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Downbelow Station (Alliance-Union Universe) Mass Market Paperback – February 1, 1981

78 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Cherryh tantalizes our minds...captures our hearts and involves us completely...a consistently thoughtful and entertaining writer."—Publisher's Weekly

"Satisfying and rewarding."—Analog

--This text refers to an alternate Mass Market Paperback edition.

About the Author

C. J. Cherryh planned to write since the age of ten. When she was older, she learned to use a type writer while triple-majoring in Classics, Latin and Greek. At 33, she signed over her first three books to DAW and has worked with DAW ever since. She can be found at


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Product Details

  • Series: Alliance-Union Universe (Book 420)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: DAW; Reissue edition (February 1, 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0886774314
  • ISBN-13: 978-0886774318
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.4 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,592,602 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I've written sf and fantasy for publication since 1975...but I've written a lot longer than that. I have a background in Mediterranean archaeology, Latin, Greek, that sort of thing; my hobbies are travel, photography, planetary geology, physics, pond-building for koi...I run a marine tank, can plumb most anything, and I figure-skate.

I believe in the future: I'm an optimist for good reason---I've studied a lot of history, in which, yes, there is climate change, and our species has been through it. We've never faced it fully armed with what we now know, and if we play our cards right, we'll use it as a technological springboard and carry on in very interesting ways.

I also believe a writer owes a reader a book that has more than general despair to spread about: I write about clever, determined people who don't put up with situations, not for long, anyway: people who find solutions inspire me.

My personal websites and blog:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 47 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 23, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I had read about C.J. Cherryh's massive Alliance-Union series in a science-fiction encyclopedia and wanted to find a good place to start. The encyclopedia suggested what it considered her two best books, Downbelow Station and Cyteen. As it turned out I could find neither of them immediately, but I kept the two in the back of my mind over the months as I shopped. And, one day, while searching through a bookstore, I found to my pleasant surprise that the publisher had released a new edition of the novel, which I quickly snapped up and read.

Now, to the actual novel. Since I had no prior knowledge of any other Cherryh book, I just held my breath and dove right in. Fortunately, Cherryh does not bog you down in continuity, giving you all the pertinent information right in the first chapter, thus absolving the reader of any feeling that they are missing something that happened previously. The story is an excellent thriller, highlighting a wondrous cast of characters, and giving them a genuine disaster to overcome, allowing the reader to see exactly what makes each character tick as things fall further and further apart. Throw in an interstellar war and numerous subplots and you have probably the finest science-fiction novel on the subject, though its length may daunt less dedicated readers. Still, it remains one of Cherryh's finest works, even today, almost twenty years later
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60 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. Smith TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 11, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I first met Carolyn Cherry(h) at AggieCon in the late '70s, when she was still teaching school in Oklahoma and had just completed her first novel, _Brothers of Earth_. She had written that book in a sort of social vacuum, with no notion of the existence of the fannish world and was amazed at the warm reception she received from a bunch of enthusiastic strangers. That book and its sequels, plus the "Morgaine" trilogy, made me a fan and I enjoyed her work for years, including this first installment in the "Merchanter" series when it first appeared. Unfortunately, success seems to have made her lazy in recent years and she has recently been churning out interminable formulaic series, often sharing the credit with younger writers, and I find most of those efforts to be unreadable. Anyway. Downbelow Station showcases Cherry's inarguable talent for complex but understandable geopolitical plots, many-layered characterization, and truly alien cultures that humans are never really going to fully understand. There are several sides to the conflict here: The Company, now in charge of an isolationist Earth; the Fleet, once the enforcement arm of the Company but now pretty much independent; Union, formed out of the farther worlds of the Beyond and possessed of a new psychological style completely foreign to Earth; Pell, a station circling a planet which circles Tau Ceti, and which only wants to left alone; and the free Merchanters, making a living hauling goods between the worlds and the stations. Pell is a civilized republic in the best tradition, but they're about to lose all that. Mazian's Fleet has been on its own devices for far too long to have a regard for any other culture and is quite willing to destroy a station and all its thousands of inhabitants in order to keep it out of Union's hands.Read more ›
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 19, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It's been quite a few years since I first read "Downbelow Station", having found a dog-eared copy in a used-book store in Silver Spring, Maryland, and since then just about every book Cherryh ever wrote has come to grace my bookshelf. But still, I come back to this novel, which won the Hugo award in the early 80s (1981, I believe).
It's evident from the style that this is one of Cherryh's earlier books; it's not as smooth or sophisticated as "Tripoint" or "Cyteen", both of which are set in the same universe. It does, however, represent a sweeping vision of humanity's possible future, showing not only how we may colonize the stars, but how living among the stars may change us as humans.
For it is one of the most impressive things about this book that the characters are human. Over a year after my last re-reading, I still recall Angelo Konstantin, Elene Quen, Jon Lukas, Signy Mallory, Vassily Kressich, Satin and the rest as if they were old friends. "Downbelow Station" is not only a splendid introduction to Cherryh's thoroughly explored and well-populated Alliance-Union universe, it's an excellent introduction to science fiction in general, as a novel that addresses the tough questions of humanity's future
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Justus Pendleton on September 20, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book sets the stage of Cherryh's Alliance/Union universe, which is one of the more interesting and realistic science fiction universes out there. Cherryh has taken pains to imagine how a human exploration of the stars might realistically progress and what she comes up with is intriguing. This book focuses on the station in the Pell system, a place that sits between past and future, Earth and Beyond; Pell finds itself the focal point of the culmination of the long conflict between Earth and her rebellious Beyond colonies.
While the setting and story are interesting and engrossing there are a few flaws that mar what would have otherwise been a near perfect book. The first is the near absence of characterization. This is especially a shame because in several of her other books Cherryh does an exemplary job of characterization. In Downbelow Station, however, we are hard pressed to tell the difference between Emilio and Damon Konstantin. We never completely understand the motivations or goal of Union, Earth, or Fleet. We never understand why the inhabitants of Q are treated (and act like) sub-human criminals. Honors for worst characterization, however, go to Signy Mallory, the most pivotal character in the book.
This problem comes to full head in the climax of the book when suddenly we fail to understand the reasons for the actions these characters take. And without that understanding it, unfortunately, feels like nothing more than a deus ex machina used to resolve an otherwise unresolvable situation.
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