Monday, December 5, 2022

Review of Emergence by C.J. Cherryh

The driving forces behind the past fifteen—fifteen!!—Foreigner books have finally been put to rest. The Shadow Guild has been defeated and an accord has been reached with the Kyo protecting all sides for the future. Where could Cherryh possibly take the Foreigner series next with Emergence (2018)? To be blunt, Emergence does not directly answer that question, but does at least hint...

Emergence spends half of its calories putting footnotes on the Shadow Guild's attempt at a coup. (After fifteen books, I hope this is the final time we have to read about the Shadow Guild.) The novel starts with Cajeri, Uncle Tatesegi's house in the countryside, and yet another attack in the night on the house by shadowy people. There is a slightly different feel to this scenario given what has transpired. But yes, you've been here before—two times, if my count is correct. And though it's brief, yes, Bren's battle bus likewise makes another appearance.

Cherryh does add some new spices to the stew, however. With living conditions on the space station having become ever more tight given population growth, the other half of the novel's calories is burned on Bren, who spends Emergence in Mospheira negotiating the transfer of refugees to the surface. Save a contrived moment of drama at the conclusion, this section of the novel is a lot of explanation and agreement, clearly setting the stage for the two novels to come.

And for those concerned about the continuity of he series as a whole, no worries. Cherryh remains on point. Style, tone, pacing—everything is in the same vein as prior Foreigner novels, age having not affected Cherryh's abilities, nor has she decided to do something radical with the series.

In the end, it seems that Cherryh is finally taking Foreigner in a new direction, away from the Shadow Guild. There are tensions in the human population on the surface as well as in the space station, but within the atevi the Shadow Guild situation seems to have finally resolved itself. To say precisely where tension within the atevi exists now is to spoil matters, but I can say it has promise. It brings back a character who played a role in previous novels, but in a manner fresh with new implications. Let's see...

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