Foreigner - C.J. Cherryh well-respected and prolific science fiction author-cum-scifi-anthropologist C.J. Cherryh puts her considerable gifts to work in this introductory volume to her elephantine mega-series, as she begins a sensitive new tradition: fiction that is specifically geared to those unfortunate individuals who have no experience in reading, as well as to our fellows experiencing severe mental challenges. i for one appreciate the effort and am happy to report that the writing in this novel makes every attempt to be as repetitious, plodding, and as glacially-paced as possible, in order to allow the novice and/or challenged reader to fully grasp the ideas on display. to that end, each and every thought and concept and character bit is repeated extensively, often repeatedly within the same page, and upwards of a dozen times over the course of, say, two or three pages. surely this bold strategy will only serve to support those first-time readers in their endeavors, and can only help those challenged by low memory capacity and extremely short-term attention spans. the reader can literally forget or skip entire passages, and lo and behold, exactly the same commentary will reappear, again and again. bravo, Cherryh! this is certainly a step in a brave new direction. it is no wonder that this novel spawned so many sequels!

i have constructed a brief fantasia that illustrates this arresting technique:

Bren was extremely worried about the assassination attempt and was quite annoyed that his freedom of movement had been compromised. A worrisome Bren couldn't believe he had to suffer an escort everywhere! "I really am awfully worried that I can't phone home", said Bren, as he huffily realized that his ability to buy canned meat alone was no longer possible. "This really bothers me, I can't even leave my apartment without an escort!" notes Bren, as he paces his apartment in frustration. It was driving him crazy with annoyance and worry that not only had an assassin tried to kill him, now he couldn't travel alone anymore. He could not leave his apartment alone. After all, an assassin had just attempted to murder him. An actual assassin! Trying to murder him! It was all so worrisome. And as if the assassination attempt wasn't enough, now he couldn't even leave his apartment unaccompanied. "This is really very annoying and I feel awfully compromised, so much so that I am genuinely worried," reflected Bren.

okay, this novel gets an extra star for two opening chapters (or "books", as Cherryh sees fit to call them) that are well-written and genuinely riveting. and that have nothing to do with the tedious narrative that follows.