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review 2020-01-20 23:19
Invader / C.J. Cherryh
Invader - C.J. Cherryh

Nearly two centuries after the starship Phoenix disappeared, leaving an isolated colony of humans on the world of the atevi, it unexpectedly returns, threatening the stability of both atevi and human governments. With the situation fast becoming critical, Bren Cameron, the brilliant, young paidhi to the court of the atevi is recalled from Mospheira where he has just undergone surgery. Upon his return to the mainland, he Cameron finds that his government has sent in his paidhi-successor, Deana Hanks—representative of a dangerous faction on Mospheira who hate the atevi.

Haunted by the threat of assassination, Bren realizes his only hope may be to communicate with the Phoenix as the spokesman of the atevi—an action which may cut him off for good from his own species. Yet if he doesn't take this desperate action, he may be forced to witness the destruction of the already precarious balance of world power.


I am well and truly hooked on this series! Bren Cameron is such an understandable main character. I’ve struggled with non-English languages--specifically several undergraduate courses in Ancient Greek--which almost broke my brain. The necessity of doing math in one’s head in order to know which word ending to use would reduce me to jelly in no time.

This book picks up quickly from where the first book left off. There is a great deal of tension provided by Bren wondering just how well he understands the atevi society around him. The atevi seem to thrive on intrigue and when that is combined with the cultural differences and a complex language, this is a fearsome barrier to understanding.

Despite this, Bren seems to have made a very favourable impression with the atevi around him. He is packed into a suite next door to the current ruler, complete with a large staff who all vie to provide the best service, be the most useful, and just generally receive his thanks. Technically they are Damiri’s staff, but she mock-accuses him of trying to sweet talk them away from her. Plus, she lets us know, all the female staff are longing to get their hands on him! Ah, the allure of novelty!

Cherryh leaves us at a critical juncture, making me wish I had book three in my hand right this minute! However, I’ll have to wait until the library produces it from one of the branch libraries. In the meanwhile, I’ll work on other books in my reading queue.

Book number 349 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy reading project.

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review 2019-11-07 20:46
Foreigner / C.J. Cherryh
Foreigner - C.J. Cherryh

The first book in C.J.Cherryh's eponymous series, Foreigner begins an epic tale of the survivors of a lost spacecraft who crash-land on a planet inhabited by a hostile, sentient alien race. From its beginnings as a human-alien story of first contact, the Foreigner series has become a true science fiction odyssey, following a civilization from the age of steam through early space flight to confrontations with other alien species in distant sectors of space.


Once again, I find myself fascinated by C.J. Cherryh’s aliens. The Atevi, although superficially humanoid-shaped, have an entirely different way of looking at the universe and Cherryh lets us struggle with those viewpoints along with her main character, Bren Cameron. I quickly realized that it was human psychology that was being explored just as thoroughly as Atevi psychology.

So, how do you maintain yourself as a diplomat among people who operate through only loyalty, not through affection, liking, or loving? Especially when they are very pragmatic about assassination? Bren is rapidly discovering that he hasn’t maintained emotional distance from the Atevi that he lives among--being the only human allowed in Atevi society has made him lonely and searching for attachments. However, his Atevi “friends” aren’t necessarily able to reciprocate his feelings or even understand his need for affection.

When Bren suddenly finds himself the target of an assassination attempt, all of these problems in understanding come crashing down on him. Has he been a romantic fool, believing that he can trust the Atevi around him? Did he not contact the humans in Mospheira because he has lost touch with his humanity in some crucial way? There is plenty of action, as Bren is taken here and there, tries to discover who he can actually trust, avoids death frequently, and sorts through conspiracy theories. But the big question is, if Atevi have no word for affection, can they still feel it?

I look forward to book 2 to see if Bren’s diplomatic career survives the crisis.

Book number 330 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project.

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review 2019-06-06 18:45
Shon'jir (The Faded Sun #2) - C.J. Cherryh

I love this series! I think this book is a little better than the first one. It shifts focus from the mri Niun to the SurfTac Sten Duncan and his somewhat conversion to mri to ultimate become a peace mediator.

Great read!

