Gene Wars Universe: 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.


  1. Asad Sayeed

    I’ll write the first post to this thread. Why was the series called “Gene Wars”? Genetics has not so far played much of a role in the story, unless the nanoceles are DNA-programmed, but that’s never been mentioned.

    • CJ

      Partly it was because my editors wanted a catchy series title, and the situation is the result of a war that ended up threatening, from Earth’s viewpoint, to alter the human genome and everything else in the environment. The nanoceles are bots of a sort, but collectively forming a bio-machine, they can alter their own structure, cannibalize their fellow bots, disengage, and reassociate. This gives them an analog of Darwinian process, and no off-switch. DNA is only one of a number of chemistries they’re capable of affecting. They do have a rest cycle, and are capable of going quiet during a period of chemical scarcity, but given a chemical supply, they’re aggressive.

      The culture uses nanotech to do mundane things, like the food processor, like cosmetics, like making fabric and so on. The nanoceles, actually a constantly changing association of self-modifying bots, have, if not intelligence, at least a survival mandate or inclination, and that’s what makes them dangerous. They’re sort of like quicksilver, to use an analogy: swat them and they break up and then recombine, undamaged. Heat causes them to break up, cold slows them down, but given a chance—they’re back.

      It remains a question how humans exposed to them get along with them,though they have not yet done what Earth fears will happen: it remains a question as to whether there is some trigger that will cause them to do it, but the fact that attempts to eradicate them have failed and that they are constantly changing has kept Marak’s world in quarantine.

  2. Gandalf62

    Any hope of another book in this series?
    (not that it would be my first priority… Foreigner books first, of course! But I did enjoy the Hammerfall books greatly!)

    • CJ

      I’d like to. As aforesaid, the minute I can make a total living off CC, or even a good portion of one, many universes may open back up.

  3. Ragi-at-heart

    At some level part of me tries to see this as a far-flung future of the AU timeline, where the AU form the Inner Sphere of Humanity, and Earth at the very center…but then, I’m probably wrong.

  4. joekc6nlx

    The nanoceles sound like mini-Berserkers (to borrow Fred Saberhagen’s theme.

    • CJ

      In a sense, they are. Remember they’re self-programming, and they do adapt.

  5. kiloecho

    In Hammerfall, the reader is drawn in to the epic quests of Marak and the impending doom of his world, very exciting stuff. One of my favorite CJ Cherryh books of all time. We saw how nanotechnology affected a more primitive, nomadic culture.

    In Forge of Heaven, the reader takes a dramatic turn into a very futuristic world on Concord station and we begin to have our world view stretched WAY out to encompass the galaxy and the tensions of the two warring races and the fragile peace established. We saw how nanotechnology affected a throughly modern, space-colonizing culture.

    If and when a third book arrives, is our world-view likely to be dramatically altered and stretched again to encompass some other perspective on this situation? I am wonder how so. Will we get to know more of the Ondat culture?

    Finally, I own both these books in hardback. I have written HarperCollins asking for more Gene Wars. Would buying these in ebook help move the giant NY publishers to ask for a third?

  6. CJ

    Alas, Harper has shown no inclination to buy a third. This is probably one I’ll continue as an original e-book sooner or later…if I can make a go of Closed Circle.

  7. purplejulian

    I would love a third book in this series – and welcome it as an ebook …

  8. kiloecho

    I went ahead and bought Hammerfall and Forge of Heaven in ebook form. I do enjoy the convenience of having my books with me in my iPad wherever I go.

  9. Sapphire

    If there is any chance that publishing another book in this series would jeopardize the publication of further Foreigner books, then I would definitely vote for continuing with Foreigner. This latter is so rich in terms the characters, especially alien ones, descriptions of places and objects, and the story line.

    On the other hand, I did not enjoy the Gene Wars books, especially the first one, nearly as much as Foreigner (or, for that matter, Alliance-Union). To me it was almost as though they had been written by someone else, other than CJ. I had no empathy with the characters, and did not think the story lines were as strong as they generally are in CJ’s books (all that wandering about and to-ing and fro-ing).

    Not sure why I felt like this, but there we are…

  10. Louzie0

    Got an e reader for christmas (thanks, mum) and got both Hammerfall and Forge of Heaven. I enjoyed them both very much and now I would love a sequel as I am hooked. Please! When you have the time, of course.
    Echo Kiloecho!

    PS and thanks for Betrayer, the last Foreigner instalment I’ve read. Cajieri just gets better. Intruder looks like fun!

  11. knnn

    Just finished Hammerfall. Great book! I kept thinking of Morgaine and Finisterre while reading it. I thought there might be a connection in the universes, but didnt find any overt ones. But titles like Liyo and Omi just made me wonder… and the similarity between the overlord Ila and the Gate builders in Morgaine…and the whole Rider philosophy in Hammerfall and Finisterre and the long treks in Morgaine. Hmmm, are they connected, I wonder?

    BTW, CJ, I get tickled every time there is a Rider in one of your series: Union, Finisterre, Morgaine, and Chanur all have Riders of sorts. I dont know if you intend it, but I biew those Riders as one of your trademarks.

    Looking forward to buying your Ruskala ebooks since i havent read them yet.

  12. knnn

    Just finished Forge of Heaven for the first time. I have to say it was a real curve ball after Hammerfall, and it took me a while to adjust, as I wasnt expecting such a change of scenery (no spoilers). But once I settled down to that fact, I really enjoyed the Above World, even more than whay was going on Down World, when I had initially thought I would only care about what Marak was up to!

    I wonder if you mind a comment on the structure: Hammerfall kept me glued to my seat even though its basically a long caravan ride in the desert, because it was so tense and there was a clear catastrophe and clear goal; but in Forge of Heaven, it didnt seem like there was much tension down world. I wish Marak had more to do than set up a relay station. For example I thought that the geological discovery of native life would play into the climax, but nothing came of that at all. Just a thought that ce to mind as I was reading.

    However, talk about all hell breaking loose! Things really did hit the fan above world. Very exciting stuff.

  13. Zola

    I didn’t even realize Forge of Heaven existed, but I just finished it and I really enjoyed it. It would be great to see a continuation of the story. Much as I love Foreigner, Bren is not immortal.

  14. knnn

    Yes Forge is a real gem. Then again most of CJs are gems. Sometimes Im surprised because some Foreigner fans have never read Alliance Universe! Wow are they missing out! If I realy like an author’s style I usually read all their books. This means I dont get to read a lot of authors, but I dont miss anything from my favorites either.

  15. kiloecho

    I was thinking about the Ondat today. I understand Earth’s fears of altering the human genome and its those fears that motivate so much of what happens in the two books.
    But what are the Ondat’s motivations? Those seem as clear as the ammonia haze they live in.
    There seems to be a tense peace between brokered with Concord station.
    But why do the Ondat care? Are they afraid of nanocele too?
    And what is their interest in our young protagonist? Surely this would be explained in the next book, as he is marked by the Ondat and his whole relationship to the Station staff and Earth and Marak will alter.
    Any ideas?

    • Ragi-at-heart

      From what I’m remembering, it’s pointed out that this is why there was such a mess, and why the Ila is on Marak’s world to begin with.

Submit a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.