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(Foreigner #1)

3.94  ·  Rating details ·  9,000 ratings  ·  630 reviews
The first book in C.J. Cherryh's eponymous series, Foreigner begins an epic tale of the survivors of a lost spacecraft who crash-land on a planet inhabited by a hostile, sentient alien race.

From its beginnings as a human-alien story of first contact, the Foreigner series has become a true science fiction odyssey, following a civilization from the age of steam through early
Mass Market Paperback, 428 pages
Published December 7th 2004 by DAW (first published February 1st 1994)
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Christina The series is broken up into trilogy arcs, so you can read the first three and have a good sense of closure. Just keep in mind the trilogies do contin…moreThe series is broken up into trilogy arcs, so you can read the first three and have a good sense of closure. Just keep in mind the trilogies do continue from one to the next, so skipping a set in the middle to read a later trilogy might be confusing. C. J. Cherryh is pretty good about giving little recaps here and there, but you won't get the full impact or nuance unless you read the previous books. So if you want to end after the first three, you won't be disappointed. And you can always go back and read the next three later. And then the next three, and the next.... the series is a little addictive.(less)

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Nov 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Review contains fanart and images done by me. ^.^

Let me tell you something about sci-fi books... they are scary! No, I'm not talking about movies or TV series, and yes, Astronomy was one of my favorite subject in school. But for some reason, sci-fi books are generally on a completely different level for me.

I have ventured into sci-fi territory before ...

And, occasionally, I would find something "comprehensible" enough for my fairies-and-dragons-obsessed brain.

Buuuut, in most cases
mark monday
Aug 08, 2011 rated it it was ok
well-respected and prolific science fiction author-cum-scifi-anthropologist C.J. Cherryh puts her considerable gifts to work in this introductory volume to her elephantine mega-series, as she begins a sensitive new tradition: fiction that is specifically geared to those unfortunate individuals who have no experience in reading, as well as to our fellows experiencing severe mental challenges. i for one appreciate the effort and am happy to report that the writing in this novel makes every attempt ...more
Mar 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016-shelf, sci-fi
Third read, 8/18/16:

What can I say? Until it gets to Bren, I'm not attached to the story much, but the fact that so much of them comes back to haunt us in subsequent novels makes me *want* to pay attention. But other than that, once Bren is in the spotlight and we're in his head, I'm there, and this becomes one of my favorite novels. :)

Why? The psychology, mainly. The Atevi are really fantastic aliens and the real diamond in this series is the fact that they are not hardwired the same way as us.
Andrew Obrigewitsch
Mar 21, 2013 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Really, really bored people.
Shelves: sci-fi
"I wrote this 50 page short story, what do you think?" Said C.J. Cherryh.

"It's great, but can you stretch into a 20 volume series of 500 page books? Because that's what we really need." Said the Publisher.

"Sure I can, I just will start the first volume off by turning the one paragraph stay in mountain resort into 400 pages of repetitive introspection on the part of the main character. And then I will turn the 2 page chase scene into 200 pages. And we can go from there." Said C.J. Cherryh.

This b
Mar 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
“Here, human beings had to remember that the universe was far wider than their little nest of stars—that, in the universe at large, silence was always more than the noisiest shout of life. Humans explored and intruded against it, and built their stations and lived their lives, a biological contamination of the infinite, a local and temporary condition.”

C.J. Cherryh is one of science fiction’s most important women writers, her name is often mentioned alongside Ursula K. le Guin, Octavia Butler,
Jan 15, 2009 rated it it was ok
I blame Michael Whelan who made attractive cover art. The cover art is displaying black tall warrior class alien. The cover is too tempting for me than I bought it without much thinking. The cover (as if) promised military-space opera. But the first book is more like planetary adventure than space opera.

This novel has good opening, but after that the story is dragging with unmemorable ending (I don't remember the ending, and I don't really care). And there are a lot of plots/questions unresolved
Feb 15, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: science-fiction
It's somehow proved impossible for me to get into this book. There is nothing appealing about either characters or setting to draw me in, and there is something about the writing and the sentence structure (paragraphs usually consist of a single sentence, even the longest ones) that completely puts me off. I thus simply feel like I'm looking at words rather than reading. But as I've heard good things about the series, I might try again at some point in the future. ...more
Mar 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Foreigner is one of the most in-depth, uncompromising examinations of the way cultures interact in science fiction. Rereading it after all this time and with the added benefit of having read some of the later books in the series, I discovered a whole new level of complexity that’s probably almost impossible to appreciate on a first reading—complexity on almost every level, from Bren’s personal life and the subtle interactions of the atevi characters on the micro-level to the incredible socio-pol ...more
Apr 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This year (2016) C.J. Cherryh was given the SFWA Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award, something I think she was long overdue for. I hadn't read a Cherryh book for quite a while so I thought it was very appropriate to read one now, and while I've read this one before a long time ago, I never continued with the series due to availability issues where I lived at the time.

