Psychology of CJ Cherryh's works

67zildjian

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Why does everyone bash her style of prose?
Why don't we discuss the psychological effects of the human element in each story.
She reaches a depth of understanding human psychology in her alien building finesse that NO other author has ever achieved. Period.
Nothing in her universes is over written, nor subpar.
Only your approach to it is.
You want to enjoy her work?
You better intoduce yourself to a multitude of sciences.
C.J. is NO slouch when it comes to using real world studies to define, build, and continually develop (multipe) universes, AND the depth of the characters she creates: just for us.
This woman is a true phenom, and dare I say the BEST science fiction writer of all time.
If you don't like her books, you should be better educated.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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Does everybody bash her style of prose? I hadn't noticed that. Either someone likes an author or they don't. It's up to them. There is no use trying to shame them into liking something by saying they "should be better educated." That is counter-productive. They come to associate the insult with the author and resist reading their books all the more.

I happen to love many of Cherryh's books. But sometimes it's hard to figure out how and why things happen, how a character gets from point A to point B in their thinking, their decision making. I think it is down to her style, of writing in such close POV for each character that we are told their conclusions about something without telling how they reached them, probably because it was an intuitive or unconscious leap for that character. The confusion this sometimes brings is the price I willingly pay for the intensity of the experience of reading one of her books. But if other people don't find the same rewards, then I can easily see how she could be too much work for them. In which case, they are better off reading something that works for them, rather than torturing themselves with an author they don't care for.

I believe that no one writes about alien species with such skill and complexity as Cherryh does. For me, her aliens are undoubtedly the very best. But I always understood she based her writing on her deep knowledge of anthropology—which does, of course, involve human psychology, but so far as I know, and I may be wrong, psychology is not her field or her main interest.

I do think a lot of people might like her work who haven't tried it yet. Because she is a woman they may, quite mistakenly, think her writing is not mentally tough enough to please them. They would be wrong, of course. Those are the people it might be useful to convince to give her work a chance, not the people who have already tried it and didn't like it.
 

67zildjian

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Does everybody bash her style of prose? I hadn't noticed that. Either someone likes an author or they don't. It's up to them. There is no use trying to shame them into liking something by saying they "should be better educated." That is counter-productive. They come to associate the insult with the author and resist reading their books all the more.

I happen to love many of Cherryh's books. But sometimes it's hard to figure out how and why things happen, how a character gets from point A to point B in their thinking, their decision making. I think it is down to her style, of writing in such close POV for each character that we are told their conclusions about something without telling how they reached them, probably because it was an intuitive or unconscious leap for that character. The confusion this sometimes brings is the price I willingly pay for the intensity of the experience of reading one of her books. But if other people don't find the same rewards, then I can easily see how she could be too much work for them. In which case, they are better off reading something that works for them, rather than torturing themselves with an author they don't care for.

I believe that no one writes about alien species with such skill and complexity as Cherryh does. For me, her aliens are undoubtedly the very best. But I always understood she based her writing on her deep knowledge of anthropology—which does, of course, involve human psychology, but so far as I know, and I may be wrong, psychology is not her field or her main interest.

I do think a lot of people might like her work who haven't tried it yet. Because she is a woman they may, quite mistakenly, think her writing is not mentally tough enough to please them. They would be wrong, of course. Those are the people it might be useful to convince to give her work a chance, not the people who have already tried it and didn't like it.
I do agree with your first few statements. I just get so frustrated when people can't grasp her work. I was a bit hasty, and perhaps a little unfair.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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It can be frustrating when our favorite writers don't get the recognition we think they deserve. (While others that we might not think as good seem to have praise heaped on them.) But not much use, really. Impossible not to feel, of course, even so.

But I don't think we need to get frustrated on C. J. Cherryh's account. She's had a long career, published dozens of books, won major genre awards, and even had an astroid named after her. The Morgaine books have, reportedly, sold in the millions.

Of course she's had her ups and downs with publishers, who don't always want to publish the book she wants to write at any given moment. (And often not the sequels I'd like to see her write, which is disappointing as a reader!). That is the way the business works. But an author has other options than to cater to the big publishers these days and I understand that Cherryh is exploring them. She has even rewritten some of her books that she wasn't pleased with the first time they were published. I must say, those were not my favorites among her books either, but I wonder if I will like the new versions more or less.

If you want to talk about her books, I would be interested to know which of them are your favorites, and why.
 

Pyan

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Preaching to the converted here, old chap - I mean, look at my username...

