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Inheritor
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Inheritor

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Author: C. J. Cherryh
Publisher: DAW Books, 1996
Series: Foreigner: Arc 1: Book 3

1. Foreigner
2. Invader
3. Inheritor

Book Type: Novel
Genre: Science-Fiction
Sub-Genre Tags: First Contact
Hard SF
Soft SF
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Synopsis

Six months have passed since the reappearance of the starship Phoenix - six months during which the alien atevi have striven to reconfigure their fledling space program in a breakneck bid to take their place in the heavens alongside humans. But the return of the Phoenix has added a frighteningly powerful third party to an already volatile situation, polarizing political factions in both human and atevi societies, and making the possibility of all-out planetary war an ever more likely threat.

On the atevi mainland, human ambassador Bren Cameron, in a desperate attempt to maintain the peace, has arranged for one human representative from the Phoenix to take up residence with him in his apartments, while another is stationed on Mospheira, humanity's island enclave. Bren himself is unable to return home for fear of being arrested or assassinated by the powerful arch conservative element who wish to bar the atevi from space.

Responsible for a terrified, overwhelmed young man, and desperately trying to keep abreast of the political maneuverings of the atevi associations, how can Bren Cameron possibly find a way to save two species from a three-sided conflict that no one can win?


Excerpt

The van left the maintenance road and whipped off on a gravel spur that led around a grassy ill, and around another, and generally up, at a ferocious pace.

Jase looked less reassured at the sound of gravel under the wheels and at the feel of the van skidding slightly on the turns. He grabbed at the handles and the window-frame.

"Is this dangerous?" Jase asked. "Is someone after us?"

"Oh - " Bren began to say lightly, and settled for the truth with Jase. "This driver is having a good time. Relax."

Banichi grinned broadly. "He's not lost a van this spring."

Jase did know when he was being made fun of. He gave a sickly grin to that challenge to his composure and clung white-fingered to the handholds.

"I'd have thought someone from up there," Bren finally said over the noise of the van, "would be used to motion."

"I am!" Jase retorted. And freed a hand to gesture an erratiac crooked course. "Not - this motion."

It did make sense. Jase's body didn't know what to expect and Jase's stomach kept trying to prepare for it, to no avail.

It was for the same reason, he supposed, taht the subway made him anxious. And that the plane did. He watched Jase's facial reactions, the twitch as a swing of the road brought light onto his face and immediately after as a stand of young trees brought a ripple of shadow and a series of flinches and blinks, all exaggerated.

So what would it be like, Bren asked himself, to live in a building all his life, and have all the light controlled, the flow of air controlled, the temperature controlled, the humidity controllled, every person you met controlled; and the whole day scheduled, the horizons curving up and movement entirely imperceptible? He had as much to learn about Jase as Jase did about the world; Jase was the book he had to read to gain knowledge about the ship - which he needed to know, and his professional instincts had turned on in that regard, to such an extent he told himself he should abandon curiosity and track on hsi other job, to reassure Jase.

But Jase had reacted uncertainly to change in the apartment; he added up that maddening insistence on rising at exactly the same moment, on breakfast at the same time every morning, and reckoned that change, as an event, was not something Jase was used to meeting. He'd dealt with Jase and Yolanda both on their last exposure to the world when they were still in a state of shock from the landing and when their passage under open sky to the safety of Taiben lodge had been brief, ending in the safe confines of the Bu-javid - at least Jase's had ended there.

And now, right before his eyes, that twitchiness was back: that extreme reaction to stimuli of all sorts, even when Jase was trying to joke about it. Randomness of light and sound had become a battering series of events to senses completely unused to interpreting the nuances.

He rated himself tolerably good at figuring out what went on in atevi, and he could make a guess, that the way a baby overreacted once it had started being startled, it must seem to Jase as if there were no order and no recognizable logic in the sensations that came at him. Jase had that look in his eyes and that grip on the edge of his seat that said here was a man waiting now for the whole world to dissolve under his feet.

But the logic inside the man said it wouldn't, so Jase clung to his seat and kept his eyes wide open and tried with an adult and reasoning brain to make sense of it.

And an infant's brain, not yet reasoning, might have an advantage in programming. A grown man who from infancy had never had light flashed in his face, never had a floor go bump, never been slung about from one side to the other - what was he to do? Jase came from a steady, scheduled world, one without large spaces. If he'd lived in the equivalent of a set of small rooms, God, even textures must be new.

What had Jase said to him? The tastes, the smells, were all overwhelming to him?

It was possible he'd never seen bright color or different pattern. The ship Jase had come from began to seem a frighteningly same kind of place.

Copyright © 1996 by C. J. Cherryh


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