En-route to build a new space station as key outpost for human expansion the Phoenix suffers an accident during it's faster-
Jan 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Character-driven sci-fi fans
*spoilers for the general storyline*

I really liked the first two books or sections of this novel. First the arrival in the planetary system, then a fast forward of a few generations to the planetary settlers and first contact with the indigenous population of their chosen planet, the atevi. I enjoyed the setting in space and the glimpse at societal differences between the humans onboard of the ship. Down below I had fun reading from the POV of an atevi and his human counterpart was an interestin
Pushed through on this instead of doing chores. A science fiction adventure story, really, as a lost human expedition divides its resources between a barely sustainable pace station and attempted colonization of the planet of the humanoid "atevi" -- larger, stronger, alien, and only a little behind the technology of the lost expedition.

Fulfills my RATB7, BWARD', and 17DUX:FOS2.01(#56) challenges.
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
On the surface this seems like kind of a dull read. However, the story line intrigued me. Bren, an ambassador to a planet with alien overlords and a small, struggling colony of humans, tries to step carefully through the minefield of politics and alien thought.
Personally, I like the isolated, paranoid feeling and the alien characters felt like real people as the author slowly and carefully worked her craft. The names got confusing, though. I noticed a far from complete list of terms at the back
May 12, 2020 rated it liked it
I get the appeal. The world building and the setup were quite good. If you are forced to abandon the whole Star Trek, non-interference policy, how would you protect the alien species? Many of those issues are mildly touched on with the main conflict of the story being how to interact with a completely alien society. Cherryh set up the world well but I could never really grasp the alien society and what drives them. There was also far, far too much discussion inside the MC's head.
Overall, not rea
DNF at 38%. Don't like the writing. Don't like the characters. Not for me. ...more
Sep 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi, stars-4-0, r2016
I'd never heard of Cherryh or of her epic sagas, but after reading many stellar reviews from fellow readers, I thought I really needed to try her.

Foreigner, the first in the series of the same name, is an intriguing read. A human starship finds itself lost in space. Queue a few generations later, and this little enclave of humanity has split into two factions, one that stayed on the Phoenix, the other taking refuge on a planet that supports life, but inhabited by a hostile, sentient race. The no
May 06, 2009 rated it liked it
This is my first attempt at Cherryh, and I'm on the fence as to whether or not there will be more. I'm surprised that the reviews of this aren't more tepid.

The atevi are interesting: the alien species at the heart of the book, dark-skinned, larger than humans, but more importantly hardwired in a different way. Their society runs on hierarchies based on duty, but friendship and trust are notably absent. They are mathematically astute and tend to glorify numbers and seem to desire to reduce decisi
Maggie K
Jun 27, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
ugh. I was about halfway through this book and said out loud "Yay, something happened!" and realized I could no longer waste time with this. (Except for the first two introductory books) it was the most repetitive thing ever! Bren can't go anywhere by himself. Bren is bored. There was what possibly could have been an assassination attempt and now he is locked up somewhere, and he is worried. That is all, and i wrote it in three sentences.
I REALLY wanted to like this book, and I hear it gets bett
Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller
[1.5 stars] From the GR overview: above “begins an epic tale” is likely the most misleading one I’ve ever read. It gives the impression that something actually happens in the first book. I technically should be discussing Foreigner in a DNF Q&A because I stopped reading with only two chapters to go. I figured since I hit the 95% mark, I feel justified giving it a normal review.

I did not like it.

Issue #1: it had three beginnings.

Cherryh began her story, jumped through in time, began another story
Once again, I find myself fascinated by C.J. Cherryh’s aliens. The Atevi, although superficially humanoid-shaped, have an entirely different way of looking at the universe and Cherryh lets us struggle with those viewpoints along with her main character, Bren Cameron. I quickly realized that it was human psychology that was being explored just as thoroughly as Atevi psychology.

