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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

Cloud's Rider

Copyright 1996 by C. J. Cherryh

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SOJALS rating:     
no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Awful (0/5)

I first read this in January 1998.

On an alien world, the life-forms are to varying degrees, telepathic. Humans have "domesticated" an alien horse-like animal, or perhaps it is more correct to say that these horses have adopted humanity. Most of the planet remains unexplored. On the frontier, pioneers live a precarious and dangerous existence.

It is a rare human who can work with the horses, and link his or her mind to that of the beast. Those so gifted are largely ostracised by the small frontier communities, tolerated for their assistance in protecting convoys and the towns themselves against the predations of the alien badlands.

Young Danny Fisher is one of these riders. He's new and inexperienced, and somehow he's found himself trying to save to young boys and their sister, sole survivors of their village. All others were destroyed during an invasion of monstrous alien life. The boys, Carlo and Randy Goss seem nice enough, but far too young for this much suffering. Their sister, Brionne, is a different matter: too closely involved in the awful events to be entirely innocent.

Danny has somehow got to control his horse, and the kids and reach the next town. But they're struggling through an massive storm, the girl is already dying, the boys are on their last legs, and there may be something very bad, and very alien, following them.

Well, it's all quite exciting in a long-drawn-out and overly-thoughtful way. It's as though we're monitoring the mind of a boy as he becomes a man, but watching it in real-time, with every thought laboriously recorded.

It's essentially a wild-west ghost story, and I never want to read anything like it again. There's just too much moping around, too much worrying about horses, and far too much worrying in general, there's even worrying about worrying too much, because it upsets the horses.

Now of course, if you like horses, this is probably all wonderfully romantic.

Loaded on the 17th February 2002.
Cover of Cloud's Rider
Cover by Mike Posen and Don Puckey

Reviews of other work by C. J. Cherryh
Downbelow Station
Wave Without A Shore
Forty Thousand In Gehenna