Looking for fiction featuring cities among the trees
February 8, 2016 6:19 PM   Subscribe

I am currently reading Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn, which includes wonderful vivid descriptions of a city built high in the trees on a jungle planet. Please recommend more novels that feature civilization in the trees! Not Tarzan; I'm looking for town or city life, arboreal style. I am searching for Dendropolis.

I like most genres. I imagine sci-fi and fantasy will be most represented here, and that's totally fine. I'd love to know additional details about the books you recommend, too! How did you like them? What did you like about them?

I've already read N.K. Jemisin's Inheritance trilogy and loooooved it, so you can scratch that one off the list!
posted by duffell to Writing & Language (16 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Midworld, by Alan Dean Foster is an old book that might fit your purpose. Warning... it's from the the 70's so it's very heavy on the preachy, but I still liked it.
posted by patheral at 6:29 PM on February 8, 2016

Definitely a bit outside your description, but I thoroughly enjoyed Grass by Sherri S. Tepper. Some of the grass gets, uh, very tall.
posted by 7segment at 6:46 PM on February 8, 2016

The Rain Wilds in Robin Hobb's Realm of the Elderlings would qualify. I don't remember which book (there are more than a dozen) describes them most completely, but my best guess is Dragon Keeper.
posted by metasarah at 6:46 PM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

In the mid to late 70s, Zilpha Keatley Snyder had a YA trilogy starting with a book called Below the Root. I remember I enjoyed them as a kid, but it's been too long for me to reliably trust details or my thoughts about it.
posted by dilettante at 6:47 PM on February 8, 2016 [4 favorites]

The Integral Trees by Niven has people living in trees, although they are not anchored to earth.
posted by OmieWise at 6:47 PM on February 8, 2016 [3 favorites]

The Robin Hobb Rain Wilds books are about people who live in a tree city above a caustic river. The ground is very dangerous but the trees are safe so the people live in a wide variety of homes ranging from hanging baskets to large platforms that are supported by several branches. Very cool!
posted by irisclara at 7:55 PM on February 8, 2016

Zahrah the Windseeker by Nnedi Okorafor.
posted by MsMolly at 8:04 PM on February 8, 2016 [1 favorite]

I was going to post The Integral Trees, which IMHO is a mediocre book with a brilliant premise, but I have a backup: Dan Simmons' Hyperion series. There are tree-ships, which are close to what you want. But if you read the whole series for other reasons, there is a kind of coda in a short story called "Orphans of the Helix," which I think is totally beautiful and makes me cry, and features a Dyson Tree. Yeah, like a Dyson sphere, but a tree. Pretty cool.

As an aside, I exchanged email with Niven a while back about how he might be willing to think about negotiating over an Integral Trees MMORPG if I came back with a biz plan and a backer. He was extremely terse. I would play the hell out of that game.
posted by BrunoLatourFanclub at 8:41 PM on February 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

Though it's not the primary focus, Hugh Howey's Half Way Home comes to mind, as does K.A. Applegate's Hork-Bajir Chronicles, if you're up for an offshoot of a series.
posted by teremala at 8:55 PM on February 8, 2016

While its author is somewhat...divisive, the Saga of Seven Suns includes a tree-based civilization.
posted by Hatashran at 9:08 PM on February 8, 2016

The Baron in the Trees.
posted by clavicle at 7:41 AM on February 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

In Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Word for World is Forest (1972), the Athsheans live in tree cities until Sam Worthington & Sigourney Weaver & Giovanni Ribisi humans show up.

Brian Aldiss’s Hothouse (1962) has human communities eking out existence on a planet that’s been completely taken over by plant life. They’re more like villages than cities, as human society has regressed a lot. The book’s a bit silly, but some of the goopy sentient plant stuff is innovative & great fun.

(Those Jemisin ones are just the best, tho.)
posted by miles per flower at 11:41 AM on February 9, 2016

It has very little to do with the plot, but one of Jack Chalker's "Four Lords of the Diamond" series is set on a water world where the only buildable land is atop huge platform-like trees that rise from the shallow parts of the oceans that cover the planet.
posted by Nerd of the North at 12:35 PM on February 9, 2016

I just finished the Inheritance trilogy you mentioned (most delicious, thank you so much!) and realized I needed to make sure you knew about Lilith's Brood.

Also, MeFi's Very Own Phoebe North has a very tree-y trilogy in the works.
posted by teremala at 7:22 AM on February 15, 2016

Oh God yes, I love the Lilith's Brood trilogy. I am not, however, familiar with Phoebe North's work--thank you!

Thanks to all of you for the excellent suggestions!
posted by duffell at 7:55 AM on February 15, 2016

The Dúnedain Rangers in S. M. Stirling's Emberverse series live in trees. Various of the Dúnedain appear throughout the series, but not much of the action takes place in their tree towns. I think the most descriptions of the tree towns are in the two most recent books, The Golden Princess and The Sword and the Desert.
posted by Bruce H. at 5:26 PM on February 15, 2016

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