New Foreigner Book!


a few hardcovers and pbs available from Closed Circle, signed. Latest: Moonlover and the Fountain of Blood, Jane Fancher short story. Chernevog, part 2 of the Rusalka trilogy co-written by CJ and Jane; and Orion's Children, a tetralogy from Lynn.

spoiler potential: caution: book questions.

Do not get into this page if you are trying to read a book. This is for after you’ve read it. Likewise follow the custom of putting a subject and then dropping down a number of lines to make it possible for a reader to duck out if they don’t want the information yet.

I will answer questions about pronunciation, etc, all the little questions I’m normally asked. I won’t discuss things that disturb my creative process, like where I’m going or such. You can theorize among yourselves.

425 comments to spoiler potential: caution: book questions.

  • mmberry

    Thinking like a crafter. Where do the materials for the clothing come from on a space station? We expect hydroponics for food, but what about fibers? Do the people have access to natural fibers or what is the source for synthetic fibers? I could see large industrial looms if the fibers exist.

    Would all of the cloth have to be imported via Merchanter ships?

    • CJ

      Everything that is used on a space station has to be imported and most of it pre-processed—but—
      Within a century, I think the next big buzzword after genetic engineering is going to be nanotech. The Star Trek gizmo where you choose your food and push a button and something complicated lands on your plate is not totally out of the question, though in a modified way…molecular reassembly out of basic elements.

      I had a bit of fun in Forge of Heaven constructing Procyon’s apartment. The rooms sort of do a modest rearrangement; and the kitchen fridge is a processor as well as storage. He buys ‘recipes’ for things, installs them as software in his fridge. The fridge tracks the amount of basics in its storage, special items you put in (things for which you don’t have the recipe) and, on call, processes certain things into existence. Procyon, being a bachelor, doesn’t have too many recipes, and eats out a lot.

      But yes. Short of nanotech manufacture. I’d look for a lot of microfiber in station manufacture. It’s durable, resists stains, and it’s light, with the capacity either to breathe or insulate, depending on how the microfibers are arranged. Regular cloth: no difference in weight/mass as to whether you transport a compacted bale of fiber or a compacted bale of cloth, and either is possible, but unless you want everybody on the station dressed in the same lime green, I’d rather have the bale of fiber and vary the output of the looms.

      Nanotech makes Procyon’s sister’s sub-skin makeup. And the on-off bare patches in her clothing. The future of fabric is going to be interesting.

  • cj, this is just to let you know how I am doing on the Retrofitted Ragi that I have been working on for the last 3 years. I am done with the language itself. I just finished the last of the case markers. I need to finish hammering the lexicon and then write up the sketch.

    This is the biggest project I have worked on with your languages and I am happy! I will quickly write the sketch and let you see it.

  • ChicagoFan1

    Oh dear! I have so many questions, having accumulated them over 25+ years of reading your books! Thank you for allowing us this opportunity to ask some of them. I’ll start with just two.

    1) My apologies if you have answered this question elsewhere, but how did the date for the first contact with the Majat come to be listed as 2223 in Serpent’s Reach? Was the date of 2623 from the timeline at the back of Angel With the Sword meant as a correction?

    2) You are credited as a co-author of each of the novels in the Sword of Knowledge trilogy. I recall reading somewhere (your Web site perhaps?) that the credit was given because you wrote an introduction to the three novels which was eliminated by the publisher. Did you work at all with the other three co-authors on the stories themselves, or on the backstory or universe creation? For example, I perceived a thematic similarity in those books with Russalka et. al. regarding the limitations / dangers of the use of magic (and to a lesser degree the Fortress series too), but perhaps I was just imagining this.

  • CJ

    1. probably it’s a typo. I have to take a look in my master chronology. I wonder if I did.

