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. Plus, coming soon: e-books: Yvgenie, and books from Jane.



At Miscon 2013, around Memorial Day, Missoula MT, At SoonerCon, in OKC, around June 15, also Spokon in Spokane, in July/August, Beyond that, we aren't sure.
December 2014
« Nov    

Alliance-Union books: spoiler alert

There is the general spoiler page for general questions.

I’m making this set of pages for more specific questions.

The rule is: do not ask or comment about a book until it has been at least a month in issue. I think that will make everybody happy re spoilers.

480 comments to Alliance-Union books: spoiler alert

  • Deesha

    Dawn, I just spotted where this e-book has ‘re-written some of my previous text. Dawn all predictive text.

  • Jcrow9

    I just finished reading an article in a webzine called “the swan” (sic) entitled “Military Command in Women’s Science Fiction: C.J. Cherryh’s Signy Mallory” (link: ) and found it most interesting, but also found a lot of wrong (or just plain wrongheaded, at least IMO) statements and conclusions. As a well-trained SNAG (Sensitive New-Age Guy ;-) ) I of course realize that I may have the wrong geneset (to use Our Favorite Author’s term), or at least wrong chromosome pair, to legitimately criticize what is and is not feminism, but feminism is really not at the root of my objections to the article. I found the comments made by CJ in the interview to be most illuminating regarding Signy’s character (and why I read the article in the first place).
    I would be most interested to hear what others think about this artcle.
    I feel I should also point out that anyone with ‘bacon’ in their name can’t be all bad (Cloud and Burn would agree I am sure!).

  • paul

    The Compact exists!

    (Reuters) – One out of every five sun-like stars in the Milky Way galaxy has a planet about the size of Earth that is properly positioned for water, a key ingredient for life, a study released on Monday showed. The analysis, based on three years of data collected by NASA’s now-idled Kepler space telescope, indicates the galaxy is home to 10 billion potentially habitable worlds.

  • Didn’t Herself at one time comment she’d loosely based the Compact around the Pleiades, so as to have several stars nearby that might have developed intelligent life? I don’t recall the source for that, though, sorry.

    That Kepler and other astronomical research are turning up extra-solar “exo-planets,” including those in the Goldilocks Zone, as fairly common, is potentially good news for space exploration and usage. Though it means we might meet the neighbors. ;) Just hope the neighbors are beings we can deal with, and they with us.


    Jcrow9, very interesting article there, which I’ll need to re-read to get the full import. My own interpretation of CJC’s books and characters differs somewhat from the article author’s, I tend to think CJC meant things a little differently than the writer took them, but the more the merrier. It’s an essay well worth reading.

    Downbelow Station was my first exposure to CJC’s writing. I was hooked by the visual, “you are there” of it, by the succinct style, and by how real the people and culture felt. It was not Star Trek or Star Wars, or 2001 or Alien or Outland, though it was more similar to the latter three. When I read The Pride of Chanur, the second book of hers I read, it convinced me she knew how to write aliens and humans in realistic culture and language and history. When I found out “C.J. Cherryh” was (hey!) a lady and (aha!) trained in Latin, Greek, French, and Ancient History, and she’d been a language teacher, well, that explained for me how she could write so convincingly. (And it clinched it for me with her as my favorite writer.) (I was in first or second semester French lit. at the time, an English major, and taking Calc and Computer Sci. courses, so for me, there was a kindred spirit.)

    Signy Mallory was one tough woman, but understandable. Joshua Talley was a different sort of man. The many other characters, even the minor or bit players, and this star-spanning culture all had me hooked. They felt real. And this was not an easy, utopian world they were in. It was gritty and real and dangerous, but there were signs it could also be wonderful and there were people out to get a better way of life somehow, despite all these forces. And oddly enough, the tough woman, captain of a starship, who could spit nails if she felt like it, was one of those people trying to turn things around from the harsh war back to some kind of livable, sane way of life. But she was not perfect. In fact, nearly all the characters were not quite perfect, they all had flaws. And yet that made them all the more realistic and comelling.

