Carolyn Janice Cherry (born September 1, 1942), better known by the pen name C. J. Cherryh, is an American writer of speculative fiction. She has written more than 80 books since the mid-1970s, including the Hugo Award-winning novels Downbelow Station (1981) and Cyteen (1988), both set in her Alliance-Union universe. She is known for "world building," depicting fictional realms with great realism supported by vast research in history, language, psychology, and archeology. Her series of fantasy novels set in the Alliance-Union universe, the Morgaine Stories, have sold in excess of 3 million copies.
Cherryh (pronounced "Cherry") appended a silent "h" to her real name because her first editor, Donald A. Wollheim, felt that "Cherry" sounded too much like a romance writer. Her initials, C.J., were used to disguise the fact that she was female at a time when the majority of science fiction authors were male.
The author has an asteroid, 77185 Cherryh, named after her. Referring to this honor, the asteroid's discoverers wrote of Cherryh: "She has challenged us to be worthy of the stars by imagining how mankind might grow to live among them." Cherryh was the Guest of Honor at FenCon IX in Dallas/Fort Worth on September 21–23, 2012.
C. J. Cherryh
Cherryh at NorWesCon in 2006
|Born||Carolyn Janice Cherry|
September 1, 1942
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
|Pen name||C. J. Cherryh|
|Occupation||Novelist, short story author, essayist, high school teacher|
|Genre||Science fiction, fantasy|
|Notable works||Alliance–Union universe, Foreigner universe|
|Notable awards||Hugo Award, Locus Award|
|Spouse||Jane Fancher (2014–present)|
Cherryh was born in 1942 in St. Louis, Missouri and raised primarily in Lawton, Oklahoma. She began writing stories at the age of ten when she became frustrated with the cancellation of her favorite TV show, Flash Gordon. In 1964, she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Latin from the University of Oklahoma (Phi Beta Kappa), with academic specializations in archaeology, mythology, and the history of engineering. In 1965, she received a Master of Arts degree in classics from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, where she was a Woodrow Wilson fellow.
After graduation, Cherryh taught Latin, Ancient Greek, the classics, and ancient history at John Marshall High School in the Oklahoma City public school system. While her job was teaching Latin, her passion was the history, religion, and culture of Rome and Ancient Greece. During the summers, she would conduct student tours of the ancient ruins in England, France, Spain, and Italy. In her spare time, she would write, using the mythology of Rome and Greece as plots for her stories of the future. Cherryh did not follow the professional path typical of science fiction writers at the time, which was to first publish short stories in science fiction and fantasy magazines and then progress to novels. In contrast, she did not consider writing short stories until she had had several novels published.
Cherryh wrote novels in her spare time away from teaching and submitted these manuscripts directly for publication. Initially, she met with little success; indeed various publishers lost manuscripts she had submitted. She was thus forced to retype them from her own carbon copies, time-consuming but cheaper than paying for photocopying. (Using carbon paper to make at least one copy of a manuscript was standard practice until the advent of the personal computer.)
Cherryh's breakthrough came in 1975 when Donald A. Wollheim purchased the two manuscripts she had submitted to DAW Books, Gate of Ivrel and Brothers of Earth. Cherryh stated in an interview on Amazing Stories,
It was the first time a book really found an ending and really worked, because I had made contact with Don Wollheim at DAW, found him interested, and was able to write for a specific editor whose body of work and type of story I knew. It was a good match. It was a set of characters I'd invented when I was, oh, about thirteen. So it was an old favorite of my untold stories, and ended up being the first in print.
The two novels were published in 1976, Gate of Ivrel preceding Brothers of Earth by several months (although she had completed and submitted Brothers of Earth first). The books won her immediate recognition and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1977.
Although not all of her works have been published by DAW Books, during this early period Cherryh developed a strong relationship with the Wollheim family and their publishing company, frequently traveling to New York City and staying with the Wollheims in their Queens family home. Other companies that have published her novels include Baen Books, HarperCollins, Warner Books, and Random House (under its Del Rey Books imprint). She published six additional novels in the late 1970s.
In 1979, her short story "Cassandra" won the Best Short Story Hugo, and she quit teaching to write full-time. She has since won the Hugo Award for Best Novel twice, first for Downbelow Station in 1982 and then again for Cyteen in 1989.
In addition to developing her own fictional universes, Cherryh has contributed to several shared world anthologies, including Thieves' World, Heroes in Hell, Elfquest, Witch World, Magic in Ithkar, and the Merovingen Nights series, which she edited. Her writing has encompassed a variety of science fiction and fantasy subgenres and includes a few short works of non-fiction. Her books have been translated into Czech, Dutch, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish and Swedish. She has also translated several published works of fiction from French into English.
