I want to recommend this book to someone else but I can't remember the title or the author. Searching for it on the internet appears to be nearly impossible because it wasn't very successful and because, well, it should have been called "The Crystal Singers" and that was taken...

So we have human colonists on a planet, mining weird alien crystal. They're only allowed to be there because there are no native sapient species; the closest thing that comes to it is a little animal like a Furby, but they have no language, and that's the test. Towers of the crystal are dangerous and colonists have to pass by them. Nobody seems to know why, but you can "calm" the towers by singing certain phrases to them.

That's what we know at the start of the book, but it's all BS. The entire core of the planet is crystal, and it's sapient, but only the towers are conscious. They are ancient and mostly asleep and pass the time playing very very complex games with each other; in order to pass turns to each other they uplifted the 'Furbies' -- which do have language, but it's such a complex one that humans can't understand it.

And the human corporation mining the planet is screwing over the humans and destroying the planet.

That's just the background! For brevity I won't go into the plot.

Edit: I'm pretty sure the author had a female name.

  • @LogicDictates has edited this title and out of politeness I won't edit it back -- but this was definitely not "Sci-Fi". It was Science Fiction. Not the same thing. Thank you for the "space colonization" tag, though. That's definitely appropriate here. Good catch.
    – Andy Jones
    Jan 5, 2023 at 14:53
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    It's your question; feel free to edit it if you like. Jan 5, 2023 at 14:59
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    Just to be certain you're not conflating two books, Foster's Sentenced to Prism has a human base illegally exploiting a world that appears not to have intelligent inhabitants, except they are silicoid (crystal) beings that communicate by radio. The rest doesn't really match.
    – DavidW
    Jan 5, 2023 at 15:22
  • @DavidW – no, I've never read that one. ADF rocks, though.
    – Andy Jones
    Jan 5, 2023 at 15:30
  • A very similar plot was the basis of Little Fuzzy: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Fuzzy Jan 11, 2023 at 23:53

1 Answer 1


This sounds like After Long Silence by Sheri S. Tepper, though in that book the crystals are not being mined.

After Long Silence

The crystal towers are the Presences. They have to be sung to to calm them, and there are people called Tripsingers who are trained for this task. If not calmed by the singing the Presences can attack and crush any humans unfortunate enough to be near them.

The Furbyesque animals are the viggies. The viggies are initially though to be just animals, but they turn out to be intelligent and can communicate with the presences.

The crystals are not mined, but there is a company called BDL that is exploiting the planet, though I forget exactly what they are doing.

  • That's it! I know it by it's UK title The Enigma Score, which probably foxed my searching even further. I'd tried Tepper's Wikipedia page, but missed that ALS had a UK title. Thank you!
    – Andy Jones
    Jan 5, 2023 at 16:54

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