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The Omnibus Volumes of C.J. Cherryh, Part I

Monday, January 5th, 2015 | Posted by John ONeill

The Faded Sun Trilogy-small The Morgaine Saga The Chanur Saga-small

It’s probably not a surprise to most to you that I love vintage paperbacks. I write a regular series on some of the more interesting old paperbacks in my collection, Vintage Treasures, which over the years has gradually become one of the more popular links on the BG blog.

I cherish old paperbacks both as books and as unique cultural artifacts. Over the decades, our industry has been blessed with some truly gifted artists, designers, and editors, and many of these old books are quite beautiful. So I especially appreciate those rare instances when publishers bring vintage paperbacks back into print after a quarter century or more, complete with the original cover art. That’s rare enough, but when the publisher also bundles popular trilogies into a single handsome book, and releases it at the same price as a regular paperback, that’s cause for celebration.

That’s the case with the DAW omnibus collections of C.J. Cherryh’s science fiction and fantasy novels from the 1970s and 80s. DAW has published a grand total of nine, re-packing virtually her entire early catalog in compact and affordable volumes, and I’ve gradually been collecting them. They’re a fabulous value and a great way to introduce yourself to one of the most popular and important genre writers of the late 20th Century.

[Click on any of the images for bigger versions.]

The first one I purchased was The Faded Sun Trilogy, originally published by DAW in three volumes:

  1. The Faded Sun: Kesrith (1978)
  2. The Faded Sun: Shon’jir (1978)
  3. The Faded Sun: Kutath (1979)

This is a classic SF adventure series I’ve been interested in for decades… it was hard to resist getting the entire thing in one 776-page package for just $8.99.

The Faded Sun Kesrith-small The Faded Sun Shon'jir-small The Faded Sun Kutath-small

The Faded Sun: Kesrith was originally serialized in four parts in Galaxy magazine, from February to May 1978; its first paperback appearance was in August 1979, with a cover by Gino D’Achille. The Faded Sun: Shon’jir followed the same year, also with a fine cover by D’Achille.

Galaxy February 1978-smallFor the third and final volume, The Faded Sun: Kutath, DAW hired the cover artist who would be most closely associated with Cherryh for most of her career: Michael Whelan, who delivered a terrific painting of mri warriors framed against a setting moon on a desolate desert landscape.

Here’s the blurb on the back of the paperback omnibus edition:

They were the mri — tall, secretive, bound by honor and the rigid dictates of their striated society. This golden-skinned, golden-eyed race had provided the universe with mercenary soldiers of almost unimaginable ability. For aeons, the kel — the mri’s warrior caste — had fought battles on a myriad of worlds against uncountable foes. Sometimes they had even fought others of their own kind. And even then the mri had prospered — honing their skills in proper and traditional combat, eliminating the weak and unfit, and giving honor to the strong.

But for four decades now they have faced an enemy unlike any other. In defending the merchant ships and protecting the intergalactic commerce of the elephantine regul, the kel have met the deadliest enemy any mri has ever faced — an enemy who does not honor single combat, an enemy whose only way of war is widespread destruction. These “humans” are mass fighters, creatures of the herd, and the mri have been slaughtered like animals.

Now, in the aftermath of war, the mri face extinction. It will be up to three individuals to save whatever remains of this devastated race: a kel — one of the last survivors of his kind; a sen — the priestess and spiritual leader of this honorable people; and a lone human — a man sworn to aid this enemy of his own kind. Can they retrace the galaxy-wide path of this nomadic race back through millennia to reclaim the ancient world which first gave them life?

The Faded Sun Trilogy was published in January 2000 by DAW Books. It is 776 pages, priced at $8.99, with a cover by Michael Whelan. Fifteen years later, it is still in print.

Two years before she wrote her first Faded Suns book, C.J. Cherryh published her first novel, Gate of Ivrel, in 1976. It was her breakthrough book; she won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1977 and she followed it with three more. All told, the Morgaine series is four books:

Gate of Ivrel (1976)
Well of Shiuan (1978)
Fires of Azeroth (1979)
Exile’s Gate (1988)

The first three were published from 1976-79, and all with Whelan covers; the fourth volume followed a decade later. It’s the closest Cherryh has ever come to sword-and-sorcery, the epic tale of a woman’s desperate mission across time and space to preserve the integrity of the universe.