She now lives near Spokane, Washington, with her wife the science fiction/fantasy author and artist Jane Fancher. She enjoys skating, traveling and regularly makes appearances at science fiction conventions.
Her brother David A. Cherry is a science fiction and fantasy artist.
Cherryh uses a writing technique she has variously labeled "very tight limited third person", "intense third person", and "intense internal" voice. In this approach, the only things the writer narrates are those that the viewpoint character specifically notices or thinks about. The narration may not mention important features of the environment or situation with which character is already familiar, even though these things might be of interest to the reader, because the character does not think about them due to their familiarity.
Cherryh's works depict fictional worlds with great realism supported by her strong background in languages, history, archaeology, and psychology. In her introduction to Cherryh's first book, Andre Norton compared the effect of the work to Tolkien's: "Never since reading The Lord of the Rings have I been so caught up in any tale as I have been in Gate of Ivrel." Another reviewer commented, "Her blend of science and folklore gives the novels an intellectual depth comparable to Tolkien or Gene Wolfe". Cherryh creates believable alien cultures, species, and perspectives, causing the reader to reconsider basic assumptions about human nature. Her worlds have been praised as complex and realistic because she presents them through implication rather than explication. She describes the difficulties of translating/expressing concepts between differing languages. This is best demonstrated in both the Chanur and Foreigner series.
She has described the process she uses to create alien societies for her fiction as being akin to asking a series of questions, and letting the answers to these questions dictate various parameters of the alien culture. In her view, "culture is how biology responds to its environment and makes its living conditions better." Some of the issues she considers critical to take into account in detailing an intelligent alien race are:
Her protagonists often attempt to uphold existing social institutions and norms in the service of the greater good while the antagonists often attempt to exploit, subvert or radically alter the predominant social order for selfish gain. She uses the theme of the outsider finding his (or her) place in society and how individuals interact with The Other. A number of Cherryh's novels focus on military and political themes. One underlying theme of her work is an exploration of gender roles. Her characters reveal both strengths and weaknesses regardless of their gender, although her female protagonists are portrayed as especially capable and determined, and many of her male characters are portrayed as damaged, abused, or otherwise vulnerable.
Her career began with publication of her first books in 1976, Gate of Ivrel and Brothers of Earth. Since that time, she has published over 80 novels, short-story compilations, with continuing production as her blog attests. Ms. Cherryh has received the Hugo and Locus Awards for some of her novels. Her novels are divided into various spheres, focusing mostly around the Alliance-Union universe, The Chanur novels, the Foreigner universe, and her fantasy novels.
CJ Cherryh will be the guest of honor at LOSCON 14, this year's annual convention for Los Angeles-area science fiction and fantasy fans.
77185 Cherryh, provisional designation 2001 FE9, is a background asteroid from the central regions of the asteroid belt, approximately 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) in diameter. It was discovered on 20 March 2001, by American amateur astronomers Don Wells and Alex Cruz at the George Observatory in Needville, Texas. The dark asteroid was named for American writer C. J. Cherryh.C. J. Cherryh bibliography
American writer C. J. Cherryh's career began with publication of her first books in 1976, Gate of Ivrel and Brothers of Earth. She has been a prolific science fiction and fantasy author since then, publishing over 80 novels, short-story compilations, with continuing production as her blog attests. Ms. Cherryh has received the Hugo and Locus Awards for some of her novels.
Her novels are divided into various spheres, focusing mostly around the Alliance–Union universe, the Foreigner universe and her fantasy novels.Cassandra (short story)
"Cassandra" is a science fiction short story by American science fiction and fantasy author C. J. Cherryh. It was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in October 1978, and won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story in 1979. It was only her second published short story, after "The Dark King" (1977).
"Cassandra" has been translated into German, French, Polish, Italian and Romanian.Cuckoo's Egg
Cuckoo's Egg is a science fiction novel by American writer C. J. Cherryh. The book was published by DAW Books in 1985, and there was also a limited hardcover printing by Phantasia Press in the same year. The book was nominated for the Hugo Award and longlisted the Locus Award for Best Novel. It was later reprinted along with Cherryh's novel Serpent's Reach in the 2005 omnibus volume The Deep Beyond.
The book introduces the alien Shonunin race, and the plot of the novel concerns a male Shonun raising a human boy. The book's title is therefore a reference the practice of brood parasitism among certain species of cuckoo birds. In this practice, the cuckoos lay their eggs in other birds' nests and the unwitting hosts then expend their energy hatching the cuckoo's eggs. The metaphor is not correctly applied in this case because the Shonun in the book is knowingly and deliberately raising a human child rather than having been tricked into doing so.
