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Audiobooks Downbelow StationAuthor C.J. Cherryh –

A Legend Among Sci Fi Readers, C J Cherryh S Union Alliance Novels, While Separate And Complete In Themselves, Are Part Of A Much Larger Tapestry A Future History Spanning , Years Of Human Civilization A Blockbuster Space Opera Of The Rebellion Between Earth And Its Far Flung Colonies, It Is A Classic Science Fiction Masterwork

10 thoughts on “Downbelow Station

  1. says:

    This book was too damn long.If you take a glass of whiskey and take a sip and it is too strong, add some water or ice and it makes it enjoyable But if you were to take the glass of whiskey and mix it with a gallon of water, then you will likely not even taste the whiskey.If an author takes a great idea and then adds five hundred pages to it, it may be too watered down.Too damn long.C.J Cherryh s Hugo Award winning space opera novel about a far future Earth and its far flung colonial system and how the farthest out colonies go rogue and of the space station in the middle that tries to stay neutral but can t and there are cutesy poo aliens who talk like intellectually challenged Ewoks who help out and then there are some assassin clones who have memory problems and then and then and thenNo doubt Ms Cherryh is an exceptionally talented writer and her imagination and world building are on wonderful display Her complicated and fully developed alien structures are first class science fiction And if this were a short story or even a novella, I may have liked, but this was just too much and drawn out too far I almost invoked my 100 page rule because she took so long in developing the plot that I almost collapsed I took an atropine injection in the thigh same as if I had been exposed to a nerve agent and kept reading By the middle of the book, I was at least in cruise control and staying with it But by the end, I just wanted it to be over.

  2. says:

    There is an entry in Science Fiction The Illustrated Encyclopedia regarding Downbelow Station It reads a chamber opera like Downbelow Station highlights human actors, stagefront, ashen with stress Downbelow Station reads like a classical historical epic, with a large cast of characters, many of whom are family, lots of intrigue, shifting allegiances, backstabbing sometimes quite literally , and of course, tragedy I m mentioning this, because many reviewers complain about the novel s slow pacing It does take a while to get into its stride, but once it does the pace picks up noticeably So, a novel about interstellar conflict Yes, and also no There are space battles here, but they don t fill a great many of the rather intimidating number of pages of this novel Neither is this a military science fiction novel from a tactical point of view Space Opera probably comes close, but refer the quote above This is a very good novel that just happens to be a Science Fiction novel The thing is, it is a really good novel The emphasis, however, is on social sciences, economics, logistics and the importance of family It is one of the most realistic science fiction novels I ve read, too, in its depiction of life on a space station The reader is right there in the corridors with the rest of the cast, smelling the fear, breathing the often stale air, stomach knotted with tension, while events on a grander scale and totally out of their control determine their fates.This novel concerns itself with things like Martial Law and the abuse of military power Reminiscent of cold war era intrigue the novel won the Hugo Award in 1982 , there are also scenes that might be re enactments of Germany s Kristallnacht during the Second World War People dragged from their homes, riots, collateral damage The resolutions to problems, plot dilemmas, were often vastly different to what I had foreseen In some cases the suddenness surprised me I would recommend this novel to anybody, especially science fiction readers, with a decent attention span Oh, and especially those who don t need to be spoon fed It wants to be read

  3. says:

    9 10 As a part of my Summer of Women 2015 reading challenge, I feel I should say a few words about the importance of C J Cherryh in the storming of the gates of the boy s club that was Science Fiction in its early days When she first started publishing her stories, she hid her gender behind those two innocuous initials She then reached such heights of recognition and praise that she now has an asteroid named after her, deservedly acknowledging her stature and her influence in the field Referring to this honor, the asteroid s discoverers wrote of Cherryh She has challenged us to be worthy of the stars by imagining how mankind might grow to live among them Downbelow Station is a fine example of why she belongs in the SF Hall of Fame the novel was voted among the best 50 SF novels of all time It is a good starting point for readers yet unfamiliar with her work, as it has been written as a stand alone and is the first to set up her Alliance Union universe the history of mankind escaping the bounds of its home planet, colonizing the galaxy, coming into contact with alien civilizations and overcoming its self destructing, predatory, warmongering instincts.The opening chapter is a necessary setting up of the scene, an infodump of the future history of our civilization, first with Newtonian spaceships and small steps, jumping from one planetary station to the next, and later with faster than light travel and a greater liberty of movement The presentation is a little too dry and factual, but it is saved by the clarity of the presentation and the elegance of the social and economical arguments, leading the reader to the current 24th century state of war between the Earth based Company that first established the space stations and the Union of rebel colonists who no longer acknowledge the right of the old world to decide their lives and to tax their earnings The starting point and inspiration might come from the Secession War of the American Colonies from Imperial England, with a strong flavour of the Cold War conflict between free entreprise and absolute state control of all aspects of society, but the details are fully original and constructed around the new technologies and the new social institutions born of space travel Speaking for myself, I felt like reading here an academic paper, the result of years of research, translated into an accessible language for everyday use, instead of a fanciful speculation about an hypotetical future Newly industrialized populations and the discontents of every nation set out on that long, long track in search of jobs, wealth, private dreams of freedom, the old lure of New World, human patterns recapitulated across a new and wider ocean, to stranger lands Stranger lands and exotic alien creatures are the strongest selling point of the author Cherryh excells at worldbuilding and at developing truly alien societies that are not simply clones of Earth based nations, but are determined by the particular environment and the particular economical factors of their home systems The first such aliens that humanity make contact with are the Hisa of Pell s Planet They are a peaceful, fun loving, tribally organizaed and technologically backward population, fur covered bipeds, huge eyed and shy of strangers, well adapted to the humid, oxygen rich atmosphere of their home planet The Hisa are relevant to the present novel because most of the action happens in and around the orbital station that human explorers built near theHisa homeworld In colloquial terms, the human colonists refer to the Pell planet as Downbelow, to the Hisa as Downers and to their home away from home as Downbelow Station.The Hisa though are only one factor in the conflict that is about to erupt in this corner of the Galaxy My best analogy for the plot developments is a game of chess played by a grandmaster of the art The Hisa are rooks, moving mostly in the shadows of their huge forests or in the back corridors of the station Rooks are also the local colonists on the station, trying to maintain their neutrality in the open war between the war fleet of the Company and the newly built spaceships of the Union rebels One side effect of the war is the flood of refugees coming to Downbelow Station from other colonies destroyed in the war The refugees are a wildcard, a knight capable of surprising moves with devastating results The king is the Downbelow Station itself Whoever gains control of it, will get the upper hand in the war both in valuable raw materials and in the most important hub for FTL jumps The queen for me is Signy Mallory, one of the captains of Mazian s Fleet, a derelict rogue squadron that was initially the military arm of the Company, now following only the whims of its charismatic Admiral Other pieces factions include the ruling family corporation on the Station The Konstantins and their main rival Jon Lukas the delegation from the United Nations of Earth who has a plan to end the Company s hegemony on space travel the independent merchants that are neutral in the conflict and provide the flow of goods and services between colonies Union saboteurs victims of torture and brainwashing, cloned soldiers for the Union, and so on.To continue with my chess analogy, the beginning of the novel can be overwhelming, with all this information about the different parties and their motives to absorb, and with all the positioning of the pieces on the board that may seem random and slow in the opening moves The patient reader will be rewarded later in the novel, when all these plays become explicit and the hidden identities, the hidden agendas are brought out in the open Cherryh is also showing the same merciless pragmatism of the chess master about sacrificing her pieces and leaving sentimentality behind with an eye to the end game The end game, when it eventually comes, is spectacular Space battles between ships of the line, assassinations in cramped corridors, friends betrayals and help from unsuspected allies clash over the Station with the stakes raised until the fate of the whole galaxy hangs in balance And the rooks become the most important pieces on the depleted board Magnificent The prose of Cherryh takes some getting used to, though Her academic credentials are undeniable, but, especially in the beginning, until the characters and the setting are established, reading her books feels like work Her style is dense, informative, uncompromising and sometimes cold detached Which makes the human interest passages even precious, like gems hidden in an ordinary fabric Downbelow Station is overall a grim story, full of drama and loss, so humour doesn t play a great part of the presentation, but love, tenderness, kindness shine brightly against the dark background The feminism credentials of Cheryh are all the convincing by being unobtrusive Equality od opportunity and of aptitudes is taken for granted, nothing to marvel at or to comment upon her heroines are space ship captains, rebellion leaders, political mavericks, science prodigies as a matter of course, based on personal merits and charisma and not as a result of bedroom games of secret, behind the screens machinations.My favorite quote comes from a merchanter lady, one of the collateral victims of the Company Union conflict She explains why going out into the void changes the whole perspective on life in a person You don t get much view on a ship Not what you d think It s the being there the working of it the feel of moving through what could surprise you at any moment It s being a dust speck in that scale and pushing your way through all that empty on your own terms, that no world can do and nothing spinning around one It s doing that and knowing all the time old goblin Deep is just the other side of the metal you re leaning on You stationers like your illusions And world folk, blue skyers, don t even know what real is Highly recommended

