Forge of Heaven (Gene Wars Series)by C. J. Cherryh
Only at tiny Concord Station, orbiting at the far edge of the galaxy, can humans from Earth and the strange Outsider worlds coexist, along with the powerful alien ondat, for all are bound to the fate of the fragile world below. Returning to life centuries after the threat of uncontrolled nanotechnology spawned the cataclysmic Gene Wars that devastated the cosmos, the evolving planet and its people are being shepherded toward a wondrous new future by Marak trin Tain, the immortal but not invulnerable son of a desert prince. But high above, intrigues, power plays, and dangerous alliances -- intensified by the unexpected arrival of a ship from Earth -- could crush the developing miracle and shatter the uneasy peace keeping the far-spanning empires of the universe at bay. And the ondat -- inscrutable, unpredictable, and merciless -- are watching...
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Forge of Heaven
By Cherryh, C. J.
Grozny was where Lebeau Street mingled with the Style, where the low haunts of Blunt Street flowed into the Trend and rubbed shoulders with the rich and carefree.
Heart of the Trend on Concord Station, Grozny Street, where the Style walked side by side with gray-suited, slumming Earthers from exclusive upper levels, the ruling class making their own statement in shades of pearl and charcoal. Flashing newsboards warred, streaming stock and futures tickers under cosmetic adverts and the dockside news. A ship from Earth was coming in. That was major news, rare and interesting, but it didn't immediately affect the Trend, and it didn't affect Procyon, né Jeremy Stafford, walking home from dinner, an easy stroll through the neon and the crowds.
There was Jonah's Place, and The Ox, there was Right Ascension, Farah's, and La Lune Noir, there was The Body Shop and the Blue Lounge -- and the Health Connection, which cleaned up the Body Shop's done-on-a-whims. There was Tia Juana's, the Ethiopia, and the high-toned Astral Plane ... not to mention the exclusive little shops that sold everything from designer genes to boots -- and there was The Upper Crust, that very nice little pastry shop that Procyon did his best to stay out of.
The whole station came to Grozny to relax -- well, except those solid citizens content with the quiet little establishments in their own zones, or with the output of their own kitchens. Most day-timers to Grozny took the lift system into the Trend. Very few citizens had the cachet or the funds to live here.
But Jeremy -- who preferred to be Procyon -- had the funds, a fact clear enough in the cut of the clothes, the precious metals of the bracelets, the small, tasteful modifications that an observer might automatically suspect were at issue here, since the body was goodlooking.
He was twenty-five and single. He was a former Freethinker turned Fashionable because he liked it, not because he lived by the social tyranny of the Stylists. And he was fit and in condition the hard way, not because he had any great fear of mods, but because of a certain personal discipline. He spent every third night working out at Patrick's Gym, every next night taking laps at the Speed Rink, and only every seventh night carousing with friends down at Tia Carmen's or wherever else their little band of affluent young professionals decided to gather.
He had turned toward home tonight from that seventh-night gathering, warm with drink and the recollection of good company. Home was a little behind the main frontage of Grozny, so to speak, a Tshaped pocket, a pleasantly lit little dead-end street called Grozny Close, which protected its hundred or so apartments from the traffic and rush and the slightly higher crime rate of Grozny Street proper. Number 201 Grozny Close, sandwiched between a highly successful lawyer and a retired surgeon, had a blue door, a shining chrome arch, and a tall orchid tree that Grozny Close maintenance changed out whenever its blooms failed. The whole Close was a riot of such wellkept gardens, and the air consequently smelled less of the restaurants out on the street and far more of the lawyer's gardenias.
The button beside the door knew his thumbprint and let him in, and after the security system looked him over and decided he was absolutely the owner, the floor lifted him up to the main level, the middle one.
It wasn't a huge apartment. It had fine amenities -- the wall-to-wall entertainment unit in the main room was his life's greatest extravagance, the one he personally most enjoyed. But, being he'd had a few drinks, it was upstairs that drew him more than the evening news, which he knew was going to be full of speculation on that inbound ship and no real information at all.
Boring stuff. And he was too tired to order a sim, which cost, and which would run longer than he would stay awake. He took the few steps up, undressed, and slipped into the floating, drifting serenity of his own bed.
Eyes shut. Perfect. Not a care in the world.
Eyes wide open. His parents' anniversary. He'd forgotten to get the requisite present.
"Sam," he moaned. Sam was what he called the computer. "Sam, day reminder for 0830h, onquote: anniversary, endquote. Night, Sam."