In Cuckoo's Egg Cherryh adopts the less common approach in science fiction stories containing aliens of relating the story from the alien's (Shonunin) perspective, thus making the humans the aliens.Downbelow Station
Downbelow Station is a science fiction novel by American writer C. J. Cherryh, published in 1981 by DAW Books. It won the Hugo Award in 1982, was shortlisted for a Locus Award that same year, and was named by Locus magazine as one of the top 50 science fiction novels of all time in 1987.
The book is set in Cherryh's Alliance–Union universe during the Company Wars period, specifically late 2352 and early 2353. The book details events centering on a space station in orbit around Pell's World (also known as "Downbelow") in the Tau Ceti star system. The station serves as the transit point for ships moving between the Earth and Union sectors of the galaxy.
The working title of the book was The Company War, but Cherryh's editor at DAW, Donald A. Wollheim, believed that the moniker lacked commercial appeal, so Downbelow Station was selected as the title for publication. It was the first novel edited by current DAW president, Elizabeth Wollheim, who worked alongside her father.Finity's End
Finity's End is a science fiction novel by American writer C. J. Cherryh. It is part of the Merchanter novels series, set in her Alliance-Union universe, in which humanity has split into three major power blocs: Union, the Merchanter's Alliance and Earth. Finity's End was shortlisted for a Locus Award in 1998.Foreigner universe
The Foreigner universe is a fictional universe created by American writer C. J. Cherryh. The series centers on the descendants of a ship lost in transit from Earth en route to found a new space station. It consists of a series of semi-encapsulated trilogy arcs (or sequences) that focus on the life of Bren Cameron, the human paidhi, a translator-diplomat to the court of the ruling atevi race. Currently nineteen novels have been published between 1994 and 2018. Cherryh has also self-published two ebook short story prequels to the series, "Deliberations" (October 2012) and "Invitations" (August 2013).
Cherryh calls the series "First Contact". Four of the books were shortlisted for the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.Forty Thousand in Gehenna
Forty Thousand in Gehenna, alternately 40,000 in Gehenna, is a 1983 science fiction novel by American writer C. J. Cherryh. It is set in her Alliance-Union universe between 2354 and 2658, and is one of the few works in that universe to portray the Union side; other exceptions include Cyteen (1988) and Regenesis (2009).
The book was first published in a limited hardcover edition in 1983 by Phantasia Press, followed by a mainstream paperback release in 1984 by DAW Books. It was nominated for the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel in 1984. Forty Thousand in Gehenna was reprinted in 2008 along with Cherryh's novel Merchanter's Luck (1982) in an omnibus volume entitled Alliance Space.Heroes in Hell
Heroes in Hell is a series of shared world fantasy books, within the genre Bangsian fantasy, created and edited by Janet Morris and written by her, Chris Morris, C. J. Cherryh and others. The first 12 books in the series were published by Baen Books between 1986 and 1989, and stories from the series include one Hugo Award winner and Nebula nominee, ("Gilgamesh in the Outback" by Robert Silverberg from Rebels in Hell), as well as one other Nebula Award nominee. The series was resurrected in 2011 by Janet Morris with the thirteenth book and eighth anthology in the series, Lawyers in Hell, followed by six more anthologies and three novels between 2012 and 2018.Regenesis (novel)
Regenesis (2009) is a science fiction novel by American writer C. J. Cherryh, set in her Alliance-Union universe. It is a sequel to Cherryh's Cyteen, and was published in hardcover by DAW Books in January 2009. The teenage clone of a top scientist and political leader unravels the decades-old murder of her "genemother", while also dealing with threats to her own welfare.Rimrunners
Rimrunners is a science fiction novel by American writer C. J. Cherryh, set in her Alliance-Union universe, in which humanity has split into three major power blocs: Union, the Merchanter's Alliance and Earth. Chronologically, the book follows immediately after the author's Downbelow Station and is one of Cherryh's series of "Merchanter" novels.
The book was nominated for a Locus Award, and the cover art, by Don Maitz, won the 1990 Hugo Award for Best Original Artwork.The Brothers (novella)
"The Brothers" is a fantasy novella by American writer C. J. Cherryh. It was first published by DAW Books in 1986 in Visible Light, a collection of her short fiction, and was republished in 2004 in The Collected Short Fiction of C. J. Cherryh.
The story draws on Celtic mythology and includes the realm of Faery and the fay race of the Sídhe. Cherryh's 1994 novel Faery in Shadow is a sequel to this novella.
