First contact, colonialism, and corparate greed vs. who counts as "people"
An enjoyable tale of first contact, colonialism, environmental stewardship, corporate greed vs. ethics, and most importantly, who counts as “people” – all wrapped up around a cute, inquisitive, furry species encountered by humans on what they thought was an uninhabited planet, threatening to upend the status of the humans’ established mining colony.
It’s a worthy classic: engaging aliens, big themes and a high-stakes struggle. But it’s also very clearly of its time (1962). Everyone smokes and drinks highballs (in space!), there’s only one woman of consequence, and it’s much heavier on plot than characterization, which is mostly flat. There’s a twist near the end that feels a bit like a deus ex machina because some of the most important work has been going on off-page. Though I imagine it wouldn’t have bothered me if I’d read it when I was ten instead of as an adult.