- Paperback: 680 pages
- Publisher: Aspect; Reprint edition (September 1, 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0446671274
- ISBN-13: 978-0446671279
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 60 customer reviews
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#474,003 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #7375 in Space Operas
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Cyteen Paperback – September 1, 1995
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Genetic manipulation, murder, intrigue and politics are just part of the story of a young scientist in this substantial book. C. J. Cherryh, who won the 1989 Hugo Award for this novel, following on her Hugo Award-winning Downbelow Station, offers another ambitious work. A geneticist is murdered by an adviser, but the scientist is replicated in the lab, leaving a prodigy who attempts to chart a different fate. The book is intense and complex yet always presented with the flow of true storytelling.
Readers will find much to enjoy in this striking and pleasant surprise from Cherryh. -- Publishers Weekly
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The next step, one that has not been successfully accomplished when the story begins, is to replicate people, make them live again by creating clones with the same genetic makeup and psychological stresses that the original had. Cyteen is mainly about this next step, and how it plays out. There are rewarding intertwined plots about the repressive society these people live in; about family and its importance; about love and hate; about political manipulation and control; and many other subjects, all swirling around the central plot line.
Cyteen teaches you about the world in stages, but does not give a gentle introduction to this world; it abruptly throws you into a world that uses unfamiliar terms and definitions. Part of the fun is learning the lay of the land, from the point of view of the characters.
Progressing on a distant planet in the 25th century, the story has a background theme of psychology, genetics, and psychogenesis (the developmental growth of a person's mind into that person's cloned body). Politics and family infighting are interesting, and these reminded of Mario Puzo's THE GODFATHER, but action sequences are rare, and a great deal of the narrative immerses readers into mundane activity and expositions of technical psychology. Therefore my rating of only four stars.
The best part is the main character, Ariane Emory. You may think she is nothing special at the beginning, but later on she and her friends stimulate the plot with vitality. Generally all of the many characters are diverse and colorfully emphasized. Indeed an entire social class draws our attention. These are the azi, a word derived from their A-to-Z classifications, based on genetically engineered specializations.
Gravity is more artistically valuable than levity, and no reader can doubt that CYTEEN is imbued with the former. If you get tough and forge ahead through the slow passages, Cherryh immerses you into a credible, futuristic society. And you will surely be aroused by the final pages.
Cyteen (a repackaging of three shorter novels set in the Merchanter universe) is a sprawling intergenerational book which is entertaining to read even as it raises important questions about morality and identity. At its center, it features three main characters who are all genetic replicas of other older characters. These three struggle to accept their heritage while at the same time they try to own their own lives in a way that hardly seems possible, given the controlling and invasive atmosphere on Cyteen.
This is my first exposure to any of the books in the Merchanter Universe, and I did not feel as though I were missing any backstory. Cyteen is well able to stand on its own as a novel. Readers should be advised to not waste too much time trying to grasp all the concepts introduced in the first 50 pages at the time that they are introduced. Cherryh dumps an awful lot of ideas into the first few chapters, but they are all explained gradually as the book unfolds.
I would recommend Cyteen for almost any science fiction fan, particularly those who are interested in biotechnology issues. Cyteen should generally safe for teenage readers-- sexual situations (including a rape) are implied, but not made explicit.