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Precursor (Foreigner) Mass Market Paperback – October 1, 2000
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C.J. Cherryh creates thought-provoking stories of cultures in collision featuring well-drawn characters and plenty of intrigue. Precursor directly follows Inheritor in the Foreigner series (which includes Foreigner and Invader). The series introduces the atevi, aliens with a culture based on loyalty, legal assassination, and inborn mathematical gifts.
Two hundred years ago humans crash-landed on the atevi homeworld. The two races are nearly incompatible; peace is maintained by limiting contact to a single human diplomat, the paidhi. His name is Bren Cameron.
In the first trilogy, the starship Phoenix (the same ship that brought the human colonists) returned, fleeing alien attack in another sector. The Phoenix asked both atevi and human communities to help reopen the orbital station and rearm the ship. Bren coordinated an atevi shuttle-building program and trained the Phoenix representative, Jase Graham, in living on a planet and dealing with aliens. Now he faces family crises while ensuring that the atevi remain equal partners in the space effort. He must deal with the very different culture of the Phoenix crew and the alien space station environment while maintaining cooperation with the colonists and representing atevi interests.
Precursor ends abruptly. Are the aliens coming? Will the Phoenix crew, colonists, and atevi be able to protect their system together? Will Bren be able to retain any of his humanity? If you enjoy stories that make you think about how space travel and contact with aliens would really play out, treat yourself to this meaty SF series. --Nona Vero --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
In the fourth volume in her widely praised Foreigner series (Inheritor, etc.) Cherryh sends diplomat and translator Bren Cameron into space to conduct a tense three-sided negotiation among the Pilot's Guild on the recently returned human starship Phoenix, the ateviAthe planet's indigenous sentient species, whom Bren now servesAand the Mospheirans, the human colonists whom the starship long ago abandoned in the atevi's world. Although there are beings of good will on all three sides, xenophobia, cultural preconceptions, factionalism and old animosities roil the situation, as do deteriorating conditions on the long-abandoned space station where the negotiators meet. Worse, a presumably hostile third intelligent species is lurking in the galactic neighborhood and may be in the process of tracking down the Phoenix. Making things even more difficult for Bren is his complicated relationship with his mother, who is driving him to distractionAvia electronic mailAwith her insistence that he reestablish a relationship with his recently injured former girlfriend and with her refusal to take seriously the danger she's in at the hands of Mospheirin factions hostile to Bren's mission. The novel features well-developed characters, Cherryh's trademark sophisticated political negotiations and strong prose. Of particular note is the author's ongoing exploration of the atevi, one of the more fascinating alien cultures ever imagined. Taken as a whole, this series, which promises to consist of six volumes when complete, represents mainstream SF at its very best. (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Bren's mom is not impressed by her son's relationship with Tabini, acting like Tabini is Bren's subordinate.
All of this fleshes out these wonderful characters.
Perhaps this book is the Precourser to the changes in the Atevi as well. The Atevi ruling class accepting Bren as a Lord of the Association, and Mospheirans as possible associates are all marvelous changes in this book.
I found reading this a second time underscores Cherryh's growth as a writer.
Perhaps humanity has to be closely associates to another species so we can understand ourselves.
In this book, the tension begins on the first page and builds from there. There are no holes in the plot, it is tight and it is fast. Better than most writers, Cherryh writes well about very bright people under pressure. More than that, Bren is portrayed (very well!) as someone who thinks clearly and fast under pressure.
In so far as I have a problem with Cherryh, it is her tendency to lose me in the action at the very end. This time, I didn't get lost, and I was pleased with that.
The interplay of Bren's family situation and his job when it gets tense is well done.
Another thing I appreciate about Cherryh is that she seems to proofread, and have a decent grasp of basic grammar. She remembers usage things that many other authors either never learned or simply don't bother to observe. Sometimes this is unintentionally funny, but I find it annoying.
Cherryh, perhaps deliberately and perhaps not, comes down on the side of the free market. People will work out how to make new ideas work for them, so get out of the way. If you have a problem with this belief system, you may not be too happy.
Once, in the Faded Sun books, she pointed out that we have, among ourselves, surrendered one member of a society (at least the West has) to an alien one, so that we have a translator. The position that Bren is in is emphatically that.
The pace is good, the under-text is fascinating, no preaching, and good writing. Go out and buy it.