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Foreigner: (10th Anniversary Edition) Mass Market Paperback – December 7, 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 133 customer reviews
Book 1 of 13 in the Foreigner Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set on an alien world where the descendants of humans marooned in a long-ago starship accident live segregated from the indigenous atevi on a remote island, this polished and sophisticated tale from the popular author of Hestia addresses the complicated issue of how humans might have to compromise to survive on a planet where they are barely tolerated by the original, humanoid inhabitants. When Bren Cameron, given the name paidhi because he is the only human allowed to mingle with the atevi , survives an assault by an atevi assassin, the shaky detente between the human enclave and the alien society is threatened. Subjected to kidnapping, imprisonment and psychological torture, Cameron finds himself caught between rival factions of atevi as he must grapple with both human and alien xenophobia and with the insidious influence of human technology and culture on an extraterrestrial society. Three-time Hugo-winner Cherryh's gift for conjuring believable alien cultures is in full force here, and her characters, including the fascinatingly unpredictable atevi , are brought to life with a sure and convincing hand.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Exiled to the island of Mospheira, a colony of stranded humans relies on one man, their "paidhi" (liaison), to explain their ways to the dominant species of their adopted world. When Bren Cameron, the current paidhi, becomes the target for assassination in a culture where licensed murder is a recognized political solution, the conflict between species becomes a life-and-death struggle for survival and understanding. Veteran sf/fantasy author Cherryh plays her strongest suit in this exploration of human/alien contact, producing an incisive study-in-contrast of what it means to be human in a world where trust is nonexistent. A good purchase for most sf collections.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Foreigner (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: DAW; 10 Rei Anv edition (December 7, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0756402514
  • ISBN-13: 978-0756402518
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (133 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #248,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on November 26, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I found Foreigner rather slow going. In fact, when I finished it I kept wondering what all the fuss was about vis-a-vis the series as a whole. But then I kept also wondering what happened next... and found myself picking up the sequels - which were WONDERFUL. In retrospect, I wish someone had told me to skim Foreigner as background for the rest of the series. So that's my advice to those who haven't yet read it. Do persevere, though - this is one of the best SF series ever written.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I happen to really "dig" C.J. Cherryh's writing. Her characters are fully realized and believable and her plots are excellent. You can never call her works predictable or ho-hum.

When I first read _Foreigner_, I couldn't get into the novel. I picked it up, read 20-30 pages and put it down again. This happened several times. Eventually I decided to lay in a chunk of reading--only to realize that the farther I got into the novel, the more drawn to it I became. The Foreigner series of books only gets better as it develops. I found the next two novels in the series to be entirely satisfying reads.

The plot and characterizations of this series are complex and fully developed--one of it's most engaging qualities. Too many novels seem have flat characters and predictable plotlines which is incredibly disappointing to a smart reader. I recently read _Poison Study_ because of it's cover review. Ack! Talk about tripe. It's great to come across books that engage the reader's intelligence and have you wondering "gee, how would I react in that situation?"

I've read all of the Foreigner series to date (8 novels) and they are truly some of my favorites. I rank them up there with Tad Williams great series like the Otherworld novels, Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover stuff, and Melanie Rawn's Exile books.

If you are looking for an extremely intellegent, psychologically rich series, this is it. And if you like this series, check out Ms. Cherryh's Cyteen books--also a good read.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Cherryh is often compared to Ursula Le Guin, and with good reason; by the time I'd gotten a couple of chapters into this first volume of a lengthy epic, I was thinking of the similarities of its set-up to The Left Hand of Darkness. Mostly, it's because the protagonist is a lone, isolated human diplomat surrounded by aliens whose very near-human appearance makes it easy to forget just how deeply alien their psychology is. Five hundred years ago, a human colony ship came out of hyperdrive impossibly far from where it should be, so far the ship was completely lost. After many years, its crew and party of settlers make it to a system where there is a habitable planet -- which is already taken by an almost industrial-level species called the atevi. They build a space station and some of the settlers (or their descendants) land on the planet, trying not to mess up anything. But they can't help thinking in human terms, and after a century or two of technological uplift by the humans, the atevi attack, driving them back to the island where they had originally landed. The eventual peace treaty establishes the office of paidhi, a human interpreter who will live among the atevi and facilitate communications. Another couple of centuries pass and Bren Cameron is the current paidhi, at the court of the regional ruler. He tries hard not to make mistakes or assumptions in gradually passing on human technical knowledge -- the price of the treaty -- but his carefully constructed complacency is shattered when he's packed off to a distant mountain fortress. Not until late in the story does he find out the reasons for this inexplicable treatment, and then he knows humans on his world have as much to fear as its original inhabitants.Read more ›
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Foreigner is a book about first contact -- humans and aliens, called the atevi, meeting for the first time -- and problems that occur when the two cultures meet and try to understand each other. C.J. Cherryh builds an alien culture and society that is well-formed, complete and believable; and through her excellent style, immerses the reader into this culture such that one begins to think and act like atevi, and perhaps, daydream about what it would be like living with the atevi oneself. This book is similar to Shogun, which, in effect, was a first contact book itself. The atevi culture, to me, has an essence of the Japanese culture, with a touch of India.

Different "biological hard-wiring" between the humans and atevi create complicated misunderstandings of some of the most basic societal concepts. Imagine a culture that cannot fully understand the human words "like", "love", and "friend". The only time the atevi use the word, "like", is to describe a favorite food, such as salads. Now think how often we humans use the word "like" -- yes, we like food, but we also like each other, and there are different levels of like, and there are likenesses between members of a family, and we like inanimate objects, like paintings, and like, we compare things to other things, such as, he talks like a lawyer. The humorous side effects of these misunderstandings are quite fun. In one scene, the main character, Bren Cameron, tries to tell Banichi, a very manly atevi guard, that he is liked and considers him a friend. Poor Banichi is quite insulted because he thinks Bren considers him the equivalent of a salad. Further attempts to understand causes Banichi to perhaps wonder about human sexual preferences.

The misunderstandings can have a most serious side effect, too.
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