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Explorer

Foreigner: Arc 2: Book 3

C. J. Cherryh

It has been nearly ten years since the starship Phoenix retuned to the abandoned station orbiting the world of the alien atevi. This station, called Alpha, had been deserted for centuries following a rift between a faction of the station's inhabitants and the spacers' autocratic Pilot's Guild. For two hundred years this splinter faction had shared a fragile coexistence with the atevi, living in isolation on the island of Mospheira, communicating with the brilliant but volatile atevi by the use of a single highly trained diplomat, the paidhi, and trading technological information for continued peace and safety.

The unexpected return of the Phoenix has forever changed the lives of both atevi and Mospheirans, for over the ensuing decade, the captains of the Phoenix have brought both the atevi and their human counterparts into space. Their motivation seemed simple: Reunion Station, a human station in another sector of space, had been destroyed by aliens.

But on his deathbed, the senior captain of the Phoenix admits that he lied to the crew - that Reunion was merely damaged, not destroyed, and many people, including family and friends of the Phoenix crew may have survived. At this disclosure, the crew rebels and forces the Phoenix to undertake a rescue mission to Reunion.

But the crew and captains do not go alone, for on board are Bren Cameron, brilliant human paidhi, now representing Tabini-aiji, the atevi ruler, and Tabini's grandmother Ilisidi, the aiji-dowager, a fearsome, wily, and ambitious atevi leader with an agenda of her own.

Trapped in a distant star system with very little fuel left, facing a potentially bellicose alien ship, how can Bren help to avoid interspecies war when the notoriously secretive Pilot's Guild aboard Reunion Station won't even cooperate with their own ship, and may have kept the inhabitants of their own station ignorant of their true situation?

The Word for World is Forest

Hainish Cycle: Book 6

Ursula K. Le Guin

The colonizing earthmen's persistent exploitation and abuse of the Athsheans' delicately balanced culture and ecology forebode extraterrestrial genocide or vengeful rebellion.

Remnant Population

Elizabeth Moon

For forty years, Colony 3245.12 has been Ofelia's home. On this planet far away in space and time from the world of her youth, she has lived and loved, weathered the death of her husband, raised her one surviving child, lovingly tended her garden, and grown placidly old. And it is here that she fully expects to finish out her days--until the shifting corporate fortunes of the Sims Bancorp Company dictates that Colony 3245.12 is to be disbanded, its residents shipped off, deep in cryo-sleep, to somewhere new and strange and not of their choosing. But while her fellow colonists grudgingly anticipate a difficult readjustment on some distant world, Ofelia savors the promise of a golden opportunity. Not starting over in the hurly-burly of a new community... but closing out her life in blissful solitude, in the place she has no intention of leaving. A population of one.

With everything she needs to sustain her, and her independent spirit to buoy her, Ofelia actually does start life over--for the first time on her own terms: free of the demands, the judgments, and the petty tyrannies of others. But when a reconnaissance ship returns to her idyllic domain, and its crew is mysteriously slaughtered, Ofelia realizes she is not the sole inhabitant of her paradise after all. And, when the inevitable time of first contact finally arrives, she will find her life changed yet again–in ways she could never have imagined....

A Darkling Sea

James L. Cambias

On the planet Ilmatar, under a roof of ice a kilometer thick, a team of deep-sea diving scientists investigates the blind alien race that lives below. The Terran explorers have made an uneasy truce with the Sholen, their first extraterrestrial contact: so long as they don't disturb the Ilmataran habitat, they're free to conduct their missions in peace.

But when Henri Kerlerec, media personality and reckless adventurer, ends up sliced open by curious Ilmatarans, tensions between Terran and Sholen erupt, leading to a diplomatic disaster that threatens to escalate to war.

Against the backdrop of deep-sea guerrilla conflict, a new age of human exploration begins as alien cultures collide. Both sides seek the aid of the newly enlightened Ilmatarans. But what this struggle means for the natives--and the future of human exploration--is anything but certain.

The Vital Abyss

The Expanse: Short Fiction: Book 5

James S. A. Corey

Somewhere in the vast expanse of space, a group of prisoners lives in permanent captivity.

The only company they have is each other and the Belters who guard them. The only stories they know are the triumphs and crimes that brought them there. The only future they see is an empty life in an enormous room.

And then the man from Mars came along...