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    EXPLORER by C. J. Cherryh


    DAW Books, November 2002

    The combined human and atevi group is nearing the damaged space station Reunion, but are no closer to agreement about what to do when they get there. The pilot's guild, which runs Reunion, still has loyalties among some of the humans on the spaceship. The aliens who attacked Reunion are likely to be waiting, watching. And the guild is certainly unlikely to peacefully agree to give up their traditional powers. It doesn't help that Phoenix's late captain had lied to the crew and the planet dwellers about what he left behind when he fled Reunion.

    For Bret, translator and court functionary between the atevi (planet alpha aliens) and humans, the dangers are clear, but so is the potential. He's devoted his life to bridging the huge differences between atevi and humans. To communicate with a third race would be a dream come true. Of course, before he can manage that, he's got to persuade his fellow humans and the atevi he serves to go along. Sadly, it's the humans who cause him most of his problems.

    EXPLORER starts out slowly, with pages of discussion of past history (partly to set the stage for readers who are not familiar with the Foreigner series and partly because this seems to be author C. J. Cherryh's style (see more reviews of SF novels by Cherryh) and worrying about what ex-captain Ramirez did and how his actions might have been read by an unknown alien species, but definitely heats up with the arrival at Reunion. Cherryh provides a powerful balance between intriguing characters, including richly detailed atevi characters, action, and the best of speculative SF with her analysis of how communications might be established with the new group of aliens. Fans of the series will definitely need to read this book.


    Reviewed 1/16/03

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