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Cyteen Paperback – 1 Nov 1989


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Product details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton Ltd; First UK Edition edition (1 Nov. 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0450500861
  • ISBN-13: 978-0450500862
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 13.2 x 4.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 504,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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It was from the air that the rawness of the land showed most: vast tracts where humanity had as yet made no difference, deserts unclaimed, stark as moons, scrag and woolwood thickets unexplored except by orbiting radar. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Shepherd on 5 Sept. 2003
Format: Paperback
C. J. Cherryh has been developing her universe of the Alliance/Union empires for quite some time through several books. Most of these are very good action novels with complicated plots and believable characters, but they typically do not have deep themes. Cyteen, however, is the centerpiece of this universe, with great, insightful looks at the ethics and methods of cloning, slavery, identity (what makes you you?), genetics versus environment, the art of politics, and an incredible look at the inner psychology of the gifted, super-intelligent. This book is not an easy read – it requires some effort and thought by the reader to understand the points presented, but the reader will be richly rewarded for his effort.
The prose style is very clipped, almost abbreviated, and does much to give the reader a sense of unstoppable, pell-mell action and high tension, but it does take some getting used to. Especially at the beginning of the book, where Cherryh drops the reader into this very complex and alien world with very little background explanation of the situation, the people, or the world, it is easy for the reader to become lost and confused. But if the reader will persevere, bit by bit he will find an envisioned world constructed in the best traditions of the field, fully as rich and satisfying as Tolkien’s Middle Earth or Herbert’s Dune, but with dark overtones reminiscent of Huxley’s Brave New World and the paranoid mind control of Orwell’s 1984.
The plot is a complex intertwining of power politics, intriguing scientific concepts, and the personal life histories of some very dynamic characters caught up in the Byzantine struggles for ultimate control of this world.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Eugene Bombtrotter on 9 Mar. 2004
Format: Paperback
Cherryh is a patchy author, some of her books are real pot boiling dross, but Cyteen in quite different, and in it she rivals Ursula Le Guin as a social visionary and feminist Cassandra of change. This is one of the truly stunning entries in the Sci-Fi cannon. It does everything that great science fiction should. Firstly Cyteen challenges our preconceptions about the nature of humanity; secondly it inspires a sense of wonder; thirdly it mirrors a debate that is of significance to the here and now into the future and finally it does this while involving us in a story that is both tragic and finally triumphant.
The book is set on a distant world in the distant future where cloning has become a necessity and finally a wepon. Humans are produced in factories faster than they can be integrated into mainstream society and so their socialisation is left to machines. This produces a range of autistic savants that are then ruthlessly exploited by the normal humans, raised in families with familiar childhoods. The premise of the book is that a breakthrough occurs in which a scientist realises she can clone not only a genetic version of herself, but in addition her personality and genius.
Cyteen is fun to read and can be enjoyed at many levels. I think it is a deep and bitter book about how technology is changing what we are more than we can even understand, and as such it ranks right up there with the Left Hand of Darkeness as one of my all time favourites.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. P. Killion on 24 May 2010
Format: Hardcover
Ariane Emory is the director and chief scientist at Resune Labs on Cyteen, the heart of the Alliance cloning effort. In this future Humanity has spread to the stars but habitable planets are few and far between. Humanity lives on Orbital Stations and sparse habitable areas on a smattering of planets. The exigencies of war and survival have forced the Alliance to create clones for population and survival. Called Azi these clones are the responsibility of Resune Labs. An engrossing book set in the Authors' Merchanter-Alliance Universe. This concerns the rise to adulthood and authority of Parental Replicant Arianne Emory heir to Resune Labs on Cyteen. Created after her Originator's murder Ariane must attempt to make sense of the world around her, protect herself from potential enemies and try to live long enough to assume the mantle of power that is her destiny. Winner of the Hugo Award for 1988 this well deserves the award. A complex and believable society at the heart of her detailed world makes for a detailed slice of a possible future.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gadget on 9 Jun. 2013
Format: Paperback
This book seems to have divided reviewers here. The majority appear to love it, and find it outstanding and thought-provoking. A small minority, however, strongly disagree - and I'm afraid I'm one of them.

