Questions for Writing and Discussion
by Craig Jacobsen and Michael Levy
2. The novel presents a variety of permutations of gender relationships. Discuss how these are different from or similar to those in our own world, and what the implications are in the novel.
3. Explore the nature of childcare in The Children Star. Who is responsible for it? What form does it take? How are the notions of child rearing presented similar to or different from our own?
4. Children are an important element of Slonczewski’s novel. The Spirit Callers rescue and care for them, and their education, health and welfare are a recurring issue in the story. A cynical reader, however, might argue that the children are treated as commodities: the Spirit Callers collect them because they are most economically lifeshaped to the hostile environment of Prokaryon, where they are put to work; the L’liites refer to them as "ethnic treasures," the Sharer "adopts" one in return for her healing services.
5. The initial plan is to "cleanse" and terraform just a portion of Prokaryon. If it leaves a significant portion of the biosphere intact, is this plan a justifiable compromise? Consider the economic and social pressures to colonize Prokaryon.
6. The Spirit Callers abhor the idea of terraforming Prokaryon, and yet they maintain a colony there that affects the environment. Discuss whether the Spirit Caller colony is an acceptable use of the planet.
7. The micromen are initially mistaken for a disease. Only their ability to communicate with humans keeps them from being destroyed. Are their any implications here for the battling of terrestrial diseases caused by, for example, bacteria, which are living?
8. What level of intelligence is necessary for a species to deserve ethical (and legal) consideration? How do we assess intelligence given the possibility that communication might be difficult or impossible?
9. The realization that the micromen are sentient is not, in itself, sufficient reason to halt the destruction of their biosphere. Only when their potential value to humans is discovered are the plans halted. Discuss the implications of this in terms of both the novel’s storyline and our own world.
10. Science Fiction is often said to be less about other times and places than about the here and now. Discuss how you think The Children Star reflects on current issues in our world.