C. J. Cherryh’s Cyteen was worth the read. Set in the Alliance-Union universe sometime after the events of Downbelow Station, the book deals with the expansion and maturation of the union. The book is half a coming of age novel for the book’s protagonist. The other half seems to be an exploration of the idea of engineering a population to provide for the continued expansion of the species. Framed together with murder mystery and political intrigue, it’s got a nice little bow wrapped around it.
All told it’s a pretty good read, if a bit linear and at times plodding. Cherryh does a good job interleaving the themes to keep it from getting stale.
One thing that stands out is Cherryh’s treatment of gender. Female characters are strong and multidimensional; male characters are weak, simple, and fatally flawed. This seems a stark and refreshing contrast in a genre dominated by strong male characters and cardboard cutout females. With that said, Cherryh has pushed so far in the other direction that it’s as distracting as what it seems to be striking out against.
Things come to a predictable end in very abrupt fashion; it’s clear that Regenesis was intended all along. There is no resolution to the murder mystery. Questions of the worms and their implications are left unanswered. This isn’t an awful ending to a book, but I think it’s pretty clear the author realized there wasn’t enough time to bring things to a close; the ending feels pretty abrupt for a book whose sequel took over two decades to write and publish.