Copyright 1981 by
C. J. Cherryh
I first read this on the 7th October 2002.
In 2005 The Earth Company builds its first space stations to mine the resources of
the solar system. This is Sol station. Further stations are built one by one in
new stellar systems, reaching out from the Solar System. Earth Company grows in
power as its chain of stations increases, each returning resources back to Earth,
brought by the Earth Company's growing commercial fleet.
Pell station, orbiting Pell's World, is the tenth station and orbits the first new
world that is habitable by humans and more importantly, on which the first alien
life has been discovered.
Centuries after its august beginning, Earth Company is no longer the power it once
was. It now controls only the first few stations reaching out from Sol. The
interstellar distances, and the delays in crossing these distances, have allowed the
outer stations to break away into independence. Further out still, a Union has been
formed but this is no Union of free-thinking minds, rather it is a fascist empire of
a few free leaders and uncountable cloned slaves. The Union is intent on extending
its domain back to Earth itself.
The massive company fleet metamorphoses into a military organisation, originally
it was intended to enforce discipline in the space-ways and stations and later to battle
the Union. Now finally, decimated by combat, the fleet survives only for itself,
leeching off of the stations it once protected.
On Pell station, the situation is reaching critical mass. It's overloaded with
refugees from neighbouring stations. It's got the Union drawing closer and closer.
Now the Fleet has arrived with more refugees and more demands for the limited
resources Pell can provide.
For many years the Konstantin family have ruled Pell Station and the colonies on
Pell itself, Now Angelo and his two sons Damon and Emilio must fight to protect
their fragile domain against overwhelming external forces and insidious internal
Well, that gives a very bad overview. I haven't even mentioned the alien hisa,
or Jon Lukas, Miliko, Jessad, Signy Mallory or her boss, Mazian. This is a big book
with a complicated plot.
It's well worth the reading. In many ways it's an astounding work. Cherryh creates
a complex, believable world, with an impressive reach. One is involved in not simply
Pell Station itself, but also Downbelow colony, the rogue Fleet, the evil empire of
the Union, and the other overwhelmed and collapsing stations all the way back to
On the other hand, it's a laborious read, unbearably slow. Clifford D. Simak on
pentothal would write more briskly. There's no end to the worrying and
self-criticism that goes on. If it's not obsessive introversion it's those terribly
naive and over-affectionate chimpanzee hisa running round telling everyone how much
they love them. One ends up praying for the Union just to come
slamming in, blowing the station out of the water, as it were, just to end the
Loaded on the 27th December 2002.