    2. I did work with the writers, as an editor, and I created the universe…and wrote 50 pages of explication, with maps, which I think was darned interesting. And then they pulled that dirty trick, took out the only thing I wrote and printed my name larger than the writers. I was presented the idea of helping three novices get a start. No good deed goes unpunished. And believe me I worked hard on the editing. When asked to sign those books, I just cringe. I think I may take to writing “Editor only” after my name on every copy I sign.

    well, just as a writer, I think magic or power ought to be limited, or you rule the universe in chapter one and that’s that.
    In Rusalka, the lesson is clearly Be careful what you wish for—you might get it. It’s the extreme of that point of view.

  • forceten

    Hi! This is probably a very stupid question, but was Phoenix an Earth Company ship looking to build new stations after getting burned in previous run-ins with neighbors and the independence of A-U?

    • CJ

      I’ve tried to keep those two universes somewhat separate, just to avoid entanglements (and publisher quarrels)…but they are from Earth.

      I figure we have not begun to meet all the odd accidents the universe can throw at us. Phoenix’ malfunction is not as odd as, say, that of The Maid of Astolat, but it ended up, shall we say, very, very, very far from where they expected to be.

  • Confutus

    Vikktakkht for President

  • Edwriter

    Dear CJ
    Hello again. Just finished your most recent in the Foriegner series and enjoyed it. Particularly Bren’s indictment of the cell phone as an agency of chaos (and incivility.)
    I am curious if Mospeada has a formal military, Army, Navy Air Force ect. Other than the highly trained special forces of the Guild, it seems that the Aetevi have mostly militia. While a huge aetevi would be a formidable opponent personally, it’s organization that makes a military. Is this why humans survivied the war of the landing, having more of a “talent for war?”
    Also are we ever going to get more of a hint of Jago’s interior life. We know she wants to and could easily boot Barbara into the next existence, but what does she think about the rest of the time.
    Needless to say I have loved your work since I first found Gate of Ivrel while looking for some new author to read as I had read every piece of Andre Norton I could find.
    Keep writing!
    Kind regards
    Ed McKeown

  • CJ

    They have a concept of war, but not as humans fight it. The Guild serves this function, and discourages the participation of civilians, who are thus exempt from action. They go for surgical strikes at leadership, precisely those things our model of warfare abhors.

  • philospher77

    Another question about Jago and Bren…. do atevi have a biological clock, and what’s going to happen to this relationship long-term? It seems pretty obvious that if Jago wants to have kids and a family she is going to have to find someone besides Bren. I’m not willing to accept that there is enough similarity in genetics to allow an atevi/human half-breed. And since the only way I can wrap my head around manchi (forgot where the apostrophe goes in that) is that it’s like a strong herd instinct, it seems like if there is a biological clock, that could cause a shift in Jago’s manchi.

    Hmm… why am I being visited by shades of Hunter of Worlds? Now there is a race that I really do not want to meet.

  • CJ

    Jago is a professional and rather well wedded to the Guild. If she had a child, she would probably cede it to the father, rather well the case in about fifty percent of contract marriages, and maintain no real relationship. She’s too interested in maintaining her physical edge to want any other situation. Guild rarely marry, male or female, and if a relationship happens, it is ideally limited to the same man’chi. Otherwise there could be conflict, not good for anybody. Since, no, there are no hybrids, she doesn’t have to worry.

  • wayspooled

    Okay I’ve got one for ya. Had this in back of my head for years and just came upon it in my most frequent reread. V is velocity but is C something to do with light speed, as in “flinging a c-charged rock at station” – which would be like coming in from jump pushing or otherhow “bringing” a rock on a direct line to the station? C is something going at light speed? That’s my question, what’s C?

  • CJ

    Yes. My ships form a jump field around them. If there is a rock in that packet, that’s bad news. When the ships reach an entry zone, they will be braking and then reorienting to reach the station. They ‘brake’ by flaring a hyperspace bubble and breaking it, and if the rock is not close enough to be ‘braked’ by that method, it’s a loose rock, and very dangerous. That is your c-chared rock. In war, one rock acceled to lightspeed or, effectively, translight, by a ship and then loosed toward a planet or station—bad news.
    C is the speed of light, as in E equals MC squared.