Gate of Ivrel-small Well of Shiuan-small Fires of Azeroth-small

The Morgaine Saga was published on March 1, 2000 by DAW Books. It is 720 pages, priced at $7.99, with a cover by Michael Whelan. It contains the first three novels in the series, and is currently out of print.

Finally, we come to one of Cherryh’s most beloved series, her sprawling space opera Chanur novels. There are currently five:

The Pride of Chanur (1982)
Chanur’s Venture (1984)
The Kif Strike Back (1985)
Chanur’s Homecoming (1986)
Chanur’s Legacy (1992)

The Pride of Chanur appeared in 1982 with a Whelan cover, featuring one of his most famous self-portraits (that’s the artist, peeking out from behind a pride of alien Hani.) The novel was nominated for both the Hugo and Locus Awards. It was followed by Chanur’s Venture, with one of Whelan’s finest covers, and The Kif Strike Back, with a rare non-Whelan cover (art by David A. Cherry.) All three were re-packaged in The Chanur Saga.

The Pride of Chanur-small Chanur's Venture-small The Kif Strike Back-small

Here’s the back cover blurb for the omnibus edition:

Here, for the first time in one volume, is C.J. Cherryh’s classic adventure of interstellar politics, a spacefaring fugitive, and first contact with a strange race known as “humans.”

No one at Meetpoint Station had ever seen a creature like the Outsider. Naked-hided, blunt-toothed and blunt-fingered, Tully was the sole surviving member of his company — a communicative, spacefaring species hitherto unknown. He had been a prisoner of his discoverers/captors, the sadistic, treacherous kif, until he escaped to the hani ship The Pride of Chanur.Little did Tully know when he threw himself on the mercy of the crew of The Pride that he put the entire hani species in jeopardy and imperiled the peace of the Compact itself. This seemingly defenseless fugitive held information which could prove the ruin or glory of any species at Meetpoint Station, and whomever Tully allied with would stand to gain power and riches beyond imagining.

For with Tully came the key to opening trade with a previously unknown sector of space — a sector of space controlled by a race called “humans.” And what began as a simple rescue attempt would soon blossom into a dangerous game of interstellar politics where today’s ally could become tomorrow’s executioner, and where methane breathers become volatile wild cards playing for stakes no oxy breather could even begin to understand…

The Chanur Saga was published by DAW Books on May 1, 2000. It is 704 pages, priced at $8.99. The cover is by Michael Whelan. It is still in print.

The next two books in the series, Chanur’s Homecoming (1986) and Chanur’s Legacy (1992), were collected in a second omnibus collection, Chanur’s Endgame, in 2007. I’ll cover that one in the next installment.

The nine DAW C.J. Cherryh Classic Omnibus Editions are:

The Dreaming Tree (The Dreamstone, The Tree of Swords and Jewels)
The Faded Sun Trilogy (The Faded Sun: Kesrith, The Faded Sun: Shon’jir, The Faded Sun: Kutath)
The Morgaine Saga (Gate of Ivrel, Well of Shiuan, Fires of Azeroth)
The Chanur Saga (The Pride of Chanur, Chanur’s Venture, The Kif Strike Back)
Chanur’s Endgame (Chanur’s Homecoming, Chanur’s Legacy)
Alternate Realities (Port Eternity, Wave Without a Shore, Voyager in Night)
At the Edge of Space (Brothers of Earth, Hunter of Worlds)
The Deep Beyond (Serpent’s Reach, Cuckoo’s Egg)
Alliance Space (Merchanter’s Luck, Forty Thousand in Gehenna)

In Part II, we cover Chanur’s Endgame, Alternate Realities, and Alliance Space.

See all of our recent Vintage Treasures articles here.

21 Comments »

  1. Such good stuff! I’ve been dipping my toes back into Cherryh over the past few years (Downbelow Station and the Morgaine books, primarily) and they just get better with every subsequent reread.

    Comment by Joe H. - January 5, 2015 2:26 pm

  2. I’ve always wanted to read DOWNBELOW STATION — I think that one won her her second Hugo award. I’m not sure it’s in any of the omnibus collections, though… I hope so!

    Comment by John ONeill - January 5, 2015 4:24 pm

  3. Downbelow Station is great, John. I especially love the Chanur series (which links together to the universe of DbS). There are two more books in the series, Chanur’s Homecoming and Chanur’s Legacy. She is one of the best creators of truly alien aliens.

