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on December 21, 2004
No one intended to settle the nameless planet covered by seven levels of steaming tropical forest. A colony ship wound up orbiting it by mistake, giving the stranded passengers no other option except to land and try their best to survive. A few of them did that for long enough to have children. Now, generations later, their adapted descendants include a hunter named Born. He's a curious young man, so much so that his people call him mad. For what good is curiosity, in a place where seeking to see the sky involves going to a place called Upper Hell?

When two giants drop out of the sky, only Born cares enough about the mystery to climb down through the trees and rescue them from their crashed flitter. Although they know less than the smallest child about surviving in this perilous place, Born manages to keep them alive long enough to reach the relative safety of his Home Tree. His tribe thinks it's seen him for the last time when he sets out to guide the strangers to the "station" from which they say they came - no one ever traveled that far before. As Born learns more and more about these fellow humans whose thinking is so very unlike that of his own people, and as he discovers how they mean to use the awesome power they've brought to Midworld, the young hunter's curiosity turns to horror. These invaders have to be stopped from carrying out their plans. But how?

The world-building in this book amazes me. Parable and adventure tale, it works well on both levels; and it ends with a chilling twist that turns what had looked predictable squarely onto its head. Followers of Foster's Flinx books - the more recent ones, especially - will find some delicious foreshadowing in that twist.
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on June 15, 2007
No one describes a creature like Alan Dean Foster! Hands down, the very best. His silverslith sent shivers down my arms. I've read it many times, and I even use it to teach my students how to write a descriptive paragraph. His mind knows no bounds when inventing animals, plants, and humans. Probably my favorite fantasy book of all times (though Mid-Flinx) comes in a close second.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon February 19, 2012
Long before the concept of world building gained currency among science fiction fans, Alan Dean Foster built one of the most imaginative worlds in the genre. Midworld takes place on an unnamed planet covered with dense vegetation, rising from the surface (Lower Hell) to the sky (Upper Hell) in seven layers. Although it is filled with predatory plants and animals, humans -- the descendants of a crashed spacecraft -- have carved out a niche in the middle levels. They have adapted to the world to such an extent that they seem to communicate in an almost worshipful way with the trees and vegetation that make their survival possible. They "emfol" with plant life, an empathic form of communication that assures the plant's willingness to be used for their purposes. A science station, illegally established on the world by a corporate entity, is unaware of the world's human population until a skimmer flown by two scientists is swatted from the air by a flying nightmare. The scientists -- Logan and Cohoma -- are saved by Born, who eventually leads them on a dangerous journey back to their station. When Born learns what the science station is doing, conflict ensues.

Midworld combines a nifty story of corporate greed with a lost world adventure. Most of the novel -- the best part of the novel -- pits humans against the many dangers that Foster imagines on a world that is both treacherous and (for those who understand it) welcoming. In the final quarter of the novel, the humans who have adapted to the world and the newcomers who want to exploit it are not playing well together. In that regard, Midworld develops a less-than-subtle pro-environmentalist message, one that cleverly transplants the Gaia theory to an alien world. The human inhabitants of the world take only what they need, and only after they emfol with the plant life to determine whether the plant is ready to be taken. The corporate outsiders are, of course, taking whatever they want, without regard to the world's needs, and are thus (at least in Born's opinion) set on a path that will lead to the world's destruction. The heavy-handedness of the "good versus evil" storyline is offset in the final pages, which challenge the reader to reconsider the nature of good and evil in the circumstances that Foster imagines.

Foster's writing style is lively; it occasionally has a literary feel that is uncommon in genre fiction. For that reason, and for the brilliantly conceived world that Foster envisions, this largely forgotten novel comes close to meriting the status of a science fiction classic. I would give Midworld 4 1/2 stars if that option were available.
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on August 11, 1998
I actually read this book a long time ago - I think it would have been in the late 70s (Note that it is a re-issue now). My local library had a copy and I re-borrowed it a number of times because I was so enamoured with the imagery of the planet Midworld. It was probably responsible for my ongoing interest in SciFi/Fantasy literature.
The book is filled with vivid images of strange, alien lifeforms that are mind-boggling real. The characters are constantly threatened by death by unusual means, making it hard to find a spot to put the book down. In ways the book is similar to the more recently written "Sentenced to Prism", although set in a quite different landscape. I was also interested by the revisiting of Midworld by the author in "MidFlinx", although I think I prefer the original, Flinx is just too good at surviving so I knew he would make it.
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on December 17, 1997
Make sure you have time to finish this book in one sitting -- you won't be able to put it down. The story is different but holds to a basic logic that shows itself a little at a time as the story unfolds. The few loose ends are tied up neatly at the end -- it makes sense, but, what a concept! I loved it.
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on August 5, 1998
I usually am a hard science fiction reader. But my brother recommended that I read this one. WOW! This was one of the best stories I have ever read, I thought I was actually there on Midworld. Loved it!
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on July 29, 1998
I first found interest in ADF when my father told me he was a friend of Mr. Foster. Aparently, dad actually had the honor of building Foster's garage. It's true. This was the first of his books that I read, and I loved it. The concept of a world where the defining line between the plant and animal kingdom is faint is an excellent one. And there is also a valuable lesson to be learned from midworld. I'll leave that to the reader to find out, though. I reccomend anyone who likes Sci/fi reads it.
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on December 23, 2009
This is a wonderful, imaginative work about a verdant, tropical world of some truly amazing flora/fauna as conceived out of the mind of A.Dean Foster. His descriptions are encompassing, and the world is fully realized for such a short piece. I recently saw Avatar with my husband, and was struck at home much of Avatar's story was lifted from Midworld, Ursula Le Guin's "The Word for World was Forest", and other writers exploring bio-vegetative themes during the 1950s-1970s.

The only part of this story I have a problem with are that there are some seriously stereotypical characters that are annoying (i.e., the super-hot moron female, muscle-bound "jock" male, etc.) but A.Dean Foster uses these stereotypes in almost ALL of his books, it can be ignored as they are a small, small portion of this books content.

All in all, I recommend reading this for the sheer genius of description and creativity.
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on August 15, 2005
This book, like Heinlein's Starship Troopers, is a book I keep reading again and again over the years, and for similar reasons. As previous reviewers have stated, this book is quite compact, yet rich and complete, and operates on several levels. It's the description of a fascinating world. It's an adventure story. It's a character study. It's a parable. The concept is intriguing, and the characters are multi-faceted. It's a compact classic, and until today I hadn't realized that Midworld had shown up in any other books. Those books (all of them) are going on my Amazon Wish List today.

Read this book, and read Starship Troopers. Both are SO much more than bugs-in-space. They're worth far more time than they actually take to read.
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on May 23, 2009
Chlorphyllous cliffs and cellulose canyons.... life erupts, no explodes in this verdant magma... The prose and descriptions in this work defy the imagination. Place your self in the middle of a night in the depth of this rain forest world where trees reach heights of a quarter mile and everything that breaths or grows is poised to squeeze or suck the life from you. Blair Witch, beware of the forest mind,empathetic foliation and the child cloaked in indigo bunting.
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