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The Hugo Award-winning classic sci-fi novel about interstellar war. The Beyond started with the Stations orbiting the stars nearest Earth. The Great Circle the interstellar freighters traveled was long, but not unmanageable, and the early Stations were emotionally and politically dependent on Mother Earth. The Earth Company which ran this immense operation reaped incalculable profits and influenced the affairs of nations. Then came Pell, the first station centered around a newly discovered living planet. The discovery of Pell's World forever altered the power balance of the Beyond. Earth was no longer the anchor which kept this vast empire from coming adrift, the one living mote in a sterile universe. But Pell was just the first living planet. Then came Cyteen, and later others, and a new and frighteningly different society grew in the farther reaches of space. The importance of Earth faded and the Company reaped ever smaller profits as the economic focus of space turned outward. But the powerful Earth Fleet was sitll a presence in the Beyond, and Pell Station was to become the last stronghold in a titanic struggle between the vast, dynamic forces of the rebel Union and those who defended Earth's last, desperate grasp for the stars.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 68 (seguinte | mostrar todos)
A lot slower than I was expecting, but I found the second half much more engaging and was happy with the payoff by the end. I'm not sure if it was just the ebook version I was reading from, but there were so many typos it was distracting, especially for an award winning novel. I may revisit the Alliance-Union Universe at some point, especially since Cyteen is on my list of award winners to read, as I did immensely enjoy the world building. ( )
  James_Knupp | Jan 29, 2024 |
This is the longest and densest Cherryh story I’ve read, which has its pros and cons about even for the length, though generally I enjoyed it. It’s also very obvious this came out in 1981. It’s not just the heavy use of paper and tapes in outer space (let alone the leather binder), or the odd way any form of technological communication works. Most of that is… ignorable, because the character stories are by and large quite good, and the political maneuvering is at least well written if kind of cringey and very dated in spots.

Over everything is the issue of a refugee crisis, the topic of immigration, xenophobia, and the fear of immigrant gangs, which basically sounds like any US news channel you could turn on today. How it is handled hasn’t aged well, though obviously a space station with a limited amount of life support is very different from a country on a planet. Sexual assault is mentioned as an endemic problem created by this situation (by the military, refugees, and rioters), but often waved aside as an unavoidable reality. For all there are female leaders in the story, it is men who principally wield the reins of power everywhere, and it’s very obvious why the issue is waved away. Though clearly this isn’t just a problem that affects women: it’s heavily implied at least Josh was a victim of sexual assault, particularly before his time with Mallory, if not during his time with her. And it’s heavily implied Marsh was also assaulted, as well as three other unnamed men in a later scene. It's still relatively minor, despite the actions that Josh and Marsh take over their futures, and female victims are brushed aside, unnamed, made to bear with their fate because what else is there? Even when a woman is in charge of the situation, it’s someone who’s potentially a rapist herself, and though she punishes the perpetrators of another assault, she makes sure the victims keep their mouths shut in a military cover-up strongly reminiscent of actual military action in regard to assault. The people in charge of organizations are all quite despicable on some level, even Angelo, and this crisis only intimates how little the marginalized tend to manner in class-based societies, and how much the wealthy care more about comfort than the tragic realities faced by refugees.

It’s also a bit uncomfortable that while ships in the Earth fleet seem to be named either for countries or oceans, there is one ship simply named “Africa”. Now it’s possible all the ships named after individual countries in Africa were destroyed at this point - this is after all, a small group of ships left after repeated reminders the others were destroyed - and other ships are named generic things, like “Sun’s Eye” or “Thor”, and there is a ship named Europe… It’s still a bit uncomfortable to have a list of ships including Australia, Atlantic, North Pole, Libya, Africa, and then India, Pacific, and Tibet. Specificity is allowed for countries that aren't on one particular continent, seemingly, though I also can't remember any ships named after South American countries, either. Fascinating absence, that.

I’ve admittedly only read about three aliens species Cherryh came up with prior to this, and I find the Downers the least interesting out of all of them, though I do like Satin as a character. I just found whenever a Downer story pops up to be a drag. I do appreciate how their story lends an “all sides” aspect to this story universe: when we first meet Jacint, it’s from Lukas’ point of view, where the man is an annoyance and a frustration, perhaps political appointee slinging his authority around, or even a saboteur. Then he is dead, and we’re seemingly meant to be happy about it - killed by his own sabotage of colony efforts. Then we discover that the Downers loved him, as he was rare among humans for being one who truly cared about and connected with them, even up to putting his life on the line for their behalf. It's also kind of uncomfortable how the Downers seem to vaguely resemble aboriginal Australians. Since the Atevi in "Foreigner" are vaguely modeled on the Japanese, it would make sense that these aliens are also modeled on another real-world group. It's... uncomfortable.

Damon and Josh are by far my favorite characters in the story, and I loved every time their stories showed up, whether they were alone or together, though the together parts were even better. Their struggles were compelling, with Damon showing the difficulty of administration in a hard situation, and Josh showing us the mental drain of being a cog in a badly maintained machine, simply wanting what most humans want: love and affection in some form. And there’s another gay couple: Edger and Mazian. I have to wonder if this hadn’t released in the 80s, particularly in the first year of Reagan’s regime, what might have come of these relationships. Interestingly Josh’s plotline was kind of handled in an episode of “Babylon 5”, and I much prefer Cherryh’s version, though “Passing Through Gethsemene” is a very good episode. I didn't like Josh's ending, though. I don't think the very last time he shows up was necessary, and would have liked it if he'd just stayed with his partners, though I do appreciate that he is still devoted to them. I think this book got as close as it could at the time to multiple canon queer couples, and even a polyamorous triad, and it's nice to see.

