Next SFF Author: Deborah Chester
Previous SFF Author: Dan Chernenko

SFF Author: C.J. Cherryh

c.j. cherryh(1942- )
C.J. Cherryh
is the pseudonym of Carolyn Janice Cherry. Her editor used her initials and added the silent h so she wouldn’t look like a romance writer (It’s still pronounced “Cherry”). Her science fiction and fantasy works have won three Hugo Awards, a John W. Campbell Award, a Locus Award, and other awards. You can learn more about C.J. Cherryh at her website.


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Gate of Ivrel: A seamless blend of science fiction and fantasy

Gate of Ivrel by C.J. Cherryh

Gate of Ivrel is one of C.J. Cherryh’s entries into the science fantasy genre in which we follow the adventures of Vanye, the bastard son of a minor lord in a seemingly medieval world who is cast out for standing up to his oppressive brothers and inadvertently killing one and maiming the other. As he makes his way across the harsh landscape of his world populated by clans who would like nothing more than to end the life of a miserable outlaw he stumbles across a ‘miracle’ in the person of Morgaine: a figure of power and fear out of legend seemingly magically returned and to whom he becomes joined by bonds of duty and obligation.


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THE FADED SUN: An epic tale of clashing civilizations

THE FADED SUN by C.J. Cherryh

C.J. Cherryh’s FADED SUN trilogy (1978) consists of three books: Kesrith, Shon’jir, and Kutath. They’ve been bundled into an omnibus edition and Tantor Media sent me a review copy of their recently released audiobook version.

The three novels make up a continuous story of clashing civilizations that takes place in the far future with a few alien species on several distant planets. One of these species is the Mri,


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The Pride of Chanur: What does it mean to be an alien?

The Pride of Chanur by C.J. Cherryh

Cherryh’s The Pride of Chanur combines space opera with some gritty “hard-ish” SF elements in the beginning of a saga that deals with the political and economic ramifications of first contact. In this first volume of the CHANUR SAGA we follow the exploits of a crew of Hani (lion-like aliens) on the eponymous merchant space freighter The Pride of Chanur. Expecting nothing more than a routine run across their trade routes, Pyanfar Chanur, captain of the Pride,


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Downbelow Station: Machiavellian intrigue in space

Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh

I’ve had C.J. Cherryh‘s 1982 Hugo Award winner Downbelow Station on my TBR list for three decades, and was glad I finally got around to it via Audible Studios, ably narrated by Brian Troxell. It’s an intense, claustrophobic, gritty space opera with a huge cast of hard-nosed characters battling to survive the Machiavellian intrigues of freelance Merchanters, Earth bureaucrats, Company fleet captains, Pell station administrators, Union space forces, secret agents, stationers, and (incongruously) cuddly Downer aliens. It’s a big,


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Merchanter’s Luck: An entertaining space opera

Merchanter’s Luck by C.J. Cherryh

Tantor Audio has recently released two of C.J. Cherryh’s ALLIANCE-UNION novels, Merchanter’s Luck (1982) and Forty Thousand in Gehenna, together under the title Alliance Space. I’m going to review the novels separately since that’s the way they were originally published and can still be purchased. However, I love that you can get them both in one Kindle edition or one 22-hour long audiobook!


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Forty Thousand in Gehenna: A new human society evolves

Forty Thousand in Gehenna by C.J. Cherryh

Tantor Audio recently released two of C.J. Cherryh’s stand-alone ALLIANCE-UNION novels, Merchanter’s Luck and Forty Thousand in Gehenna (1983), together under the title Alliance Space. I’m reviewing the novels separately since that’s the way they were originally published and can still be purchased. However, I love that you can get them both in one Kindle edition or one 22-hour long audiobook!


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Port Eternity: Arthurian legend in space

Port Eternity by C.J. Cherryh

The history, legends, and myths surrounding the man known as King Arthur are some of the most enduring and inspirational material in the English language. Like Robin Hood, Arthur’s name resonates in modern history. The number of books, fiction and non-fiction, which have been spun off the man is increasingly difficult to quantify. Appearing in such a wide variety of Western media and culture, most people, in fact, have only a hazy idea of who he was or might have been (including this reviewer), Disney being as much a teacher as high school history class.


