Judging by number of books owned, C.J. Cherryh is my favorite science fiction author. Although I had an early love affair with Orson Scott Card, he’s not consistent. Cherryh’s novels are consistently excellent and no one can build an alien culture the way she can.
I’ve recently been reading some of Cherryh’s older books, and as a result picked up Alliance Space which contains the novels Merchanter’s Luck and Forty Thousand in Gehenna.
Merchanter’s Luck is reason enough to buy the book. It’s a classic Cherryh novel (tense action from a close third person perspective in space), and has a nice dash of romance which isn’t something I usually expect from Cherryh. I highly recommend it.
Forty Thousand in Gehenna is unlike any other book that I’ve read. It takes place over 200 years, and in some ways almost feels like an exercise in world building and backstory rather than a traditional novel. It’s fascinating, but is unlikely to appeal to everyone (I’m not sure if I’ll reread it any time in the near future, either). It’s a shame that Cherryh hasn’t published anything using the unique culture that she builds in Gehenna; the two-page epilogue cried out for a sequel.
In any case, Alliance Space is an interesting collection, and certainly worth a read if you enjoy Cherryh (if you’ve never experienced Cherryh before then the Foreigner series might be a better place to start).