  4. says:

    I m finding it difficult to gather into coherent thoughts exactly how and why this novel affected me as powerfully as it did, but I was thoroughly compelled throughout, and ultimately I found it intensely and surprisingly moving This is my first encounter with the incredibly prolific and popular C.J Cherryh s work, and it won t be my last Her style is highly unusual she thrusts the reader into the middle of scenes, moments, and places with very little explanation, and she writes in a terse, compact, muscular style, which could have alienated me but didn t those aspects never stopped me from feeling like I had access to the many and various characters inner lives as they struggled their way through an increasingly intertwined and desperate situation I m not sure I ve ever read anything else that examined so many facets of a diplomatic and militaristic conflict in such a humane and intriguing manner The dread and tension that suffused the narrative as it followed refugees and politicians and secret agents and military leaders and the wonderfully imagined alien Hisas unfailingly drew me along, and I deeply admired the manner in which Cherryh never tipped her hand as to where her complex and incisively rendered plot was headed next I have read reviews that say this novel caused some folks to bounce off of it, and I can understand why it s dense, and doesn t always explain its world in easy terms, and the dynamics in the dialogue are often incredibly subtly drawn, and sometimes almost veering into, but never resulting in, obtuseness But somehow, all of this sprawling, powerful, tough minded but ultimately compassionate novel worked for me It only got better and better as its threads came together and gathered in a carefully wrought and hard won and very satisfying momentum There I ve tried to convey what impressed me so much, and I wonder at whether or not I was successful at doing so I highly recommend this novel, but with the full realization that it may not be to your liking at all I wouldn t have expected it to be so much to my liking, after all And yet it was, so very much.

  5. says:

    Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma which reading list to follow it up with Variety is the spice of life, so I ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously This book falls into my HUGO WINNERS list.This is the reading list that follows the old adage, if it ain t broke, don t fix it I loved reading the Locus Sci Fi Award winners so I m going to crack on with the Hugo winners next but only the post 1980 winners, I ll follow up with pre 1980 another time.4 and 5 star reviews are easy to write, you just need to articulate all the reasons you loved a book.1 and 2 star reviews are easy to write, you just need to articulate all the reasons you didn t like a book.It s these 3 star reviews I find hardest.If you ve never read any Cherryh, you need to know what you re getting into before you start if you re not in the right headspace you may well be frustrated and disappointed by her style.This is space opera territory a galactic war between the rag tag fleet of diehard Earth loyalists and the shiny clone army future of the new frontier The battle lines are moving and space station Pell and the Downbelow world with it s gentle alien Hisa which Pell Station orbits has ended up between the two factions, a neutral dot of strategic importance Refugees are flooding in from other space stations which have been overrun or destroyed Pell s capacity is overstretched time and again Refugee conditions in Quarantine are appalling riot, rape, murder, etc The situation is critical This is our story.This is what s great about Downbelow Station A cracking premise, and tension than a suspension bridge Before coming to Downbelow Station , I d read one other Cherryh book Cyteen I didn t realise before I started that they were set in the same Universe because Goodreads lists them as different series within that universe, and I hadn t done much further research It took me a long time to get to grips with Cyteen, but by the end I was a fan Cherryh s style is dry very, very dry on that later and serious There s very little leeway given in Downbelow Station to ease you in no exposition, no prevaricating, no tricks to smooth the ride She presents her cast in difficult situations, and then lets you watch them as they try their best to deal with them End of.The benefit of Cherryh s approach is an absorbing, convincing world, full of little details and nuances which bind it into a strongly cohesive experience The politics of the factions and their tactics and consequences all hang together in a well designed siege set piece It s intricate and marvellous but it s cold Every single character in Downbelow Station is a straight arrow There s not one moment of humour to lighten the mood and that was kind of unforgivable to me Humour is a classic coping mechanism for dealing with stress and I find it hard to believe that trait will be lost in this future world I find it hard to believe that a spaceship can be crewed by loyal automatons, without banter and wind ups have you ever spent time around lads in the forces Yes, there s love and affection, but no joy At all No love of life no sparkleponies, damnit For me and this is just my opinion, everyone s different when you re talking about war stories, part of the success lies in the dramatic tension, not just of how the situation will be resolved, who lives and who dies, but which side s principles and way of life will prevail I don t think Cherryh does enough to embody what the opposing philosophies represent Life on Pell Station before the war seems dull During the war it s tense There s not enough colour or flavour to make me believe their way of life is really worth saving Having said that, there s not enough shown of the Union way of life to really guess if that would be better or worse It s all just shades of grey and question marks.I said earlier that this is classic space opera territory but one of the hallmarks of space opera is melodrama big, bold, sweeping, romance, action a universe overflowing with life and drama No, no, no not here.I got a little annoyed with another review I wont name and shame which suggested this type of dry, almost technical sci fi can only be appreciated properly by sufficiently intelligent readers I call elitist bullsh t when I hear it Downbelow Station is a good book it s not a million miles away from being a great book but Cherryh deliberately shuns many of the storytelling conventions which would have tugged at the heartstrings as effectively as it interests the head As such, for me at least, it s found lacking.After this I read Hominids

  6. says:

    This remains one of my favorite books Cherryh works on a large canvas here, combining interstellar war and political intrigue and complex, sympathetic or not so sympathetic characters, all in a future that feels lived in I almost feel like I ve walked Pell Station s echoing docks, heard the crash of seals as merchanters came in to berth, been slammed against my seat as Norway pulls a high G course shift Fortunes rise and fall, alliances shift, loyalties are tested, and the end comes at a pace that seems breathless without being rushed Highly, highly recommended.

  7. says:

    Downbelow Station Machiavellian intrigue in spaceOriginally posted at Fantasy LiteratureI ve had C.J Cherryh s 1982 Hugo Award winner Downbelow Station on my TBR list for three decades, and was glad I finally got around to it via Audible Studios, ably narrated by Brian Troxell It s an intense, claustrophobic, gritty space opera with a huge cast of hard nosed characters battling to survive the Machiavellian intrigues of freelance Merchanters, Earth bureaucrats, Company fleet captains, Pell station administrators, Union space forces, secret agents, stationers, and incongruously cuddly Downer aliens It s a big, complex story, and not easy to follow on audio, but well worth the effort I emphasize the word effort, because it takes some serious concentration to keep track of all the moving pieces, and Cherryh s tough, muscular prose and clipped dialogue only reveal enough to keep the reader and characters guessing who is friend or foe, when alliances will be suddenly betrayed, and when help may come from unexpected sources.Several reviews of Downbelow Station complain that it is too dense and complex, the characters too unsympathetic, and the buildup too slow Some readers just gave up midway, but I think they missed out Indeed, the book opens with some exposition to describe the complex political, economic and migratory history of humanity in the 24th century, to give the reader a modicum of grounding before throwing them into the action immediately afterwards This book is actually the first book in Cherryh s Company Wars series, each of which are stand alone but take place in her Alliance Union universe In fact, Downbelow Station sets the stage for later events in that world, which are promising for readers who enjoy this book Having never read one of her books, but having seen so many of them in SF stacks for decades, I knew I would eventually want to try one Since won the 1982 Hugo Award, I thought this was the best place to start, and if I liked it I would then tackle her imposing 1989 Hugo Award winner Cyteen The cast of characters is so large and the plot so complicated that I struggle to describe it, and also, revealing too much spoils some of the story Suffice to say that the overarching story is the struggle for power between an increasingly isolationist Earth, the Company that initially prospered by setting up mining and trade operations as humanity spread out to nearby star systems, the independent Merchanters that ply the star ways, the stations themselves, and finally the growing power of the Union, an alliance of outer world colonies that see no need to be shackled to outdated Earth policies As jump technology is developed, this complex web of economic and political ties is thrown into disarray, and all the parties are forced to vie for independence or supremacy amid shifting loyalties and stratagems.One of my favorite reviewers, Algernon, uses the analogy of a chess match, as all the pieces are laid on the board and make complex moves that affect all the players, from the most powerful pieces down to the pawns themselves This may be why some readers found the opening chapters slow, but I appreciated the careful introduction of all the elements in this dance of intrigue And much like Game of Thrones, Cherryh doesn t hesitate to eliminate major players at unexpected moments So when the end comes, it s pretty impressive, and the last 100 pages feature a dizzying number of twists, double crosses, and snap decisions that will determine events to come for centuries in the Alliance Union universe So I found the payoff to be than enough to justify the time invested.One of the main characters, captain Signy Mallory of the Company ship Norway, deserves special mention as one of the toughest and most intense female characters I ve encountered in space opera There are some elements of Cordelia Naismith from the MILES VORKOSIGAN series, but several readers have hit the nail on the head by comparing her to Lt Ripley Sigourney Weaver in Alien It s a perfect fit, that combination of grit, dedication to her friends and crew, practicality, and general badass qualities She is a match for any of the tough guy captains of this ruthless struggle.The one discordant note in the story, which probably led me to give it 4 stars rather than 5 stars, is the gentle, cuddly, and hairy alien race known as the Hisa, or informally as Downers These speak in childish, broken English, are peace loving and gentle, and while they play a role in the book, they just don t fit this no holds barred story of ruthless humans Their lines really got quite annoying, as they say things like Konstantin good man, kind to Hisa, come help to us and not hurt, love you Sure, they have some analogies to subjugated peoples in human history, but they just didn t belong in this story.Overall, I was quite impressed with Downbelow Station and highly recommend it While there are some fairly dated parts, especially the constant mention of identification papers, documents and signatures, and hypnotic tapes that betray its 1981 origins as if we developed interstellar space flight but never developed electronic data storage , it is a good start to the COMPANY WARS series, and the larger Alliance Union universe.

  8. says:

