From C.J. Cherryh, one of science fiction′s greatest writers and a 3-time Hugo Award "Best Novel" winner, comes the exciting and long-awaited follow-up to Hammerfall, the second novel of the Gene Wars, now in mass market.
In the second volume of "The Gene Wars," C. J. Cherryh further explores the captivating new universe where two interstellar empires, scarred by nanotechnology weaponry, hover in an uneasy detente. Perched at the edge of the galaxy, tiny Concord Station holds the balance of the universe within its carefully regulated worlds. For, created to carefully monitor the crucial desert planet below, it lies in the tenuous intersection between the territories of Earth and the alien Ondat.
Marak Trin Tain has saved a planet′s people from total destruction, when the implacable ondat sent down a hammerfall to destroy the planet and keep its deadly nanoceles from changing life and evolution forever. But the regrowing planet is fragile, and a deadly cataclysm could destroy Marak--and with him, the hope for peace within the universe.
Meanwhile, on Concord, an unexpected ship from Earth disrupts the uneasy truces between human and alien, and the consequences could restart the terrible Gene Wars that once destroyed most of humanity.
About 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.
Read an Excerpt
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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Table of Contents
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A lot of plot lines to keep track of. interesting characters. Somewhat tedious at times. Overall, a good read.
Forge of Heaven, by C.J. Cherryh, follows, primarily, a young man in a prestigious, yet secretive position. He is a watcher in the heavens. The story revolves around Concord, a space station above a destroyed world. On board the station are three factions, the Earth representative, the Outsider representative (a human faction of outer worlds), and the Ondat, a mysterious alien race. There is a lot of back story to the entire situation, but the station is above this ruined world to watch a group of modified, and thus immortal, humans as the world evolves. There has been relative peace for some time, when an unscheduled Earth ship shows up. The inevitable chaos ensues. I liked this book, but it did have some flaws. One minor flaw that I would first like to get out of the way is that it seemed to be lacking in some basic editing. I found numerous, at least enough to mention, grammatical errors, such as weird double words, missing words, or other oddities. It wasn't so bad that it stopped me from reading, but it did tend to cause a hiccup.There were so many characters in this book, that hardly any of them really seemed fully fleshed out. None of the individual character stories were very deep; which is unfortunate, because I did like most of the characters. The first half of the book was a little slow, a little dry, as it was all leading up to the intense climax. It was indeed intense, as everything had been building and building and then it literally exploded with an attack on the Earth ambassador. The climax lasted 75 pages or so and then suddenly ended. I found the ending rather rushed, though it was fairly cleaned up in the last 10 pages or so.This book may have been better if I had read the preceding books in the series. That way I would have understood better the relations between the Outsiders, Earth, and the Ondat. The Ondat, in fact, were only lightly spoken of in this book, even though their role is seen as vital to the station. There is a handy reference in the beginning of the book, though not necessary. I would have preferred it be at the end, as it acts more as an index, rather than a prologue. 3.5/5 stars
The sequel to Hammerfall, set many, many centuries later. (Although it does feature of few of the same characters, effectively immortal as they are.) It's a much more interesting book than Hammerfall, and much more typical of a Cherryh novel. Lots of plotting and politics, high stakes and ambiguous motivations, with everything happening at the worst possible time and at least one poor innocent chump caught up in the middle of it all. And yet, I have to admit, I had some trouble getting into it. I think the problem is that the universe, backstory, and world-building details just never felt entirely comprehensible or convincing to me. There are a few reasons for that, but I think it's mostly that Hammerfall provided such a poor and cryptic introduction to it all, and it was hard to get past that.
Superb. Vast improvement over Hammerfall, which wasn't by any means bad, but this is classic Cherryh. It could be written by almost a completely different author, it is very different.Forge of Heaven opens with a Prologue explaining the universe in which Hammerfall was set, the how and why of human exploration and the politics that fractured humanities factions, and then the meeting of the ondat. This makes Hammerfall far more understandable, and even though at the time Marek knew nothing of it, should really have been included in Hammerfall. The story itself opens cenuries later than Hammerfall with Procyon, a watcher 'tap' on the third Concord space station that with an ondat presence, orbit's Marek's World. Marek himself still lives along with The Ila and Hati, but they are quarentined on the world, indefinetly, until the ondat are completely sure that their actions in Hammerfall have evolved all of the original First Movement nanotechnology that existed there beyond harm to the ondat. Procyon is one of Marek's watchers - in direct neurologicla contact with him, using a nanotech implant, only subtly different in scope form the tech that the ondat are scared of - which grants immortaility f you can stay sane.This immortality has scared Earth - hyper conservative Eearth that permits no nnotech of any form within a vast region of space around it. When rumours reach them that illegal tech may have escaped Marek's world, they send an Ambassedor to investigate. The narrative follows Brazis - an Outsider (non Earth) official in charge of Concord's interaction with Marek's world; Reaux - earth appointed govenor for the station, and his daughter Kathy, along with brief exerts to Marek himself, who is on expedition to build a new relay station near some dramatic geological changes - consequences of Hammerfall. Unusually for Cherryh we jump about between the characters as the action dictates. It's a style of writing I always find jarring, but it does highlight the differences in viewpoint very well.Concord station is delightfully imagined, various levels of sophistication and styles, legal and illegla nanotech mods for fashion, and the cultures and factions sparked by such diversity. Marek's world seems to changing, and stabilising far faster than geological epochs would suggest on Earth.But the main critisim I have for this work is a major inconsistancy with Hammerfall, written only a couple of years before. To start with Marek's second wife Norit, has disappeared. Vanished. Not a mention. Ok, she could have succombed to madness and passed away over the centuries, but some explanation, or even a passing thought, would have been helpful. The other point is more subtle but alos more grating. Immortality. The Ila had First movement tech and immortality, but her nanotech was overcome by Ian and Luz's who were Earth sent. If they also had immortality tech, why was Earth so concerned about it? and if they didn't, as their tech overcame Ila's how came immortality was retained? This annoyed me the entire way through the book and is never explained.The rest however is excellant. Wonderful humans being humans and aliens being alien, the station is superb, and the plot masterfully belivable, unguessably twisty and just gripping throughout. Skip Hammerfall if you like, but, read this!
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