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review 2019-03-30 12:34
Faery Moon by C.J. Cherryh
Faery Moon - C.J. Cherryh

TITLE:  Faery Moon


AUTHOR:  C. J. Cherryh




"A curse, a sin, and a dark bargain with the Sidhe had condemned Caith mac Sliabhan to wander the wild woods, outcast from all humankind. Only Dubhain—a pooka, a Sidhe sprite—was his companion. Caith now was bound to do the will of the Sidhe, always fearing that his own taint would somehow make him cause pain and sorrow to others.

But even an outcast like Caith could not resist taking refuge in a forest cabin, where two mysterious golden youths, a boy and girl, dwelled. "Husband and wife, we are," said the boy, but Caith could have sworn they were twins.

The mysterious couple were under a spell themselves—and despite his curse, Caith felt compelled to aid them. Caith soon fell into a dark adventure that led him and the Sidhe into the evil hands of the notorious witch of Dun Glas.




Faery Moon is an expanded and heavily revised edition of "Faery in Shadow", also including the short story "Brothers".  This novel is set in the pre-Christian Schottish Highlands and makes use of Celtic mythology.  The faeries in this novel aren't the light, fluffy and helpful fairies of Tolkien or any children's tale.  I found the main characters to be well-written, three dimensional beings with their fair share of flaws.  The relationship between the stubborn, hot-tempered Caith and the wicked and feckless, but loyal Pooka is at times amusing.  This novel is rather dark, but it is delightfully written with vivid landscaping.  Besides, who doesn't like Pooka tales?

Faery in Shadow is a beautifully written novel, despite the issues Cherryh had with editors and publishing it.  However, Faery Moon is even better and with more Caith and Dubhain.

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review 2018-11-19 22:40
Hellburner / C.J. Cherryh
Hellburner - C.J. Cherryh

Lt. Ben Pollard thinks he's traded the perils of the Belt for security as an Earth-based computer jockey for United Defence Command. Then he's forced to perform a mission of mercy - and lands on an isolated, intrigue-riddled space station.  He's been named next-of-kin to a man he never wanted to even see again: Paul Dekker, a young pilot who attracts crises like dead flesh draws flies. The centerpiece of a top-secret war project, Dekker has just lost his entire crew in a mysterious freak accident and lost his mind to amnesia from an attempted suicide. Or attempted murder. Suddenly two more faces from Dekker and Pollard's past are shanghaied to Sol II: their occasional lovers, renegade pilots Meg Kady and Sal Aboujib. Together they had once smashed the criminal cover-ups of a mining cartel. Now, they're all caught in a shadowy, deadly maze of power-mongering rivalries between UDC and Fleet Strategic Operations, the Senate and Peace Lobby, and the corporate lords of both Earth and Mars.


Thus far, as I have been reading Cherryh’s Company Wars books, they have overlapped slightly (mentions of Pell and its inhabitants occur in pretty much every book, for example). But this is the first time that I would call a book a sequel. Hellburner seems to me very much to be a sequel to Heavy Time, as we follow the further association between Paul Dekker and Ben Pollard.

If you have ever felt manipulated at work, you will feel great sympathy for Paul & Ben. They are frenemies, both trying to find their way in the universe. Ben thinks that he has finally landed a cushy spot for himself on Earth, far from the wars ongoing in space. This is a big achievement for a boy who grew up in the asteroid belt and who had never seen the ocean! He really doesn’t understand Earthers (OMG, they think that they have the right to air and water, how misguided are they?) but to find a peaceful work environment, he is willing to try.

Paul Dekker is Ben’s mirror image, a kid who grew up on and around Sol and who escaped an uncertain and unpromising future in Earth orbit by going to the asteroid belt. In the process, he has made himself some powerful enemies and has undergone a lot of mental disturbance. Still, he has awesome piloting skills and he’s a valuable commodity if his enemies can be dealt with.

Ben had hoped to never, ever see Dekker again. He is on the cusp of getting his ideal job when he is called away as Dekker’s “next of kin,” when Dekker is experiencing mental problems again, having been left to die in a flight simulator. Ben considers simply beating Dek to death and returning to Earth.

Instead, they are rejoined by their partners in crime from Heavy Time, Meg Kady and Sal Aboujib, and they set out to conquer the new experimental ship, the Hellburner, that no one else has been able to run successfully. Can Dekker hang onto his sanity long enough to do this? Can Ben rein in his temper? Can Meg and Sal make the cut?

As a person struggling with a new computer system at work, one which no one seems to want to provide training for, I have great sympathy for this team.

Book number 299 of my Science Fiction & Fantasy Reading Project.

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