Cherryh, C.J. 1942-

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CHERRYH, C.J. 1942-

(Carolyn Janice Cherry)

PERSONAL: Born September 1, 1942, in St. Louis, MO; daughter of Basil (a Social Security representative) and Lois (Van Deventer) Cherry. Education: University of Oklahoma, B.A., 1964; Johns Hopkins University, M.A., 1965. Religion: Christian. Hobbies and other interests: Galactic mapping, guitar and music composition, travel.

ADDRESSES: Home—Edmond, OK. Agent—Matt Bialer, 1325 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10019.

CAREER: Oklahoma City Public Schools, Oklahoma City, OK, teacher of Latin and ancient history, 1965–77; freelance writer, 1977–. Central State University, Wilburforce, OK, artist-in-residence and instructor, 1980–81; National Space Society, member of board of advisors.

MEMBER: Science Fiction Writers of America, Science Fiction Writers Association (secretary), Space Studies Institute, L-5 Society (life member; member of board), Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Lambda Delta.

AWARDS, HONORS: Woodrow Wilson fellow, 1965–66; John W. Campbell Award, 1977, for Best New Writer in Science Fiction; Hugo Award, World Science Fiction Convention, 1978, for short story "Cassandra," 1982, for novel Downbelow Station; Balrog Award, 1982, for short story "A Thief in Korianth"; Hugo Award for Best Novel, World Science Fiction Society, 1987, for Cuckoo's Egg, and 1989, for Cyteen; Locus award, 1988.



Gate of Ivrel, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1976, adapted and illustrated by Jane Fancher, Donning Co. (Norfolk, VA), 1987.

Brothers of Earth, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1976.

Hunter of Worlds, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1977.

Well of Shiuan, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1978.

The Fires of Azeroth, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1979.

Hestia, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1979.

The Book of Morgaine (contains Gate of Ivrel, Well of Shiuan, and The Fires of Azeroth), Doubleday (New York, NY), 1979.

Serpent's Reach, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1980.

Downbelow Station, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1981, 20th anniversary edition, 2001.

Sunfall (short stories), DAW Books (New York, NY), 1981.

Wave without a Shore, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1981.

Ealdwood (novelette), Donald M. Grant (West Kingston, RI), 1981.

The Pride of Chanur, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1982.

Merchanter's Luck, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1982.

Port Eternity, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1982.

The Dreamstone, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1983.

Chanur's Venture, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1984.

Angel with the Sword, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1985.

(With Janet Morris) The Gates of Hell, Baen Books (New York, NY), 1986.

Cyteen, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1988.

Rimrunners, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1989.

Rusalka, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 1989.

Chernevog, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 1990.

Heavy Time, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1991.

Yvgenie, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 1991.

Chanur's Legacy: A Novel of Compact Space, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1992.

The Goblin Mirror, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 1992.

Hellburner, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1992.

Tripoint, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1994.

Fortress in the Eye of Time, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1995.

Rider at the Gate, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1995.

(Coauthor) The Sword of Knowledge, Baen (Riverdale, NY), 1995.

Cloud's Rider, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1996.

Lois and Clark: A Superman Novel, Prima Publishers (Rocklin, CA), 1996.

Finity's End, Warner Books (New York, NY), 1997.

Fortress of Eagles, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1998.

Fortress of Owls, HarperPrism (New York, NY), 1999.

Fortress of Dragons, EOS (New York, NY), 2000.

Devil to the Belt, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2000.

The Morgaine Saga (contains Gate of Ivrel, Well of Shiuan, and Fires of Azeroth), DAW Books (New York, NY), 2000.

Port Eternity, G. K. Hall (Thorndike, ME), 2001.

Hammerfall ("Gene Wars" series), EOS (New York, NY), 2001.

At the Edge of Space, DAW Books (New York, NY), 2003.

The Collected Short Fiction of C. J. Cherryh, DAW Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Forge of Heaven ("Gene Wars" series), EOS (New York, NY), 2004.


The Faded Sun: Kesrith, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1978.

The Faded Sun: Shon'Jir, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1978.

The Faded Sun: Kutath, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1979.

The Faded Sun Trilogy (contains Kesrith, Shon'jir, and Kutath), DAW Books (New York, NY), 2000.


Foreigner: A Novel of First Contact, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1994.

Invader, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1995.

Inheritor, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1996.

Precursor, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1999.

Defender, DAW Books (New York, NY), 2001.

Explorer, DAW Books (New York, NY), 2002.

Destroyer, DAW Books (New York, NY), 2005.


