View Full Version : Cherryh: er or or

13-08-2002, 17:32:09
WARNING: Long post ahead. You have been warned...

I have been reading the latest C. J. Cherryh series with interest. The ones with one word titles that end in 'er' or 'or': Foriegner, Invader, Inheritor, Precursor, and the one I just completed, Defender. My understanding is that the next book in the series will be called Explorer.

The number of must read science fiction authors has declined since my teens. But I still count her among the 'must reads'. I was thrilled to meet her in person at a science fiction convention in Edmonton in the 80s.

Her very early novels seemed confusingly written and very violent. She must have had a crappy editor. IMHO she hit her stride with Wave without a shore, but it is for the novels in the Union/Alliance universe for which she is best known and rightly so.

Cherryh's novels tend to be fast paced and often aliens are more central to the plots than humans. She likes the political intrigue side of things, which I also enjoy. While this is a refreshing change, I wish she would use a bit more imagination with her aliens which often seem more human like than, for example, my next door neighbour.

So in her stories aliens often eat the same food as humans, have similar body types and social constructs as humans and are fairly easily able to communicate with humans. Yet alien interactions somehow happen without any exchange of disease between the various species. And the whole 'human sex with aliens' thing she often includes seems even more improbable. Far fetched enough to make her 'hard' fiction seem like fantasy.

Her more pure fantasy like the recent 'Fortress' series is exceptional. And I don't even like fantasy to the point that The Fellowship of the Ring was a real struggle for me.

The current series while part of the Union/Alliance series is set so far away from human space that references to her other books are minimal. She has also gone away from her usual 'humans are more adaptable so they will overcome' premise by creating the atevi, a race that is seemingly more intelligent, quicker, larger and stronger than the humans that blunder on to their planet.

The series started well, but seems to be flagging a bit in Defender. My hope is that it is just a linking novel and the upcoming one(s?) will be better. The exact same constructs are used to create tension such as Bren's conflicts with old friends and family, his relationship with the head of the atevi, and the general conflicts among the atevi, spaceship humans and planet-bound humans. But unlike earlier books in the series, the tension doesn't keep mounting and reach a crisis point. Basically not enough stuff happens. So while the series gets eight out of ten from me, the most recent book is only a six.

But I will still continue reading the series in hopes that the confrontation with a new set of aliens hinted at in this book actually happens in the next one.

13-08-2002, 22:56:37
The only thing I have read of Cherryl's is "The Faded Sun" trilogy in one volume. I thought, on the whole, that it was disappointing, very thin. It seemed to me that if the whole thing had been condensed down into one 300 page novel then it would have been good. After reading it I had no desire to read any more.
Am I missing something?

14-08-2002, 00:24:42
Faded Sun was definitely a low point for her. Try the 'Chanur' series, probably her most popular series to date.

14-08-2002, 07:42:29
I like Cherryl, but I find I have more hit or miss with her writings then most of my 'favorite' authors.

14-08-2002, 12:41:35
I like her too, specifically the Union/Alliance stuff. I think her U/A stories are best when they involve only humans, and find them very believable (and really get the feel that life in space is as comfortable as life on a submarine) I like the various cultural-splits too, like Spacers vs Stationers etc, and the different ship-types and the clannishness of their crews.

She wrote a book involving aliens once, where the alien individuals had names like '(((((<>)))))' and '[[]]' and '>>>>||<<<<' I really liked that- combined with their personalities you really got a sense of their alieness, I was very impressed, especially as the aliens seemed to have more in common with computer-viruses and worms then with animals (like us humans). She even described them physically in terms of "segments" and "clones" and "cannibals" and "worms". The entire story took place on their alien-ship, which they seemed to exist within as programs.

It wuz cool.

Most of her stuff though, being fantasy- doesn't really interest me, except for one story she wrote based in medieval Japan, the story of a female body-guard and the emporors former samurai (it wasn't quite "fantasy").

"Physics waits for no-one"

-C J Cherryh.

14-08-2002, 16:02:25
O.K., I'll put her back on my list, but not too high.
Thanks for the comments all.

15-08-2002, 01:23:36
Currently have Cherryh's, 'Fortress of Dragons' in reading queue, about third from the top.

Just finished Jean M Auel's 'The Shelters of Stone'. I was not realy impressed. Other than the expected one sex cameo per chapter for the Mills and Booners, which could have been cut and pasted from any of the the other four. The whole storyline felt one dimensional, and lacking colour.
After the earlier four I had hopes of a similar engrossing read, however this book failed to grab my attention, and could have been writen by a totally different author, maybe ghosted in her style, or possibly, just like Jordan, run out of series ideas, I don't know.

