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Regenesis    by C. J. Cherryh order for
by C. J. Cherryh
Order:  USA  Can
Daw, 2009 (2009)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

C. J. Cherryh's Regenesis, the long-awaited direct sequel to Cyteen and Downbelow Station, also elaborates on themes - to do with the ethic and implications of cloning humans with specific skill sets for fast and effective colonization of new planets - developed in Forty Thousand in Gehenna. These noncitizens, originally programmed from birth to slave on Union worlds, now have rights more equitable with those of born-men.

In some ways - in particular in its slow development and theme of long-term societal engineering - I found Regenesis reminiscent of Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. The story centers on Ariane Emory, the young clone of one of mankind's greatest scientists. The original Emory was 'a genius in genetics and psychology' who 'had been instrumental in the push of human population and commerce to the farthest reaches of explored space.' Ari Senior was also an architect of peace between various warring human factions who had 'threatened the existence of humankind.'

Not only does young Ari share genetics, but her guardians have attempted to replicate key events (especially early separation from those close to her, including her adoptive mother) in the original Ari's life, in order to ensure she shares the qualities that created such a great mind and strong (almost godlike in the power she exerted over humanity's evolution) leader. Soon young Ari (who receives regular messages from her predecessor triggered by key events, and leaves similar instructions for her own potential clone) is expected to take charge of Reseune, 'the core of all Union stability.' In the meantime, Yanni Schwartz acts for her, but can she trust him?

Regenesis is part coming-of-age (and into a position of power by young Ari); part murder mystery (who killed Ari Senior and who might be planning to murder her duplicate?); part exploration of cloning and the ways in which clones might be influenced by life experience to differ from their originals; part philosophical assessment of the ethical basis of a cloned society; and part (though very slow to develop as is often the case in Cherryh's works) action-adventure story. There are also very complex - and hence credible - political maneuverings between an at times bewildering set of factions.

Of particular interest in the large cast of characters are the two Warricks - the acerbic and egoistic original, Jordan, who was long believed to have assassinated Ariane Emory and has been brought back from exile by young Ari; and his clone, Justin, whose character was ruthlessly modfified by Ari Senior, and who has become a key member of young Ari's entourage. Father and son are often in conflict, usually centered on their relationships to Ari, but she needs their skills in genetic manipulation. And young Ari is herself different from Ari Senior in fascinating ways - unlike her original, she needs people.

I recommend going back and re-reading Cyteen and Downbelow Station before starting this sequel as there are many references to previous events and characters. Though Regenesis is a dense and at times difficult read, I highly recommend it to SF fans with any interest in the possibilities - and both the individual and societal implications - of cloning, and of how clones and born-men might co-exist.

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