Firstly, the alien races presented in this book are a little too close to existing Earth-based ethnic groups for my liking. Secondly, the native race of the planet speak in a kind of pidgin English. Now, this would be fine if it were only when they were talking to the human characters or the settlers, who are more fluent in Terranglo (what the folks in the future call English)...
Dry land is very rare on this world, and the native sentient race (the bipedal, arboreal, cat-like Sakuntala) as well as the two immigrant races (the numerous rather alien Deyzara and the much less numerous humans) live in the trees, on suspended walkways and buildings hanging well over the waters, though with the advent of the Commonwealth most of these walkways are made of synthetic material generally hung not from trees (as the Sakuntala traditionally did) but from sturdy pylons sunk deep into the unseen bedrock below. A rough, dismal world by human standards, one with a vast array of dangerous predators and venomous fauna, relatively few make their home there, generally either as a result of being assigned there by Commonwealth officials for administration purposes or to make money, particularly as bio-prospectors, searching out alien biota to produce lucrative new drugs, foods, and chemicals. It was a pretty fast read and I thought the world was rather well designed, not one of Foster's best but definitely was one of his better books.
Set in a Hungry Jungle on what appears to be a Single-Biome Planet (at least, whatever is beyond the jungle area is never mentioned); it is inhabited by a warlike native species and an enterprising immigrant species (both are vaguely humanoid), naturally in conflict, under the benevolently paternal administration of the Commonwealth, but coveted by the Empire which is led by the reptilian Aan. Just don't think about the Unfortunate Implications of this situation given that most alien species are stated to have fairly uniform personalities whereas humans, explicitly, have a wider range -- no wonder we are fated to rule!
Foster's Commonwealth books are always a lot of fun.
He's very heavy on description, and the vividness of his details actually helps bring his worlds to life "in the mind's eye." DROWNING WORLD stands on par with his other works -- a solid cast of characters placed in an otherworldly situation forced to find compromise despite their cultural differences -- and he delivers in that respect.
The plot is pretty predictable, but Foster can capture the alien beauty of a jungle like no other author I've read.
Now imagine the warrior indigenous people finally catching on to your civilized ways after hundreds of years of you and the settlers treating them like your inferiors.
Other books include novelizations of science fiction movies and television shows such as Star Trek, The Black Hole, Starman, Star Wars, and the Alien movies. Splinter of the Mind's Eye, a bestselling novel based on the Star Wars movies, received the Galaxy Award in 1979.