Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Two by C. J. Cherryh

I was recently reading Alliance Rising by C. J. Cherryh and Jane S. Fancher and Defender by C. J. Cherryh at the same time. (It's not unusual for me to be reading 4 or 5 books at the same time. Some I have as hard copies by the bed, some on my tablet, and others on my phone.) I've liked most of the Cherryh that I've read, so I was a little surprised at my reaction to these two.

Defender is book 5 in a 20 book series, and I enjoyed it a lot. I'm familiar with the characters, and there's a lot of action, and many factions jockeying for control. It doesn't have much of a pro-liberty message -- I don't insist on that in everything I read.

Defender focuses more on a struggle to keep the peace, and a society where some of the characters have very alien motivations. This is one of the things that I like about this series--Cherryh has a really great ability to depict people who don't think as we do.

My response to Alliance Rising, was quite different. If it hadn't been nominated for this year's Prometheus award (I'm on the review committee) I might even have set it aside. After getting through about a third of the book, I felt like the only actual action that had taken place was that an unexpected ship had arrived at the space station where the story takes place. The rest was all talk. There had been meetings and trysts and discussions and a lot of description of historical and political background by the authors. By the end there was a little more action, but the focus was really on politics and lobbying.

But I have to admit that Alliance Rising is a plausible candidate for the award. The politics and hobnobbing are all in service of the independent trading ships banding together in the face of Earth's apparent intent to take over the interstellar shipping business. There are safety concerns because the people acting for Earth's government are more concerned with controlling commerce than operating a business, while the traders have family ties with the stations, and have an interest in making sure that trade continues even where it's uneconomical at times. I'm not sure that it's a principaled pro-freedom message, but it's at least plausible. I still prefer to read SF stories where the plot is advanced by stuff happening, rather than by people talking. I'll have to wait to see how this book stacks up against the other contenders for this year's Prometheus.

1 comment:

William H. Stoddard said...

I have to say that I enjoyed all the scenes of social interaction. I've complained, more than once, about movies that had "long boring action scenes"; I'm willing to read action/adventure, but I want the action to reveal character, and if it doesn't, I'm likely to skim it looking for the interesting parts. So a novel that emphasized social, political, and legal relationships was just right for my tastes.