Charles and Nathalie Henneberg, The Green Gods, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1980.

Pierre Barbet, Star Crusade, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1980.


Lin Carter, editor, The Year's Best Fantasy #3, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1977.

Donald A. Wollheim, editor, The 1979 Annual World's Best SF, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1979.

Jessica Amanda Salmonson, editor, Amazons!, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1979.

Terry Carr, editor, The Best Science Fiction of the Year, Ballantine (New York, NY), 1980.

Lin Carter, editor, Flashing Swords #5, Dell (New York, NY), 1981.

Susan A. Schwartz, editor, Hecate's Children, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1981.

Terri Windling, editor, Elsewhere, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1981.

Robert Asprin, editor, Shadows of Sanctuary, Ace Books (New York, NY), 1982.

Art Saha, editor, The Year's Best Fantasy, DAW Books (New York, NY), 1982.

WORK IN PROGRESS: "A stage by stage chart of the interrelations of imminent and consequent technological developments in space, with their logical sequence of social development, which is and will be the background of a majority of my books."

SIDELIGHTS: C.J. Cherryh is a prolific science-fiction author. Cherryh once told a contributor to the St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers: "Having made a thorough study of the past I am vehemently certain that I do not wish to live in it, nor do I wish to see three quarters of the planet weltering in conditions that should have been left in the past, with the same hunger and disease our ancestors knew. The reach for space and its resources is the make-or-break point for our species, and the appropriate use of technology and the adjustment of human viewpoint to a universe not limited to a blue sky overhead and the curvature of the horizon are absolutely critical to our survival. Therefore I write fiction about space and human adjustment to the unfamiliar." Setting her novels in extremely complex alien cultures, Cherryh examines two recurring themes, according to Susan Wells of the Dictionary of Literary Biography: "The theme of absolute power, especially when such power is held by a woman, and the theme of culture as a force shaping the whole of life."

These themes can be found in Cherryh's first novel, Gate of Ivrel, in which the female protagonist Morgaine is a member of a band of humans working to close "the gates," an interplanetary teleportation network that is slowly destabilizing human worlds. Closing these gates, however, proves to be a destructive process, and Morgaine leaves a trail of wreckage and death in her wake. In subsequent novels, Cherryh developed her talent for creating intricate alien cultures. In Hunter of Worlds, for example, she created three separate alien languages, "each with a distinct grammar and a specific history," as Wells stated. "Cherryh's achievement in creating beings who are convincing yet remain alien is considerable," a Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote, "but most readers will be daunted by the need to master about 50 keywords in the iduve language … in order to follow the narrative at all comfortably."

In The Pride of Chanur, Cherryh presents an alien race of catlike beings named the hani, "a superlatively drawn alien race," stated Roland Green of Booklist. The story is told from the viewpoint of the hani Pyanfar Chanur, who finds a strange hairless animal hiding on his spaceship. The creature turns out to be a human, and after some time, Chanur learns a bit of its language so as to communicate with it. Cherryh "has given us," Tom Easton wrote in Analog, "an alien psychology story, and she has done it the hard way, and she has done a grand job…. It is a mark of Cherryh's success that here it is the human who seems the alien." In his review of the book, Green commented that "Cherryh is becoming one of the best and best-known creators of aliens in SF."

Perhaps Cherryh's most successful work is found in "The Faded Sun" trilogy, in which she creates the mri, a race of interplanetary mercenaries. The mri society is ruled over by a woman, a "she'pan," who is "at once high priestess, ruler, and mother," according to Wells. Duncan, a human who has befriended the mri, becomes one of them through a difficult process of acculturation. When war breaks out between human and mri, it is eventually settled with the assistance of Duncan, who is the only one to understand the needs and interests of both sides. Wells wrote that "The Faded Sun" trilogy "demonstrated Cherryh's mastery of the 'alien anthropology' genre of science fiction," while "the she'pan is perhaps the most interesting of Cherryh's women in power."

Cherryh's "Foreigner Universe" series is set on a planet dominated by an alien species, the atevi. A group of humans found themselves stuck on the island following a spaceship accident, and hundreds of years later their descendents have formed a colony, isolated from the atevi, on an island. A single human ambassador, the paidhi, is permitted to leave and interact with the atevi. "Cherryh's gift for conjuring believable alien cultures is in full force here," wrote a Publishers Weekly critic about Foreigner: A Novel of First Contact, the first book in the series. As Roland Green noted of the same title in Booklist, this tale "is longer on world building, exotic aliens, and characterization than on action, although it is not short on that." In subsequent installments a human-piloted spaceship, the Phoenix, arrives at the planet, throwing the human and atevi political arrangements into disarray. "Of particular note is the author's ongoing exploration of the atevi, one of the more fascinating alien cultures ever imagined," a Publishers Weekly critic wrote in a review of Precursor. On the other hand, Booklist reviewer Green, writing about the same title, noted "Cherryh's excellent world building and masterful depiction of humans occupying a subordinate position and being seen through nonhuman eyes and in a less-than-favorable light."

