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Cyteen (Cyteen #1-3)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  8,418 Ratings  ·  273 Reviews
A brilliant young scientist rises to power on Cyteen, haunted by the knowledge that her predecessor and genetic duplicate died at the hands of one of her trusted advisors. Murder, politics, and genetic manipulation provide the framework for the latest Union-Alliance novel by the author of Downbelow Station. Cherryh's talent for intense, literate storytelling maintains inte ...more
Hardcover, 853 pages
Published May 1st 1988 by Warner Books (first published 1988)
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Christmas 2010: I realised that I had got stuck in a rut. I was re-reading old favourites again and again, waiting for a few trusted authors to release new works. Something had to be done.

On the spur of the moment I set myself a challenge, to read every book to have won the Locus Sci-Fi award. That’s 35 books, 6 of which I’d previously read, leaving 29 titles by 14 authors who were new to me.

While working through this reading list I got married, went on my honeymoon, switched career and became
5.5 stars. This is one of the most brilliantly written books I have ever read and I believe it is a work of special genius (no pun intended based on the subject matter of the book). This is not an EASY book to read and is not what I would describe as TONS of FUN. It is a complex, richly detailed, psychological science fiction mystery peopled by characters of vast intellect and extreme cunning. This makes the story one in which the reader must pay close attention. However, the pay off for such at ...more
Cyteen: Exhausting study of clones, identity, and power
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
After enjoying C.J. Cherryh's 1982 Hugo Award winner Downbelow Station, it was a natural thing to move on to her 1989 Hugo winner Cyteen. I know that Cyteen is a very different creature, of course. It is a hefty 680 pages long, and extremely light on action. In fact, if you removed the extensive dialogue and exposition, I think the story would be about 100 pages long. That means the story had better be
Megan Baxter
This is a massive volume that is both fascinating and oddly opaque. It's a murder mystery in which the mystery is never solved. It's a consideration of the ethics of manufactured humans, without going into as much depth as it could. It's a conspiracy that is partially but not entirely explained. And it centres around a rape, which ripples through the rest of the book, and I'm not entirely convinced that it's handled well, in the end.

Note: The rest of this review has been withheld due to the chan
Oct 29, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, sf-mistressworks
I realised this was a long book when the hefty tome arrived in the post and I viewed the small font but I didn't think it would take me this long to finish.

I don't tend to like long books; I am instantly sceptical and always question whether they genuinely needs to be. I notice that this volume was once published in three parts (against the will of the author) and I have to agree that it doesn't really make sense to break up the story in that way. What it really needed was some good editing, som
Lisa Eskra
Cyteen by C.J. Cherryh. A 680-page paperback but don't be fooled. I'm pretty sure this novel chalks in at 300K+ words. It certainly weighs a few pounds.

A third of the way through, I'm calling it quits. I might pick it up again if there's nothing else in the house to read. But definitely some other time.

The writing itself is very good. Literally, that is the only thing that kept me going (and the hope things would suddenly get interesting). Cherryh's portrait of the universe has a lot of richness
Norman Cook
Spoilers ahead!

I try to read every Hugo Award nominee. For a reason I don’t remember, I never read Cyteen by C.J. Cherryh when it was nominated in 1989. Maybe my library didn’t have a copy; maybe I was intimidated by the length of the book (680 densely packed pages) (or I didn’t have enough time to finish); or perhaps I had read stuff by Cherryh before and had been underwhelmed. Whatever the reason, I recently decided to give Cyteen a try after I read a blog post extolling its virtues. In fact,
Apr 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-read
Outstanding. The precursor to Regenesis (one of the best books I've read), successor to Downbelow Station - which I am looking forward to (to tracing the development of this Union-Alliance series back to the origin).

It is the most intensely detailed sf I've read, and rivals Asimov's Foundation series and Herbert's Dune series for the verisimilitude of their sociological foundations that make all great science fiction books GREAT.

