, worn like wristwatches, are accepted by Foxfielders without realizing that doing so makes them irrevocably part of UNI. Aspects of UNI culture, such as majority voting and violent space games in which people are killed, shock the Foxfielders. The UNI representatives have difficulty in understanding the Foxfielders, not surprising given that religion in the UNI is reduced to "preservation societies". Foxfielders fear they will soon be lost in the UNI masses—while the contact affects UNI culture as well.

Matters are brought to a head when the One announces that it intends to destroy the UNI ship, and reveals that it has already destroyed satellites. The Foxfielders mount an expedition to the Dwelling with Alison, her boyfriend, Seth Connaught, and a UNI citizen. They are able to persuade the One not to follow through on its plan.

A final chapter, set some months later, shows Foxfield slowly integrating into UNI society while insisting on maintaining its own identity.