Tuesday, May 07, 2019

A New C. J. Cherryh Alliance-Union Novel

     A couple of days ago, I mentioned C. J. Cherryh, and specifically one of her fictional settings that I enjoy, the "Alliance-Union" universe.  At the time, it struck me that we'd probably seen as much of it as there was going to be; in 2009, she'd wrapped up several loose ends in Regenesis, and most of her work in recent years has been on another (and possibly loosely-linked) series that follows human/alien interaction down a very different track.

     Turns out there's at least one more, novel Alliance Rising: The Hinder Stars.  Listed as a collaboration with Jane Fancher, the tone and style match the earlier books well.  It's set at a critical juncture in the overall arc of fictional history.  Like Downbelow Station, it uses several viewpoints to tell the story.

     It's enjoyable so far, and the task is no small one: the Alliance-Union novels are set all throughout the history of the development of a star-spanning civilization with three centers of power and the development of at least four technologies with substantial cultural effects.  Any new novel has to fit into the previously-established timeline.  At this point, that means a lot of cross-checking!  In a character-focused set of novels covering a couple of centuries or more, some discrepancies can be waved away as the distortions of history and personal recollection; but you can't bend it too far.

     Cherryh has a knack for the "lived-in future;" her stories read as if they're being told by someone who has Been There and Done That.  I can see where some of it may come from, but that takes nothing away from the end result.  If you liked the first season of The Expanse, you've already seen an SF setting that owes a huge debt to C. J. Cherryh; Heavy Time (1991) and Hellburner (1992), very early in the Alliance-Union timeline, will be familiar territory.

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