Friday, September 29, 2017

C J Cherryh - Foreigner / Inheritor / ...


C J Cherryh calls this the 'First Contact' series, but most websites refer to it as the 'Foreigner' series.

Inspired by a comment from Jan (of Dapper fame) I decided to chew my way through a couple of these.

It's a long series, but the main story is delivered in batches of three, and most of those would work as stand alone titles. I would strongly advise not to read them out of order though...


Though I haven’t had much time to read I had ample time to listen. Traffic jams do that for you. I first tried to learn a language, but lost interest in it quickly as well as too distracting when driving. I now alternate between music (when in a hurry) and audiobooks (when stuck yet again).

I’m currently finishing arc 5 of this series, which ends with Peacemaker.

It is an interesting universe, and at first I was impressed with the ‘non-human’ nature of the Atevi. It’s one of the pillars under the books, but I’m getting a little tired of the endless ‘humans are not hardwired’ and so forth. In fact, I think it is very easy to understand what drives the Atevi: it’s a herd-mind, with extreme loyalty towards the leader. Perhaps a simplification, but such an approach would work for all practical purposes. Either that, or I’m totally not getting the point.

Further concepts Cherryh introduces are numerology (with a preference for prime numbers), and language / mindset relations, ie. the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (well, you could Google or Bing for it 😉)...

Current titles

  • Foreigner - 1994
  • Invader - 1995
  • Inheritor - 1996
  • Precursor - 1999
  • Defender - 2001
  • Explorer - 2002
  • Destroyer - 2005
  • Pretender - 2006
  • Deliverer - 2007
  • Conspirator - 2009
  • Deceiver - 2010
  • Betrayer - 2011
  • Intruder - 2012
  • Protector - 2013
  • Peacemaker - 2014
  • Tracker - 2015


Does language create a worldview , or does worldview create a language?

Perhaps it works both ways, I don’t know, though I am convinced language does influence the thought process more than is often allowed for by the academics.  Vance’s The Languages of Pao is a great SF book involving this subject,  so is Delany’s Babel 17 (I have to re-read that one).

Those who tend to the other side of the spectrum should have a look at the TED talks by Steven Arthus Pinker. Unfortunately his presentations tend to be a bit boring, especially if you do not agree 😉


Back to Cherryh. Interesting world building, good characters, great aliens (hey, we all like to date a super loyal two and a half meters long assassin alien, and have lots of sex with her in the bathtub, whilst her father guards the place)...

Don't worry, nothing hard-core.

If there is one con it would be Cherryh repeating herself, in yet another repeat / rehash / retell. She's also a little predictable now and again.

Worth a read? Yes, unless you cannot stand long dialogues.

Oh. And Cherryh should allow Diego to ‘remove’  Barb. It’s about time 😶

Dapper / RetroTales 89

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