  • Apf

    My long, long hope is that sometime we do find out what happened to Mr. Mazian and friends 🙂

  • Apf

    Curse you Warners! There needs to be a special circle in hell for those who decided to run the publishing industry as a tax dodge 🙁

  • Parsifal

    Having spent many years working on computer simulations of various kinds, I’ve put a fair amount of thought into trying to model (in the mathematical and physical sense) how ships jump in the Alliance/Union/Compact universe. I’d like to present my conceptual model as concisely as I can, and ask if you have any comments.
    One of the best ways to deal with problems involving more than three spatial dimensions is to restate them using fewer dimensions, so that’s what I’ll do.
    Think of a sphere. Every point in our real-space universe corresponds to a point on the surface of this sphere, and every real-space journey is a movement across the surface of the sphere. Now think of two stars, A and B, some distance apart on the surface. The distance measured around the arc between them is their distance apart in real space. Think of two straight lines running from A and B to the centre of the sphere. These represent the positions of A and B in hyperspace. The deeper you go into hyperspace – that is, the closer to the centre of the sphere – the shorter the distance between these two points, or any others.
    A ship boosts away from A, heading towards B. Once its real-space velocity towards B is high enough, it jumps into hyperspace – the interior of the sphere. For human ships, and those used by the oxygen-breathing Compact species, this manoeuvre is, literally, a jump. The ship kicks off the interface between normal and hyper space, but the subsequent hyperspatial trajectory is purely ballistic, determined solely by momentum and gravity, like a rock thrown in vacuum.
    The ship’s velocity from A towards B is carried over into hyperspace, but because the distance between A and B is shorter there, it will make the journey faster. How much faster depends on how hard it kicked off into hyperspace – how far inside the sphere it goes. Gravity operates in hyperspace in more or less the same way as in real space, but with one extra twist – it acts to pull objects down from hyperspace – the interior of the sphere – to real space – the surface of the sphere.
    If our ship is not aimed sufficiently close to B, then B’s gravity will not act to counteract the momentum towards the centre of the sphere imparted by the jump, and the ship will fall deeper into hyperspace, miss the target, and never return to normal space until and unless it passes sufficiently close to another mass.
    The ships used by the methane-breathing Compact races (and potentially other advanced species), can actually manoeuvre in hyperspace. They can apply accelerations which will thrust them deeper into hyperspace or back towards real space. Their hyperspatial trajectories are not ballistic, but powered and controlled.

  • CJ
    is where we were discussing how this works…
    My ships solve the energy problem by ‘borrowing’ energy from the universe as a whole, and yes, pretty much as you envision it, except that I view space as a very lumpy sphere, so you can have some localized shortcuts as well as the long-distance stuff. Warships are generally capable of somewhat longer jumps, loaded freighters sticking to the less direct but safer routes.

  • Hi CJ and all,
    I’ve been reading the blog for some time now, but this is my first post.
    I’ve got one (errm, several, but will ration them…) question regarding the foreigner universe.
    Why is there a human paidhi, but no Ateva paidhi? Ateva are no less intelligent than humans, so if a human can learn to understand Ateva, why not the other way around? Cajeri might be on his way to becoming such, but OTOH he’s got his own job to fulfill if he will inherit his father…

    P.S.: Please excuse me if I make spelling errors, my first language is German. And the spell checker is not yet trained for Ateva et al. 🙂

  • CJ

    The office is old, and while humans suggested talks, the atevi pretty well latched onto the notion and requested a person to fill an institution they understood. For reasons which will become somewhat more apparent as time passes, there is only one, who travels between the sides. The humans actually lost the War of the Landing, though there was a settlement, since they had to live where the atevi told them to live. The atevi relocated the Edi and Gan peoples, natives of Mospheira, to the continent, and cut off all contact with humans except for the paidhi.

