This felt like a mediocre late 70 s early 80 s sci fi TV series made for teenagers Maybe not the best choice for my first C.J Cherryh read.The concept isn t a bad one, a first contact experience portrayed from the perspective of the aliens However, it seems like the author was trying to impress with the diversity of alien species, languages and weird names, and never evolved the story beyond a kind of galactic chase, with the protagonists pursued by devious pirates The main characters, primary among them heavily anthropomorphized lionesses, feel robotic, and the relationships shallow.The aliens have interstellar ships and hyperspace drives, but still examine graphs on paper and possess only primitive means of inter species communication, mostly relying on the broken, caveman like utterances that each is capable of giving in another language If you were cutting corners in a cheap TV production I could understand this, but in a book it just feels uninspired and frankly lazy. C.J Cherryh is one of the most respected SF authors in the genre, she has written hundreds of books over several decades and won several awards Yet until now I have never read any of her books, I attempted her highly esteemed Cyteen but had to give it up after struggling mightily with it for 50 or so pages So, The Pride of Chanur is my second attempt at a Cherryh book I did finish it but it was still a mighty struggle I thought I had a false start with Cyteen but this Chanur book may just be the deal breaker for me I appreciate her talent but I just can not seem to tune into her wavelength The Pride of Chanur starts off well with an intriguing premise and clever narrative from an alien point of view At the beginning of the book a man named Tully stowaways on board the eponymous Pride of Chanur spaceship owned by Captain Pyanfar Chanur, an alien of the hani species Tully does not speak the alien language and has to rely on the ship s not terribly effective translation machine to communicate with the hanis Tully is on the run from evil aliens of the kif species who captured and killed his crewmates when they came across and captured a human ship The kifs want him back for commercial gains but he finds the hani species to be sympathetic and begs for their protection.Great plot, I was initially intrigued by the possibility of this plotline and the potential for a tremendous adventure of a lone human aboard an alien ship, gradually assimilating into their crew and society, each species learning something from each other To my chagrin Ms Cherryh did not go there, perhaps the idea seems too predictable for her given the setup Instead the narrative concentrates on the kifs pursuing the hanis across space and hyperspace in their spaceship with their superior firepower This is not even as exciting as it sound as there is no sense of momentum in the narrative, the attack on the The Pride of Chanur spaceship is described in a rather detached manner and I just could not feel involved in it Around the half way point I became and disengaged from the narrative and by the time I was reading the last 50 pages of the book I decided to just speed read through them without worrying about missing nuances or some plot details, the alternative is to give up on it To be fair to the author the problem is my personal expectation of what I thought the story is going to be about vs the actual story C.J Cherryh wanted to tell It s like I was happily riding on a horse and suddenly the damned thing shook me off and dumped me unceremoniously on the ground The protagonist Pyanfar Chanur not the human character is quite well developed and I like her well enough the ladies are in charge in the hani culture , the other supporting characters did not come alive for me, perhaps because the narrative is strictly from Pyanfar s point of view and there is not much dialogue from the supporting characters to get a feel of their personality The scenes featuring the lone human Tully are of the most interest to me as a fellow human but he is not featured all that much, besides he is depicted as cautious, fearful and miserable for most of the book so he is not as dynamic and interesting as I hoped he would be The ending of the book is actually quite good and I wish I had liked the book so I can read the sequels, but for me to read any from this series would be ridiculous.While I definitely do not like The Pride of Chanur I do appreciate Cherryh s talent, imagination and the attention to details that went into its creation there is an impressive appendix at the back of the book Her execution of this book alienates me completely but I guess that cannot be helped, this is an intelligent book and a lot of people like it even though I don t I still want to give her Foreigner series a try as I have read a lot of good things about it One attempt won t hurt 2.5 stars No One At Meetpoint Station Had Ever Seen A Creature Like The Outsider Naked Hided, Blunt Toothed And Blunt Fingered, Tully Was The Sole Surviving Member Of His Company A Communicative, Spacefaring Species Hitherto Unknown And He Was A Prisoner Of His Discoverer Captors The Sadistic, Treacherous Kif, Until His Escape Onto The Hani Ship The Pride Of Chanur Little Did He Know When He Threw Himself Upon The Mercy Of The Pride And Her Crew That He Put The Entire Hani Species In Jeopardy And Imperiled The Peace Of The Compact Itself For The Information This Fugitive Held Could Be The Ruin Or Glory Of Any Of The Species At Meetpoint Station Cover Art By Michael Whelan I first read this in my teens, and was astounded This was the first science fiction novel I came across where the dominant pronoun in use for the entire story was she I had never read a science fiction or a fantasy novel until then where women were anything but props for the main male character, nothing than helpmates disgusting idea or punching bags even worse idea For the first time, I read about a group of women flying spaceships, conducting trade, managing complicated political situations, keeping their heads in crises, and I was totally thrilled I reread this book every so often and though I still find points that are a little confusing, I never feel anything but thrilled with Pyanfar Chanur and Haral and Hilfy and the other very capable women who crew the Pride I realized that