    The world of the novel Downbelow Station is realpolitik a science fiction novel, with a plot which resembles the high level decision making historically made on Earth I m afraid sound bite intellectualism is not enough to read this book with down below depth If, gentle reader, you naturally mine news stories for the true story behind the publicly announced decision, then this book is exciting.Set in 2352, various businesses which desire money and political interests which desire power are smelling blood in the water The balance between the Earth Company, otherwise called The Company unaffiliated free merchanter transport starships the star stations such as Pell, some of which are huge space stations circling planets and others which are minor depots militarized Company Probe explorer Fleet ships, originally working for the Company but growing increasingly independent and The Union, a new political government which developed in the areas of space called the Beyond beyond Earth s and The Company s territory and reach has been slowly upset by technological advances and the long distances between human habitats Earth people have set a course of isolating themselves from the other space based communities Earth is deeply disturbed by the finding of life on Pell s world, the furry sentient race called the Hisa ironically they are as genuinely culturally moral as the human race pretends to be Earth has decided space doesn t matter except for necessary mining activities, which Earth people do only on space objects as close to Earth as possible The Company is in flux, barely grasping the understanding its days as a powerful player in space are ending The Fleet, a police force, starved of funds and attention from Earth and The Company, is pirate now than police The Union, forced to the use of cloning birth labs, an organization slowly developing from a few rebels resistant to The Company s taxes and control into a Communistic political power, has become reliant on its own resources and technology Far people are being born on space stations, starships and planets other than Earth Everyone is beginning to realize that Earth and The Company are no longer relevant, but despite the growing new centers of political power, people are reluctant to throw off centuries of belief, custom and authority from Earth As the story opens, war skirmishes between the various groups of human space inhabitants are growing in violence and frequency, particularly between The Union and organizations still claiming a loyalty to Earth The Company Predatory behavior by the Fleet and The Company are weakening bonds and historical links from the star stations and the merchant starships for Earth Tensions are rising while the interdependent organizations are deciding with whom to ally themselves Star stations and merchants are finding themselves caught between the interests of The Company, The Fleet and The Union, despite declaring their neutrality The Union has declared itself as the sole authority of the Beyond and is attacking star stations and planetary business installations The Beyonder Rebellion has been gaining momentum for decades and now refugees are flooding Pell.Pell Station can be described as literally in the middle politically Developed and managed by the Konstantin family, circling the planet known as Pell s World inhabited by the absolutely darling Hisa characters, they provide supplies and resident housing to transients and minors, politicians, businessmen and military travelers But nothing has prepared them for these political struggles As the last free star station between Earth and The Beyond, the war has reached them The refugees, brought by the Mazian Fleet vessel Norway , which is commanded by 49 year old Signy Mallory, cannot be refused landing The Fleet is armed, the station is not The refugees are filthy, traumatized and desperate It s possible Union spies are among them, but the chaos of transporting thousands has made checking identities almost impossible However, one refugee is clearly Union, possessing the unearthly beauty of lab grown humans Joshua Talley, a prisoner of war But he is claiming asylum on the neutral Pell Station, asking for the Adjustment Damon Konstantin finds Adjustment morally reprehensible, but as the son of Angelo Konstantin who is in charge of Pell, he must assess and decide Damon s wife, Elene, a former Merchanter, is processing the refugees down in the dock areas, and has received news all of her family has died aboard her famlly based merchant freighter starship Damon s brother, Emilio, is at Downbelow, located on Pell s Planet Emilio is taking over from Jon Lucas There has been disturbing reports of abuse of the Hisa which has necessitated recalling Lucas to Pell Station Lucas hates the Konstantins than he hates the Hisas Adding to the stress, Company men, led by Segust Ayres of the Security Council, is looking for transport to jump him to the new border between The Union and Earth, but Mallory is refusing his authority, a sign of the growing independence of The Fleet from its former employers Ayres wants to negotiate a truce with The Union The refugees have selected a man, Vassily Kressich, to represent them in the Pell Council The Pell Council is trying to decide how to handle the new influx of refugees who they have temporarily placed in Q, or quarantine Unfortunately, the refugees are organizing criminal gangs in Q, and are short on law, resources and space station territory Kressich is unfortunately a coward and not a leader, and the gangs keep him hiding in his room.Opportunities for betrayal and grabs for political power grow, conspiracies for murder are planned, alliances are reassessed and reform, secrets are being revealed and exciting battles for survival ensue Then the Union warships arrive No one is paying attention to the Hisa, the simple, sweet, non violent Hisa, who are seen as hairy primitives only capable of housework and little else, who are all over the star station and Pell s Planet I think this is a brilliant book written by someone with a genius intellect It required mastery of realpolitik political science and a deep awareness of human nature and perhaps someone who has met Machiavellin style politicians and military leaders Or, even likely, an author who has such a mind herself We are in an era where simple vocabulary and simple lessons are the rules for being published and being popular among many readers, for example, a book describing the moralistic quanderies of sparkling vampires is promoted as amazing new teen literature preparing 21st century youth for the travails of being adults How frightening is that No matter how simple and plain speaking, or dumb downed, we seem to want the education of the general population to be religious and politically correct 10th grade knowledge being the recognized successful attainment level for graduation from secondary school , this in no way prevents political manipulation or moral depravity occurring in government or business I prefer books that explain how the real world works in order to understand how society actually functions Whether you approve of books which show what is behind the curtain of respectability and conformity or not, the fact is that unpleasant realities exist and having a clever educated mind is better preparation for adult life Ok, opinionated lecture over.I highly recommend this book The innocent, love you Hisa Boy, do they have a surprise for everyone.

