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I'd like suggestions for good Merchant/Trader SF? I've read Cherryh's Merchanter books, and I'm currently reading the Andre Norton Solar Queen books (both of which are good in their own ways)
Any other SF with Traders/Merchants as the primary focus of the story?
Agreed. Recently collected and republished in the single volume The Van Rijn Method.
I guess it depends on whether it's solely the trader/merchant aspect you like, or also the space opera/adventure element of the books you name.
Even though it seems I must have read many SF books with themes of spaceships trading, picking up cargos, buying & selling, etc. -- I have trouble coming up with any examples right off, in which the main emphasis is traders (except the Van Rijn books mentioned already, which indeed are lots of fun).
But for series with a similar *feeling*, and at least some element of trade:
Trading in Danger and the other Vatta books by Elizabeth Moon; or her Heris Serrano series starting with Hunting Party
Both are near misses, anyway: Vatta is a merchant family, but the protagonist chose a military career; and Serrano starts out military, but ends up as captain for a rich capitalist.
The Trade Pact books by Julie Czerneda, starting with A Thousand Words for Stranger -- not as clean-cut as Cherryh or Norton, but similar action & intrigue, and there ARE space traders involved.
The Sardonyx Net by Elizabeth Lynn -- the dark side of interstellar trade, drugs & slaves, and resistance to it.
The Hellflower trilogy by Eluki bes Shahar. Butterfly is a smuggler, not a legal trader, with a forbidden AI in her ship. Much adventure ensues.
Of course, if you've found C.J. Cherryh already, you won't miss The Pride of Chanur and the other Chanur books, which are all about merchants and are among her most readable.
I thought the George R.R. Martin Tuf Voyaging would fit, but when I looked it up to remind myself what happens, I realized that after the trader gets the super-powerful starship, he does more world-mending than trading.
I'll be interested what people come up with that's more purely merchant-oriented. It seems such an SF trope that there must be more examples.
Peter F Hamilton's Night's Dawn trilogy's main character (Joshua Calvert) is a trader, and a the books explore a lot of his backstory which shapes his character (son of a trader.) Hamilton also sprinkles a liberal dose of capitalism into the story dynamic (not 100% pro-capitalism, either.)
Obviously, with any Hamliton doorstopper, the series goes a lot of different directions though, so trading isn't the sole focus of the story.
Part of the problem of "I know I've read a lot of merchant-y scifi, but I can't put my finger on any" is that they frequently seem to start with a merchant crew going about their merchant-y business and then something happens and they go off and do something much more interesting and much less merchant-y.
Van Rijn is certainly on the list to read. I'll probably skip the Elizabeth Moon for now, I already have a large backlog of Military SF stashed to read.
The Czerneda sounds interesting, so I'll probably give it a look.
I don't know what it is about the Chanur books, I just can't bring myself to buy them, despite all the other Cherryh that I own.
Sounds like the Hamilton ends up going a bit offmessage for what I want.
Merchant Princes is a parallel earths setup iirc which would just irritate me.
I do have a preference for independent traders trekking around the space lanes :-) I enjoy the Space Opera/Adventure attached, but the more trade the better. The Dumarest books by E. C. Tubb were a blast, while not trader focused, there were a significant portion of scenes on Trader Vessels.
I know Lee and Miller have their fans, but I've never been able to exhibit any more than apathy towards their work.
>7: yes, brightcopy has it right. One example I can think of is Colin Greenland's Take back plenty. The main character is a merchant, but by the end of the novel - and for its two sequels - we're way past buying, selling, interplanetary trucking and trading and we're well into space opera territory.
Her material is often classified as "juvenile" these days, but a substantial number of Andre Norton's books revolved around spacefaring traders. A number of them had trading as central to the plot line.
#8: I don't know what it is about the Chanur books, I just can't bring myself to buy them, despite all the other Cherryh that I own.
Too bad, since although they're mainly adventure (lots of chases & firefights), they do have some interesting trading ideas. One of my favorites is the Knnn race, so alien that the other species can't communicate with them. Since their ships are more advanced, they used to just take over other species' ships and grab whatever they wanted. Somehow, someone finally got the idea of trading over to them -- so now they swoop down on other ships & take what they want, but leave something in exchange. May be valuable or not, but at least it's some improvement.
A throwaway idea in the overall worldbuilding, but clever.
Fool's war which is superb, even if the trader's do quickly start going off to do more interesting things!
The Golden Age of the Solar Clipper series by Nathan Lowell was something I enjoyed that stayed on the space trading topic. While slow in parts with no big action scenes I was udderly sucked in by the second book, in no small part due to the authors narration of these stories which is how I consumed the series.
There's a surprising number of "trader to the stars" style merchant stories in old pulps like Astounding, Amazing and Startling, many by authors I'm unfamiliar with (many are probably pseudonyms). Most aren't very memorable (probably why many never made it into compilations) - I think there was a lot of interest in the idea at one time - many of the concepts pulled from old E.E. "Doc" Smith stories of the Lensmen and Skylark series...
I have just started the Nathan Lowell series as well, and so far I would agree with Majorbrew ... despite a lack of tradition space action, the writing is sound enough to pull me in.
I had a nice long reply post done but LT ate it. Bummer.
However I ordered The Van Rijn Method and also David Falkayn: Star Trader by Poul Anderson. I also ordered the omnibus of Ports of Call and Lurulu.
And I'll pick up the Chanur books next time I see them.
I skipped the Nathan Lowell partially because I dislike 'on-demand' quality books and don't do e-books often. Also I found the authors personality annoying after reading his website. I'd rather give my time to other writers.
(28) "And I'll pick up the Chanur books next time I see them."
Excellent! I really doubt you'll regret it. :)
I've just started reading the Chanur books myself and second the recommendation.
I read them because I loved the premise of 'Pride of Chanur' when I first heard about it; then I got to the book itself and was disappointed. But I may have been trying to read it too quickly; I've often found that it can take me two reads to "get" Cherryh, so the Chanur books are back in the tbr pile...
Just finished Pride of Chanur in one sitting. Glorious. I loved it.
I just ordered the remaining Chanur books. They have moved to the top of my To Be Read Pile :-)
Quarter Share by Nathan Lowell (Science Fiction) 3 Stars;
A young boy (17 years old) is left alone in the universe when his mother is killed in a transport accident. He has to make some hard adult choices about his life. He ends up joining the space Merchant fleet and meets and takes advice from the right people. A fun feel good read. This is the first in the series covering his career from lowly mess cook to owner.
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