Snail in Danger (Sid) Nicolaides's Reviews > Foreigner

Foreigner by C.J. Cherryh
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May 22, 2010

bookshelves: decided-not-to-read, science-fiction, could-not-finish
Read on May 21, 2010

I had looked at other books from this series in the past (in the bookstore) and not really felt the "gotta read that" vibe. But I checked out Finity's End from the library for a Cherryh fix, saw this next to it, and figured I'd give it a go.

Unfortunately, this book hops around a little too much. We get a few pages of the catastrophe at the beginning, a few pages from the time a few years down the line when the stranded survivors descendants have formed a stratified and factionalized society, and then we jump ahead six generations. Yes, as in 200 years.

However, we get a little too much of Bren being angsty and bored and confused, and not enough of the cool historical backstory or modern political intrigue. I apparently spoke truer than I knew here when I said that "Cherryh likes to tell big political stories through telling the individual personal stories of people concerned."

There are some excellently interesting scenes, and a few gorgeous turns of phrase, like -- "If that was being a hero, he didn't want to do it twice ..." -- and the scene with the alien curator/preservationist -- but meh. The awesome is not doled out sufficiently quickly, and so many things are just skipped over to get to Bren. Who is boring. :(

I cheated and read the laden-with-spoilers synopses here. It seems like there's plenty of interesting stuff here, just not necessarily at what I feel like is a suitable pace. I was amused to see that I was apparently right about what appeared to be hints at a romantic subplot.

Later note, 28 May 2010: I read on the author's web site that her editor made her put in the chapters at the beginning. This fills me with a certain dismay, because I can agree that they don't really belong there, despite being quite interesting as separate works. The dismay comes in because it's an article of my faith as a reader that writers (a) should be edited (with prudence) and (b) should want to be edited (so that I get a better finished story).

Anyway, if those mini-stories weren't there at the beginning I might have reacted differently to this book. I'd advise anyone thinking of reading this book to skip them at first, then read them when you've finished the main Bren-centric portion of the book.
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