Hestia (novel)

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For other uses, see Hestia (disambiguation).
Hestia, first edition
Author C. J. Cherryh
Cover artist Don Maitz
Country United States
Language English
Genre Science fiction novel
Publisher DAW Books
Publication date
September 1, 1979
Media type Print (Paperback)
ISBN 0-88677-102-1

Hestia is a 1979 science fiction novel by science fiction and fantasy author C. J. Cherryh. It is an early Cherryh novel about colonists on an alien world and their interactions with the catlike natives, centering on a young engineer sent to solve the colonists' problems, and his relationship with the young native cat-woman in scanty clothing on the cover.

Major themes in this novel include sexual liberation, sexual aberration, relevance of social mores, hypocrisy of social mores, personal work ethic, personal responsibility, ecological responsibility, blame-shifting, bureaucratic inertia, administrative reflex reactions, the mindset of the engineering profession, and responsibility toward indigenous peoples. Many other characters and the world itself are not developed with as much depth as those in some of Cherryh's other early works, such as Gate of Ivrel, The Pride of Chanur, Merchanter's Luck, and The Dreamstone. Notably, the alien cat-people in this novel are entirely different from the hani of the Chanur novels, being in temperament and culture somewhat more like housecats than lions.

Plot summary[edit]

Engineer Sam Merrit has been sent to the planet Hestia to build a dam. The colonists believe that a dam will enable them to expand beyond their single river valley and escape the squalid conditions that have persisted there since the founding of the colony over a hundred years ago. Upon arrival Merrit finds that, in his professional judgment, a dam will not solve the colony's problems, and the construction of the dam will force the relocation of many of the cat-like alien natives as the reservoir fills. However, having made the years-long sublight journey to Hestia at great personal inconvenience, he is reluctant to return home without accomplishing anything. From the start, he has little patience for the colonists' blame-shifting attitude, and as he becomes familiar with one of the alien women, Merrit becomes increasingly convinced that destroying the alien culture by building the dam is not an acceptable option.