I have two main gripes.

The first is that it goes on way too long. Most of the story takes place either within the heads of the protagonists, or it consists of conversations between them. In both cases, I felt that these monologues or dialogues could have been just as effective without being dragged out to the extent that they were. It's not a good sign if you can imagine vast swathes of text being omitted without it having any significant bearing on the story.

The second is that, despite coming to know the private thoughts of many of the characters, certain things that appeared (to me, at least) to stand out about this universe, didn't cross their minds at all.

For example, Reseune appears to be a dictatorial police state (albeit a small one), whose citizens have few rights and no privacy. While some characters do talk at length about the *effects* of living in such a state, no-one appears to question it, nor make any move to change it.

In addition, although it exists within a democratic union, no-one in that union is shown to object to Reseune's lack of freedoms and rights.

The use of Azis (genetically-engineers humans, bred for specific functions) is at least objected to by some factions outside Reseune, but not questioned within. Given that it can be seen as a form of slavery, the lack of qualms of anyone within the company about this sub-class doesn't paint them in a sympathetic light.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 70 reviews
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Cherryh's masterwork . . . 9 May 2003
By Michael K. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
When I first read this fat, extraordinary novel a decade ago, I concluded it was one of the best science fiction novels produced in (at least) the past half-century, and, having now re-read it, I still believe that. It's set in Cherryh's Merchanter universe (a couple of generations after the concluding war, the story of which she told in Downbelow Station), but that's really only the distant backdrop. (You'll also find here the back-story to Forty Thousand in Gehenna.) This is a very detailed, very in-depth, very carefully worked-out, very thought-provoking study of power and the claustrophobic effects of its mis-management, of the relationship of "natural born" psychology to manufactured and tailored minds, of the effects on a society of an artificial underclass (the "azi") that is both more and less than chattel slavery, . . . and along with all that, a satisfying and very affecting story of a cold, slightly inhuman genius and the mystery of her death (which was possibly a murder), and the replicate who is intended to replace her -- and who succeeds more completely, perhaps, than her creators ever anticipated. At 680 pages, there are, of course, several other plots moving full-tilt, also filled with detail and nuance, but they all interrelate nearly seamlessly. Her ability to play off one character's collection of concerns against another's is amazing, and she shows a considerable (and very speculative) understanding of the depths of psychological intervention. She's also a master of precise prose . . . when she wants to be. I have never doubted that this book did indeed deserve the Hugo it was awarded. And now I shall put it back on its shelf for another decade.
67 of 73 people found the following review helpful
One of the best SF novels of all time 15 Aug. 1997
By Michael Battaglia - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Cyteen. To me, the word just sounds evil. I don't know why, perhaps it's the way the syllables run together. All I know is that everytime I saw the word spoken in Cherryh's other great SF novel, Downbelow Station, I couldn't help but shudder. Perhaps it's was the coldness of the people there, or the whispered way everyone spoke about the planet, or the ranks of faceless soldiers, all the same.

And now about this diverse world comes Cyteen, the novel. What a novel it is, close to seven hundred pages, and Cherryh used every single page to tell this story of young friends trapped in a world of security constantly watching over their shoulder. This book reeked paranoia in a way that would make Thomas Pynchon proud. Friends and enemies all meld together in this novel and you can never tell which is which.

Cherryh does a great job detailing the planet Cyteen and the society that grows up on it. The people and culture are as diverse as (dare I say it?) Frank Herbert's Dune. You get a feel for the government and the politics that surround everyday life, the behind the scenes stuff regular people don't know about.

But that's not it. Cherryh also gives us arguments on the different between the born men and the azi, the genetically created people, weaving these threads into an already idea packed story.