"Good night," Sam said sweetly, not questioning the enigma of the note. "Sleep tight."
His mother had used to say that. Whimsy or guilty secret, it put him in a mind to rest, so he assigned it to Sam. Sleep tight.
Duty was done. Work tomorrow. Life was very good.
Morning became a suspicion in the east. The beshti set to munching the nearby brush, a noisy activity, distraction to a man trying to sleep in his tent until after the sun rose. But so was a wife with notions of lovemaking. Hati was determined, and Marak Trin Tain never refused that request.
That took its time. Hati got her due, and more, and the night watcher politely left them alone, always there, but inattentive. Marak lay afterward with his wife in his arms, eyes shut, listening to the beshti at their breakfast, listening to the boys begin to stir about in the dawn.
Boys: the young men of this generation, two of them with wellgrown beards. Young blood was anxious for adventure, willing to cook and pack and heft the big tent about. Marak could show them what they couldn't learn in the Refuge. He could show them the old skills, the knowledge that had kept their ancestors alive. He could tell them about the desert as it had been and as it was, and they drank in such stories.
Young people nowadays were ambitious to recover the world, living in notions the old stories gave them. A few, yes, wanted to be technicians and stay in the halls of the Refuge forever. But a good many more wanted to go adventuring and slip the wellthought law of the Refuge for the absolute freedom of the horizons ...Continues...
Excerpted from Forge of Heaven by Cherryh, C. J. Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author
C. J. Cherryh—three-time winner of the coveted Hugo Award—is one of today's best-selling and most critically acclaimed writers of science fiction and fantasy. The author of more than fifty novels, she makes her home in Spokane, Washington.
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I liked the first one of the series, Hammerfall, but this one is just borrrrring!. It starts with pages and pages of made up history ( shouldn't this reference be at the back of the book?) . Then the story describes in extreme detail the lives of three of the main characters and long descriptions of the changing planet. But nothing is happening!! I'm about a third way though but I'm giving up on this one. If I don't care about the characters by now its time to move on. cmt
I liked this book a lot, but it was not at all what I expected. It mainly followed the actions of Procyon, a young tap, Reaux, the Governer or Concord Station, and Brazis, the head of security and the planetary Project Office. The old favorites were there in the form of the Ila, Marak, Hati, Luz, and Ian, but they were really minor characters in the drama that unfolded on Concord station. If you really wanted another tribal desert story infused with a little sci fi, you won't get it here. If you loved Downbelow Station, you should like this book quite a bit as well. Conversely, if you hated Downbelow Station, this book is so similar in its political intrigues, you may find you don't like this one either.
Marak¿s world is renewing itself after the Ondat Hammerfall, but are the circumstances that lead to Hammerfall renewing themselves as well? Determining this is the mission of Concord Station and the watchers who live there. Procyon, a smart young project tap, assigned to the immortal Marak likes his simple life and steady job as a watcher. Little does he know that as the planet below enters a new phase of geological upheaval he is about to become the epicenter of a political upheaval of equal proportion. Not all life aboard Concord swirls around the events playing out on the planets surface. In fact most of the population is oblivious to it, more concerned with their jobs in the operation and governance of the station or in the latest social trends of the stylists who transform themselves into genetic works of art. But the unscheduled arrival of an Earth ship disturbs the delicate balance in ways no one can ignore including the mysterious Ondat alien sequestered in his own section of Concord. This book reminded me a lot of Asimov¿s Second Foundation. The political one-upmanship is never ending. The book opens with an historical review of Hammerfall and I almost bailed out. (I can¿t stand reading fantasy lore.) Even if this is your first Cherryh book, I recommend skipping the history and coming back to it only as a reference when needed. The body of the book is well written and engaging with a constellation of interesting characters embedded in a cluster of lesser ones, all stirred up in an ongoing political escalation. The biological science is interesting but the geological events are less than believable. When the Atlantic most recently broke through the Pillars of Hercules, it took 30 years to replace the North African salt flats with the new Mediterranean Sea. Similarly when the Bosporus was cut, the Black Sea took more than three days to fill as Cherryh has her new sea doing. Oh well, science subjugated for the sake of plot is no original sin. There are no great clashes of arms or revelations in technology in this book but I found it enjoyable as a political adventure. I recommend it more for readers who enjoy human drama than those interested in space age action. Reviewed by Hugh Mannfield at stormbold.com