Precursor (Second Foreigner Series #1)

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National best-selling author and winner of three Hugo Awards, C.J. Cherryh returns to the universe of her acclaimed Foreigner trilogy-with an epic tale of the survivors of a lost spacecraft stranded on a planet inhabited by a hostile, sentient race.

The beginning of a second trilogy, Precursor follows a ...
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Precursor: Book Four of Foreigner

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National best-selling author and winner of three Hugo Awards, C.J. Cherryh returns to the universe of her acclaimed Foreigner trilogy-with an epic tale of the survivors of a lost spacecraft stranded on a planet inhabited by a hostile, sentient race.

The beginning of a second trilogy, Precursor follows a single human delegate living among aliens, who are just gaining access to space....

Praise for Precursor...

"An addition to Cherryh's superior alien-contact series...Another intriguing human/alien struggle."-Kirkus Reviews"A powerful look at the effects of alienation on individuals and societies."-Locus

...and C.J. Cherryh's Foreigner Universe:

"Superlatively drawn aliens and characterization...a return to the anthropological science fiction in which [Cherryh] has made such a name is a double pleasure."-Chicago Sun-Times

"An incisive study-in-contrast of what it means to be human."-Library Journal
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Editorial Reviews

Bren Cameron is the trusted human liaison to the court of the atevi in this sequel to the Foreigner trilogy. Two centuries earlier, a group of humans dropped from their starship onto the surface of the atevi's planet. Those still on board the ship took off into space, leaving their brethren to cope with sharing a planet with a species whose worldview was totally different. After a neardisastrous war, the atevi and humans have learned to coexist, with the atevi living on the mainland and the humans exiled on an island. Now their peace is shattered with the return of the starship, whose commanders claim that an attack from aliens is imminent. It is Bren's job to reconcile all three factions to build a spacebased defense against the attack. Readers looking for actionadventure will not find it here. The plot is slow moving and the tone is introspective and contemplative. Bren constantly agonizes over whether his efforts will achieve the desired end or whether he jeopardizes the whole process with a wrong diplomatic move. He and the other characters are cardboard stereotypes with very little depth to make them memorable. It is unlikely that anyone other than those who have read the Foreigner trilogy will care enough to finish this one. VOYA CODES: 2Q 2P S A/YA (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 1999, DAW, Ages 16 to Adult, 438p, $23.95. Reviewer: Diane Yates
Library Journal
Abandoned by the starship Phoenix, the human colony on the island of Mospheira has learned to exist with the alien atevi who occupy the rest of the planet. When the unexpected return of the Phoenix opens up the possibility of space travel to the atevi, Bren Cameron, a human trained in the art of atevi relations, is assigned to handle the delicate negotiations between humans and aliens. Trouble arises, however, from a third species whose presence may spark a three-sided conflagration unless Cameron succeeds in his difficult task. Cherryh continues to explore the rich culture portrayed in the Foreigner trilogy with this first novel in a new series. Combining hard sf with realistically complex characters, this blend of adventure and intrigue in the far reaches of space belongs in most sf collections. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Johnathan Strahan
Cherryh manages to imbue [the novel] with sufficient warmth and humor that it never descends to grimness, and through the accumulation of many small events—which progress the plot only slightly—she manages to build a much larger picture. If Precursor has a flaw it is that it doesn't really stand alone. To fully appreciate the novel, readers need to have read the earlier books in the series. That said, it is probably the best series installment of the year, and another fine novel from one of the genre's very best writers.
Kirkus Reviews
Addition to Cherryh's superior alien-contact series (Inheritor, 1996, etc.) about the humanoid-alien "atevi" and the colony of castaway humans they've graciously permitted not only to survive but flourish on their planet. Atevi society, composed of jostling clans and factions and prone to violence, is bound together by instinctive loyalty but little else. A pro-human atevi faction, led by the powerful Tabini, sponsors Bren Cameron as human translator/technical liaison and has appointed two loyal atevi, Banichi and Jago, as Bren's bodyguards. But the starship that originally brought the colonists has returned from deep space with news of hostile aliens in the offing. So the ship's representative, Jase Graham, is working with Bren in releasing technology to the atevi and helping them build spaceships in order to enlist them as allies. Certain atevi factions, however, oppose all this. Another intriguing human/alien struggle: the tiny, intricate plot wheels hum, even if the big picture changes hardly at all.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780886778361
  • Publisher: DAW Hardcover
  • Publication date: 11/1/1999
  • Series: Foreigner Universe Series , #4
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 1.36 (d)

Meet the Author

C. J. Cherryh planned to write since the age of ten. When she was older, she learned to use a type writer while triple-majoring in Classics, Latin and Greek. At 33, she signed over her first three books to DAW and has worked with DAW ever since. She can be found at

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 10 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2014

    slow moving series

    i have read all four so far, and it is a slow moving series. while the characters are interesting, only one thing seems to happen per book. i was considering reading the rest of the series, but since book 5 isn't available on nook, i guess i stop at number 4

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  • Posted June 2, 2013

    Excllent, a whole of its own.

    Excllent, a whole of its own.

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  • Posted May 8, 2010

    next step in ongoing drama

    Amazing how Cherryh can continue to keep the story fresh and interesting! New turns and developments.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2001


    This is the best installation of the Foreigner series yet. A great read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2001

    Rejoin Bren Cameron and the Atevi Saga STATIONSIDE

    Picking up right where the last book left off, CJ Cherryh doesn't miss a beat in the Bren Cameron saga with Precursor. Rejoin your two favorite members of the Asassasins guild, Binachi and Bren's alien lover Jago, other assorted atevi and the usual paranoids from Mosphiera but this time things are different. This time they are in the interbred, insular and extraordinarily uptight society of the Phoenix. Back to the familiar zone of the Chanur works, Downbelow and the Merchanter series, Cherryh is never so much at home as she is stationside, but this time with the volatile mix of Atevi, human and the mysterious alien threat. A fascinating read from the very beginning.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2000

    A masterful continuation of Bren Cameron's ever evolving and unique job.

    C. J. Cherryh once again outdoes herself. The characters in this fourth Foreigner book are believeble and complex in personality. Bren is unexpectedly draged from his very hard earned vacation back home only to find himself on one of the first few 'shuttle' trip up to the now antique station. With no more than a few hours notice he must arrange treaties that can help or hurt all sides. The agreements come, but did they come too easily? Now the main Captain is missing and Bren's own security wants him off the station. I read the book in one 7 hour sitting and reread it 6 times since. I am waiting impatiently for the next two books promised in the series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 1999

    Another truly satisfying read

    What is there to say? Cherryh just seems to get better and better. Here we are with the fourth in this series and yet there is no disappointment either in plot or character development. I truly admire anyone who can write and of course anyone who can write consistently well just makes me speechless. I think that in the character of Bren who, in the first book is nothing more than an interpreter - a man whose only claim to a place in history may be a small footnote in a dictionary read by very few people - she has found a truly interesting person. Here we are in book four with a man sent at short notice into space to negotiate, out of contact with the aiji, on matters that will affect both the humans and the atevi for a very long time. Cherryh totally involves us in the alien civilisation with its totally different point of view as well as letting us look at how humans change according to their upbringing. I cannot recommend this book highly enough - the only problem is that I had to go and reread the first three in this series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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