Author C. J. Cherryh
Original title
Cover artist Keith Birdsong
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Science Fiction
Publisher Warner Books
Publication date May 1988
Published in
Media type
Pages 680 (Hardback)
Size and weight
ISBN ISBN 0-446-51428-4
Preceded by
Followed by Regenesis

Cyteen (1988) is a Hugo award-winning science fiction novel by author C. J. Cherryh taking place in Cherryh's Alliance-Union universe.

Plot introductionEdit

Founded in 2201 by a group of dissident scientists and engineers, the Cyteen system includes the planet Cyteen and Cyteen Inner and Outer Stations. Cyteen declared its independence from Earth in 2300 CE and now serves as the capital of Union. It is located at Lalande 46650, referenced in current star catalogues as BD+01 4774.

The planet's atmosphere is moderately toxic to humans, necessitating enclaves, or semi-encapsulated city-states, which influences Union's political outlook. Cyteen is seen as the antithesis of Earth; the heart of Union is the research facility Reseune, the center of all research and development of human cloning. Cloned human beings or "azi" provide the population Union requires to exist and expand, a policy which Earth and the Alliance, Union's main rival, deplore and refuse to use.

Clones are incubated in "womb-tanks", but their fundamental difference from regular humans is that they are socialized and educated from birth via conditioning training, called "tape" technology, often involving sedation, effectively teaching the subject subconsciously. This technology is not limited to azi; it is used by normal humans as well, though to a lesser extent and after they have a chance to develop. This makes humans much more capable of handling new and uncertain situations.

The murder of brilliant researcher and political power Ariane Emory, one of fourteen Specials or Union-certified geniuses, has staggering consequences for her constituency and for all of Reseune, as well as for her closest family and friends. As the news generates a shockwave across Union space, Emory's family and colleagues implement her final experiment -- the attempted recreation of her abilities by raising her clone successor in an environment as closely matching her life as possible.


Ariane Emory runs Reseune, with the support of her department directors, Denys and Giraud Nye. Emory's heavy-handed management has fostered a strong dislike both within Reseune and in Union.

There are a number of political factions in Union's government, the main ones being the Centrists and the Expansionists. The Expansionists, led by Ariane, believe in enlarging Union, through exploration, building new stations and continued cloning. Her political enemies prefer to consolidate. The Centrists want to halt expanding and instead improve the existing stations and planets within Union.

The government of Union consists of a Council of Nine and the Senate. Ariane is one of the Nine, representing Science (as almost every administrator of Reseune has done). Other branches include the military and the state.

The government gives acknowledged geniuses "Special" status. An example is Estelle Bok, the inventor of the equation that led to faster-than-light travel, called jump. Specials are deemed national treasures and are tightly protected.

Ariane and Jordan, a co-worker she often clashes with, are both Specials. Jordan has also created a clone of himself, named Justin. Justin is friends with Grant, an Azi made from the modified genome of another Special. Because Grant is a unique genome, and experimental, he remains the property of Reseune.

Ariane uses Grant's status to manipulate Justin and begins an "Intervention" on Justin, using Deep Tape and sedatives while having sex with him. When Jordan learns of this, he is furious, and goes to see Ariane. Ariane is found murdered later that day, and it is later revealed that she had the early stages of cancer.

Prior to her death, Ariane had arranged for herself to be cloned and for the clone to relive her life as closely as possible, down to her hormone levels and including the gift of two bodyguard Azi, Florian and Caitlin. Ariane also created a computer program to help guide her replacement to adulthood. The clone calls herself Ari in order to distinguish herself from the original.

Ari eventually repairs the botched "Intervention" on Justin to make him stop having tape-flash, which is like déjà vu, but much stronger. She also comes to terms with the fact that she is different from her predecessor, though it is hard to know where Ariane's memories stop and Ari's start. The book ends with her wresting back control of Reseune.

Note: With the exception of the last paragraph, this summary is all from the first third of the story (originally published as the first of a three volume trilogy.) The last paragraph very briefly summarizes the next two thirds of the story.

Characters in Cyteen Edit

  • Ariane Emory I - Director of Reseune
  • Ariane Emory II - Clone and Personal Replicate of Ariane Emory I
    • Both Arianes are referred to most frequently as "Ari"
  • Florian and Catlin - Azi assistants and bodyguards to Ariane Emory I (both are replicated for Ariane Emory II)
  • Denys Nye - Reseune Administrator after death of Ariane Emory I, takes custody of young Ariane Emory II after Jane Strassen's departure
  • Giraud Nye - Denys Nye's brother; acting Councillor of Science after death of Ariane Emory I
  • Jane Strassen - Reseune scientist, acts as adoptive mother of young Ariane Emory II until she is seven
  • Yanni Schwartz - Reseune scientist
  • Petros Ivanov - Reseune doctor
  • Ollie - Azi assistant to Jane Strassen
  • Seely - Azi assistant to Denys Nye
  • Abban - Azi assistant to Giraud Nye
  • Nellie - Azi nursemaid to young Ariane Emory II
  • Grant - Azi (alpha-class) that has grown up with Justin Warrick and been 'socialized'. He and Justin work together as tape designers.
  • Jordan Warrick - Reseune tape designer, specializing in educational tapes
  • Justin Warrick - Son and Parental Replicate of Jordan Warrick. Tape designer.
  • Amy Carnath - Friend of Ariane Emory II
  • Maddy Strassen - Friend of Ariane Emory II
  • 'Stasi Ramirez - Friend of Ariane Emory II (NB similarity of name to Stani Ramirez, senior captain of Phoenix in Cherryh's Foreigner-series novels)
  • Tommy Carnath - Friend of Ariane Emory II
  • Sam Whitely - Friend of Ariane Emory II
  • Mikhail Corain - Citizens' Councillor, leader of the Centrist Party
  • Leonid Gorodin - Admiral, Councillor of Defense
  • Wladislav Khalid - Councillor of Defense, successor to Gorodin and foe of Reseune
  • Catherine Lao - Councillor of Information and supporter of Reseune

Awards and nominationsEdit

Other editionsEdit

At one point, the novel was broken into parts and published in a 3-volume edition:

  • Cyteen: The Betrayal
  • Cyteen: The Rebirth
  • Cyteen: The Vindication

Cherryh has stated that she disapproves of this edition and has written, "There was a paperbound publication that split the novel into three parts, but this has ended: the current and, by my wishes, all future publications, will have Cyteen as one unified book." [1]

Cover artworkEdit


On September 17, 2007, Cherryh announced on her webpage that a sequel had been completed.[1] The book, entitled Regenesis, is scheduled for publication by DAW Books in January 2009.[2]



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