I'm looking for a novel I read in the mid-to-late 1990s. It was a science fiction novel about an expedition of scientists sent at sub-light-speed (maybe in cryo-sleep?) to investigate a star system. Once there they set up a permanent scientific outpost.
There was at least one inhabited planet in the system, with a sentient species that communicated telepathically. The aliens' speech was represented with various symbols instead of quotation marks, with each named character having (I think) its own characteristic set of symbols, as in the title of the question. The scientists are eventually able to communicate with these (generally friendly) aliens.
The thing I remember most clearly is the end of the book. This was a one-way trip for the scientists, so gradually they all die off from various causes. When the next-to-last member of the crew dies of old age, the survivor is looking for an epigraph for her funeral, and (ironically, considering my current plight) can't find it in his search of the electronic library. He finally discovers it under "humor" because it's by Mark Twain: "Wherever she was, there was Eden." (This quote, of course, I found immediately in Wikipedia and many other sources; it's from Eve's Diary.)
Other pieces of information I'm less sure of:
- I don't think the planet was hospitable to humans; it may have been something like a gas giant, with the aliens "swimming" through the gas. I think the scientists stayed in an orbital space station, though they may have made expeditions to the planet in vehicles or protective suits.
- There may have been a "twin" planet, or a moon in an eccentric orbit, that caused periodic "flares" of some sort on the aliens' planet.
- There might have been some conflict between the crew early on, maybe because there was a non-scientific (military) commander, or perhaps just because people have conflict.
- I think the author was of sort of middling fame; respected and known by SF enthusiasts, but not a superstar like Asimov or Clarke. Almost certainly male, and probably with a professional science background.
- I think the science was fairly authentic, although the first-contact bit was obviously highly speculative.