Downbelow Station showcases Cherry's inarguable talent for complex but understandable geopolitical plots, many-layered characterization, and truly alien cultures that humans are never really going to fully understand. There are several sides to the conflict here: The Company, now in charge of an isolationist Earth; the Fleet, once the enforcement arm of the Company but now pretty much independent; Union, formed out of the farther worlds of the Beyond and possessed of a new psychological style completely foreign to Earth; Pell, a station circling a planet which circles Tau Ceti, and which only wants to left alone; and the free Merchanters, making a living hauling goods between the worlds and the stations. Pell is a civilized republic in the best tradition, but they're about to lose all that.
Hugo award winning novel. Interesting and very involved. Somewhat convuluted but I kept reading it to find out what happened. If you're a Cherryh fan, no animal in this one but some interesting aliens.
First book in Cherryh's Alliance-Union series, one of her best series!