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Angel with the Sword: An immersive introduction to a larger universe

Angel with the Sword by C.J. Cherryh

C.J. Cherryh has penned both science fiction and fantasy tomes (as well as the blended Science Fantasy that partakes of both) and much of her significant sci-fi output has been in multiple series that span time, space, and in some ways even genre. And yet all of her works are part of a much larger future history of mankind amongst the stars: Angel with the Sword is the first book of the eight-book MEROVINGEN NIGHTS series,


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The Paladin: Oriental fantasy

The Paladin by C.J. Cherryh

The Paladin is a stand-alone novel set in the China of an alternative world. It’s more of an alternative history than a fantasy — there are no mythical creatures or magic here, although superstitions of both remain. The story falls into two parts. In the first, a stubborn girl seeking vengeance for her murdered family arrives at the mountain home of an exiled hermit who was the greatest warlord in the Empire prior to the death of the old emperor and the takeover by an evil regent.


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Cyteen: Exhausting study of clones, identity, and power

Cyteen by C.J. Cherryh

After enjoying C.J. Cherryh‘s 1982 Hugo Award winner Downbelow Station, it was a natural thing to move on to her 1989 Hugo winner, Cyteen. I know that Cyteen is a very different creature, of course. It is a hefty 680 pages long, and extremely light on action. In fact, if you removed the extensive dialogue and exposition, I think the story would be about 50 pages long. That means the story had better be pretty compelling or it could be quite an ordeal to get through.


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Rusalka: I didn’t like it

Rusalka by C.J. Cherryh

I like folklore, and I like novels based on folklore, and I was prepared to like C.J. Cherryh‘s Rusalka, especially after seeing it reviewed elsewhere. It did hold my attention long enough that I was able to finish it, but in the end I had to admit that I didn’t like it.

First gripe: the endless and tedious scenes of Pyetr, Sasha, and Uulamets wandering around in the woods acting like jerks to one another. Pages upon pages of one of the characters musing about what morons the other two are.


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Foreigner: A familiar culture with outstanding characters

Foreigner by C.J. Cherryh

“Sometimes the clothes do not make the man…” sang George Michael. Fortunately the cover of C.J. Cherryh’s literary sci-fi offering Foreigner can boast the same. The story contained within is (pun intended) light years from the throwback sci-fi cover. And the back cover is only slightly better than the front. The Publisher’s Weekly quote reads: “Cherryh’s gift for conjuring believable alien cultures is in full force here, and her characters… are brought to life with a sure, convincing hand.” Copy which is often overstated,


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Invader: Builds upon the foundation laid by Foreigner

Invader by C.J. Cherryh

While the first book in C. J. Cherryh’s FOREIGNER series, also titled Foreigner, took its time in establishing Bren Cameron’s character and the dilemmas he faced attempting to adapt to a culture entirely foreign to him, Invader wastes no time. Picking up precisely where Foreigner left off, Bren is in the hospital suffering from injuries he sustained in the previous book. Though he goes on the mend, life does not get any easier.


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Inheritor: Characters and drama reign supreme

Inheritor by C.J. Cherryh

Something must be done about the art decorating the covers of C. J. Cherryh’s unheralded FOREIGNER series. No offence to Michael Whelan, Dorian Vallejo, or any other of the artists who’ve been chosen to provide cover art, but their Golden Age depictions of alien life simply do not suit the temper of the books. Shame on DAW. Cherryh writes with subtlety and sensitivity regarding intercultural relations that the comic book renderings of guns and fantasy animals simply fail to parallel. Making matters worse,


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Fortress in the Eye of Time: Different slant on an old story

Fortress in the Eye of Time by C.J. Cherryh

I loved Fortress in the Eye of Time. To be honest, the first half of the book doesn’t move very fast, but you come to appreciate how C.J. Cherryh controls the flow of the story based on the progress of the main character. It’s a very interesting technique that takes a little patience to enjoy.

The story centers around a young man who is called back from a distant past and who’s soul has already lived a life.


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Fortress of Ice: Great author, decent book

Fortress of Ice by C.J. Cherryh

I have really enjoyed C.J. Cherryh’s Fortress Series, and I enjoyed Fortress of Ice.

That being said, this book was the worst one in the series. The plot was kind of boring and the transition to the new characters didn’t draw me in with the same connection that I had in earlier books. My biggest gripe is that the main character of the first four books is left as a supporting character, which makes sense for the book,


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Wings of Fire: I thought I didn’t like dragons

Wings of Fire edited by Jonathan Strahan & Marianne S. Jablon

I don’t like dragons.

This is probably not the first sentence you’d expect to find in a review of Wings of Fire, an anthology devoted exclusively to dragon stories, but I thought it best to get it out of the way right from the start.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with dragons. They’re just terribly overused, one of those tired genre mainstays that people who typically don’t read a lot of fantasy will expect in a fantasy novel because they were practically unavoidable for a long time.


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Next SFF Author: Deborah Chester
Previous SFF Author: Dan Chernenko

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