If this is so I’d say the novel is further undermined. If Unionism is the key representation of difference, why muddy its waters in the first few chapters?Originally Posted by odo
Surely it would have been more prudent to have Talley not take the option of Adjustment (or not be Unionist in the first place)? Or better still, leave the concept of Adjustment out of the novel completely. Without Adjustment, Talley functions as the classical fish out of water. It’s a “clash of cultures” tale. Unsophisticated and cliché, perhaps - but it works.
By mind-wiping Talley, Cherryh negates most of the attributes that make Talley different to the stationers. If Talley is no longer symptomatic of Unionism – what is his purpose? The only satisfying avenue for development is portraying Talley as isolated from everyone (the stationers through the remnants of his Unionism and the Union through the effects of Adjustment), but Cherryh never manages to hit this note satisfactorily, IMO.
In any case, I don’t think Cherryh does anywhere near enough work drawing clear divisions between the Unionists and the central characters. Aside from them appearing as unflinching, unemotional neo-Aryan stormtroopers – what do we know about them? I couldn’t understand the relationship between the elders and their vat-grown creations.
I didn’t find it anywhere near the difficult read many others here claim it is. I agree Cherryh’s writing style is peculiar, and at times confusing – but this wasn’t a major obstacle. Similarly, I wasn’t put off by the lack of gunfire and space battles. I think the humanitarian crisis brought about by the arrival of the refugees is, for the most part, dramatically compelling. Okay, I wasn’t on the edge of the seat chewing my fingertips – but then I didn’t doze off, either.
Whilst I don’t think Cherryh is a technically gifted writer, I do think she has a talent for conveying technical detail. The language or jargon of future life on an orbiting space station is convincing and pretty close to how I’d imagine it to be. I had very little difficulty picturing Pell's layered, compartmentalised layout, which kind of reminded me of the underground bio-bunker in The Andromeda Strain. Unfortunately, her flesh-and-blood characters aren’t as intricately constructed.
Downbelow is very middle-of-the-road stuff for me. Why the awards I've no idea. Maybe 1982 was a bad year for SF.