Creator / C. J. Cherryh

"Science fiction is a dialogue, a tennis match, in which the Idea is volleyed from one side of the net to the other. Ridiculous to say that someone 'stole' an idea: no, no, a thousand times no. The point is the volley, and how it's carried, and what statement is made by the answering 'statement.' In other words — if Burroughs initiates a time-gate and says it works randomly, and then Norton has time gates confounded with the Perilous Seat, the Siege Perilous of the Round Table, and locates it in a bar on a rainy night — do you see both the humor and the volley in the tennis match?"

American Speculative Fiction author, fairly prolific. She was a Classics teacher before working full-time as a writer, with a degree in Latin and a Masters in Classics. Unsurprisingly given the humanities background, her works tend more towards examining the social implications of things. Has written a fair amount of fantasy, but she's best known for her science fiction, having won two Hugos for novels and one for a short story. Most of the science fiction elements in her stories tend to be of the "hard" variety, with Faster-Than-Light Travel generally being the only major deviation from currently understood physics, but, her works fall more in line with social science fiction.

Her real name is actually "C.J. Cherry," with no "H" on the end. This was added by her first publisher, who felt that "C.J. Cherry" did not look exotic enough to grace the cover of a science fiction book.

Has her own extensive website.


  • Alliance/Union 'verse, which contains many sub-series, some only lightly connected:
    • Cyteen / Regenesis, the story of the young clone of Ariane Emory, one of the founders of Union.
    • The Chanur Novels, in which the viewpoint characters are alien lion-like creatures.
    • The Morgaine Cycle, essentially fantasy novels but with a tenuous tie-in to the Alliance/Union chronology.
    • The Faded Sun trilogy, aka The Mri Wars, centered around a desert-based alien warrior race.
    • Hunter of Worlds, science fiction about an alien man named Aiela who is taken as a servant by a powerful member of the predatory iduve race and technologically mind-linked to two other people (one of them human) for the purpose of resolving an iduve political conflict.
  • The Foreigner 'verse, dealing with the troubles of Bren Cameron, liaison between a stranded human populace and a world of aliens with deceptively humanoid appearance and very nonhuman psychology.
  • The PaladinLow Fantasy martial-arts story set in essentially medieval China, in which pig-girl Taizu turns up on exiled swordsmaster Saukendar's doorstep to learn the skills she needs for revenge.
  • The Rider/Finisterre novels, a planet-set adventure with a number of Wild West elements. Cowboys on alien horses.
  • The Fortress series, High Fantasy centered on the friendship between Tristen, a reborn ancient king and Cefwyn, the current ruler of his lands.
  • Russian series, a magical ghost story set in a Slavic (vs generic European) setting
  • The Dreaming Tree, High Fantasy with elves.
  • Lois & Clarke: A Superman Novel, a licensed novel based on the TV series, Lois and Clark.

Works by C. J. Cherryh with their own pages include:

Other works by C. J. Cherryh display examples of:

  • Automaton Horses: Adverted strongly in the Finisterre novels. Her characters fall off horses, get horses shot out from under them, switch remounts to prevent exhaustion, have trouble going through thick woods after people on foot, and spend a tremendous amount of time feeding, brushing, and caring for their mounts.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For - In the Rusalka fantasy trilogy, a wizard's wishes will come true — all of them. Somehow. Not always in a way that's good for the wizard. Wishing a stone to fly won't make it levitate — it'll cause something to come along and fling that stone through the air. "Wish a stone to fly — and then beware the whirlwind."
  • Bond Creatures: The night horses in the Rider series are a horse-shaped carnivorous telepathic alien species. The horses bond with humans since they enjoy the complexity of the human mind, and ham, and humans bond with the horses so they'll help protect the humans from the world's other telepathic carnivores, which like to pull Jedi Mind Tricks in order to eat the humans.
  • Boy Meets Ghoul: In the Russian trilogy:
    • In Rusalka, Pyetr and Eveshka fall in love. Eveshka is a rusalka, the ghost of a drowned woman that devours human life to remain in the world. She is brought back from the dead at the end of the book.
    • In Yvgenie, Pyetr's daughter Ilyanna is caught in a love triangle between Kavi, a ghost she grew up knowing, and Yvgenie, a boy she rescues from drowning. In the end she gets both of them due to Kavi possessing Yvgenie to save his life, and then due to complicated magical circumstances becoming unable to leave him. They manage well enough and are both so smitten with her that everyone comes out happy in the end.
  • Cult Colony: The planet in the Rider series was colonized by a group of fundamentalist Christians.
  • Horse of a Different Color: The Finisterra series has creatures called nighthorses that could be easily mistaken for horses, except that they are telepathic foul-tempered carnivores whose group behavior is based on being pack hunters. In contrast to herbivorous horses' tendency to form groups for protection, nighthorses formed groups for attacks. The implications of this are shown in the stories in such a way that it becomes quite plain that nighthorses are not just differently colored horses.
  • Humanity's Wake: In the short story "Pots", a race of aliens comes across a space probe with the Pioneer plaque on board, after mankind is long gone from the Earth. They attempt to find the remaining descendants of humanity, while spreading a romantic legend about the first space travelers across the galaxy. They remake their whole social structure, with hibernation and Cloning Blues for top leaders and scientists, for this purpose. When a group of archeologists finally finds something on the third planet of a small, yellow star it turns out humankind destroyed itself shortly after setting foot on the Moon.
  • Last of Their Kind: Arafel, in The Tree of Swords and Jewels.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: in the Tree of Swords and Jewels the plot is driven, although for a long time it's not clear, by Nathair Stheach, imprisoned under the roots of the titular tree, who Arafel stayed to guard against. He's been driving the conflict, manipulating the Drow, and breathing distrust and poison in everyone's ears, to set him free.
  • Our Elves Are Better:
    • Her novelette "Pots" was published in Janet Morris's anthology "Afterwar"...and was submitted after Morris complained that she was getting a lot of (unwanted) post-apoc stories about elves. Morris took the story anyway - probably because these elves had spaceships, AI moonrovers, and rayguns.
    • "Scapegoat" (a Hugo nominee) uses 'elves' in-universe as slang for the aliens.
  • Rule of Three - Invoked often in the Dreaming Tree, where to know a name and call it three times is to call or bind the one it belongs to. Arafel gives the children the name of a water horse, who aides them during the final battle.
  • Salt Solution: In the Russian trilogy, salt is one of the ingredients of a ward against a vodyanoi.
  • Watch the Paint Job: Legions of Hell has a scene in which Kleopatra and Hatshepsut borrow Marcus Antonius's red Ferrari — and then run into a hostile situation which gets the car pretty badly damaged. When they meet Marcus again, with a Praetorian legion behind him and the need to take serious action quickly, he still takes a moment for, "Gods, Klea, what have you done to my car?"
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: Legions of Hell has a passage portraying Hatshepsut as a case of this. She sent out explorers, listened to their reports when they returned, and all the while she wanted to be an explorer, not just hear what they had to say.
    And if she were not Hatshepsut the pharaoh, she might blurt out, simply, with tears: I want to go, the way she had ached when her explorers had come back to her and told of great waterfalls and strange tribes and unknown coasts and vast seas. I want to go, because she had ruled two thirds of the known world and had no freedom ever to see those things, she could only send others...