    (No, not an analysis of the article nor a counterpoint in why I disagree on some of Ms. Bacon-Smith’s interpretations and conclusions. I’m afraid I went into gushing fanboy mode, there. ;) )

    I guess I’d say that CJC’s writing, and perhaps her personal brand of feminism, match more what I’ve seen in other women in my life whom I admire, my mother, grandmother, and various friends. IMHO, it’s a more centrist or moderate, very practical real-world brand of feminism, more aimed at equality than at being a radical or fiery view or way of life. (Oh, don’t get me wrong. Those strong women I’ve known have all had their own strong principles and way of fighting the good fight as they saw (or see) it.) (My grandmother, for instance, was at once very traditional and very modern, a sweet lady but deep down strong.) … When I found out CJC has an Oklahoma heritage, like my grandmother’s family, it made a lot of sense to me. I could relate to that.

    I also grew up with a dad who was the strong, silent, stoic farm stock type. Yet he didn’t want me to grow up that bottled up, and even so, he could still express his emotions when he needed to, thank goodness. (He wasn’t afraid to say he loved me or express that, thank heavens.) And his reasoning on marrying a strong-minded, smart, outspoken woman? He said he didn’t want someone who’d always sit there and say yes, whatever you want, and be a doormat. He wanted a partner and a challenge. (He also grew up in a family that was maybe unusual, in that the boys and girls shared chores, including raising their siblings, no “women’s work,” that was just for kidding; and my grandpa was, with my grandma, of a mind to divide the farm among the brothers and sisters equally, rather than pass it solely to my dad as the oldest son.)

    So I suppose it comes naturally to me to like stronger women characters, even though I’m a guy and therefore have a male point of view, however equal-minded I may like to think I am. ;)

    I liked Signy Mallory a lot, though I didn’t like everything she did. Likewise with Joshua Talley and several of the other characters.

    I found it very interesting that CJC followed up Downbelow Station with Finity’s End, eventually, taking a small scene with two bit parts lost in the station’s chaos, and bringing Fletcher out of that as a central character, together with Finity, which (in a way) tied in Merchanter’s Luck as well. Great stuff.

    I need to read over that article a second time. … And gee, I’m supposed to be doing other things right now. Better save that for tonight! Back to slaving over a hot computer!

    • paul

      “That Kepler and other astronomical research are turning up extra-solar “exo-planets,” including those in the Goldilocks Zone, as fairly common, is potentially good news for space exploration and usage.”

      Written like a true optimist or pollyanna. Maybe the residents don’t like the neighbors dropping in, eh?

      • Or they might be so far ahead or behind us, or so alien, that we might not recognize each other as sentient.

        I’m a fan of Falling Skies and the old V miniseries, if that helps. :lol: I liked classic BSG and had mixed feelings about the new BSG, but thought it was a thing unto itself.

        On the whole, I figure it’s worth it to try talking first, rather than shooting first. Though I do recall that didn’t work out so well in the original War of the Worlds movie version.

        Or there’s the schools of thought that say we’ve already been visited, or else maybe we were seeded.

        It’s one of those questions we won’t know until we get there.

        It’d be preferable if it works out favorably.

        Except for those times when I’m more of a misanthrope. But I try to avoid that. It doesn’t end well. Heh.

  • Cross-posted to SFF.SE, since I can’t find the answer anywhere online: Which Mazianni Fleet ship took the Kreja’s Le Cygne? Signy Mallory knows—and (one assumes) so does C. J. Cherryh—but the last time I reread Merchanter’s Luck I could not find anywhere the reader learns the answer.

    I have a vague idea that it was Edmund Porey’s Africa, but I think that’s coming from me confusing ML with Rimrunner.

    • Maybe I’m reading it wrong, but on Page 180 of ML, ‘Australia’ the stencilled letters said on the armor of the man/woman who stood nearest: and a number, meaningless to him.

      Or do you mean the Mazianni ship that originally took Le Cygne?

    • I recently reread Merchanter’s Luck. (I’ve just realized I need to look back to see Sandor’s older cousin’s name, who recorded all the instructions into the ship’s comp. I think his name starts with R. Mitri was the older shipmate who survived until Sandor was under 13.)