Cherryh does not only write science fiction. Several of her novels are better placed in the category of fantasy, including Rusalka, Chernevog, and Yvgenie, a series of books based on Russian folk tales. The books feature a ghost ("rusalka"), a wizard named Chernevog, magic, and resurrection, among other fantastic elements. "Cherryh weaves a complex psychological tale of magic," a Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote of the third book. Another series of books, beginning with Fortress in the Eye of Time and continuing through several more books with the word "fortress" in the title, are high fantasy. This series centers on Tristen, a young man who was magically created out of whole cloth by a wizard, Mauryl. Cherryh's "accomplished storytelling and leisurely pacing lend an allegorical quality" to this series, Jackie Cassada commented in a Library Journal review of Fortress of Owls, and Booklist contributor Green, reviewing the same title, deemed the series "consistently readable and ingelligent." Yet, as a Publishers Weekly critic commented in a review of Fortress of Eagles, "in general, Cherryh's SF … has proven much stronger than her fantasy."

Cherryh launched another science fiction series, "Gene Wars," in 2001 with the publication of Hammerfall. This novel is the story of Marak, an outcast whom everyone—including himself—thinks is insane. He sees visions of a silver tower to the east, in the desert, and struggles mightily to resist the temptation to journey towards it. Yet many others have been experiencing the same visions, and Ila, the female dictator who rules this world, sends Marak and others out in search of the source of their hallucinations. The book "features [Cherryh's] usual blend of gorgeous, slightly knotty prose, deeply conflicted heroes, desperate action and nicely observed cultural details," praised a Publishers Weekly reviewer.

The Collected Short Fiction of C.J. Cherryh was released in 2004. "This massive and valuable collection," as Green described it in Booklist, contains every one of published Cherryh's short stories and novellas, plus some new ones. "The majority of the pieces," noted a Publishers Weekly contributor, "showcase the author's talent for depicting the effect of history on individuals." These stories include the "Sunfall" tales, which examine how the residents of northern cities including Moscow, Paris, and London might cope with the time in the far future when the sun begins to produce less light and heat. Even the "less impressive stories," Green wrote, will "verify [Cherryh's] reputation for brilliance and versatility."

Evaluating Cherryh's achievement in the field of science fiction, Wells stated: "Since the days of the movie 'Flash Gordon,' with its imperial villains, science fiction writers have been interested in the possibilities of autocratic societies. Cherryh, however, is one of the few writers who has presented such societies sympathetically, without taking the viewpoint of a rebel or an alienated outsider. Furthermore, interests in power have generally not, in science fiction, been combined with interests in culture…. Cherryh, however, tells stories in which very powerful characters are situated in extremely complex cultures."

Cherryh's background in the classics and anthropology has helped her in making the cultures she creates realistic. In a letter to CA, Cherryh wrote: "I have not forgotten my anthropological training, but I have done enough research over the past half decade to follow my first love, which is technology, using insight gained from the impact of technology on humanity of the past and present to project the likely course of events for the future, which has become my major work.

"My classical education includes Latin, Greek, anthropology, archaeology, and ancient history, with sidelines in Bronze Age myth and society; art; geology and climatology. I have studied literature, religion, music, astronomy; am a passable artist, know French and Italian, with some German and Russian; know fencing and archery and enjoy riding; am active in the pro-space movement and am a constant reader in all sciences and aerospace engineering.

"I have retraced Caesar's campaigns in travels in England, France, Switzerland, and Italy; have hiked about the hills of ancient Thebes and Mycenae in Greece; climbed Mt. Dicte on Crete, where Zeus was born; walked the dead cities of Pompeii, Troy, Ephesus, and Cnossos; have visited Rome and Istanbul, Pergamum, Athens and Delphi, lived a week in Sparta; have sailed the Adriatic past Ithaca—all of this while taking photographs and historical notes. I was at [space shuttle] Columbia's maiden launch.