Oh, and welcome to the Chrons!
 

Parson

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I too am a Cherryh fan. Her books are dense, but well worth the effort. And I absolutely concur, no one writes aliens any better, and very rarely as well, as she does.

I don't think you'll find any? many? Cherryh bashers among the Chrons regulars. Some feel she's not their style, but I think everyone respects her.
 

Foxbat

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With so many books and so little time on Earth, Cherryh is a writer I've yet to try. Is there any particular place I should start or should I just begin at the beginning with her first novel?
 

Teresa Edgerton

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It depends on what you are looking for. She has some range in her writing. If you enjoy science-fantasy, I don't think you could do better anywhere than the Morgaine series, which starts with Gate of Ivrel. If you want straight fantasy, perhaps the Fortress series, or a stand-alone like Goblin Mirror. If you are looking for science fiction, I would recommend The Faded Sun trilogy, (though pyan would probably suggest Pride of Chanur, which is the beginning of a trilogy featuring his namesake, Pyanfar) or for a stand-alone Hunter of Worlds. Another stand-alone I particularly like is her early Serpent's Reach, but you'll find a lot of people who think it is too light-weight. I don't think it is light-weight. I think it is a brilliant exploration of what it means to be human, plus (and this is the real reason why I like it, let's be honest) I found myself bonding quite intensely with the main characters. But that is a thing that could happen with most of her books.

However, my recommendations will probably not be the same recommendations that you will get from other Cherryh fans here.
 

Foxbat

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I lean more towards Science Fiction and Hunter of Worlds, being a standalone, sounds like a possible Cherryh hors d'oevres:)
 

reiver33

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I’ve only read Downbelow Station and Hellburner, many years ago, but wasn’t aware of her being considered a ‘difficult’ read
 

Pyan

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The Goblin Princess said:
(though pyan would probably suggest Pride of Chanur, which is the beginning of a trilogy featuring his namesake, Pyanfar)

Yes. Yes, he would...:)
 

Pyan

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@pyan Because of your avatar, I'd assumed your username was some obscure H.P. Lovecraft reference.:unsure:
I can see that - I assumed that Foxbat was an obscure reference to The Prisoner...;)
 

67zildjian

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With so many books and so little time on Earth, Cherryh is a writer I've yet to try. Is there any particular place I should start or should I just begin at the beginning with her first novel?

I recommend reading them in the order she released them, if only to better grasp her ability to juggle so many worlds, so many universes, and why each character study is so important.
 

copper

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I'm not sure I've read any of Cherryh's books other than the Foreigner series. My dad was in the diplomatic corps and I grew up in that environment, moving between cultures, so the themes of intercultural communication and diplomacy were particularly interesting to me. I felt like the author created a believable alien culture and presented the problems of not quite being able to understand each other's viewpoints because of profound differences in the way relationships and loyalties work well.
 

WarriorMouse

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I discovered C.J. by reading 'Merchanters Luck', Liked it so much I looked for more of her stuff and found the Chanur series. I was hooked. Next came "Downbelow Station' and a couple of other's in the Alliance/Union series. Then I read 'Cyteen' and just did not like it at all.
'The Faded Sun Trilogy' was next with a few forgotten ones following. Then 'Foreigner' hit the shelves and I was back in love with C.J.
 

Parson

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I discovered C.J. by reading 'Merchanters Luck', Liked it so much I looked for more of her stuff and found the Chanur series. I was hooked. Next came "Downbelow Station' and a couple of other's in the Alliance/Union series. Then I read 'Cyteen' and just did not like it at all.
'The Faded Sun Trilogy' was next with a few forgotten ones following. Then 'Foreigner' hit the shelves and I was back in love with C.J.

Read all of those too. I would put Cyteen as the equal of most of the Alliance/Union books, but definitely a cut below Chanur, Faded Sun, and Foreigner. I thought the first few in the Foreigner series were among the most intelligent S.F. I'd ever read. My personal feeling is that the series has fallen off a bit in the latest books.
 

copper

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Read all of those too. I would put Cyteen as the equal of most of the Alliance/Union books, but definitely a cut below Chanur, Faded Sun, and Foreigner. I thought the first few in the Foreigner series were among the most intelligent S.F. I'd ever read. My personal feeling is that the series has fallen off a bit in the latest books.
Yeah, I quit reading the Foreigner series somewhere along the way, I think the story was becoming both too complicated and too forced--I could barely make myself skim through the last one I read.
Long series often seem to pick up too much baggage along the way and lose the momentum of the story.
 

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