Nothing Cherryh has written before or since can come even close to this book. The only two I can think of are Downbelow Station or maybe even Forty Thousand in Gehenna (which ties into this novel). It's a landmark of science-fiction and should be read by any who consider themselves a fan
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Clones, Genius, and Politics 15 Feb. 2002
By Patrick Shepherd - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
C. J. Cherryh has been developing her universe of the Alliance/Union empires for quite some time through several books. Most of these are very good action novels with complicated plots and believable characters, but they typically do not have deep themes. Cyteen, however, is the centerpiece of this universe, with great, insightful looks at the ethics and methods of cloning, slavery, identity (what makes you you?), genetics versus environment, the art of politics, and an incredible look at the inner psychology of the gifted, super-intelligent. This book is not an easy read - it requires some effort and thought by the reader to understand the points presented, but the reader will be richly rewarded for his effort.
The prose style is very clipped, almost abbreviated, and does much to give the reader a sense of unstoppable, pell-mell action and high tension, but it does take some getting used to. Especially at the beginning of the book, where Cherryh drops the reader into this very complex and alien world with very little background explanation of the situation, the people, or the world, it is easy for the reader to become lost and confused. But if the reader will persevere, bit by bit he will find an envisioned world constructed in the best traditions of the field, fully as rich and satisfying as Tolkien's Middle Earth or Herbert's Dune, but with dark overtones reminiscent of Huxley's Brave New World and the paranoid mind control of Orwell's 1984.
The plot is a complex intertwining of power politics, intriguing scientific concepts, and the personal life histories of some very dynamic characters caught up in the Byzantine struggles for ultimate control of this world. And it is the characters that truly define and invigorate this story, fully realized, highly believable (a very difficult thing to achieve when these characters are super-geniuses), with real concerns and each with their own set of inner problems. Both the original Ari and the clone of her that we follow through most of the book are exceptional people, a refreshingly strong and different female lead compared to so many of the stereotypes that have littered the field of SF. Justin is also finely drawn, a good counterpoint to Ari, struggling with his own problems of personal identity and self-worth.
I have added only two books to my 'Best of SF' list in the last 15 years. This is one of them. Take the time and effort to read and understand this book and the many ethical/philosophical/psychological points that Cherry brings to the fore in the course of this novel, and you will find your time was well spent.
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
A strong, well written story of a touchy subject 12 May 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
How do you know that when you wake up in the morning, all your memories and knowledge is yours? How do you know when what people do around you is entirely spontaneous reaction to the world around you? For little Ari, she doesn't and she can't. Otherwise the experiment fails.

Cherryh has done a masterful job in this story to show how a complex concept like cloning can be done. As science breaks through even now with techniques for cloning, it only gives us a body. Cherryh gives one possible method, one that works with the kind of Big Brother future SF tends to hint so strongly at. Take all the records of a person's life. Every tidbit, every mistake, every triumph, and recreate them.

I haven't given this a 10 mostly because while I think this is a superb book, there are a few drawbacks. It's *long*. It covers the entire childhood of a woman. It's not the easiest of reads, which isn't a problem, but makes it difficult to encourage others to read it.

Regardless of which, if you get a chance to read it, do so. It's well worth it.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Cyteen: A Gem in Cherryh's Crown 14 May 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
C.J. Cherryh's Cyteen forecast much of what was debated recently when the successful cloning of a mammal was announced. She deftly weaves a complex, multi-character plot that keeps a reader's interest while at the same time providing psychological and physical action that drags the reader through what is admittedly a long text.

Published here in one volume, this award-winning novel is one that has the potential to teach us about our future before our future actually arrives. Where Clarke forecast satellites, Cherryh examines the issues surrounding cloning in clinical detail. She does not shy away from the questions of humanity that arise from cloning a human being.

For long-time Cherryh fans, this novel is definitely worth returning to. While her recent books compress the story element, Cyteen roams across decades of time, allowing for a readable mix of psychological and physical action. This book is also an excellent opportunity for readers to see where our real-world biotechnolgy might be taking us.
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