Tuesday, June 29, 2010


C. J. Cherryh

Continuing my exploration of this series. More probably could have been done with the dystopian aspects of the setup with Reunion Station and Bren remains an excessively talented and insufficiently interesting personality, but beyond that I have no major complaints. Interesting, complex, at large sections slow-moving even for Cherryh but ultimately a major story of two species expanding their understanding of a third, with lots of inter-group factions and tensions. Great science fiction, and probably the most engaging and substantive of the series. Unlike all the preceding volumes this one also feels definitive enough that it could have ended the universe with this second trilogy--a lot remains unexplored but the main personalities and factions have been established. Nevertheless, I'm very interested in seeing where the story goes next.

The kyo form the third species of the account, and propell a large amount of dramatic acclaim even through the slow account. The formula intrinsic to them is on an unknown alien nature that’s more technologically advanced than you, and forces terms of contact that can’t be just ignored. It’s particularly engaging when there’s a writer as skillede as Cherryh, so the aliens are neither monolithic evil nor just humans by any other names. By the end of the book the immediate crisis has been ended and the terms for good relations seem to have been established, yet it closes off with a lot of ambiguity and potential warning. The fact that the kyo don’t give up a contact, and that their cultural history seems to see no distinction between grade and slow cultural absorption, renders the future a rather suspect terrain. A similar issue is their whole reluctance towards the first peson plural that emerges here, a rather tangled history with the notion "we" that the book expresses here. All this makes for some rather interesting question marks for the universe’s future, while at the same time in no way undermining the generally optimistic and progression-focused narrativel. As a tehnique by the characters and the authors, humans bringing the interstellar gap and breaking through their own language issues with the kyo through another alien species they brought along from another planet works brilliantly. The Foreigner universe is ultimately about the developing of lexicons, or translations, or techniques for relating to the Other. In that venture it continues to delight. The series has some of the best, most complex and well developed alien spcies in science fiction, and it’s able to do that without leaving humanity completely in the dust either.

Better than: Defender by C. J. Cherryh
Worse than: A Deepness Upon the Sky by Vernor Vinge

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