cover image Finity's End

Finity's End

C. J. Cherryh. Aspect, $21.5 (384pp) ISBN 978-0-446-52072-0

Returning to SF's best-developed future history series, Cherryh (Cloud's Rider) once again demonstrates her unequaled ability to imagine what it would be like to live and work in outer space. Fletcher Neihart was born on Pell Station after his spacer mother-to-be was left behind by her ship, the famous merchanter Finity's End, at the beginning of the Company Wars. Now, after 17 years in legal limbo, victimized by a series of unloving foster parents (his mother has killed herself), Fletcher has been returned against his will to Finity. Bitter and alienated, he has no desire to be a spacer and thus presents a challenge to both his immediate superior officer, JR, and his ship's legendary senior captain, James Robert Neihart. Finity's End, meanwhile, is engaged in a dangerous mission. If it succeeds, the fragile new peace between Alliance, Union and Earth will be strengthened. If JR can't help Fletcher find a place for himself aboard ship, however, the delicate web of crew relationships may be disrupted, damaging the ship's ability to function at the highest level. Cherryh does a masterful job of alternating between James Robert's complex political dealings and Fletcher's struggle to overcome his personal demons, with JR doing yeoman service as a bridge between the two plot lines. With excellent character development, plenty of action and Cherryh's usual eye for just the right shipboard details, this is old-fashioned SF at its very best. (Aug.)