Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Return to the Alliance-Union

After too long a time, C.J. Cherryh is returning to the series that got me started reading her stuff: the Alliance-Union series that includes novels such as Downbelow Station (cover pictured above), Merchanter's Luck, Cyteen and so much more! The new title is Alliance Rising and has the promising sub-title of The Hinder Stars I.

Rosie’s Pub was Alpha-based spacer turf. It was where you went on the Strip to spend time, to talk with shipmates, friends, and other ships’ crew who were regulars at Alpha Station.

And like other bars on the Strip, Rosie’s maintained, half-lost in the glassware and the bottles of liquor on the shelves above the bar, a sched­ule board—a list of ships coming in, ships leaving, ships currently in dock. Widescreen, three separate displays: interstation FTL'ers, mainte­nance insystemers, and on the far left, the sub-lighters, those two remain­ing links to Sol Station and Earth, one ship coming, one going, on their ten-year-long voyages—Sol being the only star outside the jump range of the faster-than-light ships: ironic proof, some said, that there was a god.

That part of the screen rarely changed: two ships, two destinations, no surprises there. The other two sections, with FTL'ers listed in the center and insystemers on the right, ebbed and flowed with the tides of commerce—shifting but generally predictable.

Until three hours ago, when the words in arrival had flashed above the listing of FTL ships and assigned berths.

In arrival. With no name or origin, just an ominous blank where both ought to appear.

Three hours and counting, and still no update.

Nobody remembered that happening. Ever. FTL ships dropped in at system zenith and sent ID before the first vane pulse, so ID arrived nearly simultaneously with the entry wavefront. In arrival always, always, came with a ship name attached. Period. That information kept honest folk from flashing on Beta Station...and the ghosts of stationers who had just disappeared, back at the dawn of all the star-stations, when the sub-lighter Santa Maria had come into Beta Station, at Proxima Centauri, and found..nothing. No remains, no explanation, no clue.

No one visited Proxima, ever, after that. Alpha Station, at Barnard’s Star, the first station outside Sol system itself, developed daughter stations in the opposite direction, and thrived.

Until FTL changed everything.

I forget exactly where I first came across Cherryh, but it was pretty early on. I still remember the excitement of reading Downbelow Station. Shortly thereafter, Mayfair Games came out with a boardgame based on the book and the author was invited to be a guest at Origins (back when it was a traveling show). I remember meeting her when I was volunteering at either the Game Designers' Workshop or the Steve Jackson Games booth, walking around and looking bemused at another wacky fandom.

As time went by, I read other books in the series (and other books by the author, but these remained my first love). There was the time that I had saved up a couple of the Chanur books and read them while sitting on hard plastic chairs in a uncomfortable waiting room to fulfill my obligation to serve on a jury (I never was called, so I got a lot of reading done that week). There was the time, relatively early on in the commercial internet, when I found a C.J. Cherryh mailing list. That led to a lot of discussion, timelines, and even some wonderful stellar software (sadly withered and abandoned) that allowed you to see the positions of the stars in the books, the possible jump routes and the like.

May this book be the first of many more!

1 comment:

  1. I too am a C. J. Cherryh fan who is looking forward very much to the new Alliance-Union book. So this is great news, and I have the link saved on Amazon.