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Publisher's Summary

It is the second stage of human colonization - the first age, humanity's initial attempt to people the stars, ended in disaster when it was discovered that Earth's original superluminal drive did permanent genetic damage to all who used it - mutating Earth's far-flung colonists in mind and body. Now, one of Earth's first colonies has given humanity back the stars, but at a high price - a monopoly over all human commerce. And when a satellite in earth's outer orbit is viciously attacked by corporate raiders, an unusual young woman flees to a ship bound for the Up-and-Out. But her narrow escape does not mean safety. For speeding across the galaxy pursued by ruthless, but unknown adversaries, this young woman will discover a secret which is buried deep inside her psyche - a revelation the universe may not be ready to face....

©1998 C.S. Friedman (P)2012 Audible, Inc.

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The Great Space Chase

Space. The Final Frontier. The elephant in the room in any novel that attempts to anchor space travel in reality. How to surmount the unimaginable distances between one solar system and another, or the even greater vastnesses of intergalactic space? Nothing on the horizon today (at least that a mere civilian like me is aware of) comes close to bridging the obstacle of time/distance/relativity inherent in interstellar travel.

Warp drive, wormholes, neurologically or chemically modified pilots, suspended animation, corporate space guilds--these are just some of the means authors have used to open up the final frontier to their characters and readers. "This Alien Shore" uses all of the above and then some. "The Up and Out" is a character in its own right here. The Gueran Outspace Guild trains (breeds?) outpilots who guide spaceships full of sedated passengers through a mysterious deep-space anomoly called the Ainniq (prounounced i' nik) that allows ships to traverse light years in a matter of hours. The passengers must be sedated, says the Guild, so that their mental activity cannot attract the dangerous forces lurking in the Ainniq.

But the Guild’s monopoly on space travel is threatened by Lucifer, a computer virus that has begun to render outpilots insane and/or dead. Then there is Jamisia, a teenage girl forced to flee her home space station without any notice, without knowing why, and all alone. The Outspace Guild and a whole posse of corporate nasties are fighting to be the first to get their hands on Jamisia and what’s in her brain (and just what is that?). Her only hope of salvation is a master hacker who has become obsessed with the Lucifer virus.

“This Alien Shore” is above all a rip-roaring, adventurous chase through space. Will Jamisia outwit and evade her pursuers and will she eventually find out why everyone's after her? Who unleashed Lucifer, and why, and will the Guild be able to contain it in time to save space travel? Along with these adventures, we get to contemplate attitudes on race and mental illness, and, perhaps most strikingly, we get a scenario (nightmare or not, depending on your point of view) of the effects of constant streams of information and communication available to all people all the time through “brainware” implanted at birth (a few steps more advanced than the “smart phones” people seem unwilling to let out of their hands).

I’ve recommended this book to a number of friends and co-workers over the years, not all of them sci fi aficionados, and I think most of them enjoyed it. My personal opinion is that it ranks with classics like "Dune" and "Ender’s Game." The writing gets a little heavy-handed sometimes, but the adventure part of the story never lets up and keeps you guessing to the end, even as you stop and think about the important issues it brings up.

I do suggest you listen to the narration sample before ordering this book. Kathleen McInerney was probably chosen because her pleasant voice is a good fit for the teenage Jamisia. However, she narrates all the other characters as well, and at times I could have wished for a more sophisticated reading. But I found her easy to listen to, and she got better as the book went along.

10 people found this helpful

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Another excellent novel by C.S. Friedman!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Originally posted at FanLit.

This Alien Shore is another outstanding science fiction novel by an author who I’ve come to respect immensely for her extraordinarily creative worlds, fascinating ideas, complex characters, and elegant prose. If there’s one flaw (from my perspective) with Friedman’s work, it’s a difficulty in actually liking many of her characters, but even if you find that it’s hard to sympathize with them, it’s also hard not to admire them, or at least to see them as superb creations.

I think many readers will, however, sympathize with Jamisia, the protagonist of This Alien Shore. She’s on the run from unknown enemies who want the bioware that’s in her brain. She can’t feel safe anywhere because she has no idea why her brain is so valuable, or to whom. Is it the Guerran guild that oversees all intergalactic traffic? An Earth corporation who wants to break the guild’s monopoly? Maybe it’s a terrorist from the Houseman Variants — those former humans who were mutated by Earth’s first attempts to break out of the galaxy and now want to punish their Terran ancestors by isolating them.

As Jamisia is trying to evade her unidentified pursuers, she also has to deal with the extra people who live in her head. Humans on Earth have managed to cure all mental disorders, but Jamisia, for some reason, has not been cured of her multiple personality disorder — or perhaps her condition has been purposely created. If Earth finds out that she’s not normal, they will take her into custody.

Fortunately, Jamisia meets a few people who can give her some help, though they’ve got their own issues to deal with. In particular, Phoenix the hacker is trying to trace the origin of Lucifer, a computer virus that’s killing his friends when they’re hooked into the Outernet. Could it be a government plot designed to take out all those Moddies who’ve got illegal bioware installed in their brains? But Lucifer is not only stalking hackers — it’s invading the minds of the pilots who guide spaceships through the Ainniq, the dangerous crack in space/time that’s full of monsters but is the only way to travel to other galaxies. Could the virus be linked to Jamisia’s bioware?