    Comment by Fletcher Vredenburgh - January 5, 2015 5:02 pm

  4. I think they did an omnibus of Downbelow Station and Merchanter’s Luck?

    That first Chanur omnibus always confused me because it was functionally equivalent to putting The Hobbit, Fellowship and Two Towers into a single volume. And then you had that seven-year gap before the second Chanur omnibus was published; I’m pretty sure the 4th & 5th books were kept in print as single volumes, at least.

    And I was very happy to see the Chanur books popping up on Kindle! Until I noticed that they’d released eBook edtions of 1, 2, 3 and 5. Notice anything missing …?

    Comment by Joe H. - January 5, 2015 6:59 pm

  5. Oh, that gorgeous Faded Suns cover! That might have been my first significant exposure to Michael Whelan.

    I think I might have come too young to Cherryh. I picked up her memorably-titled Forty Thousand in Gehenna when I was 14, and I bounced right off the surface of the book. Though I read it to the end, I cannot remember a thing about it aside from my own bafflement.

    This seems like a good time to try Cherryh again.

    Comment by Sarah Avery - January 5, 2015 11:58 pm

  6. Sarah — Yeah, I know what you mean; these days, 40,000 is one of my favorites, but when I first encountered it (at much the same age) it was a pretty steep hill to climb.

    I honestly don’t think you could go wrong with any of the collections (notice I didn’t say anthologies …) listed here.

    Comment by Joe H. - January 6, 2015 12:33 am

  7. I Love Cherryh. Merchanter’s Luck ended up in an omnibus with 40,000 in Gehenna (Alliance Space). DAW have always kept Downbelow Station as a separate edition. Betsy Wollheim said that she regretted that they didn’t publish it in hardcover because of the importance of the book. I don’t necessarily think it is the best book of hers, but it acts as an informational anchor for the alliance-union books. Oddly Exile’s Gate, the fourth Morgaine book has been out of print now for a long time. The 4 book story arc for Chanur beginning with Pride of Chanur is phenomenal. It’s a shame DAW doesn’t control the remaining Merchanter books (Tripoint/Rimrunners/Finity’s End)as they badly need an omnibus reprint. They were formerly on various warner imprints (Questar/Aspect) along with the two prequels to Downbelow Station, Heavy Time and Hellburner. The prequels at least received a Trade Paper omnibus edition from Aspect, as ‘Devil to the Belt’ The rights for the Warner books have reverted to Cherryh so she is gradually putting them out as e-books through her Closed Circle site. Many of the books are gradually being issued as audio books through audible, although I’m scared by the Cyteen audio which runs to 32 Hours. Rich.

    Comment by sfdespatch - January 6, 2015 7:31 am

  8. That’s right — it was 40,000 and Merchanter’s Luck in a collection.

    And I’d love to see those other Merchanter books collected and/or made available electronically — I did pick up the eBook versions of the Belter books and the Rusalka trilogy directly from her website.

    Comment by Joe H. - January 6, 2015 9:21 am

  9. She ‘revised’ the Rusalka books slightly I believe. IIRC the first one was mostly the same, and the others had more work done on them. I think when I read the Company Wars books, I read Downbelow Station first, followed by the Merchanter books in the order they were written, followed by the two prequels. All of them are good. Have you heard the Filk recording Cherryh did with Leslie Fish and Friends based on the books? Rich

    Comment by sfdespatch - January 6, 2015 9:55 am

  10. Yes, the Rusalka books were revised, although I haven’t read the new versions yet, and it’s been long enough since I read the original that I’m not sure I’d notice.

    I also first read the Union/Alliance/Merchanter books in publication order, mostly because I was getting them as they were being published …

    Haven’t heard the recording; I think I need to track that down.

    Comment by Joe H. - January 6, 2015 10:20 am

  11. The Filk is a bit of a mixed bag. The official title was ‘Finity’s End and Other Songs of the Station Trade’ Someone has kindly uploaded it to youtube. My favorite tracks are ‘Signy Mallory’,’Merchanter’s Luck’ and ‘Finity’s End’. Rich

    Comment by sfdespatch - January 6, 2015 10:45 am

  12. Was that available from Firebird Arts & Graphics back in the day? I remember getting catalogs from them, and at one point I did buy a cassette of Peter Beagle singing his own songs. Wish they’d rerelease some of that stuff in a format I could actually play …

    Comment by Joe H. - January 6, 2015 12:02 pm

  13. > There are two more books in the series, Chanur’s Homecoming and Chanur’s Legacy.

