(As posted on my blog, see "Book Blog" dated July 8, 2011
I wrote a short review of Downbelow Station
after reading it. At the time, I was still mulling the story over in my head trying to determine how much I enjoyed it.
First, I should explain that Downbelow Station
is part of Cherryh's Alliance-Union Universe
. This story describes the end of the "Company War" - the war between Earth Company and Union - and for the most part takes place at Pell Station (nicknamed "Downbelow Station"), which is run by the Konstantins. It is during this time when the Alliance is formed. The Alliance consists of merchanter families. Merchanter ships are basically trading and cargo ships; and each ship is run by a different family.
One of the characters in Downbelow Station
is pivotal in securing an Alliance among the merchanter families. With the formation of the Alliance, an end to the Company War is quickly brought about.Downbelow Station
is an interesting read, not so much for the characters, but for the universe that it introduces to you. The story itself also poses some serious moral questions. Cherryh's universe isn't empty (like, for example, the remade Battlestar Galactica
) - there are inhabitants on Pell's World, which Pell Station orbits. How these inhabitants are treated is an issue presented in the novel. The issue of genetic engineering is also presented in this novel. Union uses genetic engineering, and it is clear in the novel that this is one of the issues between Earth Company and Union. (There is a much longer history of how Union is formed, but I won't get into that here.) "Adjustment" is used on one of the characters in the novel since the character requests it. Adjustment is a process by which a person's personality can be modified; and it is only used in extreme cases. In the novel, it is clear that the person who receives the request for adjustment is uncomfortable with using it for a case he doesn't consider "extreme".
The pacing of Downbelow Station
is slow at first. It picks up towards the end. You also don't get a feel for most of the major characters until close to the end. One character is interesting in the beginning simply because you are wondering why that person would want
to be "adjusted". You find out at the end. Strangely enough, I empathized more with the aliens, the inhabitants of Pell's World, more than the human characters. Perhaps this is my penchant for rooting for the underdog, but I think it's because the alien characters were better written.Downbelow Station
is a must-read if you are interested in the science fiction genre. It's also an important introduction to the Alliance-Union Universe. I find myself interested in Cherryh's Alliance-Union Universe, so I will likely read a few more novels in this series. Cyteen
is the other book that's recommended in this series. It's a much bigger book than Downbelow Station
, but an important read as it provides more insight on Union and takes place in Union space.
November 6, 2011
I'm still mulling the story over in my head. Worth reading at least once.
A few things though:
Josh Talley was the most interesting character to me in the novel.
Elene Quen reminded me of Princess Leia.
I empathized with Damon and Emilio Konstantin.
When I get a chance to, I'll see about writing a longer review.