I even managed to feel some sympathy for Vittorio, who seemingly wanted to live a contented life following his father’s orders, even to his own unfortunate end (though I hope for the best for him). The moment he reaches out for his father’s hand before going away on the merchanter ship was quite poignant.

It’s hard to tell if this book is pro-cop or not, as the police forces are simultaneously a requirement for the maintenance of sanity and order and safety, as well as a danger. Guns in general are useful but feared - a source, in any hands, of potential danger. Their absence is marked at least once of making situations less dangerous. It’s in the nebulous space of… probably there’s the belief that there are “good cops” and “bad cops”, which is… typical for white SF of the era. It's also questionably anti-military, which would be nice if true. The military forces tend to not care about civilians or their lives, and see them only as means to an end, not people.

It’s also not comforting that the mysterious enemy forces are called “Union”, and this book came out the same year Reagan union busted the air traffic controller strike, permanently crippling unions in this country. What does Union want? To be free of Earth and “the Company”’s control. What do they become? A terrifying genetically created and modified army that does not comfort or support its people, and simply sends them out as fodder to be used up, producing more as needed, abandoning them as necessary. Consuming more of the known galaxy until it dominates. The Union presence is most strongly felt in a scene where a powerful negotiator tells the Company presence that they have nothing to negotiate, and will have to accept Union terms. It's... it's not pretty.

This is perhaps ungenerous - Union was and so far as I know probably is still a common name by science fiction authors. And to be fair, the Company is not exactly painted in the kindest light - a corporation seeking control and dominance of its own, ready to cast adrift its own underlings as needed for its survival, until it comes to a rather ignominious end as it doesn’t even realize its legs have already been cut out from under it. And many, many other stories a similar concept: of Earth’s colonies rebelling, calling for self-governance, and perhaps warring with Earth. The first Gundam anime had this as a plot in 1979, with enhanced enemy soldiers as well. So is this novel anti-union? ...Well. There is definitely a movement towards increased workers rights on some level, as well as something like socialized healthcare, but the system is also very capitalist, so I guess if you want to read it literally, it really does seem kind of anti-union, and a bit anti-socialist.

I read an ebook copy of this so I’m not sure if the issue is the original printing or just this version, but there were a slew of errors in the text that often made it hard to read sentences, though part of that might be down to Cherryh’s sometimes odd choice creation of spacer slang.

Overall, the parts I loved, I loved a lot, and that made up for the slower parts (unfortunately I didn't care at all for the space battles; it's not Cherryh's fault, as they seemed to be well-written, but I've been burnt out on reading long space battles). I can't say I would necessarily recommend this unless you really like Cherryh. "Foreigner" is definitely a more intimate character exploration, with equally complicated politics spanning multiple species and governments, though "Foreigner" also has issues with being a bit slow for most of the books after the first trilogy. And this book is arguably the queerest of the Cherryh I've read, so there's that. ( )
  AnonR | Aug 5, 2023 |
I've given up on this book for the time being; I was halfway through, put it down, and then realized I hadn't picked it back up in a week and hadn't missed it, which is a flashing neon warning sign that it's not worth the work to finish it. Might come back to it sometime since it's been suggested that it's such a pivotal work of fiction, but I dunno. ( )
  lyrrael | Aug 3, 2023 |
This Classic science fiction novel, which won the Hugo Award in 1982, is quite an example of a space opera. While it outlines how humanity came to the stars, its main focus is on what happens when Earth is too far away to influence events and humanity is splintered into rival factions.

A lot of the action happens on a space station called Pell which orbits a planet inhabited by aliens - the hisa. Pell wants to remain neutral in the battle between the Company which was begun on Earth but which has gone off on its own and Union which controls the outer stars.

There are a lot of memorable characters. Signy Mallory commands the Fleet ship Norway. She's at odds with Mazian who commands the remaining fleet begun by the Company on Earth. There's Josh Talley who was born and bred to be a Union man, but who is becoming himself and choosing his own loyalties. There is Damian Konstantin who is one of the founding family of Pell and is determined to protect his station's future. And there are the Downers, aliens who have adopted some of the people from Pell Station, and who are loyal and peaceful people.

I enjoyed listening to this Classic. Brian Troxell did an excellent job distinguishing all the different characters. ( )
  kmartin802 | Feb 9, 2023 |
Good story that gives a solid background for all of Cherryh's novels in the Alliance/Union universe. Huge scope with lots characters and plenty of political maneuvering and exciting action scenes. ( )
  Luziadovalongo | Jul 14, 2022 |
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C. J. Cherryhautor principaltodas as ediçõescalculado
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Earth and Outwards: 2005 - 2352

The stars, like all man's other ventures, were an obvious impracticality, as rash and improbable an ambition as the first venture of man onto Earth's own great oceans, or into the air, or into space.
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The Hugo Award-winning classic sci-fi novel about interstellar war. The Beyond started with the Stations orbiting the stars nearest Earth. The Great Circle the interstellar freighters traveled was long, but not unmanageable, and the early Stations were emotionally and politically dependent on Mother Earth. The Earth Company which ran this immense operation reaped incalculable profits and influenced the affairs of nations. Then came Pell, the first station centered around a newly discovered living planet. The discovery of Pell's World forever altered the power balance of the Beyond. Earth was no longer the anchor which kept this vast empire from coming adrift, the one living mote in a sterile universe. But Pell was just the first living planet. Then came Cyteen, and later others, and a new and frighteningly different society grew in the farther reaches of space. The importance of Earth faded and the Company reaped ever smaller profits as the economic focus of space turned outward. But the powerful Earth Fleet was sitll a presence in the Beyond, and Pell Station was to become the last stronghold in a titanic struggle between the vast, dynamic forces of the rebel Union and those who defended Earth's last, desperate grasp for the stars.

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