    Fletcher,

    Both of those are contained in another omnibus which I’ll cover in my next installment, Chanur’s Endgame (2007). Sadly, it is long out of print — unlike The Chanur Saga, published in 2000 and still in print! Chanur’s Endgame, in fact, is VERY expensive… used copies start at over $30 on Amazon.

    > She is one of the best creators of truly alien aliens.

    I think this is one of the things that really draws me to Cherryh. That, and her versatility as a writer.

    Comment by John ONeill - January 6, 2015 12:03 pm

  14. > That first Chanur omnibus always confused me because it was functionally equivalent to putting The Hobbit,
    > Fellowship and Two Towers into a single volume.

    Joe,

    A nice analogy!

    > I’m pretty sure the 4th & 5th books were kept in print as single volumes, at least.

    Sadly, both Chanur’s Homecoming (1991) and Chanur’s Legacy (1993) are now out of print. But you’re correct they were available for a long time… I guess it’s too much to ask that paperbacks remain in print for over two decades!

    Comment by John ONeill - January 6, 2015 12:09 pm

  15. > Oh, that gorgeous Faded Suns cover! That might have been my first significant exposure to Michael Whelan.

    Sarah,

    Isn’t it beautiful? My first awareness of Michael Whelan’s name came with the limited edition of Stephen King’s THE GUNSLINGER in 1982, which he illustrated with several color plates… boy, did I lust after that book.

    > This seems like a good time to try Cherryh again.

    Let us know if you do!

    Comment by John ONeill - January 6, 2015 12:15 pm

  16. > The prequels at least received a Trade Paper omnibus edition from Aspect, as ‘Devil to the Belt’ The rights for the
    > Warner books have reverted to Cherryh so she is gradually putting them out as e-books through her Closed Circle site.

    Rich,

    Thanks for all the info! Right on the money, as always. I managed to track down the cover of DEVIL TO THE BELT, which appeared in 2000:

    http://www.blackgate.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Devil-to-the-Belt.jpg

    I should hire you as our official fact-checker. :)

    Comment by John ONeill - January 6, 2015 12:17 pm

  17. Thanks John. Crikey I hadn’t realized that second Chanur Omnibus has climbed so high price wise. ‘Devil to the Belt’ is starting to climb a bit in price since Warner Aspect was bought. New owners Hachette focused on Orbit Books, letting many titles go out of print. They have left ‘Cyteen’ in print though, which I assume will be re-branded with the Orbit Books logo on it’s next print run.

    I’d love to get my hands on the ‘Company War’ board game that Mayfair Games did back in 1983 based on the Cherryh Alliance-Union books. Bill Fawcett was the co-designer.

    And Joe, yes I think someone told me the tape was available from Firebird a long time ago. I asked some Filk dealer’s I know, and they think there is fat chance of a reissue of the Cherryh tape. But never say never.

    Rich

    Comment by sfdespatch - January 6, 2015 1:57 pm

  18. “I guess it’s too much to ask that paperbacks remain in print for over two decades!”

    John, no, no it’s not. I think it’s a perfectly reasonable request.

    I’ve got the Chanur Saga and Faded Sun omnibuses but not any of the others. I should probably do something about that.

    Comment by westkeith - January 7, 2015 10:58 am

  19. […] bring some two dozen of C.J. Cherryh’s early fantasy and space opera novels back into print, The Omnibus Volumes of C.J. Cherryh, Part I. I looked at The Faded Sun Trilogy, The Morgaine Saga, and The Chanur Saga, published in January, […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » The Omnibus Volumes of C.J. Cherryh, Part II - January 10, 2015 6:17 pm

  20. […] DAW’s omnibus reprint volumes of C.J. Cherryh’s early fantasy and space opera novels. Part I examined The Faded Sun Trilogy, The Morgaine Saga, and The Chanur Saga, all published in the year […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » The Omnibus Volumes of C.J. Cherryh, Part III - February 15, 2015 3:21 pm

  21. […] Part I: Planet of Adventure The Omnibus Volumes of Jack Vance, Part II: Tales of the Dying Earth The Omnibus Volumes of C.J. Cherryh, Part I The Omnibus Volumes of C.J. Cherryh, Part II The Omnibus Volumes of C.J. Cherryh, Part […]

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