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My dad gave me this book and my husband left it on a plane by accident.

A group of space colonists have adapted and evolved to fit into the planet where they live. The planet is largely trees. The people have developed prehensile toes and live in a tree with poison thorns. When the people spit in a flower of the tree, the tree retracts or folds the thorns in or something, so they can get to their home in the inner part of the tree.

People have developed psychic links to one type of native animal - kind of like a bear but the animal has six legs (I think).

Does anyone remember this book? It was around 40 years ago that I first read it. My copy was very old and tatty.

1 Answer 1

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This is almost without a doubt Midworld by Alan Dean Foster. The native animal is a "furcot;" the cover shows it has six legs:

cover of "Midworld" showing Born and his furcot

The story is about the arrival of an (illegal) expedition from the Humanx Commonwealth on Midworld and their attempts to exploit it without understanding or properly treating the forest.

Born (the protagonist), Losting (another member of his people) and their furcots lead a pair of explorers stranded away from their station back, but ultimately they decide they must get rid of the intrusion.

The Home-tree recognizes the people who live there by their saliva:

The vines-of-own were lined with flowers of bright pink, with pollen pods which sat globelike within them. These pods were akin to the yellow tank seeds that made the snufflers such deadly weapons, but far more sensitive. A single touch on the sensitive pink surface would cause the paper-thin skin to rupture, sending a cloud of dust into the air that would kill any animal inhaling it, whether through nostril, pore, or other air exchanger. The vines entangled and crossed the tree in the middle of the Third Level—the village level—forming a protective net of deadly ropes around it.

Born approached the nearest, leaned over and spat directly into the center of one of the blossoms, avoiding the pod. The blossom quivered, but the pod did not burst. The pink petals closed in on themselves. A pause, then the vines began to curl and tighten like climbing vines hunting for a better purchase. As they retracted, a clear path was formed through which Born and Ruumahum strode easily. Even as Ruumahum was through, the outermost vines were already relaxing once again, expanding, coming together and shutting off the pathway. The bloom into which Born had spat opened its petals once more to drink the faint evening light.

A casual observer would note that Born's saliva had disappeared. A chemist would be able to tell that it had been absorbed. A brilliant scientist might be able to discover that it had been more than absorbed—it had been analyzed and identified. Born knew only that carefully spitting into the bloom seemed to tell the Home-tree who he was.

The furcots have six legs:

Ruumahum stood looking down at him from the main bole of the cubble. The furcot moved closer, all six of his thick legs gripping the wood. The ursine face peered at him, the three dark eyes set in a curve over the muzzle staring down mournfully. Great claws scratched at the branch.

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  • 2
    The spitting part is on the first page of chapter 3. Commented Jun 24, 2023 at 3:55
  • 4
    The "very old" makes me shudder, it was published in 1975, I turned 18 that year!.....where did my life go?
    – Danny Mc G
    Commented Jun 24, 2023 at 5:03
  • 1
    @DannyMcG agreed, I got my copy from the SFBC the year it came out. Commented Jun 24, 2023 at 11:31

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