cover image Pretender


C. J. Cherryh, . . DAW, $25.95 (327pp) ISBN 978-0-7564-0374-4

In volume eight of Cherryh's masterful Foreigner sequence (Destroyer , etc.), Tabini, the deposed ruler of the atevi home world, represents humanity's best hope of survival on this alien planet and the atevi 's own best chance of maintaining independence in a galaxy grown suddenly crowded with potential enemies. In order to retake control of his government, Tabini draws together various allies, allowing himself to serve as a possible target for assassination. Tabini must delicately balance the sensibilities of deeply conservative factions against the absolute need to push forward with the technological innovations that human beings have introduced to the atevi world. Human diplomat Bren Cameron, meanwhile, must simply stay alive, if only to prove to the skeptical atevi that other alien races do indeed exist and are headed their way. As usual, Cherryh alternates long stretches of brilliant, often oblique dialogue and complex political maneuvering with shorter interludes of violent, well-executed action. A science fictional equivalent of George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire sequence, this series represents contemporary SF at its finest. (Mar.)