      The book also says Sandor first pilots the ship into Jump when he’s 14, probably too young except for Le Cygne’s special circumstances.

      Sandor never is able to remember the name of the Mazianni ship that first attacked Le Cygne. He was too scared and too distracted, and most probably, he has a mental block if he did register it, because of the trauma.

      He tries to determine if it was Norway, Mallory’s ship, but he’s not sure until later about this. He feels sure that Mallory knows, and she later says she heard of it, but she doesn’t confirm if she knows in fact which ship attacked Le Cygne.

      During the attack on the station, he sees Mazianni armor on a trooper from the carrier Australia, but he can’t remember if it was Australia (the carrier) that attacked Le Cygne.

      So Sandor never does know for sure which Mazianni carrier attacked Le Cygne, and Capt. Signy Mallory never specifies; he doesn’t ask her.

      However, I would say it’s an easy bet that she would make a point to find out, if she doesn’t already know, given that she now knows what happened. I’d think she’d keep that card as an ace in the hole, in case she needs it, or in case there’s a time she can make charges stick, later down the road.

      I noticed that we get a different view of Quen-Konstantin and Mallory and Talley in Merchanter’s Luck, befitting that Sandor (and Allsion) don’t know the events of Downbelow Station.

      Hmm…. And I’m not sure how in the timeline Merchanter’s Luck and Finity’s End miss each other as ships passing in the night. — No, correction, that latter ship is involved in events in Merchanter’s Luck. However, I think Finity’s End (the book) happens after Merchanter’s Luck, and as I recall, there’s no other contact that we know of. That is, as far as we readers know, Dublin Again and Le Cygne and Finity don’t meet during events in Finity’s End. That doesn’t say they couldn’t have and we don’t know about it, or that they didn’t later meet.

      I also noticed a tag at the end of Merchanter’s Luck, where eager young ship’s kids from Dublin Again are volunteered to come make Le Cygne ship-shape again. This is code for, the kids either misbehaved and are being given chores to make up for it, or else they’re underfoot, and so this gives them both something to do, and a taste of adventure. Such as a ship’s comp that talks, ghosty-fashion, to a boy about their age. Surely a spooky thing to tell their shipmates when they get back aboard. Or to prompt ambitions to be good officers. There’s a kid or two whom Sandor and Allison pass on their way back aboard Le Cygne, from Dublin Again, but we don’t know who; they’re there to set the scene, and perhaps as a tag for the future, or just story ambience.

      Presumably, Fletcher is younger than Sandor by, hmm, a decade or more. jeremy is younger (relatively) than Fletcher by a decade or so, due to the differences between ship-relative time and station-relative time, though Fletcher and Jeremy started as approximately age-mates. (It was a neat point in the book.)

      …Now I need to recheck Merchanter’s Luck. i can’t believe in only a few weeks, I’ve forgotten the name. Robert, I think, rather than Robin. …And he was, in some sense, as major a character as Sandor and Allison. Drat, memory.

      • Ross was Sandor’s slightly older cousin (or brother or shipmate) who recorded his voice and programmed into comp for contingencies for a kid and then young teen, Sandy.

        • Xheralt

          Just dawned on me that Ross’s work (thanks for the name, I’d rather forgotten it) was sort of a precursor of Ari’s Base One. Decidedly more limited, given the hardware it was on :) Hopefully Ari never comes across A-1’s equivalent of “Sandy, if you’re into these files, things have gone very wrong in a way I couldn’t predict…just do your best and know I’ll always love you…”

  • Xheralt

    I think you might be. I don’t think Sandor or his smarter sibling had enough presence of mind, at their tender age, to note WHO was coming (that was their parent’s concern, and IIRC they didn’t say much more than “GO HIDE, NOW!”)

