About the Foreigner series: Spoiler alerts

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.


  1. brensgirlfriday

    Exactly. Not that I know anything, mind, just agreeing. Logical thinking seems to be in short supply for everyone, some days… nice,concise, logical process there, CJ. Love that. I hope everyone else comments soon! I like this line of talk…

  2. brennan

    The following is my personal opinion based on my limited knowledge and, before hostilities are opened, any perceived insults that one may detect are due to those limitations and my deficiencies in communication. I cry mercy and insist that I wish only good to those peoples and societies. One is welcome to cordially disagree with me regarding what that good might be.

    I’m all in favor of the popular demands for true participatory democracy in the historically Islamic cultures and I hope that these tides aren’t choked out or waited out by backroom power brokers who frequently maintain control of the actual levers of power during “transitions”. The greatest strength and the greatest weakness of Islamic societies is their conservatism. More often than not a republic or constitutional monarchy is actually largely based on an intact feudalism controlled by oligarchs or aristocrats that has simply been papered over with democratic trappings. In many instances, temporal and religious authority are either joined in the same person or joined at the hip; often with religious leaders fully in control of law enforcement and the judiciary as in Saudi Arabia or Iran.

  3. brensgirlfriday

    Yeah… What you said. And, furthering that, true democracy would be… interesting, but even America doesn’t have that…

    Let us hope that the societies in question continue to pursue peaceful outcome in large numbers. Although, entropy exists in every system. This, too, is something that is hard to learn. Let us hope for the best outcome, whatever that may be.


  4. Ruadhan

    A bit off topic…

    Anyone else watching the upset in North Africa? I’m looking at Qaddafi and thinking, “Why does all this remind me of a machimi play?”

    Just me thinking about dominos, and how the revolt in Tunisia knocked over a couple (probably in response to something I’m not aware of), and we’re now seeing the factions slipping and sliding and trying to figure out who the REAL leader is…

  5. DTD84

    Maybe this goes here…..I was taking a look at the new cover art for Betrayer, and I got to thinking about the previous covers. The last two probably being my all time favorite, they were fantastic! The cover for Betrayer looks exciting, but I didn’t really like the way they drew Bren. Anyone else have a favorite or least favorite? And a question for Ms. Cherryh, do you have creative input on the cover?

    • iminnocent

      My favorite artwork is book 2 Invader and book 11 Deceiver. Those book covers grace my computer screen along with all the book titles of the Foreigner series. It’s a very busy wallpaper, but I love it. And I’m thinking that if the new cover (either version) doesn’t change, it could well become my least favorite!

  6. sleo

    Have you seen a picture somewhere?

  7. CJ

    The artist consults and asks questions about what’s going on, but the only one who directly asked me for a sketch was Michael Whelan. I sent him pix of both Banichi and a mechieta. He was on his own for the rest.

    As said above, this is so different in style, I think it’s a prelim sketch in paints: artists frequently do those to get approval for a design—and sometimes a publisher needs a print for advertising before the cover is done.

  8. sleo

    Oh! Well, I hope the finished one is done because I’m supposed to get my copy April 4! Yay! Can’t hardly wait. I’ve started Downbelow Station to get into the Alliance/Union Universe in the mean time …

  9. smartcat

    I’ve seen two different versions of the cover on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble. I think/hope you are right, CJ, that this is a prelim sketch. It just doesn’t have a finished quality to it. 8) ;0

  10. purple_reading_giraffe

    Thank you for the wonderful reading – especially the very funny speculations on potential offspring. I am curious to see more with Cajeiri and his shipboard gang. I like the way Bren has grown into the lordship role he was railroaded into. Perhaps Toby & Barb are serving as a testing ground for future human-atevi interaction. Will there even be a pahidi in the future? That system seems to have broken down. There are stationside interactions and the Messengers and the computer folk all starting to establish interspecies protocols and expected ‘norms’, mostly far outside Bren’s oversight. If the root problem was assuming understanding, then learning to assume difference, as illustrated by the on station jokes, may be the ultimate ‘fix’. There is such a large scope for development of the future of this world!

