I literally devoured this book ... a beautiful realization of a pacifist, anti-authoritarian, all-female (but not necessarily anti-male) ocean world resisting a 100 world-spanning militaristic empire's attempt to place them under control/domination. All the way to the end I wasn't sure how it would turn out... Joan Slonczewski is a biologist and she spent eight years creating this book. It is evident in the careful construction of the novel, the characters are brilliantly realized and the strange world makes sense (at least to me).
A Library Journal reviewer stated "Slonczewski creates an all-female nonviolent culture that reaches beyond feminism to a new definition of human nature" (Library Journal Vol. 110 (Issue 20): p129) ... I can understand the reviewer's exuberance, but the definition of human nature is not new. It can be seen in anarchist collectives, Quaker gatherings, Unitarian spirituality and the tradition of non-violent resistance. The Shora gatherings for collective decision-making and their lack of official leaders/permanent hierarchy prove to be particularly frustrating for the empire trying to dominate them through the domestication of elite native puppet leaders.
A Door Into Ocean Study Guide