"In the interest of authenticity in my writing I have tried camel-riding and small craft sailing, horse-cabs and hovercraft, have explored ancient prisons and studied computer science and ancient weaponry. Things I have yet to do include as favorite dreams: to see the pyramids of Egypt and trace the Nile by boat; to sail the routes of Jason and Odysseus; to travel the route of Alexander the Great as far as India and back again; to see Mr. Erebus in Antarctica and the Great Wall of China; to be on the first commercial flight into space."



Authors and Artists for Young Adults, Volume 24, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998.

Dictionary of Literary Biography, Yearbook 1980, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1981.

St. James Guide to Fantasy Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.

St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers, 4th edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.

St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers, 2nd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.

Science Fiction Writers, 2nd edition, Scribner (New York, NY), 1999.


Analog, August, 1982, Tom Easton, review of The Pride of Chanur, p. 125.

Booklist, April 1, 1982, Roland Green, review of Pride of Chanur; January 15, 1994, Roland Green, review of Foreigner: A Novel of First Contact, p. 904; August, 1995, Roland Green, review of Rider at the Gate, p. 1933; April 15, 1996, Roland Green, review of Inheritor, p. 1425; September 15, 1996, Dennis Winters, review of Cloud's Rider, p. 226; August, 1997, Roland Green, review of Finity's End, p. 1886; December 15, 1998, Roland Green, review of Fortress of Owls, p. 730; November 15, 1999, Roland Green, review of Precursor, p. 608; May 1, 2000, Roland Green, review of Fortress of Dragons, p. 1655; April 15, 2001, Paula Leudtke, review of Hammerfall, p. 1539; November 15, 2001, Roland Green, review of Defender, p. 560; April 15, 2002, Ray Olson, review of Hammerfall, p. 1387; November 15, 2002, Roland Green, review of Explorer, p. 583; February 15, 2004, Roland Green, review of The Collected Short Fiction of C.J. Cherryh, p. 1047; March 1, 2004, Paula Luedtke, review of Forge of Heaven, p. 1146; February 15, 2005, Roland Green, review of Destroyer, p. 1069.

Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2004, review of Forge of Heaven, p. 205.

Library Journal, September 15, 1997, Susan Hamburger, review of Finity's End, p. 105; January, 1999, Jackie Cassada, review of Fortress of Owls, p. 166; November 15, 1999, Jackie Cassada, review of Precursor, p. 101; June 15, 2001, Jackie Cassada, review of Hammerfall, p. 107; November 15, 2002, Jackie Cassada, review of Explorer, p. 106; February 15, 2004, Jackie Cassada, review of The Collected Short Fiction of C.J. Cherryh, p. 167; February 15, 2005, Jackie Cassada, review of Destroyer, p. 122.

Life, July, 1984, Harald Sund and Nellie Blagden, "Otherworldly Women," p. 112.

Literary Review, spring, 2001, Burton Raffel, "C.J. Cherryh's Fiction," p. 578.

MBR Bookwatch, February, 2005, Harriet Klausner, review of Destroyer.

Publishers Weekly, July 4, 1977, review of Hunter of Worlds; September 7, 1990, Sybil Steinberg, review of Chernevog, p. 79; May 3, 1991, Sybil Steinberg, review of Heavy Time, p. 66; September 20, 1991, review of Yvgenie, p. 124; June 29, 1992, review of Chanur's Legacy, p. 55; July 27, 1992, review of Hellburner, p. 52; August 17, 1992, review of The Goblin Mirror, p. 492; January 31, 1994, review of Foreigner, p. 81; August 29, 1994, review of Tripoint, p. 65; April 10, 1995, reviews of Invader and Fortress in the Eye of Time, p. 57; July 24, 1995, review of Rider at the Gate, p. 52; March 4, 1996, review of Inheritor, p. 58; August 19, 1996, review of Cloud's Rider, p. 56; July 14, 1997, review of Finity's End, p. 69; December 22, 1997, review of Fortress of Eagles, p. 43; December 14, 1998, review of Fortress of Owls, p. 60; October 11, 1999, review of Precursor, p. 59; May 15, 2000, review of Fortress of the Dragons, p. 94; June 4, 2001, review of Hammerfall, p. 63; November 5, 2001, review of Defender, p. 46; October 28, 2002, review of Explorer, p. 56; January 19, 2004, review of The Collected Short Fiction of C.J. Cherryh, p. 58; April 19, 2004, review of Forge of Heaven, p. 44; January 10, 2005, review of Destroyer, p. 43.


C.J. Cherryh Home Page, (September 21, 2005).

Danny Yee's Book Reviews, (February 7, 1993), review of The Faded Sun.

Internet Book List Web site, (September 2, 2005), "Author Information: C.J. Cherryh."