    • Now I’ve realized I can’t recall how much older Ross was than Sandy, or precisely how old Sandy was when the ship was attacked. I think I may have to reread and actually write notes. My memory says Ross was at least 6 to 8 years older or as much as 10 or 12, and Sandy was about 10 when the attack took place. Mitri was either middle-aged or a senior citizen (thus old by Sandy’s young standards). Ross was old enough and skilled enough, with piloting, scan, comp, legal, etc. to program a great deal into comp and teach Sandy, up until Sandor was about 14. One interesting point: In the book, we don’t reach a point where Sandor (or the Reillys) discover Ross didn’t think of an answer for a problem. — And the tremendous time, months or years, to program and record all that, with two adults and a kid as the only crew…yikes.

      As a point of interest, they don’t erase any of it. Presumably, they’d eventually do a backup to put a copy in storage, but they don’t even at the dénouement, erase it. Ross’ voice and programming stays, as both useful and comforting, a connection to the family and ship that Allsion and company come to understand.

  • paul

    ISTR CJ mentioned Chanur clan Colors were red, blue, and gold, in some order which might be meaningful. But danged if I can find the reference. I was thinking perhaps at the middle or end of The Pride of Chanur when all and sundry were collected on the docks of Gaohn, or the end of Chanur’s Homecoming when they were again collected there. Thought that might be occasions when someone in the clan might be wearing Colors, but I’m not picking it out. :( Anybody remember? :)

    Seeing as how they only wear breeches, as far as we’ve seen, I wonder how they’d show the colors on “formal” occasions. Stripes in seams and cuffs? One color predominating, others in seams and cuffs?

    • In “Serpent’s Reach”, the four hive colors are red, gold, blue, and green.

      • The hive colors are human convention. Majat color vision does not correspond to humans’, and the “colors” are patterns not actually visible to the unaugmented human eye (IIRC).

        • in the dialog, not only Raen mentions colors, but so does the Queen of blue hive. So, while the colors aren’t within the hives’ perception, they still use the color name as a reference. I wasn’t arguing whether or not they could see the colors, only that they used the names as a means of differentiating between hives.

    • Walt

      Chapter 5, The Pride of Chanur, during the big feast. “…bright patterns, Chanur Heraldry, red and gold and blue.” P.72 in the Saga omnibus. P. 73 in the paperback. At the end of a paragraph.

      Red/gold/blue is according to heraldry’s customs, color/metal/color.

      They also wear belts with hanging decorations, and something formal in Legacy. A formal belt? A cummerbund? It’s big enough to hide a small weapon.

      • paul

        Ahhh, there it is! Thanks, Walt, that wasn’t where I’d looked, or thought of looking. Are we sure the middle one is a metal? If it’s in cushions, dye seems more likely than metallic threads, eh?

      • Walt

        Heraldry doesn’t mean literal metal, just the metallic colors of gold (or) and silver (argent). The idea is that the shield should be recognizable even in low light or at a long distance. Anyway, the custom is that you don’t put metal on metal or color on color.

        • paul

          So how do we suppose clan Colors would be used, since hani don’t seem to wear much but breeches? Piping on the sides, ribbons of color at the cuffs? Say for formal occasions, like representing the clan at the (regional) Han council? Maybe they would wear formal coats in council?

          Pyanfar takes note of mahen gaudyness (Gaudi-ness?) ;) in dress, implying it’s different than hani. (Though we know Pyanfar seems to favor red silk and pearls. ;) Hilfy not so much the red.) I get the idea hani are a little more restrained in their use of color. (Perhaps since they have natural coat colors?)

        • Walt

          It’s not as if Pyanfar can throw stones (which she isn’t really): orange moiré breaches? Boggle.

  • CJ

    Just a note on the majat—noticed the lively discussion: they’re temperatures, more or less.

  • On Chanur and hani clan colors: ker Pyanfar’s preferred or best breeches are red with a gold belt sash. In one of the galley scenes when Tully is first getting to know the crew and they eat, I think it’s in the feast after sending out the EVA suit with the decoy uruus, the crew lay out cusions and tapestries to celebrate. IIRC, at least one of these has Chanur heraldry, and IIRC, it’s red and gold for the main colors and blue for a figure or heraldic device. I pictured that as something like a fancifully flourished lion, unicorn, or gryphon from England, Scotland, and Wales, or rather, the hani equivalent, in dark red, bright metallic gold or sunny yellow, and cobalt blue.

