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Invader
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Invader

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Author: C. J. Cherryh
Publisher: DAW Books, 1995
Series: Foreigner: Arc 1: Book 2

1. Foreigner
2. Invader
3. Inheritor

Book Type: Novel
Genre: Science-Fiction
Sub-Genre Tags: First Contact
Hard SF
Galactic Empire
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Synopsis

On the world of the atevi, humanity makes up one small enclave, on the island of Mospheira. After the disappearance of the starship Phoenix, only one human representative is allowed to interact with the atevi - the Paidhi, a mixture of ambassador, translator and salesman of advanced technology. In a society where assassination is a recognised form of negotiation, Bren Cameron had been performing his task as Paidhi well.

Then the Phoenix returns, almost two hundred years after its departure.

Recovering from surgery on Mospheira, Cameron must return immediately to the atevi, but he finds his government has already sent a successor, Deanna Hanks, without informing him. And she has managed to alienate major factions against humanity.

Battling against his strangely-silent masters, the deadly atevi and Hanks, Bren Cameron must take risks that could destroy the entire world - or save it for atevi and humanity alike.


Excerpt

Rain streaked the windows, a heavy gray moil of cloud cutting off all view. He'd arrived in Malguri, far across the continent, on a day like this - what? a week or so ago. It seemed an incredibly long time. The whole world had changed in that week.

Changed in the whole balance of atevi power and threat - by the appearance of a single human ship that was now orbiting the planet. Atevi might reasonably suspect that this human ship came welcome. Atevi might easily have that misapprehension - after a hundred and seventy-eight years of silence from the heavens.

It had also been a hundred seventy-eight years of stranded, ground-bound humans on Mospheira making their own decisions and arranging their own accommodations with the earth of the atevi. Humans had been well satisfied - until this ship appeared, not only confounding individual humans whose lives had been calm, predictable, and prosperous in their isolation - but suddenly giving atevi two human presences to deal with, when they'd only in the most recent years reached a thoroughly peaceful accommodation with the humans on the island off their shores.

So, one could imagine that the aiji in Shejidan, lord of the Western Association, quite reasonably wanted to know what was in those transmissions that now flowed between that ship and the earth station on Mospheira.

The paidhi wanted to know that answer himself. Something in the last twenty-four hours had changed in the urgency of his presence here - but he had no special brief from the President or State Department to provide those answers, not one damned bit of instruction at least that he'd been conscious enough to remember. He did have a firsthand and still fresh understanding that if things went badly and relations between humans and atevi blew up, this side of the strait would not be a safe place for a human to be: humans and atevi had already fought one bloody war over mistaken intentions. He didn't know if he could single-handedly prevent another; but there was always, constantly inherent in the paidhi's job, the knowledge that if the future of humankind on Mospheira and in this end of the universe wasn't in his power to direct - it was damned sure within his power to screw up.

One fracture in the essential Western Association - one essential leader like the aiji of Shejidan losing position.

One damned fool human with a radio transmitter or one atevi hothead with a hunting rifle - and of the latter, there were entirely too many available on the mainland for his own peace of mind: guns meant food on the table out in the countryside. Atevi youngsters learned to shoot when human kids were learning to ride bikes - and some atevi got damned good at it. Some atevi became licensed professionals, in a society where assassination was a regular legal recourse.

And if Tabini-aiji lost his grip on the Western Association, and if that started fragmenting, everything came undone. Atevi had provinces, but they didn't have borders. Atevi couldn't understand lines on maps by anything logical or reasonable except an approximation of where the householders on that line happened to side on various and reasonable grounds affecting their area, their culture, their scattered loyalties to other associations with nothing in the world to do with geography.

In more than that respect, it wasn't a human society in the world beyond the island of Mospheira, and if the established atevi authority went down, after nearly two hundred years of building an industrial complex and an interlinked power structure uniting hundreds of small atevi associations - it would be his personal fault.

Copyright © 1995 by C. J. Cherryh


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