Jan 4 2009 11:40am

New News from Reseune: C.J. Cherryh’s Regenesis

In Karl Schroeder’s Ventus there are some artificial intelligences known as Winds who are sent out to a planet to terraform it for humans. They are there a long time terraforming with only their original instructions, and when the humans arrive they don’t recognise them as what they’ve been waiting for. Reading Regenesis, I felt like one of them. It’s been twenty years since Cyteen, twenty years in which I’ve probably read the book forty or fifty times, and in which I’ve carried out extensive correspondence about the book in email and on mailing lists and on rec.arts.sf.written. I’ve examined every word for what implications I could wring out of it. Getting huge masses of new information all at once was quite overwhelming and I found myself having problems assimilating it.

Regenesis is a direct sequel to Cyteen. It’s set at Reseune, it has all the surviving characters present. It covers the events of the next few months after the end of the first book. I once said that I’d have been happy to read the detailed recordings of the years of data from the Rubin Project, and there were times in Regenesis when I felt as if that was what I was doing. There isn’t anything wrong with giving me a fairly loose story about six months in the lives of Ariane Emory II and Justin Warrick, not to mention Florian, Catlin and Grant. I was thrilled to see Ari II interacting with Jordan Warrick and fascinated to hear mention of terraforming Eversnow, but this is not a definitive masterpiece like its predecessor, and anything less would be bound to disappoint me.

A long time ago at an Eastercon, Vernor Vinge asked what we’d like to see in a sequel to A Fire Upon the Deep. My response was that I wanted something that wasn’t just a story set in the universe but one that expanded the boundaries. The only way to get a great sequel to a great book is by doing something different. Vinge gave me that. Cherryh didn’t, not this time.

Apart from anything else, there are bad answers to the question of “Who killed Ariane Emory?” and  “Someone you never heard of who wasn’t mentioned in Cyteen and who came from Defence” is one that makes me turn into a Wind and reject it outright.

This article is part of C. J. Cherryh Reread: ‹ previous | index | next ›
Ken Walton
1. carandol
Oh dear. You sound remarkably calm, considering.
brightening glance
2. brightglance
Having read this post, I should be able to manage my expectations of the book. It's a pity, though; even weaker Cherryh is still pretty good but great Cherryh would have been wonderful.

I just got around to reading Forge of Heaven where she avoided the same trap of a too-direct sequel to Hammerfall and instead did do something different.
3. WillP
I just finished it and while I agree that it has some problems when compared to the original, there's probably a good reason for that. Cherryh was better at writing stories which actually came to a conclusion when she was younger. All of her stories linked together in the Alliance-Union universe, but not all of them were trilogies like the Foreigner books she's been concentrating on lately. When I read Cyteen, it was the original hardcover, before it got split into three paperbacks. This book reads like that first paperback alone. Too many unanswered questions: What's going to happen with Eversnow? Who the hell is Anton Clavery? How will Jordan react to Justin's new position? How will Giraud II grow up? What will be done about birthing Denys II? What is Valery Shwartz's weird computer graphic/psych art all about? My personal opinion is that this is the beginning of another trilogy. I personally hope that it is, because this one left me hanging more than the original Cyteen.
4. Sourowl
I agree with WillP that this book was a good set up for more to come. I enjoyed Regenesis more than the original Cyteen. While I have ALWAYS been a fan of Cherryh's work, I've enjoyed her recent works (last 10 years) more than her first work. I used to finish her books thinking, "And now I have to go shoot myself," because her work was dense and dark. Lately Cherryh has mixed humor along with dense and dark -- it reflects real life with greater accuracy in my mind. Really looking forward to more books on this topic.

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