So, how do you maintain yourself as a diplomat among people who operate through only loyalty, not through affection, lik
Maria Dimitrova
I really wanted to like this. And for a time it seems like I will. And then boredom hit. Bren is one of the most boring characters I've ever met. The atevi were incredibly intriguing but because of Bren's POV I feel like they never really got a chance to shine. The last few chapters provided the bulk of entertainment and even made me curious about the rest of the series. So maybe, just maybe, I'll read the sequel. One day. But not too soon. ...more
Apr 09, 2017 rated it liked it
The novel started as a speedy space opera for a couple of pages. After that first few chapters, Cherryh slammed the brakes, and it didn't get any faster for the rest of the novel. Yes, there is a bit of action after a while, but no, it isn't like any Scalzi. This complete switch in pacing was hard to take. It isn't written densely and I found out that I can skim over complete passages without loosing anything meaningful. It isn't exactly repetitive but a specific literary style that just not eve ...more
This book ends when the story is just about to get interesting. And that's the most effective way to lose an audience.

Up until the ending, it's a real repetitive uphill slog, and I say that as someone who liked it more than most people. Reading it was a labor-intensive task that I never thought would end and I would never have been able to get to the end without the help of the audio--again, speaking as someone who liked the story. The prose and plotting could use a lot of editing, and the inne
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I've been sitting on this book at least a decade; currently feel like a tool for not reading it ages ago. Of course I'm hooked now that the series is seventeen books long and counting. ...more
Sep 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Finally finished this book! RTC
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
That was superb. Foreigner is a first contact novel wrapped in a thriller, the twist being that, this time, it's humans that have landed on an alien planet and having to navigate a completely alien culture.

There are two things that really stand out here, the first of which is the Atevi themselves. This is a truly alien race in terms of their attitudes, their instincts and their culture, and this alienness makes them difficult to comprehend and impossible to fully understand. This keeps Bren perm
Jul 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, scifi
Well. The star system is very frustrating. I can't decide if my frustration at trying to understand the atevi species that humans deal with in this book is a function of my fuzzy thinking or a function of C.J. Cherryh's brilliance in making me feel like the hero, Bren, felt through much of the book. Therefore it's hard to figure out how many stars to give it. At any rate, the tension that built throughout the book as Bren struggled to figure out what was happening to the world where he served as ...more
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
This was a very interesting read. C.J. Cherryh does something a little different with this tale. It is a sci-fi story, but much more than that. It is an anthropological study of different cultures and, in fact, different species.

A human spaceship mistakenly ends up in a part of uncharted space, light years away from Earth. They find a planet to settle on but find that the planet is already settled. The Atevi have steam-powered technology levels. The humans and the Atevi meet for the first time.
Jul 30, 2013 rated it did not like it

That's it, I give up... I got over halfway, but I cannot finish this book. It is one of the most boring plot lines I have ever read. The main character is so childish and whiny, I just can't take it anymore.

This is not the right way to go about writing a story. There are reasons that we have rules about good writing. Why is it that an established author is allowed to break them, while beginning writers would be chastised and told to "go rewrite"? This is unfair. We should be just as hard on big
S.A. Bolich
Sep 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Cherryh is among my favorite genre authors, though some of her books have left me cold. This isn't one of them. Admittedly, it starts out slow. You must wade through two sections of backstory before you get to the real opening of the series, when Bren, the main character, is attacked in his rooms without a clue as to why. From there it takes off like a bullet and, despite Cherryh's often long (and characteristic) lapses into musings by the character on life, the universe and everything, it never ...more
Aug 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the great gems! CJ has written a wonderful first-contact series with a really accessible protagonist. The Aliens are truly alien - the humans frequently irritatingly human ;>. This is the beginning of a 12 books series - written in 4 trilogies. One can read as many of the trilogies as one would wish. While they build, one upon another, if one wished to stop after 1 or 2 or 3 of them, the stories are sufficiently tied up that one can.

I can't imagine stopping - in fact, I started wi
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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

Other books in the series

Foreigner (1 - 10 of 21 books)
  • Invader (Foreigner, #2)
  • Inheritor (Foreigner, #3)
  • Precursor (Foreigner, #4)
  • Defender (Foreigner, #5)
  • Explorer (Foreigner, #6)
  • Destroyer (Foreigner, #7)
  • Pretender (Foreigner, #8)
  • Deliverer (Foreigner, #9)
  • Conspirator (Foreigner, #10)
  • Deceiver (Foreigner, #11)

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8 likes · 1 comments
“Trust was a word you couldn't translate. But the atevi had fourteen words for betrayal.” 6 likes
“Baji-naji, nand' paidhi. Fortune has a human face and bastard Chance whores drunken down your streets.” 4 likes
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