Invader by C.J. Cherryh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This SF series is continuing to prove itself one of the most enduring and fascinatingly social of all the hard SF's I've ever read. Book two seems to pick up very well with similar or perhaps improved pacing from the previous one, but instead of focusing so much on the linguistics issues, Bren finds himself with ever increasing responsibility and power within the Atevi world, much to the everlasting chagrin of his "people" on the island of humans.
Did he go native, selling out the other humans? Has he betrayed humanity to give all the aliens all our tech, to crowd out the advances and the possible advantage of allying with the returning spacecraft that had abandoned the humans on this world for 200 years? How dare he!
Of course, he knows he's just trying to keep the peace, making sure that all sides, both human and Atevi, work together and make sure no one gets left out. It helps that he's the only one to translate and make deals with both sides, for many good reasons not just cultural, but hard-wired in the alien psyche.
Except, the humans have factions and factions and they've sent a new translator to take over for Bren, and the two of them have never gotten along.
Politics and politics ensue, with Bren in the right and rising high in Atevi estimation, while all the while things keep getting gummed up anyway. :)
These are early days, with the Spaceship wanting the downwellers to regain spaceflight, fast, so they can man and refurbish the abandoned space station around the planet. Three sides could blow up into a real huge mess. And in the center is Bren. :)
I love this stuff. Translator-porn. :) Politic-Biology conflict. Technological parity.
Here's the interesting bit: The Atevi are born mathematicians. :) Everything boils down to associations and "good" number parity, down to all their surroundings, the number of rooms or the architecture, or the way they form their words, so you have to be fantastic at math just to speak with them, or it's "unfavorable" and they might just assassinate you for it. Details. :)
Of course, this means that the Atevi also have it in them to blow all humanity out of the water if they ever get their hands on some really juicy tech or even the knowledge that FTL is real.
Oops. Too late. :)
It's becoming extremely, extremely difficult to hold off on reading this entire series without stopping. :)
Delicious doesn't even begin to describe it. :)
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