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The Faded Sun Trilogy
C.J. Cherryh
DAW Books, 775 pages

Art: Michael Whelan
The Faded Sun Trilogy
C.J. Cherryh
C.J. Cherryh attended the U of Oklahoma and received a B.A. in Latin in 1964 before moving on to Johns Hopkins for an M.A. in Classics. Her awards include the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and Hugo Awards for her short story "Cassandra" and her novels Downbelow Station and Cyteen.

C.J. Cherryh Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Explorer
SF Site Review: Defender
SF Site Review: Hammerfall
SF Site Review: The Faded Sun Trilogy
SF Site Review: Finity's End
SF Site Review: The Dreaming Tree

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Alma A. Hromic

C.J.Cherryh's Faded Sun Trilogy was originally published as three separate volumes, almost thirty years ago. When I first encountered these books, back in the early 80s, I remember being struck most forcibly by one single aspect of the narrative -- its ALIENNESS.

It read as though it had been written by a non-human mind and hand, and then translated or transliterated into our language and idiom. It treated the humans as just another alien species in a Universe teeming with them. The effect was electric -- it jolted at least this human reader into re-evaluating some obvious human thought processes from the perspective of a non-human observing intelligence, and found not a few of them wanting in logic, in sense, in compassion.

The books have lost nothing of this many-faceted brilliant strangeness over the years.

For a volume of the size and thickness of this particular omnibus edition, the print is far too close into the inside margins, making it difficult to read without breaking the book's spine -- but this is more than made up for in having the three books instantly available, back to back, for a breathless cover-to-cover read of what remains, in my opinion, one of the seminal works in the genre.

There are few writers out there today who can deal with alien issues and psychology in the way that Cherryh can. She writes this trilogy of novels with a historian's detachment -- as though it is being written many years after the events depicted, and therefore so rooted and grounded that much of what she describes feels like memory and knowledge rather than a novelist's invention. At the same time she achieves an intimate immediacy of being in not one, not two, but three alien minds, with attendant psychological processes, misunderstandings, and conflicting ethical and moral standpoints.

There are lines drawn here, on the part of every species taking part in the unfolding events, lines which are not meant to be crossed -- but which are trampled by the other species in ignorance and fear. There is an inevitability about the tragedies that ensue, as though some holy book is being read, as though there were a lesson hidden in here for those who survived the wars and come to read about them in their aftermath. There is a sense of immensity, of space and of time, of countless years passing and of distant stars blinking and dying and being born and reborn in countless alien skies.

This one is a keeper, a monument to both the memory of the elephantine regul and the quicksilver imagination of the brittle, brilliant, misunderstood mri -- and the bridge between these two, the humans, warned against our fears and our lack of knowledge or understanding and of the inevitable and often disastrous results that such things can bring to shatter the legacy of more than just a single nation, culture, or species. The Faded Sun Trilogy has an air of being something that was, that is, that could still be. This book is timeless, and enduring. Its re-publication in a single volume is a gift to a whole new generation of readers.

Copyright © 2003 Alma A. Hromic

Alma A. Hromic, addicted (in random order) to coffee, chocolate and books, has a constant and chronic problem of "too many books, not enough bookshelves". When not collecting more books and avidly reading them (with a cup of coffee at hand), she keeps busy writing her own. Her latest fantasy work, a two-volume series entitled Changer of Days, was published by HarperCollins.

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