Finity’s End. In context, it’s the name of the oldest still-operating (at this point in the timeline) merchanter ship. The Family is Neihart, and it’s one of the most important ships in the Alliance. If you asked the Neiharts, they’d say it was their due, to have a book named for and focused on their ship.
Finity’s End is a coming-of-age story in some ways, but mostly it’s a story about finding where you belong, a theme which is seen throughout every book in this universe. It’s not just the literary technique of throwing a character into an entirely new location and/or situation so that the reader can learn through the POV character’s experience, it’s showing us that while the characters may have thought they knew everything, they really knew nothing at all. Starting over is hard, but we can watch and cheer for them as they assemble new lives out of the ruin of the old. Yes, this fits into the coming-of-age theme, but most of the characters are already considered adults not only by themselves but by those around them. Coming-of-age distinctly refers to people on the threshold of adulthood.
It’s also worth noting that C.J. Cherryh favors strong female protagonists and broken male protagonists. That’s not to say that the females can’t also have mental and emotional scars, but the males are guaranteed to have them. Take Fletcher Neihart in Finity’s End. His mother was left dockside on Pell while the ship went off to continue fighting the War, she having medical problems and it being a life or death matter to get her off the ship. So Fletcher was born on Pell in the year Finity said it would be before they came back. But one year stretched into two and three and when Fletcher was five his mother overdosed on drugs and died. He’d already been in foster care at that point, as his mother was not always taking care of him the way she should have been. He ran with a rough crowd, he knew station police on a first-name basis, etc. And because Finity’s End was in combat, the Pell courts wouldn’t let the ship have him back, citing child endangerment. Keep in mind, that because he was born to a woman of Finity’s End, Fletcher only had a Pell visa. It wasn’t until the ship finally got him back that he got a passport – as a Finity national.
On a much sillier note, there’s a scene in this book at the starstation Esperance where the spacers are buying, trading, and selling collectible pins. Blind idiot that I can be, I just realized today that we’re talking similar to the pins that people wear, buy, sell, and trade at conventions. Talking to older con-goers, I’m told that pins have fallen out of popularity of late, probably related to the rise of ribbons. For those who don’t know, both pins and ribbons tend to feature geeky and/or amusing things on them. Ribbons tend to be textual, consideirng their rectangular shape and that I don’t think you can get extremely detailed images printed on them. Pins can be textual, artistic, or both. They range from the cheap do-it-yourself ones that someone printed on their own printer to metal and enamel professionally crafted ones. Or, if you’re at the Bristol Renaissance Faire, you can get buffalo bone pins.
Regardless, the fact that this bit of con-life is preserved in a science fiction book for anyone to read makes me happy. I still feel a bit dumb for not realizing it sooner, but then again, that’s just one reason why I love to reread books.