Besides the exciting plot, the most impressive part of This Alien Shore is Friedman’s characterization of Jamisia’s multiple personalities. This was sometimes funny (especially when the emo boy took over), but it was also incredibly eerie. Also well done was Phoenix the hacker. Since I have a son with this type of personality, I can attest that she gets it just right — the arrogance, ambition, curiosity, single-mindedness, and dogged determination to solve a computer programming problem, even if it means ignoring all other aspects of life such as eating.

In many ways, C.S. Friedman’s work reminds me of William Gibson’s — unique settings, complex and fascinating (though not necessarily likeable) characters, cool ideas and technology, a smart and savvy style. Friedman’s plots are always tighter, though. If they haven’t yet, Gibson fans should give Friedman a try.

I listened to Audible Frontier’s production of This Alien Shore which was narrated by Kathleen McInerney. She was new to me, but I thought she was perfect for this story. She has a nice voice and cadence and was convincing in her various roles. This Alien Shore is highly recommended, especially in audio format.

13 people found this helpful

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Time/Space

This book was recommended to me by two people I follow, so I decided to give it a try. This is my first time reading C. S. Friedman, I found the writing excellent and will look for more of her books. This book has two main plots and goes back and forth between them until the end of the book they come together. Friedman has some interesting complex characters and fascinating ideas and technology, I find the imagination of Sci-Fi authors intriguing.
The story opens with Janisia a young girl being rush out of the space station that she lives in by her teacher. The station is under attack and everyone is being killed. Her teacher tells her "they" are after her and the bio ware in her brain. He gives her instruction, new identify papers and money sends her off in a pod to reach a interstellar ship liner. The part of the story about Janisia follows her fleeing to reach the outter rim. We discover she has multiple personalities, the corporation that created her designed but for what goal? The other on going stories is of the Guerran Guild who oversee intergalactic traffic, the are hunting Lucifer, a computer virus, that is killing Guild's galactic pilots. Phoenix a hacker (a moddie--has illegal bioware implanted in his brain) is also hunting Lucifer as it has killed his hacker friends. Friedman spins these plots and interesting idea's and technology into an engrossing story with a surprising end. Kathleen McInerney does a good job narrating the story.

4 people found this helpful

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Very boaring

Lost interest quickly. No idea what the story was about, except teenage angst. McInerney's performance added to the slowness of the story telling. No change in inflection, read very slowly. Couldn't tell one character from another.

1 person found this helpful

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complicated, long but good

It was long. I had to reread a lot, but it's a very interesting book.

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  • LJ
  • 05-06-14

Just an okay listen in my opion

The book for me was a bit confusing as the point of view changed a lot, the story wandered around quite a bit. I must admit there were idea's I had never considered before, so in that aspect it made the book a bit more interesting.

For the most part the narrator gave a good performance, a bit weak on male voices, but all in all a good performance.

1 person found this helpful

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Great story!

I love this book!
The narrator has a very pleasant reading voice, but I found the voice performances to be overly melodramatic at times which was distracting. In particular, the female lead. I've read this book a few times (I still have my old paperback copy) and she never came across as a weak "fainting" type to me in the past. More like someone with an ability to endure through immense stress even though she never expected any of it...
So I wasn't thrilled with the narrator's interpretation of the character's characters, but this really is a very good book. And if I hadn't read it multiple times in the past, I probably would have enjoyed this version more. It's not bad, just different.

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A page turner space opera, mostly

In a future where earth is a crowded, mostly undesirable place this slightly uneven early work by C.S. Friedman shows her ability to build a story line into a sometimes page turner techno-mystery. A an earth scientist named Haussman created a propulsion system which took large numbers of human colonists into the reaches of space. But there was a catch - those using theHaussman drive and their descendents develop genetic variations that made theem into fantastic creatures. Earth cut off all contact with the variant colonists, fearing contamination. But the colonists survived and organized a Guild which had the charge of finding all isolated human coloniies and bringing them into the far flung outworld civilization. The Guild welcomed humans to travel in their ships but they would not share their secret of short cutting across an Inek, a tear in the fabric of the universe created by a flaw in its creation. The drama begins there, with some on earth plotting and attempting to create variants of their own who could navigate the Inek as do the Guild outpilots. From this background a story emerges featuring Jennissia, a 16 year old girl whose brain was altered so that she could pilot a ship traveling through the Inek. When raiders attempt to kidnap Jennissia, her tutor set her into space in a single seat "pod" which would carry her to an adventure where she, though the main character, is an important accessory in an ingenious scheme to isolate the sometimes hated, mostly disliked earth. Solid civilization building lays the groundwork for a sequel. I (mostly) couldn't put this book down despite its flaw of having, in my opinion, extraneous material. .

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One of My All-Time Favorites

I read this book in high school and loved it, and recently I found out that a sequel had been released. I downloaded it to listen to again before reading the sequel and it still holds up as a top ten favorite after all these years. If you like sci-fi, you can't go wrong with C.S. Friedman!

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great complex story

good story with complex characters and world building. I've read the book a few times, and the audio book added a great new dimension to the story.