Young Bill Young here. I’ll be your guest blogger for the next couple of days while Kitty is out of town. First up: Oklahoma author CJ Cherryh’s latest sci-fi triumph, Regenesis. (Yes, I know CJ has moved to cooler climes, but she was raised here, taught school here, and wrote here for many years. We still claim her. Who wouldn’t?)
Regenesis is the long-awaited sequal to the Hugo Award-winning Cyteen—and yes, you do need to read Cyteen before tackling Regenesis, despite what some reviewers say. It took more than two decades for the sequel to see light, and Cherryh dedicates the book to Daw Books publisher Betsy Woolheim’s “determination.”
Cherryh’s Union/Aliance universe, the setting for Regenesis, is rich and complex, and I’ll let you follow this link to find out more about it.
When Regenesis opens, Arianne (Ari) Emory is 18 years old, and heir to the Reseune company which operates on the planet Cyteen, headquarters for the Union government. She is the clone of the original Arianne—a brilliant, but morally suspect, scientist whose genius has allowed Union’s population to grow (through cloning), giving it an advantage over its Earth and Alliance foes. Following the murder of the original Ari, Emory is cloned. Much of Cyteen focuses on the effort by Reseune personnel to make sure young Ari turns out as brilliant as her predecessor. This leads to cruel familial separations so that young Ari has the same traumatic experiences as her “parent,” but it ultimately makes Young Ari very different from the original: Old Ari doesn’t trust. Young Ari wants desperately to trust. Old Ari has no friends. Young Ari has several friends. Old Ari doesn’t (or can’t) love. Young Ari *does* love.
Where Cyteen was epic in scope, Regenesis is more intimate, taking place in the space of only eight months. But it is an eight-month period filled with political and psychological suspense as the young genius works to keep herself alive, solve her parent’s murder, protect Reseune and Union interests, and protect those she loves.
While telling the story, Cherryh weaves in the big issues that humans deal with: the need for development versus the need to respect nature; the meaning of identity; the need for self preservation versus the need to trust; and (especially in a post 911 world) the rights of the individual versus the need to stay alive and protect a way of life.
Cherryh doesn’t shy away from the big issues. (Why would you write science fiction if you were timid?) But she knows how to tell a story, too, and how to make you care about the characters (both born and cloned) that populate Regenesis.