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Defender/Cherryh, C. J./Paper/0756400201/S009-A
It has been over two centuries since the starship Phoenix disappeared into space, leaving a colony of humans to fend for themselves on the world of the alien atevi.
Since then humans have lived in exile using a single diplomat, the paidhi, to trade bits of advanced technology for continued peace and safety.
Now the unexpected return of the Phoenix has shattered the fragile political balance of these two nearly incompatible races. For the captains of the Phoenix offer the atevi something the planet-bound humans never could - access to the stars. In return the captains ask for atevi manpower and supplies to rebuild their long-derelict space station and refuel their aging starship.
Nearly ten years later, the atevi have three functioning space shuttles, and teams of atevi engineers labor in orbit to renovate the space station.
But these monumental advances not only add a dangerously powerful third party to an already precarious diplomatic situation, but rouse pro- and anti-space factions in atevi society to near-incendiary levels. To help negotiate these treacherous diplomatic waters, Tabini-aiji, the powerful head of the atevi's Western Association, has sent the only human he fully trusts into space: his own paidhi, Bren Cameron.
However the threat of possible invasion by hostile aliens who attacked Phoenix's station in a far-off sector of space hangs over them all. And when one of the senior captains of the Phoenix confesses that this distant station was not completely destroyed, as had been previously thought - that there may be friends and family who still survive - the crew mutinies.
How can Bren hope to mediate on a station overcome by a rebellious crew intent on taking the Phoenix on a rescue mission back into hostile alien territory?