Wednesday, May 8, 2013

C J Cherryh's "The Pride Of Chanur" (novel, space opera): What if lions evolved into intelligence?

Cover of the novel The Pride Of Chanur by C J Cherryh. Image shows the sole human fugitive among five lion-like aliens of hani species.I won't call it a bad read, but I seem to no longer enjoy most space opera now-a-days. But this may be the first space opera I've seen that is almost entirely from aliens' point of view; humans play a very minor & junior role.

Story summary.

There is something called Compact - a region of space somewhere on the edge of human space. Many alien space traveling species live here, cooperating & fighting. One of the more villainous of them, "kif", had got hold of some human spacemen, whom they tortured to presumably get the coordinates of human homeworld. Three prisoners died, one escaped. The escaped one found sanctuary in a "hani" ship. Much of the story is the chase & fights across star systems to get hold of this human prisoner, sucking in other alien races in the fight too.

Hani look like intelligent lions. Through the story, I got an impression this was a feminist work because gender roles among Hani are reversed relative humans - females do outside work & earning, men keep homes. But a discussion at ClassicScienceFiction points out similarity of Hani culture with that of lions. In fact, the "Pride" of title might be a pun on pride of lions; "Chanur" is the hani clan to which the heroine, Pyanfar, belongs. Officially, "Pride of Chanur" is the name of the hani spaceship in the story.

Fact sheet.

First published: 1982.
Rating: B.
Nominated for Hugo Award 1983 in novel category.