    I really enjoyed Deceiver and understanding the term aishid more deeply. The series, for me, has cranked the intensity back up a notch in this 4th triplet.

  11. Sapphire

    With regard to the covers for this sequence, my favourites are two of the Michael Whelans (Foreigner partly because it is stylish and spare, and sets the tone for the series, and Explorer partly because of the wonderful blues and reds), and also Conspirator and Deceiver, which are elegant and dynamic, and show the Atevi very well.

    The latest cover artwork does seem unfinished and rough, though it could work as a dynamic-looking cover if it is properly finished. Hopefully it will be and the artwork will be by Todd Lockwood. I fail to see why DAW keep chopping and changing illustrators. I know Michael Whelan is no longer available, but surely they should continue with Todd Lockwood? Pretender and Deliverer were disasters (particularly Pretender), and I’ve avoided buying the hardbacks because of that.

    With regard to the last post about the dreadful Barb and Toby ‘serving as a testing ground for future human-atevi intervention’, nothing would please me less about this series. It’s the alien elements that interest me most (along with Bren and perhaps some of the people on the ship), not the ground-based humans – and it’s high time for the Kyo to arrive.

    By the way, is there an agreement between the Mospheirans and Atevi with regard to birth control? Judging by the way humans breed and destroy our planet, they would surely have outgrown their quarters and invaded the Atevi long ago (and hopefully got shot to hell) without practising strict birth control.

    • Jcrow9

      Pretender (cover art, presumably) a “disaster”??? That’s just a wee bit harsh, don’t you think?

    • Asad Sayeed

      With regard to the last post about the dreadful Barb and Toby ‘serving as a testing ground for future human-atevi intervention’, nothing would please me less about this series. It’s the alien elements that interest me most (along with Bren and perhaps some of the people on the ship), not the ground-based humans – and it’s high time for the Kyo to arrive.

      See, that’s exactly what intrigues me—why are the ground-based humans so uninteresting? They’ve essentially replicated 20th century suburban America, like a giant Montgomery County or Orange County without the cultural diversity…and gone to sleep. On an alien planet. That’s why I whine about getting more Mospheira, I can’t get over this point and the suspicion that Bren is just not a reliable narrator about Mospheira, and that Mospheira yields strangeness to atevi that they don’t yet realize.

  12. Sapphire

    No, I don’t, actually. It’s quite a good expression to use in this context – one that’s frequently employed in the UK to describe something that is very unsuccessful.

    I realize that not everyone would agree, and some may even love that cover (taste is subjective, after all). However, if I dislike a cover so much that it prevents me from buying a book from a series I very much admire, then as far as I’m concerned it can be termed ‘a disaster’ (albeit a minor one on the scale of things).

  13. purple_reading_giraffe

    I have wondered about one thing in the Foreigner ‘universe’… The subjective experience of folded space is very different from the rest of your books. I just wondered why. The images from the prologue of the pilot’s perceptions were very interesting and dramatic. The only ‘explanation’ I thought of was that Phoenix was lost very early in FTL development and the process and/or drug development changed the subjective experience later. Or, it’s just a different possibility and CJ likes to show us new ideas. 🙂

    • Jcrow9

      Asked and answered upthread somewhere, Purple. Different ‘verses. “Folded Space” travel is not the same physics as Jump.

  14. brensgirlfriday

    yeah… folded space travel is like… folding a piece of paper to make the shortest distance between two points; Jump is jumping the band-like structures that supposedly ah, -stack?- yes, guys? to create the multiverse, or, multi-dimensional whole of Creation as we don’t know it, like in String Theory. Bands… little wobbly bands.


    DId I get it right, people who are more genius than me and know of these things more concretely? I mix things up sometimes.