  9. says:

    Executive Summary If you like politics and war in a sci fi setting where the focus is on the people and not the battles, this book is worth checking out If you re looking for a lot of space battles however, you may be disappointed Full Review I read this book as the March pick for Sword Laser It s still early in the month but so far most of the discussion seems to be in the Is anyone else having a hard time getting started thread I must say I don t really understand this.Sure this book is dense at times The book also starts with a lot of world building It gives you several character perspectives as well But it s well written, and the plot is compelling.It centers around a neutral space station over the planet Pell caught in the middle of a war between The Company and The Union.This book reminds me a lot of Star Trek Deep Space 9 or Babylon 5 To a lesser degree Battlestar Galactica Mostly because the latter had a lot space battles Cherryh doesn t spend pages detailing epic battles here Sometimes you see the aftermath, or get the report of a distant battle when news reaches Pell station There aren t completely missing however I like a good space battle as much as the next sci fi geek, but it s not a requirement for me.What this books does have is political driven agendas, greed, ambition, and a surprising amount of compassion at least from some of the characters Like some popular fantasy series I ve read Song of Ice Fire Malazan Fallen Cherryh gives you multiple points of view on the situation Unlike those books however, there aren t as many shades of grey Or weren t for me I knew pretty early on mostly whose good and whose bad, and I m not suddenly surprised at the end There are some exceptions however that seem to reside in a shade of grey, but not many.Overall a very enjoyable book I m a little disappointed to find out there is no true sequel to this book as there are a lot things I m interested in reading about in the aftermath The conclusion is satisfying however, and I hope to check out books in this universe at some point down the road, but I won t be rushing out to get the next book just yet.

  10. says:

    I m becoming quite a fan of C.J Cherryh I really like the way she writes aliens and the Hisa Downers in Downbelow Station were yet another notch on the positive side of the score board I pictured their bodies as rather large baboon like primates, with the faces of surprised baby orangutans They definitely had their own thought processes and ways of communication, very foreign from those of human beings Cherryh s interest in history became apparent quickly, with the humans treatment of the Hisa it is very reminiscent of the treatment of Native Americans by Europeans There are two schools of thought among the human population treat the Hisa harshly and force them to do things the human way or recognize them as beings in their own right and get things done through co operation The peopling of space also reminded me very much of the days of European exploration of our world, when sailing ships went out into uncharted waters and returned with experiences that no European had ever dreamed of before Once out on the ocean, these explorers were on their own and would be making their own decisions within the framework specified by the powers that had sponsored their expeditions Just as in Downbelow Station, it was commerce which inspired the vast majority of these adventures, but the outcomes were not necessarily what was originally anticipated One issue that I found somewhat confusing was the growth of crops for human consumption on a world where humans couldn t breathe the atmosphere surely plants grown in those hostile to Earthlings conditions wouldn t be compatible with our biology There were also echoes of modern history and culture the lab produced troops of the planet Cyteen had a definite Boys from Brazil vibe The war scenes, with shifting alliances and priorities, can be compared to virtually any modern war and probably many ancient ones as well The where and when of war changes, but the basic events stay repetitively the same And aren t modern city dwellers equivalent in many ways to residents on space stations out of touch with the natural world, surrounded by human construction and noise, and glued to their various man made communication devices Cherryh s version of that technology has dated, but think how fast our technology has changed since 1980 No one had even considered the internet or mobile phones at that point I think it was rather prophetic of Cherryh, back in 1980, to see the role that big corporations were going to play in future human politics As we watch large multinationals stick handle around various national laws, taxes, and other constraints, we see some of the Downbelow Station world coming of age before we have even left the planet Downbelow Station provides a great prologue for further adventures in the Union Alliance universe.This is title 162 of my science fiction and fantasy reading project.