It is a psychological thriller and an sf political novel - very rar
Edwin Priest
Cyteen is one of the more frustrating books I have read recently. It is on the one hand brilliant and packed with though provoking intellection, and on the other hand, a plodding and ponderous book in which very little happens and which I found a chore to read.

This book is deep and sweeping, and the points for discussion are innumerable. Clearly at the center are the concepts of how we come to be who we are, the whole nature versus nurture concept, the essence of how we are shaped and learn. C.J
Oct 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some people have complained about Cyteen being too long. The reason is because Cyteen was originally written as a three book series. Most people would do better to get the original three paperbacks and read them instead but be warned: C.J. Cherryh is not a writer for people who like short books. She writes for people who want a long, in-depth read and who aren't afraid of being plunged into a world full of new and often confusing terms, ideas, and vocabulary.

Books such as this are usually writte
Jun 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: all adults
A truly extraordinary book. Cherryh's insights into "tape" and "deep tape" (much like hypnosis) for training and learning are amazing. Her presentation of politics, psychology and human emotion and failings are wonderful, and her prose is some of the finest around.

I loved the "Boys from Brazil" theme in the book; the re-creation of a person without "magical knowledge transfer" but through re-creation of childhood environments and deep hypnotic training of a life recorded closely.

The social issue
Jamie Collins
Sep 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This is only my second C.J. Cherryh novel, and I liked it very much. I found it to be a more intimate, character-driven story than Downbelow Station.

This takes place almost entirely at a research institute called Reseune which specializes in human cloning. They also produce special clones known as “Azi” who are subjected to intense conditioning from birth which gives them a different psychological makeup from regular humans. The Azi exist largely as an enslaved workforce.

I suppose enslaved is t
When Ariane Emory (the first), head of Reseune genetic facilities, is murdered by Jordon Warrick, the next generation at Reseune has their shackles weakened just enough that they might be able to make a difference. Ariane Emory (the second), a replicate of Ariane Emory (the first), grows up in a tightly controlled environment with the hope that she will be just like her predecessor, but things don't work exactly as they hoped, she's starting where Ariane 1 left off, with the skill, instincts, an ...more
Oct 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, favorites
OMG! What a book! Best Cherryh yet! Now I have to read Forty-thousand in Gehenna and Regenesis! I can see why it won the Hugo. It's non stop psychological thriller with so many plot twists and unexpected turns that one can hardly keep up. She makes me hate a character and then come to understand them if not like them in a most interesting way, uncovering layers and layers of meaning.

I could hardly put it down and am now sad that it's over and I'll have to get myself involved in another book to g
If “Brave New World” met The Gormenghast novels, this would be the offspring. Like Gormenghast, Cyteen is not an easy book to read. For one thing, it is very long book, at some 350,000 words. It is also a slow book- it covers two decades in Cherryh’s Alliance-Union universe. It is two bildungsroman in one, as it follows the two protagonists- Justin Warrick and Ariane Emory II- both clones of their parents, as they grow and adapt to their circumstances. The concept of nature vs nurture is at the ...more
Cyteen is a gripping and intense science fiction novel, set on the planet Cyteen in Cherryh's Merchanter Universe about 300 years in our future, when human cloning has become a reality. Ariane Emory is a brilliant scientist, and when she dies under mysterious circumstances, her successors create a replicate of Emory and struggle to duplicate her childhood environment as well, so that the replicate will grow up under the same conditions and become the same person; Cyteen is the story of the secon ...more
Jan 31, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you have the slightest interest in the inner lives of smart children, the origins of personality, fictional politics, or human cloning, you should read this book.

If the central question of Stand On Zanzibar was "what does it mean to be human if we can't save ourselves?", the central question of Cyteen is "What does humanity mean when human minds can be made to order?"

