C.J. Cherryh: Grandmaster

Posted: February 19th, 2016 under writers to read.

If you haven’t read any of C.J. Cherryh’s incredibly intelligent, complex, thought-provoking, entertaining science fiction or fantasy,   perhaps you don’t know how deserved this announcement is, and why some of us met it today with “About time!”   Cherryh has published somewhere the far side of 60 novels and many, many shorter works (though I think her novel series–very long arc stories–are her real metier, since they give her the space she needs to tell the kinds of stories she does.) 

Those of you who have read her works know exactly why she deserves to be named Grandmaster.   You know she  creates characters who are fully rounded, who have agency, whose motivations (however weird they have been to me at times) make sense within the cultures where they exist.  Her many varied cultures are grounded in foundations of biology, geology, terrain, political systems consonant with their biology, economic systems consonant with their location and resources.  And so on.  She can write old people, young people, middle aged people (people including her many alien species),  male/female/other people,  people with distinctively *different* personalities, talents, limitations.   She can write action; she can write mood; she can write intellect; she can write emotion…and she can write in both branches of our super-genre, SF/F.

I have admired her work from the first, when I read Kesrith: Faded Sun serialized in a magazine (I think Galaxy).    We still buy her books as soon as they show up in the stores and sometimes end up with two copies because neither of us wants to wait out the other’s reading speed.   She’s won awards, of course (though I think she should have won more) and her winning honored the awards as much as they honored her.   She is one of the great writers in our field; she would have been a great writer in any field she chose.

Grandmaster Cherryh:  finally.    Finally.  And forever on that short list.   She’ll receive the award formally at this year’s Nebula Awards ceremony (where, alas, I can’t be to stand up and cheer.)

(mirrored on http://elizabethmoon.com/blog/)


  • Comment by Wickersham's Conscience — February 21, 2016 @ 11:18 pm


    Her four Morgaine novels are among my favorite reads. I wish there were more.

  • Comment by Kip Colegrove — February 25, 2016 @ 11:05 am


    Rimrunners is on the short list of my favorite sf novels.

    I, too, think she should have won more awards.

  • Comment by elizabeth — February 25, 2016 @ 11:38 am


    I saw a review, years ago, in one of the magazines then being published, that commented on the high quality of her work and expressed surprise that she had not been on the short list, at least, for more awards. That reviewer’s conclusion was that she kept producing such *predictably* high quality books that she was overlooked for “new names” even when they were markedly inferior.

  • Comment by Susan — February 25, 2016 @ 2:38 pm


    She’s written so many books; what would be a good series to start with?

  • Comment by Philip Harrington — March 2, 2016 @ 3:44 pm


    My favorite starting point for Cherryh is “The Pride of Chanur”, which, besides being a good story, holds back on some of the complexity while you are still new to it.

  • Comment by Mary Elmore — March 9, 2016 @ 12:41 pm


    C J Cherryh has been one of my favorites since I read Rimrunner. I have read most of her work so far. I like the way she makes an alien race completely plausible and am impressed the way she has worked to make them understandable to us mere mortals.
    A much deserved honor.

  • Comment by Kevin — March 16, 2016 @ 6:47 pm


    Well deserved and long overdue! Faded sun, Morgaine… And my personal fav, Ealdwood.

  • Comment by Mary Elmore — April 26, 2016 @ 11:34 pm


    Quite a deserved award. I think Rimrunners was the first I read. I really do like the Chanur series.

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 13, 2016 @ 5:28 pm


    I’m very happy for Cherryh. Marvelous writer, one I can re-read repeatedly with attention and enjoyment because the books are so densely textured.

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