For the past week, I’ve been wondering what to say about Foreigner by C. J. Cherryh. The novel took me awhile to read, and at times my interest lagged. But the novel is one of her most famous, and kicks off a multivolume series. Knowing this spurred me on when the pace slackened, and the plot seemed to be revolving in circles rather than marching toward a worthy goal.
I’m glad I persevered. For, deep into the story, everything in Bren Cameron’s world was overturned. In a moment of realization, his worldview is transformed. The unexpected has occurred, and he must scramble to adjust to this new reality. If Bren is to survive this moment of crisis, and prove useful to his friends and his world in the future, he must draw upon all his wits and resolve. It doesn’t help that this occurs when his physical strength is at its weakest.
For a number of years, I kept in touch with a man who had left our church. We got together for dinner every month or so, and caught up on what was going on in our lives. At a certain point though, I began to realize that as much as I looked forward to our evenings together, I was coming home exhausted, feeling as if I had been beaten up. Somehow, our easy-going dialogue had descended into diatribes. No matter where the conversation started, somehow we ended up on the subject of the Catholic Church, how he believed that the denomination had a superior view of marriage to that of Protestant churches (such as we both belonged to), and that if he and his wife were to divorce, he would never remarry. Regardless of how I countered his arguments, he stuck firm to his opinions, and stated repeatedly, and categorically, that he was right and I was wrong.
I don’t know why, but it simply never occurred to me that his marriage could be in trouble. Even when, at one point, he mentioned that they were seeing a marriage counselor, and then added that there were no insurmountable problems between them, it never occurred to me that they might divorce. Sadly, one evening he told me that the unthinkable had occurred, and that their marriage was suddenly, and irretrievably over. What had been going on between them, unobserved by me, had transformed their lives. In an instant, my worldview changed, as I learned that something I had always counted on was forever sundered.
A less capable author than C. J. Cherryh could not have pulled off this moment of transformation effectively. She might have lost her readership, as no one enjoys being tricked. But C. J. Cherryh had built the proper background into her story, so when events transform Bren Cameron’s worldview in an instant, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. I felt more in tune with him than ever before. For I knew what it was to have my perceptions transformed in an instant, and to scramble to stay relevant in my friend’s life.
I look forward to reading Invader, the next volume in her long-running series, and learning how Bret Cameron strives to prove useful to his friends, and his world, as the changes initiated by this unexpected transformation ripple through all sectors of society. Oh, and if you’re wondering about my friend, well, while he did get divorced, he also followed his inclinations and joined the Catholic Church. There he learned of something called annulments, and met a pretty girl. As to what followed, and the subsequent transformation he underwent…well, I think you can guess, can’t you?
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Related Internet LinksShejidan: Fan site based on the Foreigner series