That said, how much you enjoy it will depend on how attached you get to the characters and how well you can follow the often ob
Maggie K
Sep 12, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
I couldnt do it anymore....
the writing was great but I couldnt handle the pacing and yucky characters. People told me to hold out as it changes, but I couldnt do it.
I am sure that this novel is a great piece of fiction, just wasnt my kind of thing
Dec 24, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cyteen zvaigžņu sistēma ir dibināta 2201. gadā, tā sastāv no planētas un dažāda kalibra kosmosa stacijām. 2300. gadā viņa pasludināja savu neatkarību no Zemes, izraisot karu, kura rezultātā nodibinājās Savienība (Union). Savienībā liela nozīme ir pētniecības centram Reseune, tas nodarbojas ar cilvēku klonēšanu un klonu smadzeņu pārprojektēšanu. Kloni saukti par “azi” ir nepieciešami Savienības tālākai ekspansijai, jo dabīgā ceļā iegūt pietiekoši lielu cilvēku daudzumu ir pārāk piņķerīgi. Arī ir ...more
Who killed Ari Emory?
You won't find the final answer to this central question in this huge tome. But other topics like genetics, sexual abuse, or psychology are discussed intensely from different viewpoints. Most central is the broad theme of cloning (or psychogenesis, which is the exact cloning of body and mind) which makes it very relevant for current discussions of that theme. Mix it with lots of political scheming, homeopathic dosis of action, and a very bad tension arc to get this mileston
Dec 26, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
For some reason this took me a very long time to read. I just kept losing focus, losing interest, losing the thread. I have been very stressed out lately, however, so I'm not sure it's the book's fault.

Cyteen is a semi-inhospitable world that has become the center of the Union, a far-future federation of human space colonists who have left Earth, the Alliance and the power-hungry Company behind. The main power on Cyteen is Reseune, a scientific facility that researches personality creation, meme
Read the full review here.

The scope of this novel is huge: an in depth study of power, examination of the difference in the psychology of a ‘natural-born’ person and that of a manufactured mind, the story of a ruthless genius, her death and subsequent cloning, and the experiences of the clone herself, who is intended to replace the greatest mind in history and succeeds more completely than anticipated. The large scope makes the novel clunky in some places, but for the most part it is very engagi
Neelakantan K.K.
Tightly plotted, elegantly structured and well-written, Cyteen plunges into intrigue and intricate political dealings from the very beginning. The novel rarely drags and there's always enough tension to make you uneasy. There's a sense of paranoia that comes through very clearly, reflecting the paranoia felt by many of the characters. The plot structure also enables the author to play with our notions about various characters, constantly making one change their opinions of whom to identify with ...more
Catherine Siemann
Jun 13, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Catherine by: Heather & Beth
Shelves: book-group-books
What good science fiction excells at is the exploration of ideas and possibilities -- in the case of Cyteen (which is a dreadful title and fortunately has nothing to do with cybernetic teenagers), ideas about cloning, genetic manipulation, nature/nurture, identity and so forth. The novel handles these well, though in a world where they are so accepted that perhaps the larger questions don't get the exploration they might. But in 680 pages of political intrigue, scientific possibilities, and huma ...more
Jul 31, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
I can see why this book won a Nebula. It's quite good! It's not the usual kind of ethical questioning about cloning, but it's still interesting. I'm not sure how realistic any of it is, but that's ok. If I slept more (i haz baby), I'd be tempted to think deeply about what this book is really writing about. It has a lot of academia shades in it, and I do wonder if that's really what she's talking about. But I digress. From Downbelow Station, I wasn't sure what to expect on Cyteen and in Union Spa ...more
Mark Galassi
Feb 12, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is a collection of the three original books.

I found the book to be "dated": a style of science fiction writing that does not stand well to the passage of time.

The verbosity was extreme and mostly pointless: the good ideas in the book could have been rendered in a couple of hundred pages.

Many interesting plot lines were developed and then dropped.

The purpose of the verbosity is sometimes to develop a feeling for the surroundings and the future universe, but the book did not describe the kind
Jun 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finally have this book in e-book form since it's kinda hard to order it and have it arrive in an hour. :))

I read Rebirth when I was in high school and love it and couldn't wait to get my hands on the other two novels. Unfortunately it was not very easy, unlike Narnia novels which were available at the library I work for.

