C.J. Cherryh,
(DAW, 2002)

C.J. Cherryh concludes the second Foreigner sequence in Explorer.

It has been nearly a year since the ship Phoenix set off on its rescue mission to Reunion space station. Bren Cameron, descendant of the colonists who chose to leave the Alpha station for the planet below, is on board to serve as paidhi, translator-diplomat for the planet's native atevi contingent also on board. This would be the regal and imperious dowager grandmother and her retinue as well as Bren's personal staff.

It is a voyage fraught with tension and apprehension. Senior captain Sabin is distrustful and angry, especially at the appointment of Jase Graham as second in command. The autocratic Pilot's Guild is in control of Reunion station, and their motives are suspect. So when the ship reaches the station and find the fuel supply boobytrapped with explosives and an annoyed alien ship hovering nearby, both Bren and Jase know that the resolution might involve going by another book -- the atevi book.

Cherryh's novel is definitely for those already immersed in this universe; the first half of the novel deals with a lot of back story, almost a refresher review for those who have read the previous books. This may be helpful to these readers, but it makes rather static reading for the uninitiated. The last half crackles with action as the characters do more and contemplate less.

There is no doubt that Cherryh is a talented author, and her construction of worlds, characters and cultures is complex and convincing. It would be well worth any serious science fiction reader's while to go to the beginning of the Foreigner universe and give Explorer its due.

- Rambles
written by Donna Scanlon
published 8 November 2003

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