Voyager in Night

C. J. Cherryh
Voyager in Night Cover

Voyager in Night

Sable Aradia

What a weird, and amazing, book.

Three down on their luck spacers collide with an alien vessel inhabited by less-than-sane AI holographic constructs. Two of the three crew are accidentally killed by the dominant AI while it experiments with the humans to get an imprint of them, which apparently can re-create them so perfectly that, aside from being comprised of bodies of light, they think and act exactly like their originals did, making them, in effect, the ghosts of their former selves. Except that one of them is still alive and this creates friction, tension and loneliness.

This is the second book by C.J. Cherryh I have read, and I have never encountered anybody else as good at alien psychology. Her aliens do not think like us in the least and fathoming their motivations is a wonderfully exciting exercise. In this book she also examines thoroughly exactly what it means to be human. I found myself profoundly disturbed by some of the implications in this book; enough that I had to stop reading it when I was alone in the house.

But it was also intense, and aside from that, I couldn't put it down.

The ending was surprising and I had to read it twice in order for it to make any sense to me, but I believe I grasped it in the end.

I've never read anything quite like it. It genuinely floored me. Highly recommended.