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  • 3 Intriguing Cherryh Novels

    C.J. Cherryh is one of my favorite science fiction writers. Her Downbelow Station is one of the greatest SF books of all time and she always provides a good read. Port Eternity is one of her more fanciful novels. It’s set in the Alliance Space universe of Downbelow Station and Cyteen and focuses on seven Azi—cloned humans—who run a luxury yacht for the extravagantly wealthy Lady Della Kirn. When the yacht is stranded in jump space the azi are pressed to grow beyond the taped instructions which define their personalities and help Lady Della and her paramour cope with the terror of being stranded forever out of contact with the rest of humanity. The crew quickly discovers that the only thing more horrifying than being isolated as they are, is discovering that unknown alien beings also inhabit this strange surreal space and that those beings are not willing to leave them alone. Port Eternity combines the themes of encountering the unknown with deep introspection. It’s a beautiful book, reading in many ways like the Arthurian legends it is consciously modeled after. Not Ms. Cherryh’s best work, but certainly entertaining. Wave Without a Shore is about the nature of reality--also a highly philosophical book. Its characters live on the planet, Freedom, and operate on the assumption that their personal power of belief creates reality. Therefore, people they choose not to see, don't exist. And they also choose not to see the alien race that coexists on the planet with them. It is a powerful and intriguing setting which is upset by the introduction of interstellar humans interacting with Freedom and bringing with them their own understanding of reality. Calamity results… Voyager in Night is one of the most unique and difficult novels I have ever read. Images from this book have stayed with me a quarter century after I first read it, although I had completely forgotten how it ends. I think that is because the ending is so difficult to interpret. Cherryh, herself, in an introduction to the Alternate Realities version said that she and her editor disagreed on what the ending meant. Unfortunately, the room for interpretation in the ending left me with an unhappy feeling in the pit of my stomach. That being said, I liked the book. The plot premise is that three people are plucked out of their small spacecraft by an alien entity exploring the galaxy. The alien makes electronic copies of them and their digitalized programs are tinkered with as the alien entity and its opponents on the ship, Voyager, vie with each other for control of the ship.

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