Downbelow Station brings the politics of European colonialism into an interplanetary setting. The Earth Company (a private colonial firm similar to the East India Company) dominates the inhabitants of humanity’s space colonies as Earth remains the only source of food and supplies. But then Pell’s World, the first new Earth-like planet, is discovered and suddenly the colonies no longer need Earth, but earth still needs the colonies. The colonies declare themselves an independent Union and the Company begins to mass its space fleet to capture Pell’s World and re-establish dominance.
The story is focused on the inhabitants of the space station that orbits Pell’s World, which they refer to as Downbelow. Stationmaster Angelo Konstatin is forced to deal with multiple crises, including crowds of refugees, merchant shippers forming their own alliance, and belligerent Company officers. The other main character is Captain Signy Mallory, the commander of the Company ship Norway. Mallory is as arrogant as any of the captains, but Company tactics force her to reconsider her loyalties.
Downbelow Station is the definitive space station novel, and a past winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards for Best Novel. It is the first book in a series called the Company Wars. Fans of military Science Fiction authors like David Weber and Elizabeth Moon as well as fans of more sociological Science Fiction like that of Kim Stanley Robinson and Ursula Le Guin should enjoy this book.
Corporations, governments, and rebellious factions collide in this epic space opera. Cherry's gift for characterization and realism make this novel one of the best of its kind.
This Hugo Award winning classic is a great introduction to CJ Cherryh's Union-Alliance universe, or to any of her works. What I immediately liked about this novel is that Cherryh makes it very believable that the events in this book could actually happen - the way the stars are colonized and everything that happens after. There's no telepathy or weird mind power stuff; it's all very "down-to-earth" in a way.
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