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Interference: Sentience Craves Sovereignty (318 pages) is the second book in this novel series by Sue Burke.  The book continues the story of a group of humans, aliens called “Glassmakers”, and native sentient plants led by Stevland, a rainbow bamboo (human names) some 200 years after the humans arrived on PAX.  While the book starts and ends on Earth, most of the story narrative occurs on PAX just before the arrival of an Earth expedition and during their stay.  The story finds the three (3) sentient groups prospering in their utopia under the guidance of Stevland and a human moderator, while still dealing with human frailties, internal and inter-group conflicts, and their growing city.  When the Earth expedition arrives, both the Earthlings and the PAX residents are concerned on how to deal with the other (both are concerned about how the other will react to them and the possible use of violence).  Most of the narrative deals with their interactions.  Sending off the expedition comes quickly and resolves most issues.  While the Epilogue is somewhat predictable, the way it plays out was unexpected.

Interference is a very readable book with a contemporary feel about it that continues being focused more on the characters and their relationships/culture, and less on technology.  A secondary theme of these books could be something like “On an alien world, first impressions are most likely wrong.”    The author is very imaginative on how the members of this utopia deal with the interference of the Earthlings and then another alien sentient group that has been on PAX, but not previously considered sentient.  While the author refrained from using too much of their research in this book, I still would have liked knowing more about the other alien sentient group (called “Corals”), and I feel like “Stevland” is still too much like a “human” (Author still hasn’t worked out this sentient plant thing well).  I was left wondering if sentience truly craves sovereignty, or if that’s just a part of our culture.  This book leaves open several possible sequels to continue the series, and I hope the author will also consider adding one or more prequels.  Overall, I would rate this book 7 out of 10.

Another short review can be found here: https://www.tor.com/2021/11/09/jo-waltons-reading-list-october-2021/

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