  15. Busifer

    I have just finished reading Betrayer and want to say thanks. Quite a situation Bren landed in, there, with the Guild action 😉
    It was a good read and now I most of all want to go back and reread the whole arc (not the rest, this time. I’ve already read them to pieces, lol). Need to finish the library book I kept on hold when I got my hands on Betrayer first, though.

    Sadly the finished cover looks like a prelim sketch. I hope that’s a slip from the publisher and that later editions will have a nicer one.

  16. rollingstone

    I just love the Foreigner series. I imagine things like: Does Jago ever get teased for having such a shrimpy boyfriend? Will Banichi ever settle down? And I worry about Ilisidi’s increasing frailty–I sure hope she doesn’t shuffle off this mortal coil anytime soon!

    And in general, I think Barb gets a bad rap from Bren and I rather resent his general lack of sympathy for her. Bren seems to think her every character flaw is cause for despite, rather than just accepting her as she is and appreciating her friendship. On the whole, I think she’s been pretty good to Bren and to his family, and her motives may be self-serving but are certainly not criminal or vicious. Certainly Bren didn’t knock himself out to get to his dying mother’s bedside, and Barb was there, so he should just be grateful for that and stop hatin’ already! And really, how could she know what a furor it would cause because she bought the damn dress?! Maybe she just wanted to make a good impression on Bren’s impeccably dressed household. (Oh, I spend WAY too much time thinking about these things!)

  17. sleo

    I don’t think Bren hates Barb! He thinks she’s a ditz, as do I. And since he was in outer space when his mother died, he could hardly be there.

    I just finished Betrayer and found it another 5 star read! My review is on Goodreads:


    The only problem is that I don’t have the next one right here to read!

  18. rollingstone

    No, I don’t think Bren hates Barb either–I think he’s just very hard on her, considering that he used her sexually while keeping her at arms length, and then when she moved for self-protection, he suddenly started finding all kinds of fault in her. And a lot of women do fall for their boyfriend’s brothers when the initial relationship fizzles–a chemistry thing, I think. Mostly I think he just resents her irrationally for being human. He’s pretty hard on his family, Bren is. Wants to keep them neatly packaged on a shelf and then take them down when it’s convenient. If he starts his “wearying self-doubt” (great phrase, btw) again, maybe it should be into his own character and how, when he’s in human mode, he’s mostly just bitter and angry. And frankly, he treated his mom like crap. Seems like standing in loco parentis to Cajeiri, he might develop some understanding of his mother’s constant agony of worry about him in a foreign and dangerous situation. (Speaks the soldier’s mom…)

  19. Silverglass

    If I may jump in here…It seems as though Bren’s family was equally hard on him. His mom was extremely needy, having crisis after crisis (which were often more imagination than reality) and insisting that it had to be Bren who came to her rescue, rather than Toby, who was much more available. She never did seem to understand the nature of Bren’s job, neither the political nor the personal sides. Barb just seemed to be impressed with the glamorous aspects; she doesn’t get the dynamics of atevi/human interaction, either. Granted, this isn’t entirely her fault (nor Toby’s nor his mother’s) because Mospheirans in general are not allowed to mix freely with atevi. But it does seem as though they could have trusted Bren a little more when he said he couldn’t be home because of major things going on with his job. I would even compare it to something like a secretary of state in our own world. Paidhi may have started out as a simple translator’s job, but it mushroomed into something much more complex and delicate. Mom, Toby and Barb might have figured that out simply by how much respect and attention Bren got from the president of Mospheira.

  20. sleo

    Thank you Silverglass. I hardly think Bren used Barb for sex. She married someone else while he was injured in the hospital – no warning, nothing. And then she wanted him to continue carrying on with her. Like I said – a ditz. She had no concept of the demands of his job, nor was she interested in learning. Perhaps all she offered him was glamorous eye candy and sex.

    And I agree, Silverglass, about his mother.

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