    I took, though, that in general, hank don’t wear uniform colors or livery, except for special groups, such as Blackbreeches, who wear (duh) black breeches. I think we also see Pyanfar and Hilfy wearing other colors as the mood (or laundry) strikes them. Another example would be spacer’s common blue work breeches, something like denim or chambray, likely.

    I got the impression the belt sashes had a lot of personal and group variation, for fashion or tradition or personal choice. Color and pattern are mentioned for belts and breeches. At some points, other decorations besides the cloth (or leather) are mentioned for belt sashes. I’d expect the hani would have plenty of cultural finery there.

    The covers seem to portray those well. I picture the breeches and belt sashes as somewhere between European and Middle Eastern seafarer’s garb from the 18th and 19th centuries, as in, ahoy, piratical attire.

    • paul

      There was one time where Hilfy was also wearing black breeches. So apparently the rule is not exclusive.

    • Walt

      However, Chanur might have been immune at that point.

      • paul

        Logically there’s no need to prohibit anyone from wearing black. All the color does is alert one to think twice before messing with this person, do nothing overt or ascertain exactly who the person is and what her authority is before doing so. Seem to me it’s like the reason the black wire is always hot. If a wire gets real dirty or hot enough to char the insulation, assuming it’s hot because it looks black does no harm because you’ll check it before messing with it. Respecting any hani wearing black breeches as an immediate principle does no harm. You can establish the authority as a second course of action.

    • Walt

      Early in Chanur, Py puts on her third-best trousers, black with orange and green cuffs and waistband. Definitely not immune then, but not breeches and not pure black. OTOH, it might be that deputies of the Han weren’t roaming then.

  • Xheralt

    If wires are that thoroughly charred, you have problems well beyond “what color is this supposed to be?”…

    Originally, it was reversed in the US, white (the “death color” for many human cultures) was the hot, black (“earth color”) was neutral; you still find this convention in effect on very old houses. Nowadays, it boils down to “green is ground, white is neutral, and any other color (including black) is hot”. European color coding is different; what I’ve seen as common is: blue for hot, brown for neutral, green/yellow striped for ground (where present).

  • Robert Carroll

    Hi there,

    I read Merchanter’s Luck as a teenager, but didn’t ever get into the other Alliance-Union books back then. Now that I’m reading more of them, I find some similar atmosphere between the Alliance universe and Anne McCaffery’s Doona, Crystal, and Ship who Sang universes.

    By similarity I mean the fact that they’re in part a commentary on the real human society and progress.

    So I check the bibliographies, and the McCaffery books that started those universes were early enough to inspire or inform Alliance Union.

    I’ve never had access to the actual authors before, so if this question is too personal or sensitive, please don’t answer.

    I’m curious. Did those McCaffery books inform or inspire the Alliance – Union universe? I see a connection there and I would love to be right if it happened that way.

  • paul

    Parallel evolution in the zeitgeist?

  • CJ

    No, actually. I’ve read Doona. Good book. But haven’t read the other two. Back in the days when more of our writer community was in close contact [and alive] we used to toss ideas back and forth like tennis balls…and had fun doing it. I’d say there’s possibly a bit of Starship Troopers and a bit of Dorsai and a bit of Starman’s Son in the inspiration pile, but not so much Anne McCaffrey—she moved to Ireland and I didn’t get the chance to hang about with her too often, though we had a high good time when we did, finally, in New Orleans: my strongest memory of her is both of us sitting on the floor in a room party and trading tales…

  • Robert Carroll

    Wow. What a cool thing to be able to ask the source and get an answer. It’s almost like we live in “THE FUTURE” or something crazy like that. We live in sci fi world.

    I’ve read Starship Troopers several times. I’ve heard of Dorsai, and not of Starman’s Son. Sounds like another couple good ones to check out.

    So incorrect in my guess. Fascinating to find out that you knew each other and moved in some of the same circles. The world really is smaller than we think.

