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This is one of a number of connected books by Cherryh set in a future where man has expanded across the stars. Sol has become inward looking and isolated and the main developments in science and technology come from the space stations originally created to support the outward exploration. At the time of the action in Downbelow, a war is in progress between the two contrasting powers, Earth and the Union. The Union has developed from a group of stations that broke away from Earth dominance some time before the action commences. The other major force in this future is the Merchanters. These are the people who provide the ships for commerce. They have developed their own culture, based on "families," and live permanently on their ships.
Only one station remains free, which has not been absorbed by the Union or abandoned by Earth. This station is critical strategically, both for its location, and for the fact that it is one of very few to be based above an inhabitable planet (Pell).
The remnants of the Earth fleet are desperate, abandoned by Earth itself, they continue to fight against the Union with increasingly less effect. The commander of this fleet decides on a last ditch attempt to deal a decisive blow against Union. Unfortunately for the inhabitants of Pell and the station, this action puts Pell at the centre of the conflict.
The book follows the fortunes of Pell in this conflict, concentrating on the major characters of the Constantins, who have run Pell for several generations, and one of the fleet captains who finds the actions of the commander more and more difficult to swallow. Interwoven with this action, Cherryh takes a look at the ethics of psychological modification, and the treatment of the indigenous non-human population of Pell.
An exciting plot line and well-developed characters make this book an entertaining read. In addition, reading this will provide the reader with a better understanding of the Union/Alliance future in which Cherryh has set a number of other books.
Reviewed by: Digger
Buy This Book Paperback
This is one of a number of connected books by Cherryh set in a future where man has expanded across the stars. Sol has become inward looking and isolated and the main developments in science and technology come from the space stations originally created to support the outward exploration. At the time of the action in Forty Thousand, a war has just been fought between the two contrasting powers, Earth and the Union. The Union has developed from a group of stations that broke away from Earth dominance some time before the action commences. The other major force in this future is the Merchanters. These are the people who provide the ships for commerce. They have developed their own culture, based on "families," and live permanently on their ships. The Merchanters, fearing forced absorption by Union, have formed the Alliance.
Union culture is based on the production of intelligent human clones designed for specific tasks, and the "forty thousand," are just that. At the end of the war, the Union has discovered a habitable planet in a strategic location. In order to prevent Earth from assimilating the planet, forty thousand clones and humans are shipped there and deliberately abandoned to colonize the planet.
The book follows the progress of this colony over a period of three hundred years as the civilization breaks down and the survivors develop means to cope with the intelligent indigenous lizard population. This progress is seen through the eyes of Alliance scientists from a monitoring station above the planet, from two scientists working "on the ground" with each of the two conflicting cultures which have developed, and also through the eyes of the descendants of one of the clones.
Essentially an allegory for the conflict between aggressive male behavior and passive female behavior, the book is sometimes hard to follow. It contains a great deal of pseudo-scientific discussion of social science theories. A confirmed Cherryh fan, I admit I only managed to complete this book by skipping large chunks of the discussion, however the basic plot is sound and the character development, as always, is interesting and entertaining.
Review by: Digger
Hunter of Worlds is based in a universe dominated by the Iduve. An intelligent, humanoid race with an essentially predatory nature, the Iduve are feared by the other main intelligent species, Kallians and Amauts. They are so far ahead of the others in technology as to have obtained an almost God-like status.
The book tells the story of an Iduve clan's hunt for a fugitive, and the fate of two Kallian's and a human mind linked to each other against their will by the Iduve to pursue the hunt.
As is normal with Cherryh, the plot is sound and the character development good, and, again as expected, the much more interesting story is in the underlying ethical base of the novel. In this case, she explores the moral and ethical responsibility of power.
In their pursuit of revenge, the Iduve are prepared to obliterate a world, and throw the entire universe of the Kallians and the Amaut into war and chaos. Humans in this universe are essentially unintelligent regressives left behind when man withdrew from this sector of space. The exception to this is the human, Daniel, forcibly linked to two Kallians. Unlike the Kallians and the Amaut, he is not subject to thousands of years of hereditary fear of the Iduve, and his actions and attitude, combined with that of the main Kallian character, has a significant impact on the Iduve clan. Cherryh explores the ability of two individuals to challenge a whole society and to bring about change.
This is an exciting and interesting read, although some of the action is predictable, the outcome of the novel has a certain twist.
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