Pyanfar reminds me a little of what a much younger Ilsidi ji might have been like, many years before she met Bren in Foreigner Pyanfar is competently managing trade for the Chanur, a fairly respected and well off family on Anuurn, the hani homeworld She s well off, knows how to get a good deal, can deal well with the various other oxygen breathers in Compact space, and wham A human drops into her world, and brings a massive number of problems to her ship, her family, her world, and all her assumptions about males and their behaviour Py spends a good portion of the novel just trying to keep her ship intact and her crew alive and ahead of the machinations of Akukkak, a rather terrifyingly organized kif She is also forced to begin rethinking her views of the value and actions of males, thanks to Tully, the human Up till then, Pyanfar had been fairly content with the way hani females and males worked together.Though this novel wraps up its action, it does set up a much bigger and dangerous set of political situations across Compact space, which is actually in the same universe as Cherryh s Alliance Union stories And I find that once I follow Pyanfar onto the bridge of the Pride, I can t just leave her at the close of this book, and usually end up reading the entire series again. I liked this series An all female crew of cat people finds a poor lost human male Nobody in this part of space has ever encountered a human being before, so the crew take pity on the poor creature I mean, you can t let a male out of the ship He is too excitable to fend for himself I found myself chuckling at the sexism exhibited by the female protagonists We men have populated plenty of books with a token, beautiful female This is PAYBACK This book is not for those without a sense of humor To top it off, there is a good story with plenty of space opera action. CJ Cherryh doesn t take a lot of time to fill you in on the background in her worlds she just dumps you into the deep end and from there it s catch as catch can It can be tough to understand what s going on at times, but basically it s a fast moving action adventure story which has a breathless momentum that drags you along in its wake I ve read the whole series about half a dozen times, and they make and sense in terms of the political maneuvering There s definitely an internal logic at work If you like hard sci fi, you ll love this series. There had been something loose about the station dock all morning, skulking in amongst the gantries and the lines and the canisters which were waiting to be moved, lurking wherever shadows fell among the rampway accesses of the many ships at dock at Meetpoint It was pale, naked, starved looking in what fleeting glimpse anyone on The Pride of Chanurhad had of it I might have read this 30 years ago or so, but I remembered nothing Just a vague feeling that I liked it I did like it, although it took a while to warm up to Pyanfar, Tully and the crew of the Pride of Chanur I did love most of the other characters and alien races, their descriptions, oddities and quirks The knnn sound fascinating The cat lions and their familial structure were nicely done The Personage with her his fluff and voice was fun The pidgin was confusing at times.That is really where Cherryh seems to shine world building, a great way of creating a feel for other societies and how they tick Even in Foreigner, which I found boring for very long stretches, her society and world building stuck with me the most I will definitely read of Pyanfar s adventures.P.S Is it weird that in my head the Kif sound like Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug 3 4 stars, not quite decided yet. 3.5 Up until now, my only experience with Cherryh was through her excellent Foreigner series This novel felt rather different, although at the base of it, politics, diplomacy, economics and linguistics are still very much at the fore However their treatment is changed.The crew of the space freighter Pride of Chanur find a stowaway on their ship, a weird creature seeking refuge from the aggressive Kif, who captured and tortured him in order to get valuable information Once , the human is the alien of the piece, and is seem from the eyes of the Hani captain, Pyanfar Chanur, who is faced with a dilemma Distrusting the Kif, she decides to help the sentient stranger and evades their manipulations However, the situation is much complicated than thatWhat surprised me was the pacing This novel has plenty of action, jumping from one scene to the next with hardly a moment to breathe Yet, Cherryh s writing style is recognisable Weirdly, it kept reminding me of Ann Leckie s too The other interesting aspect was the Hani s views on gender, resulting with their ships being manned solely by females, which added a further angle to their reactions to the male human. Definitely a high 3.5 stars, but not quite a 4 for me, Cherryh s The Pride of Chanur combines space opera with some gritty hard ish sf elements in the beginning of a saga that deals with the political and economic ramifications of first contact In this first volume of the Chanur saga we follow the exploits of a crew of Hani lion like aliens on the eponymous merchant space freighter The Pride of Chanur Expecting nothing than a routine run across their trade routes, Pyanfar Chanur, captain of the Pride, imagines the worst trouble she s likely to have to deal with is her headstrong niece Hilfy Of course she s wrong and what was proving to be a rather boring trip becomes deadly as they run across trouble in the form of an alien stowaway while they are docked at the Meetpoint space station The reader is thrust into the middle of things which quickly come to a head as Cherryh examines what appears to be one of her favourite tropes the idea of the human being as alien In this case our point of view characters are the lion like Hani and our view of the lone human character is completely from the outside as the typical barriers of communication, biology and mind set stand between full understanding The Hani themselves are an alien species that is only one part of a precarious Compact between numerous alien races the ape like Mahendo sat, the tall and whispy Stsho, and the long snouted and nefarious Kif all of whom share at least a minimal biological similarity and exist