A minor revision of "The Brothers" and a major rewrite of Faery in Shadow was self-published by Cherryh as an e-book in Faery Moon in December 2009.The Cherryh Odyssey
The Cherryh Odyssey is a 2004 collection of essays by various academics, critics and authors about American Hugo Award-winning science fiction and fantasy author, C. J. Cherryh. It was edited by author and academic, Edward Carmien, and was published by Borgo Press, an imprint of Wildside Press as part of its Author Study series. Locus Magazine put the book on its "2004 Recommended Reading List", and Carmien received a nomination for the 2005 Locus Award for Best Non-fiction book for The Cherryh Odyssey.The book's cover was painted by Cherryh's brother, David Cherry. He had originally intended it to be used for the cover of Cherryh's 1986 collection of short fiction, Visible Light, but it was "not warmly received by the publisher".The Collected Short Fiction of C. J. Cherryh
The Collected Short Fiction of C. J. Cherryh is a collection of science fiction and fantasy short stories, novelettes and novella written by the United States author C. J. Cherryh between 1977 and 2004. It was first published by DAW Books in 2004. This collection includes the contents of two previous Cherryh collections, Sunfall (1981) and Visible Light (1986), all of the stories from Glass and Amber (1987), stories originally published in other collections and magazines, and one story written specifically for this collection ("MasKs"). Cherryh's 1978 Hugo Award winning story, "Cassandra" is also included.
The Collected Short Fiction of C. J. Cherryh was voted the second best collection in the 2005 Locus Awards.The Paladin
The Paladin is a 1988 fantasy novel by science fiction and fantasy author C. J. Cherryh. It was published by Baen Books and was nominated for the Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel in 1989. The book features no actual magic or supernatural occurrences, and is considered an example of the low fantasy subgenre of fantasy fiction. It takes place in a fictional country modeled upon China of the Tang Dynasty.The Russian Stories (C. J. Cherryh)
The Russian Stories, also known as the Russian Series, the Russian Trilogy and the Rusalka Trilogy, are a series of fantasy novels by science fiction and fantasy author C. J. Cherryh. The stories are set in medieval Russia along the Dnieper river, in a fictional alternate history of Kievan Rus', a predecessor state of modern-day Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. The three books in the series are Rusalka (1989), Chernevog (1990), and Yvgenie (1991). Rusalka was nominated for a Locus Award in 1990.The stories draw heavily from Slavic mythology and concerns the fate of a girl who has drowned and become a rusalka. For example, a "Rusalka" is a type of life-draining Slavic fairy that haunts a river or lake. And "Chernevog" is an alternate spelling of Chernobog, a mysterious Slavic deity. Other creatures in the books derived from Slavic folklore include Bannik, Leshy and a Vodyanoy.How magic operates in these books sets them apart from other Cherryh works of fantasy. Wizards are presented as especially dangerous in these novels because even their most casual desires, if expressed, may set into action a course of events with unpredictable outcomes. Wizards in the series therefore must carefully attend to what they think lest they accidentally set loose magical forces that could result in negative outcomes.
The books can therefore be read as a cautionary tale regarding the incompatibility of magic and human society, and also as a criticism of the cavalier treatment of magical power in many works of fantasy, especially high fantasy. They are best described as historical fantasy, although they also borrow elements from the horror fiction genre.The Scapegoat (Cherryh novel)
"The Scapegoat" is a science fiction novella by American writer C. J. Cherryh, set in her Alliance-Union universe. It deals with a war in which the two opposing species do not understand each other and do not know how to stop the fighting. The work was originally published in the 1985 anthology of military science fiction Alien Stars and was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novella.Themes of C. J. Cherryh's works
Several themes recur throughout the works of American science fiction and fantasy author C. J. Cherryh.
Cherryh's protagonists often attempt to uphold existing social institutions and norms in the service of the greater good while the antagonists often attempt to exploit, subvert or radically alter the predominant social order for selfish gain. Even when they have conflicting loyalties, her characters do not behave randomly or inexplicably, but for reasons well-rooted in their personality, biology, and culture. A number of Cherryh's novels focus on military and political themes, and on ways in which individuals interact with The Other.
Cherryh frequently incorporates the theme of the outsider finding his (or her) place, whether in society, in a family, or in a family-like group. Examples of such outsiders include Tully, Nhi Vanye, Sten Duncan, Bren Cameron, Hallan Meras, Bet Yeager, Sandor Kreja, Fletcher Neihart and Tristen. Characters who have lost their families or have become estranged, often find or create new families in which to belong.
An underlying theme of Cherryh's work is an exploration of gender roles. Her characters reveal both strengths and weaknesses regardless of their gender, although her female protagonists are portrayed as especially capable and determined.