Cherryh (World 41)
C.J. Cherryh (1942 – ; first SF publication, 1976) has written some of my most favorite stories. The SF Book of the Month Club pointed me at a trio of Cherryh’s books — Downbelow Station, Merchanter’s Luck and the three-novel Book of Morgaine. By the time I had finished all of those, I was hooked for life. Cherryh creates wonderfully imagined worlds, with solid, believable foundations. Nearly all of her stories are woven together in the Union/Alliance universe, creating a further level of awareness about what was happening in the stories I read.
Other noteworthy stories include the Cyteen trilogy (in which an attempt is made to recreate an assassinated leader by cloning her and then replicating all of her formative experiences) and the ever-increasing Foreigner series (in which a lost human colony is an undesirable fraction of the population of an alien world).
Even without any of her other stories, I wanted to include the world Cherryh because of the Chanur series. The Chanur are feline aliens who trade among the stars, and the first story begins when they harbor an escaped human slave (a species they’ve never encountered before). There was a time that I could almost have copied out the entire map of their corner of the universe from memory, and the tales of Pyanfar, Tully and the malevolent Kif are still fascinating. The Chanur wear earrings marking successful ventures, and teardrop pearls are the most ostentatious of these earrings.