The constellation of Hydri, also called the Serpent, became an undesirable destination during the era of humanity's most prolific interstellar colonization. For Hydri was under strict quarantine because it harbored an intelligent and dangerous alien race, the insectoid majat. Yet human colonies predating the quarantine did exist in this sector of space, which they called Serpent's Reach. Cut off from others of their own kind, they had their own inbred culture and special relationships with the alien majat.
Raen was the only survivor of the massacred Sul family, and she had made a pledge to devote her life to seeking vengeance for her slain clan. Her thirst for revenge would take her not only across the worlds of the Reach, but into the very center of an alien webwork that knit the stars of the forbidden constellation into a complex of interbred alien hives that no outsider could hope to unravel, and where most of humanity dared not go.
©1980 C.J. Cherryh (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
"For interesting aliens, try Cherryh's Serpent's Reach. In it she has created what may be the first sympathetic hive mind in SF. Cherryh has successfully avoided almost all the mystic pseudoscience claptrap inspired in her predecessors by Earth's social insects. She has achieved a Hive intelligence that makes sense. I congratulate her and I look forward to her attempt to top it." (Analog)
I'm not usually a fan of Sci-fi but I just finished listening to "Serpent's Reach" and I couldn't be more enthusiastic! I think hearing it aloud aided by the smooth voiced & expressive narrator, who really brought it to life. Everything about this book - the plot, the characters, the message, was riveting. I was drawn into a world that was so different than mine that I felt that I'd been transported and it's just what I needed to lose myself! I love how the author intertwines serious issues about conformity versus independence with far out situations and characters. I didn't know I liked sci-fi until this book but I'm so glad audible and it's excellent narrator brought it to life for me! It's now on my recommend list!!
I haven't read the print version; I have only listened to this audio book version. It was also my first introduction to C.J. Cherryh's writing. I am more of a hard/classic Sci-Fi fan (the great authors: Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, etc). I found this audio book to be enjoyable, though a bit muddled in writing. The author tries too hard to capture the complexity of "Dune" or "Foundation" and in the process alienates casual readers (or in my case, listeners) with overly complicated terminology. For example, the main character's full name and title is: Raen a Sul hant Meth-maren, Kontrin of the Sul sept of the Meth-maren House. That aside, the story was enjoyable enough for me to want to check out more of Cherryh's books. It's pretty typical late '70s/early 80s "interplanetary politics" Sci-Fi, so if you like books like "Dune", you'll probably enjoy it too. I think the reader did more than a fine job of presenting an arguably difficult book to present. There are many, many made up Sci-Fi names, terms, locations, rituals, etc that would be difficult for someone to pronounce without a commanding use of language. Nordlinger did more than a fine job. Also, it was refreshing to hear a female read Sci-Fi. Often I find that audio book presenters are male for the genre. Another reviewer mentions that the reader didn't do voices to differentiate the majat and humans, but I am glad they didn't. I find when the readers in audio books do things like that it's more of a distraction than beneficial, but that's just me. All in all, it's not a bad book, with one of the more better audio book adaptations that I've heard.
This is the first book I read by C.J. Cherryh, and still one of my favorites. Not as complex as Cyteen or Downbelow station, it is in the same universe, with politics, azi, and a capable but flawed central character. Sadly, the reader is not suited to the book- for one thing is pretty much simply READ, with no significant change in voices. It is even difficult to tell the difference between the nonhuman majat and the other characters. More even than that, the reader's voice seems more suited to light works. No Cherryh book is other than dense and somewhat dark, even her juvenile book is not sweet. Almost literally my first impression was that the reader was doing the story as light fiction and Raen as an ingenue, which even at the opening when she was 15 was inappropriate. I'm sure this was unintended, but more depth is needed here. The tensions in the story are pretty much lost in the reading. I will finish the book, because the story is so good, and partially because I know where the stress points are supposed to be located. After the first few chapters I was inclined to discard the Audible version, and probably will not listen to this version again. Do yourself a favor- buy a copy of the book and read it.
I'm a bibliophile since early childhood. Love speculative fiction, odd premises, mystery novels that teach about different places and times.
Love this book. It's one of her first that has her alliance/ earth/ union premises, although they're not stated as such. Early as it is, it moves fast, has an alien presence that really is alien and works like a charm and asks some very scary questions about what makes us human. I am SO PLEASED to see this book in audible.
There's some small places where the reader goes whiny. It didn't ruin my enjoyment of the book but it is annoying. You might want to listen to the sample first.
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