Robert L. Forward
The Rocheworld Series (1990–95)
Comprising, by Robert L. Forward
First, I'd like to stress that the first volume, Rocheworld, is not a mere setup for the series but a complete novel in its own right. A commendable one, I might add. Robert L. Forward writes hard SF in the tradition of Arthur C. Clarke and Hal Clement, characterized by impeccable physics and fascinating alien lifeforms.
Very typical for Forward is the ease with which communications with the various aliens can be established. They are always friendly, interested in making contact, and think along the lines of human logic and mathematics. In short, Forward offers the very anti-thesis to Stanislaw Lem's views. In the last book of the series, we witness some bad misunderstanding and the potentially disastrouos results, but again everything soon turns out well. Although the difficulties of interspecies communication are regularly mentioned, the reader isn't ever really shown any. As presented, humans and aliens seem to have fewer problems understanding each other than a North American and a European speaking the same language might encounter.'
Early 21st century. Humanity is reaching out for the stars. A crew of 20 is going to ride a lightsail ship, propelled by a solar powered laser, to the system of Barnard's Star, six light years from Sol, there to engage in a life-long one way mission of scientific exploration. At their destination they find a gas giant with a flock of planet-size moons and a most intriguing double planet, christened Rocheworld. An expedition to the water-covered Eau lobe of Rocheworld discovers life, in fact even sentient life: they very alien, very smart, and very cute flouwen.
In the sequels, the humans revisit Rocheworld, and later explore together with some friendly flouwen the more interesting moons in the system, discovering and making contact with further intelligent and strange species: gummies, icerugs and coela-sharks, jollies and weresharks. In #4 an exploration crew is marooned on an Earth-like moon-planet and subsequently carves out a little colony. This allows the focus to shift toward the humans, but overall the various aliens are the true stars of this series.
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