    Speaking of which, one of the amazing things about Alliance Union is how small it really is. I mean it’s this amazing space epic, but’s really very personal and close-in. Just really two main planets-worth of people. (Funny to think of that amount of people as being small) Two fleets of capital ships with no big galaxy-spanning economy. My impression originally from Merchanter’s Luck (and also from Chanur and Foreigner over the years in between then and now) is of a much larger culture. But that’s probably from my Star Wars and Star Trek exposure.

    Thanks again for creating such amazing stories and places to visit for a while. It’s my hope that in real life we’ll be able to create some of those things someday – maybe in our lifetimes, what with the New Space that’s going on. I just finished Hell Burner and Heavy Time, and I was struck by the similarities in how the carrier and rider development projects were run (and barely made it!) compared to real-life projects.

    In the article listed above:
    Military Command in Women’s Science Fiction:
    C.J. Cherryh’s Signy Mallory

    It talked about your military inspirations and where those came from. Where did your flight test program development inspirations come from? (Bell X-1, Mercury, Apollo come to mind, that would have been compared against your background in the classic civilizations rising and falling?) Any specific influences?

  • Hey, Robert, welcome in. — Starman’s Son was by Andre Norton, and has an alternate title, Daybreak 2250 A.D. IIRC, there were a couple of related titles, but not quite a series or trilogy. It has some of Andre Norton’s ongoing themes. You get a main character who is a future barbarian human on a world reclaimed from civilization by mother nature, and there are mutant animals and plants, and various dangers. The main character has a large animal companion (a mutant cat the size of a cougar) and a latent telepathic bond. The book is a fine adventure and good science fiction, and it was probably the first of her books I read, as a boy. Andre Norton often had man versus nature and man vs. self themes in her books, where humankind did something foolish, and as the old commercial said, “It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature!” — Many of these were written post-World War II, also. — Andre Norton was one of my favorite writers, growing up. (And I think I should reread Starman’s Son. — She also wrote a series of books about the Solar Queen, a trading starship, and another about the Time Traders, or temporal agents. There’s also Iron Cage, and the Jargoon Pard, and a host of other books. Very fine science fiction and fantasy from the golden age and on through the ’70’s and ’80’s. She was one of the first women SF writers to break out of the “SF&F is only written by men and read by boys and men” mindset. If you’ve never read her stuff, be sure and pick up a few. Good reading!

    Gordon R. Dickson was the writer of the Dorsai series, and he also wrote the (humorous) Dragon and the George series, and the serious In Iron Years, and many others. — It looks like a few of his books are now making it into ebook form, thankfullly.

  • Neco-ji

    I hope this is the right place to post this. :)

    I’ve finally gotten around to getting the rest of CJ’s books read (for those who know me, you know that my favorites are the Foreigner books, Chanur books, Faded Sun, plus Serpents Reach. I think I liked the Morgaine books as well, but they need a reread to refresh my memory.)

    Early on, when I first started reading CJ’s books, (I was about 11 when I started checking them out from the library) I read Tripoint and Rimrunners, but remember little. I also read Finity’s End, but that was much later; I had rescued the paperback book from a box of other books that were mouldering in a box in the shop at the ranch. I was scandalized that someone had tossed a Cherryh book away like that, so I made it mine. XD It lives here with me now.

    Anyway, so I’ve decided I was going to read all the Alliance Union books. Since my husband has most (if not all) of CJ books, this should be easy for me, lol.

    Yesterday I started reading Heavy Time. I read just over half the book that afternoon/evening, and really enjoyed the world building and detail. Bird is so far my favorite character, Ben pisses me off and I just wish Bird would smack him now and then, and I really feel bad for Dekker, which in a perverse way means I like him too. :P Some of the lingo took a while for me to figure out, but it finally dawned on me what things like “radrab” and “brut” meant, so I had little light bulbs going off as I read. I enjoyed the speaking style too, and the detail involved. I can even see little prototype ideas used in other books, or as remnants left over of that writing style (they may not have been deliberate of course, but I noticed them anyway).

    And, finally, I know a book is good when I dream about it. My dreams last night, however confusing or mixed up, still had elements of Heavy Time in them, and I love that. :)

  • CJ

    Ah, thank you, Neco-ji! I’m glad the old books are still being loved.

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