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A  L  I  E  N     M  E  N  A  C  E

Originally posted in January 2002
Edited slightly for the sake of clarity.

Spoiler Alert!  Do not read this if you have not finished Defender.

Who or what will the Alien menace be, when Bren finally meets them?

My bet is that when we do finally find the aliens (and I predict we will not meet them in Explore), that they are basically Atvei.

The Atvei were a colony set up and due to their volatile natur, they were abandoned and sequentially lost.

There is little or no interest in archaeology, palaeontology or astronomy, the reason for this is that when they were abandoned/expelled they had their minds tampered with to prevent them trying to find there origins.

Your comment would be appreciated.

That atevi and the aliens have a shared past… ouch, that’s a harsh theory!  But it’d be interesting to read how they'd sort out man’chi. Would it be the conflict between Phoenix-crew and Mospheira-humans all over again?

Yeah, but have you considered this--

What if Phoenix couldn't find Earth because they're in a parallel universe, and the Earth of the atevi is Earth, and atevi are what humans would be in this other reality.....

Didja ever think of that?

Humans didn't have much interest in archeology, etc. until relatively recently--it just might not have caught on with atevi yet, for cultural reasons.

Personally, my money is on A) the aliens being human or B) the aliens are a red herring--there was no alien attack on the station, it was an internal dispute, and Ramirez et. al. were either lied to about what happened to station and population, or lied to Bren et. al. about the alien threat.

No way are the aliens human. Cherryh is too good of a writer to do a lame, Hollywood-style trick ending for the series that suddenly re-writes the cosmology of this "universe". Cherryh has already said that this series does not tie in with the Union/Alliance books. (See the "bad neighbors" thread).

The red herring theory does have some merit though. It really bugs me that we haven't been shown any compelling proof of the aliens.

It could be a really bizarre methane-breather specicies, like the Knnn. Considering how strange the Knnn are, maybe it IS the Knnn, those crazy Knnn are liable to pop up just about anywhere!

I'm not sure the aliens being human would neccesarily re-write the cosmology of the universe. we have no idea where humans are, how Phoenix got where it is, or what's happened since Phoenix has been gone from the Earth of humans. 

In fact, we don't even know how long Phoenix took on its first, fateful trip. It could be a thousand years...we really have no way of knowing.

I don't think it would be a cop-out to find that, in the end, Mospheiran (and Phoenix) humans found other humans more alien and threatening than the atevi. But I think the red-herring is more likely.

What bugs me is, why didn't the crew positively *demand* to see the tape that was made when they boarded the station? I mean, people lost family and loved ones--don't you think they'd all be dying to see what was on that tape? I just can't imagine it slipping anyone's mind, can you? Now, I can see an edited version being released, but that's not what Jase says. It just doesn't ring true to me.

I think the aliens will be some third species, neither human nor atevi. Who knows, though? 

Hmm something Nadi Hautdesert just said about "it could be a thousand years".

Has anyone thought that the "accident" could be in any way time related? For all the Phoenix knows, they could have been stuck in some weird temporal whirlpool or whatever in subspace and it spat them out eventually after potentially thousands have years have passed? 

The aliens might not be humans, but they might be something that once were human thousands of years before...interesting eh? 

I'm hoping it's some non-humanoid species myself...something without two legs and two arms and a head. You know what would be really cool? An aquatic race, water breathers...maybe intelligent manta rays or something  Okay, so intelligent manta rays aren't cool, but aquatic aliens are.

"Compelling proof of the aliens"... in the Merovingen Nights series the Alien Menace is the Sharrh and they are never seen. I asked CJ about them once and she said "They never show up on scene." I never try to out guess Cherryh, no matter what twists and turns her stories take the end always feels right.

the mule:
Well if we aren't going to see the aliens or they may be human why send a team of interpreters? 

Humans speak lots of different languages, and have lots of different cultures. Humans who all came from the same culture/language originally may have diverged amazingly over time.

Also, the paidhi's talents are good for more than translating greetings. Even if we never see these aliens, diplomatic skills will come in useful.

As to what the aliens may or may not turn out to be, well, we'll have to wait for that next, um, when is it coming out????? 

I thought of the time effects of the first trip also. Who's to say that they were not in hyperspace for a thousand years? The stars could have shifted enough that they look unrecognisable to the crew. I don't think that the aliens are human since they distroyed the station but the knnn/kif idea did occur to me. 

Well, but did they destroy the station? We don't really have any compelling proof that it was aliens and not, say, a rebellion on the station. 

