Short works

Books : reviews

Julie E. Czerneda.
In the Company of Others.
Daw. 2001

rating : 3 : worth reading
review : 28 January 2008

Humanity, finding themselves alone in the Universe, set out to terraform and colonize nearby planets. But an accidental infestation by the alien Quill rendered all the carefully terraformed planets uninhabitable, and stranded colonists on overcrowded and unsustainable transit stations. Two decades later, Dr Gail Smith thinks that one special colonist, Aaron Pardell, might hold a clue to an uninfected planet. Her arrival from Earth at Thromberg Station triggers of a chain of events that might lead to success, or to the destruction of everyone aboard.

This is a good read. The adaptation of humans to an extremely overcrowded society is well drawn. At first it appears stable, but it becomes clear that actually it is a powderkeg, ready to explode at the slightest provocation. And the stationers acceptance of the different Aaron, but only up to a point, is also neatly woven in. The twists and turns keep you guessing, and once again Czerneda does great alien aliens.

Julie E. Czerneda.
Daw. 2004

Julie E. Czerneda.
Daw. 2005

Julie E. Czerneda.
Daw. 2005

Julie E. Czerneda.
Reap the Wild Wind.
Daw. 2007

Julie E. Czerneda.
Riders of the Storm.
Daw. 2008

Julie E. Czerneda.
Rift in the Sky.
Daw. 2009

Julie E. Czerneda.
A Thousand Words for Stranger.
Daw. 1997

rating : 3 : worth reading
review : 19 May 2000

Sira is all alone, abandoned on a hostile world, robbed of everything, including her memories. She teams up with Space Captain Morgan, fleeing the various factions pursuing her for unknown reasons, unsure of who is friend and who is deadly foe. As her memories patchily return, she discovers Morgan may not be all he seems. But she may not be all she seems, either.

This confident first novel is set against the background of a wonderfully complex universe, with various and varied alien species being only precariously held together by the Trade Pact. Sira is a well-drawn engaging character, at first struggling to form a new persona on the blank slate of her memories, then gradually discovering just who she used to be. The rapidly unfolding plot has many interesting twists and turns, some of which took me by surprise.

Although there are sequels, this is a self-contained story with a satisfactory conclusion.

Julie E. Czerneda.
Ties of Power.
Daw. 1999

rating : 3 : worth reading
review : 26 August 2000

Czerneda does really great aliens.

This is the continuing story of Clan member Sira di Sarc and the human Jason Morgan. They think they've escaped the machinations of the Clan, and are living peacefully in exile. The conspiracy is still intact, however, and when something precious is stolen from Sira, she desperately sends Jason off to retrieve it. But when she tries to follow, she finds herself instead in the company of the Drapsk, who oh-so-politely and courteously insist she participate in their mysterious Ceremony.

The action is almost as frenetic as previously, and we get more wonderful aliens. The Drapsk are gorgeous, the Retians are repulsive, and we meet old friends: Huido with his eyestalks, Bowman, Rael. What makes all these different aliens so good is that they aren't alien only in their appearance, they are alien in their psychologies, too.

And again, although there is a further sequel promised, this has a satisfactory conclusion.

Julie E. Czerneda.
To Trade the Stars.
Daw. 2002

rating : 3.5 : worth reading
review : 4 September 2005

Here we have the conclusion to the story of Clan member Sira di Sarc and her human Chosen Jason Morgan, as yet more peril befalls them, from the polite little alien Drapsk, Morgan's sinister human telepath enemy Symon, and even Sira's own forgotten past. All done with Czerneda's usual great aliens, from the huge "shellfish" Huido to the truly alien Rugheran.

There's no explicit recap of the earlier books, but enough drip-feeding of information that the five year gap in my reading wasn't too confusing. Lots of convoluted criss-crossing plotlines converge to a mind-boggling, and intensely incomprehensibly alien, climax. A good conclusion to the trilogy.

Julie E. Czerneda.
Beholder's Eye.
Daw. 1998

rating : 3 : worth reading
review : 27 February 2000

Esen is the youngest of only six members of the Web -- an immensely long-lived species that can cycle into the form of any other intelligent species it has "remembered". The Web lives in closely guarded secrecy, until Esen is forced to reveal her true nature to the human first contact specialist Ragem. But it isn't the ephemeral species like the humans that the Web is hiding from...

Czerneda has a marvellous galaxy full of wildly differing species. A few may be humanoid in appearance, if not in behaviour -- but most are definitely alien in both. The protagonist is probably the most alien, and alienated, of the lot, although, as the story progresses, she comes to appreciate the friendship of the human Ragem -- despite actually spending a lot of time trying to escape from him and his persistent curiosity, to preserve the secret of the Web. The plot structure, as the Enemy hunts the members of the Web, allows us a tour of all this wonderful strangeness, woven together into a fascinating study of various cultures and various peoples. And since Esen is a shapechanger, we get to see various very different aliens from a first person viewpoint -- without having to change that viewpoint.

A great story, set in a great universe.

Julie E. Czerneda.
Changing Vision.
Daw. 2000

Julie E. Czerneda.
Hidden in Sight.
Daw. 2003