in a precarious political balance of trade and travel Added to this fragile structure are aliens of an even strange make up several species of methane breathers whose biology and mind set are a mystery even to those with whom they share space, but who barely manage to co exist with the others.All that is needed to throw the entire political structure of the Compact off balance is one secret advantage that can be exploited by one member race at the expense of the others Enter Tully, a lone human in Compact space recently captured and tortured by the Kif in the hopes of gaining sole access to human space for exploitation, only to escape and seek refuge in the belly of The Pride of Chanur Too altruistic to exploit or harm Tully, and too mistrusting of the wily Kif to return him to their clutches, Pyanfar cuts and runs in the hope that she can escape the Kif hunter ships and find refuge and aid among the people of her homeworld Pyanfar hadn t gambled on the single mindedness of the Kif captain whose reputation and very existence now hinge upon regaining his lost prize and she gets much than she bargained for as the Kif calls in and ally ships in a hunt across the galaxy and Pyanfar s allies and options become thinner and thinner as her journey progresses.Cherryh covers a lot of ground in this first volume what does it mean to be an alien How do we communicate and interact with each other How far should one go int he name of one s principles at the expense of other s lives An especial concern for the Hani is the relation between genders The Hani themselves have an interesting social make up in which all males are confined to their homeworld due to their unsuitability to interacting with other races they are far too violent and headstrong to be trusted amongst races whose ways and customs differ so greatly from their own and to whom the slightest insult could mean interstellar war While the males rule the clan Holds that retain political power on their own world and seem to inspire some level of deference in their females, it becomes apparent that they do not do this without the aid of their high ranking wives and the fact that females control all interstellar travel and trade definitely makes the gender politics of the Hani interesting One of Pyanfar s greatest concerns is how to deal with a male alien amongst her all female crew.I m curious to see where this story goes what will become of Tully and the entire human race now that it has been discovered by a society made up of multiple alien species Are the Kif really as evil as they are painted in this volume or is there to them than black hats Will we ever learn about the mysterious methane breathers and their own designs within the Compact This is only my second Cherryh novel, but I certainly enjoyed it enough to want to continue going through her extensive oeuvre My real quandary is what to tackle next Continue exploring Compact space with Pyanfar and her crew Check out one of her gritty sci fi books concentrating solely on the human political and ideological conflicts within the Alliance Union universe Follow Morgaine in her science fantasy adventures through gates that bend space and time See how she tackles an homage to the genre classic Dune with the Kesrith saga Explore the ramifications of cloning in the classic Cyteen Re examine the human as alien concept with Cuckoo s Egg The opportunities are almost endless and the embarrassment of riches makes the choice a difficult one. This is a reread for me, but I first read this series over ten years ago I ve knocked a star off my earlier review, mainly because I m a little bit critical as a reader now It s still a great immersive read.Pyanfar Chanur is the captain of The Pride of Chanur, an interstellar trading ship of the hani, a leonine species While at Meetpoint station a strange creature attempts to board The Pride, clearly fleeing from kif, a sinister species also docked at Meetpoint Pyanfar s snap decision to shelter this strange looking human creature, Tully, has immediate and far reaching consequences as the kif attack with the lethal force and set off in pursuit of The Pride Running for their lives, the hani ship encounter the bizarre methane breathing knnn and mahendo sat, allies with ulterior motives, and soon find themselves at the center of a major political incident that threatens the whole of the multi species Compact All of that on top of the domestic political and familial events triggered by the situation.Cherryh s Compact Space is an adjunct of her Alliance Union series in a different part of space That s not immediately apparent from this first book, but there are tie ins in later books and space travel works the same in both series It feels a bit dated now, over 35 years after first publication, particularly in the lack of ubiquitous computing and communications access, but even so the series remains an absolute classic of space opera.The rich characterization of each of the alien species and the characters are typical of Cherryh s books, as is the almost claustrophobic closeness of the intense third person narrative from Pyanfar s point of view She is a proud and cranky character prone to impulsive actions, but is deeply caring and protective of the people she considers her own Many of the criticisms that her fellow hani and bystander aliens are completely valid, but Pyanfar goes to a lot of trouble to do the right thing despite there being are far easier and much less moral way of resolving the situation.Two final points The Pride of Chanur is full of a defining feature I find in nearly all of Cherryh s writing Like in real life, important pivot points are often over before you even realize it, with consequences and implications to be sorted over for ages afterwards What this translates to in terms of a reader is that you need to read this stuff carefully because key points may be as simple as a sentence in the middle of action.Lastly, while this is the first book of a series, it s actually a standalone and can be read as such The next three book form a trilogy followed by another standalone for a total of five books.
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 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
- 224 pages
- The Pride of Chanur
- C.J. Cherryh
- 17 October 2019 C.J. Cherryh