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Literature / Hunter of Worlds

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Hunter of Worlds is a 1977 science fiction novel by C. J. Cherryh. It is set in her Alliance/Union 'verse.

An alien man named Aiela 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.

This novel contains examples of:

  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The iduve. They don't understand love or friendship—the closest they can get to saying they like someone is to say that the person has "chanokhia" (which is roughly equivalent to "virtue" or "artistry"). They see nothing wrong with destroying an entire planet just to kill one person. The person they want to roast sees nothing wrong with essentially marrying the woman who was going to kill him.
  • The Chessmaster: Chimele, head of Ashanome, is manipulating everybody to get vaikka against Tejef—a concept like revenge, but not quite, since she considers him fathering a child on her perfectly good.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: If your clan ship's leader should happen to be pregnant, you step very lightly and hope you don't piss her off.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Isande and all the other noi kami are essentially slaves to the iduve—while they're allowed to live mostly as they see fit, disobeying an iduve is unthinkable, there's no way for them to leave, and nobody does anything if a pissed-off iduve kills one of them (unless the dead nas kame happens to be a favorite of another, more powerful iduve). But most of them seem happy and content, and Isande looks down on Aiela for being world-born, finding her own ancestry of service to the iduve far more impressive than his important politician father.
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: Part of Chimele's plan is mindlinking a horrible barbarian creature with Aiela...a human! (Not that Daniel's too happy about it, either.)
  • I Am X, Son of Y: The amaut introduce themselves as X son of Y son of Z son of A of karsh (clan) A. In especially formal circumstances, they will list their entire pedigree.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Iduve fight before mating (not that the actual mating is much gentler). It says something that Tejef thinks Margaret being in love with him counts as vaikka (the iduve concept of vengeance...sort of) and him having a child with Chimele also counts.
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • Margaret (human) is in love with Tejef (iduve). This confuses and sometimes distresses him because he has no idea what it means, while still being well aware he's failing at it. And, of course, it's equally distressing for her, because he can't love her back—the closest he can get is expecting her to treat him like an iduve woman would treat him, which she also can't do, so they just repeatedly hurt each other until he hits her the way he would one of his own kind, nearly killing her, thus ending it for good.
    • Iduve will also sometimes engage in mating for pleasure with their hereditary bond-servants.
  • Made a Slave: The iduve demand that Aiela be given into their service, and the station can't refuse because of the iduve's massive technological and military superiority. This also happens to Daniel at the hands of the amaut.
  • Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex: Iduve are much stronger than every other species in the setting, but when they engage in pleasure-mating they're usually able to keep themselves under control and it's not a problem. However, Margaret treats Tejef like her equal since she wasn't raised to be a nas kami, so he sometimes gets the urge to respond to her as he'd respond to an iduve woman—ie, violently and with his full strength, since iduve having sex beat the crap out of each other first and during. He's able to repress it but he has to get away from her first.
  • Maybe Ever After: Daniel and Margaret.
  • Pregnant Badass: You do not piss off a pregnant iduve. The hormones increase their natural strength and viciousness, and they become wildly unpredictable even by the standards of their own kind. When a clan ship's leader is pregnant, other ships avoid them like the plague.
  • Title Drop: "Hail, Ashanome, hunter of worlds."