Classic Science Fiction: FootFall
Science Fiction is generally better suited to short story or novelette. FootFall works as a lengthy novel because it incorporates several science fiction ideas, and borrows a bit from the suspense genre.
Those ideas are
Alien Human/Incromphension: The aliens are truly alien, and not merely humans in odd bodies and cultures like most aliens in star trek. Some other stories that do this well are the Mote in God’s Eye, Speaker for the Dead. Interestingly the authors used the same ‘humans lack a surrender reflex’ idea in Mote, but to an entirely different purpose. As aliens and humans began to understand each other it leads to murder.
Alien Invasion – This has a hard science fiction so it focuses a lot on space based weapons and not so much on drama like most treatment of this idea. Moral of the story: Air control trumps armor. It follows the Alien Invasion story line of defeat, survival and then victory. I suppose it has to make a good story and this arc does that.
Lots of focus on realistic space travel: Laser launchers, Nuclear powered craft, and Bussard Ramjets. If humanity is to travel in space outside of earth orbit these are the only practical way to go.
There is a survivalist theme to the book. Interestingly the authors don’t assume that all goverment just dissapears, but that it is just a lot weaker and people generally have to look after themselves. One of the most poignant scenes in this book is neighborly interactions returing to their roots where people just might starve if neighbors don’t work together.
One story arc that I disliked was the environmental v. technological embodied in John Fox.
I dislike stories that uses facts that the author made up as part of an argument to win a current debate ongoing outside the book. The John Fox story arc: enviromentalist who murders to allow the launch of Orion (and its fallout) because he wants the aliens punished/stopped for the ecological catastrophes they cause. This arc would have been alright except they have him repent of his opposition to technology before the aliens arrived and in general.
One of the aliens says to a female with issues that she needs a mate bond and that in his species unmated males go rogue (criminal & antisocial), unmated females play dominance games. I wonder if this is a subtle reference to the strand of thought that male and female sexuality are different from each other with females obsessing about dominance and males being exceptionally social/partying. This is vigorously denounced by LGBF types, but I see something to it.