Author C. J. Cherryh
Original title
Cover artist
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Science fiction novel
Publisher Warner Books
Publication date September 1994
Published in
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 377 pp (Hardback)
Size and weight
ISBN ISBN 0-446-51780-1
Preceded by
Followed by

Tripoint is a science fiction novel written by the United States science fiction and fantasy author C. J. Cherryh, and was first published by Warner Books in September 1994. It is one of Cherryh's Merchanter novels and is set in the author's Alliance-Union universe.


In the Alliance-Union universe, Tripoint is an unstable mass of three points of "dark matter" moving around each other. Two of the points are a failed close binary star, while the third is a captured object, possibly from the Pell system. It was first charted and navigated in 2266, and serves as a staging jump-point on some of the commercial station-to-station "short-hops", for example, PellViking and Pell–Mariner.

Because of its shifting mass resulting from the 3-body problem, Tripoint's position in spacetime drifts, making it troublesome for navigators, who have to rely on data from ships that have recently passed through the system. Tripoint is also a region where the brown radiation from the dark matter blots out what might be behind it, making it easy to lose ships, and to hide from other ships.

Plot summary Edit

Twenty years in the past, merchanter ships Sprite and Corinthian were docked at Mariner Station. What started out as a friendly sleepover between the inexperienced Marie Hawkins of Sprite and Austin Bowe of Corinthian turned into rape, with Marie becoming pregnant. She elected to raise the child, Thomas Bowe-Hawkins, on Sprite, but was consumed with rage. Tom grew up with an ambivalent mother and was never fully accepted by his family. When Austin later became senior captain of Corinthian, Marie started tracking Corinthian's movements in order to expose what she suspected was smuggling.

When the two ships cross paths again, this time at Viking, Marie is ready for her revenge. She and Tom scour the docks for information about Corinthian's cargo, but Tom is caught snooping and is imprisoned aboard Corinthian, forcing the ship to depart prematurely for Pell Station via Tripoint. At Marie's insistence, Sprite pursues Corinthian. On Corinthian, Tom meets Austin, his domineering father, and Capella, second chief navigator and night-walker.

When Corinthian docks at Pell Station, Tom's younger half-brother, Christian Bowe-Perrault tries to solve the problem by shipping him off to Sol Station, but Tom escapes and hides on the docks. Christian and Capella search frantically for him, unaware that Sabrina Perrault-Cadiz, Christian's cousin, has already found and befriended him. When Capella contacts old acquaintances for assistance, it attracts the unwanted attention of a dissident faction within the outlawed Mazianni Fleet. Capella is an ex-Fleet navigator with knowledge of Fleet routes and drop-points, which the dissidents want.

When Corinthian prepares to depart for Tripoint, Tom returns voluntarily to the ship and is no longer treated as a prisoner. He learns the ship's secret: they are illegally trading with the renegade Fleet. Austin justifies this by maintaining that supplying the Fleet means it won't have to raid merchanter ships.

Sprite arrives at Pell Station shortly after Corinthian's departure and takes off again in pursuit. During Corinthian's jump to Tripoint, Capella is aware of Sprite and a Mazianni spotter following and performs a premature system-drop near an abandoned freighter, causing the other ships to overshoot. Corinthian immediately starts frantically offloading to the freighter, a Fleet drop-point. As the spotter and Sprite approach, Tom and Christian activate the freighter's weapons and destroy the spotter.

Tom tells his mother he is staying with Corinthian because he is more at home on his father's ship than his mother's. Marie, having taken the captaincy of Sprite from her weak brother, does not expose Corinthian's illegal trade because of Tom and because Corinthian outguns Sprite. Austin realizes too many people know about his connection with the Fleet and decides to leave Alliance-Union space for good. As amends for the past, Austin offers Marie the access codes to the hulk at Tripoint and the opportunity to take over Corinthian's profitable trade, but she declines and the ships part company.

During Corinthian's next jump, Capella tells Tom about an uncharted chain of jump-points and fuel dumps that leads to a habitable planet with forests. Her faction of the Mazianni are building a new secret colony there and Corinthian is now part of that future.

Main charactersEdit

Merchanter ship Sprite
Merchanter ship Corinthian
  • Christian Bowe-Perrault – officer, Thomas' half-brother
  • Austin Bowe – captain, Thomas and Christian's father
  • Beatrice Perrault – pilot, Christian's mother
  • Sabrina Perrault-Cadiz – officer, Christian's cousin
  • Capella – second chief navigator on loan to Corinthian from the Fleet

See alsoEdit


  • Cherryh, C. J. Tripoint, Warner Aspect, 1994.

External linksEdit

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