I had some time to think when re reading the foreigner series that CJ gives us a hint of what is to come in the next book.

I.E. in Defender “ there was an ongoing machimi involving a Atvei starship crew fighting off aliens that remarkably looked like other Atvei dressed like humans”

Damn it when is E x p l o r e r coming out?

My interpretation of that machimi was that CJC was illustrating the continuing problems of species-prejudice and the fact that television producers, regardless of species, are woefully lacking in imagination.

If this is really a clue to the identity of the aliens, then it lacks finesse..

I had another weird thought.

There is the menace of Barb, wouldn´t it be interesting if she is at Krogers group, so I don´t know what she would do there (We don´t really know much about Barb, do we).
But I think the dowager would be amused - locesick fanatic at one side, seething assassin at the other and the poor paidhi in the middle. 

God, no!

Actually, I don't imagine Barb could get a seat on the shuttle without Bren's security, and thus Bren, knowing about it. In fact, I don't think she could get a seat on the shuttle, period.

I got a chuckle out of the "bad alien machimi" thing--it made me think of Star Trek. There's a frightening thought--Star Trek is universal!

(I like Star Trek, I really do, but it doesn't do any good to refuse to acknowledge its limitations.) 

I believe that CJC has indicated that the aliens are real.

More interesting to me: At least one generation has passed since Phoenix abandoned the 2nd station. Jase and Yolanda were born and grew to adulthood in the journey to the atevi star.

How long will the journey back take in objective time? Did they travel sublight to the atevi star and will they now travel FTL back? 

In either case, at least one generation has been dealing (or not) with the "alien menace" at the 2nd station. What, if any, communication or accomodation with the aliens has been made? How will the station receive the return of the Phoenix? The Mosphierans were not so very pleased one and all to see it back in the skies. 

I also wonder about Jase's loyalties. Is he Bren's friend in any sense? Or is Bren cursed to feel friendship for people who can't or don't return his feelings?

Ah well, Bren has made salad with atevi. Perhaps he will make dessert of any hostile aliens? ;-) 


“More interesting to me: At least one generation has passed since Phoenix abandoned the 2nd station. Jase and Yolanda were born and grew to adulthood in the journey to the atevi star.”

Thank you for bring this mater up, I had not checked back to the previous book, and when I read Defender thought there was something not quite right when Jase stated that it would only take 1 or 2 years? To return to the station (sorry that I sound confused I am reading Faded Sun Trilogy at this time and do not have Defender with me). I was surprised that Bren had not said something at the time.

Dare I suggest that CJ is not paying attention to the story or forgotten what she has written in previous books?

It could be that we may find the station abandoned, especially if the station degraded passed the point of not able to sustain a liveable environment, or the "alien menace" may have came back and taken them of the station. In either case there is bound to be a record of this on the station.

Jase (sorry to Jase fans), but i think he is a total wimp, no one get to be 3 rd seat with his indecisiveness. It is time he grew up! and takes the responsibility he has been given.

Ramirez was born the year the building of Reunion began.

We don´t know how long Phoenix flew around till getting to the place the second station was build and it took them quiet some while to refuel the ship the first (they would have refuel before starting building).
Jase might have been born aboard Reunion - it is never said he wasn´t, he just hasn´t gone there when Phoenix found it destroyed.

I think it is a two year round trip. 

See page 110. Jase speculates that Reunion could have expected Phoenix to return with help in as little as two years. Jase talks about these events as if he was present.

It has always been my impression that Jase and Yolanda were born BEFORE Reunion was attacked, as part of Ramirez's long term plan to return to the Atevi homeworld.

Page 96: In the event of a 2nd alien attack, Reunion intends to self-destruct.

My saying. 

I must reread for all these clues.

There are also the relativistic effects of interstellar travel that need to be taken into account. Elapsed time on Phoenix is even less than the 2 years that would be experienced by an inertial reference frame. 

As if this who-done-it wasn't complicated enough already. Pages 96 to 116 have a lot a clues, though you may have to take notes, like I did. I didn't expect Cherryh to turn into a mystery writer! 

Take notes? You put us all to shame, WereOtter. 

Instead of making note, have you tried a flow diagram? 

Maybe we can request that Cherryh give us a flow chart as an appendix in the next book!

You could probably use Venn diagrams to display inter-related Atevi associations, graphs to map Atevi Houses, and trees to show man'chi to an aiji. But has anyone come ever come up with a way to map the relationships of those crazy humans?