15-08-2002, 04:23:43
'The Faded Sun' didn't do a lot for me, either. I've got one or two of the Chanur ones, but haven't started reading them yet.

The Mad Monk
21-08-2002, 03:23:08
I really enjoyed her Chanur series -- enough to read it several times, and list it among my all-time favorites.

23-08-2002, 19:46:57
I really tried to get into Cherryh (eh...) since a lots of friends told me she was great. But Chanur did nothing for me - I hate the One Step Ahead of The Alien Monsters in the Windling Tunnels while the Backpack Nuke is Ticking thing. Are her other books much different?

The Mad Monk
23-08-2002, 23:00:11
She likes her plots nice and twisty.

Early on I was describing her to friends as the Tom Clancey of SciFi.

24-08-2002, 20:54:39
Not having read any Tom Clancy, I'll have to pass on that. Still, are her other books different? I hear much praise for the Union/Alliance books and I have been somewhat tempted to give her another go...

But I'd really prefer if, like, everybody took their beauty sleep regularly instead of spending like 800 pages complaining about how tired they are and how little they've slept recently.

The Mad Monk
25-08-2002, 19:10:53
I thought Forty Thousand In Gehenna was very interesting, and quite different from most of the other SF I've read. It's the story of forty thousand colonists that lose contact with Eath and are forgotten, and how they develop over the ensuing centuries.

26-08-2002, 00:03:08
I'll check that out then. Heard it's a good read from several sources.

27-08-2002, 11:14:46
I think the book I was talking about with aliens in it with names like ))|||(( was actually called Invader.

09-05-2003, 11:27:29
40,000 in Gehenna is a good one - very odd but then so's the concept.

I've only ever tried (apart from the Faded Sun, which I too thought was a dissappointment) the U/A books otherwise, which I've found to be excellent - the same story re-told from several perspectives and points in time gives such a great view of the whole range of political and cultural standpoints in that universe. With Tripoint and Finity's End it looks like she may be building to some sort of final reckoning with the remnants of the Maziani/Company Fleet but, as always, she only ever flirts with the "bigger picture" in those little snippets of information/conversation that crop up from time to time.

Anxiuosly awaiting the next installment - if only she didnt waste time with those crappy-looking fantasy novels...

Shame I was about 8 months too late for this discussion!

15-05-2003, 18:38:10
Naw. Feel free to open a discussion at any time. Here or in a new thread.

BTW I did read that latest 'er' or 'or' novel, and indeed, a new set of aliens were introduced as I'd hoped, improving the novel a fair bit.

Originally posted by Qweeg

...Most of her stuff though, being fantasy- doesn't really interest me, except for one story she wrote based in medieval Japan, the story of a female body-guard and the emporors former samurai (it wasn't quite "fantasy")...

Yeah I remember that one. And I enjoyed it as well.

The 'Fortress' series is every bit as good in my opinion. The only fantasy series of hers I disliked involved horses with strange psychic powers.

15-05-2003, 21:25:58
You aren't thinking of Robert Adams 'Horseclans' universe that she wrote a guest story/novel in, are you?

15-05-2003, 22:29:05
Darkstar, I can't remember seeing any credit to setting the novels in some other author's universe. But it has been a while since I read them and its such a strange idea it seems unusual that two different writers would come up with it. The two novels were Riders at the Gate and Cloud's Rider

I had to go to her website to look up the names of both novels. Neither seemed to reference Robert Adams. While at the website I found the name of that Japanese fantasy novel that Qweeg and I both read: The Paladin

07-01-2004, 19:42:34
Bump as we might as well have three Cherryh threads and I wanted to see how much I have repeated myself... ;)

07-01-2004, 20:33:11
Actually, you can find several psychic horses series. Very popular in amatuer fiction as well.

In Robert Adams Horseclans series, it's a fantasy series set in post apocolypse United States... features Immortals, and the clans of new indian/mongols they formed, the Horseclans. Starts off with only the Immortals being psychic, but the last one I read, everything that was human, horse, or cat in it was psychic, and often every other living thing. Overall, it was a decent "barbarian" series from what I remember. Horseclans was around for a long time, and had many "anthologies" opened up to the general SF/Fantasy writers.

Sir Penguin
07-01-2004, 20:38:04
Dammit RedFred, I picked up Riders at the Gate yesterday because I remembered reading about it here and assumed it was one of the good ones. I'm about 10 pages in, and the alliteration already annoys me.


08-01-2004, 12:52:30
I just remembered that I've also read the Chanur series as well and was left pretty much non-plussed by it. Even at age 14 I could spot it was a bit duff.

Stick to the U/A stuff