    Humans naturally formed a study committee on the problem, the university and the state department took over appointing the paidhi, and they laid down a set of rules which Bren has followed—up to a point.

    There was no reciprocal agreement, since no ateva was willing to go live among humans.

    • Ah okay, I believe I’d better re-read the first books before to refresh my grasp of ateva-human history 🙂

      But this relocation of Edi and Gan leads to another question: How big is the Island, and the Continent? I’ve got the impression that the Continent is maybe the size of Europe (Or Africa or Northern Amerika, but not bigger than that), and the Island more of the size of England or even smaller. If so, and the planet is earth-size, is the rest of it ozean? Please apologize my ignorance if this has been stated already somewhere in the books, but I can’t remember such 🙁

      • CJ

        THe continent is more like Europe and Asia. There is a southern Cuba-shaped island, about the breadth of Australia, and there is a large but untouched island continent off toward the great ocean, plus land at the northern pole. But there is a lot of ocean, and very violent storms. The reason atevi didn’t shove humans onto the mid-ocean island was twofold: humans were already on Mospheira, and they wanted to keep an eye on them.

  • samsgran1948

    Oh, yes, more Chanur, please! And as long as you’re taking requests, I’d really like to know more about the kif and their social organization.

    In the Foreigner universe, I’m really interested in what the kyo are afraid of. My personal guess is that it’s humans.

    • hanneke28

      I reluctantly gave up that idea when I considered what’s been said concerning the star-charts in both series, especially in Foreigner. Phoenix couldn’t recognize any star-spectra known from earth when they arrived near the atevi world, and that should mean that they were very far from human space indeed. I’d guess, way too far for a Kyo star-empire to be sufficient ‘spacer’ between Earth and the Atevi world.

      I was thinking it might be Knnnn or Kif (those are scary enough to frighten even a large Kyo), except that human space is theorized to be somewhere beyond Kif space when seen from Meetpoint or Hani space. So it might be Mahendo-sat or Stsho (I haven’t got my books here so the spelling is probably wrong), but even then I don’t get the impression they’d be out of star-spectrum-reading range.

      I’m not an astronomer, my dad is, but if I remember correctly even the spectra of some of the brighter stars in other galaxies are already known today, and if so they’d have to be several galaxies over at least.
      And as up to now most of Ms.Cherryh’s spacefaring peoples occupy fairly realistic (economic) futures, and seem to be doing well keeping several (tens of) stars together, I wouldn’t guess ‘intergalactic empires’ and routine intergalactic travel are really likely.

      Another possibility could be, if they need to be that close to the Earth-human space, that someone had both sabotaged the ship and her starcharts, in such a way it wasn’t obvious before the jump, so that all the spectra in the star-charts were scrambled by the jump. But even then, there would probably be enough (amateur-)astronomers aboard, with favorite stars about which they know a lot by heart, or their own digital-pocket-starcharts etc., that something that big would not go undetected.

  • philospher77

    Question regarding leaders in Atevi society: It appears that most atevi have an instinctive need to from associations and follow someone. And the leaders are those who do not feel the need to follow (man’chi flows to them, not from them). In which case, it seems to be somewhat dependent on genetics and personality. Which is a long way of asking: why is everyone so sure that Cajeri is going to be next leader of the Western Association? Couldn’t he just as easily have man’chi toward someone, thus making him a potentially high-ranking player in the government, but not necessarily the ultimate ruler. Or is this one of those cases where we are just making things simpler by saying that it could happen that way, but didn’t in this case?

    • CJ

      early patterning matters, but is not everything. Cajeiri could be supplanted by a more aggressive sib. The leadership of a clan group is capable of shifting, and is not just who claims power, but who is willing to cede it to that particular individual. Ilisidi would have been aiji of the West, except she is an Easterner, and she scared the daylights out of the West with her draconian solutions, her alliances, and her take-no-prisoners political approach to the West Coast problems and problems with the Marid. So she had the mental attitude to rule, but gained no support, and the aijinate passed to her grandson.

Leave a Reply