Anyway, I just couldn't help it, I read it in jumping sequence. Sometimes to the middle, to the front, and then to the back. My favorite character would be Florian and Justin.
Jan 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Re-read in preparation for the sequel.

Complex, unrelenting, expansive, focused, and the ending still drops an anvil on my head. I first read this when I was too young to understand a lot of it, and to this day I feel as though each turn through it just gives it shading (definitely darker). I find some characters despicable, others compelling, and one in particular I can't make up my mind about. They are, I think, convincingly brilliant far beyond the reader, yet engaged in problems I can (with s
Apr 09, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was heavy. Both literally, being a trade size paperback, and figuratively. The theme was a downer. And I found Cherryh's writing style at times difficult to follow and found myself continuously reading passages. The ideas presented make can make for great discussion, but the path to get there was long.

I would have given this less than 3 stars, but who am I to give a Hugo Award winning novel less than 3 stars.
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Anyone else certain they know? 10 63 Jun 15, 2016 03:13PM  
Science Fiction A...: * May 2016 - Cyteen 19 30 May 24, 2016 03:02PM  
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Cyteen 1 30 Nov 13, 2011 10:06AM  
  • They'd Rather Be Right
  • A Case of Conscience (After Such Knowledge, #4)
  • The Wanderer
  • Dreamsnake
  • The Snow Queen (The Snow Queen Cycle, #1)
  • The Mule: From Foundation And Empire
  • Barrayar (Vorkosigan Saga, #7)
  • Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang
  • The Uplift War (The Uplift Saga, #3)
  • This Immortal
  • Hominids (Neanderthal Parallax, #1)
  • Courtship Rite
  • Rainbows End
  • Rite of Passage
  • Way Station
  • Slow River
  • Stations of the Tide
  • Double Star
Currently resident in Spokane, Washington, C.J. Cherryh has won four Hugos and is one of the best-selling and most critically acclaimed authors in the science fiction and fantasy field. She is the author of more than forty novels. Her hobbies include travel, photography, reef culture, Mariners baseball, and, a late passion, figure skating: she intends to compete in the adult USFSA track. She began ...more
More about C.J. Cherryh...

Other Books in the Series

Cyteen (4 books)
  • The Betrayal (Cyteen, #1)
  • The Rebirth (Cyteen, #2)
  • The Vindication (Cyteen, #3)
  • Regenesis (Cyteen, #4)

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“He said sometimes when you're young you have to think about things, because you're forming your value-sets and you keep coming up with Data Insufficient and finding holes in your programs. So you keep trying to do a fix on your sets. And the more powerful your mind is and the more intense your concentration is, the worse damage you can do to yourself, which is why, Justin says, Alphas always have trouble and some of them go way off and out-there, and why almost all Alphas are eccentric. But he says the best thing you can do if you're too bright for your own good is what the Testers do, be aware where you got which idea, keep a tab on everything, know how your ideas link up with each other and with your deep-sets and value-sets, so when you're forty or fifty or a hundred forty and you find something that doesn't work, you can still find all the threads and pull them.

But that's not real easy unless you know what your value-sets are, and most CITs don't. CITs have a trouble with not wanting to know that kind of thing. Because some of them are real eetee once you get to thinking about how they link. Especially about sex and ego-nets.

Justin says inflexibility is a trap and most Alpha types are inward-turned because they process so fast they're gone and thinking before a Gamma gets a sentence out. Then they get in the habit of thinking they thought of everything, but they don't remember everything stems from input. You may have a new idea, but it stems from input somebody gave you, and that could be wrong or your senses could have been lying to you. He says it can be an equipment-quality problem or a program-quality problem, but once an Alpha takes a falsehood for true, it's a personal problem.”
“Brains and sex fight each other to control your life, and thank God brains get a head start before sex comes along.” 3 likes
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