Kris, once a college student in Denver, now finds herself
on a planet called Botany, with limited supplies and no
information. The Catteni, a race of space-traveling aliens, have
kidnapped humans and other aliens alike and stranded them on
Botany to colonize it. But what the Catteni don't realize is that
Botany is already spoken for: the entire planet, although empty of
intelligent life, is farmed by machines and the harvest shipped
off-planet to -- where?
Freedom's Landing marks the beginning of "a new epic
series" by the perennially popular Anne McCaffrey. It promises
plenty of adventure, from the grand conflict of Earth versus the
Catteni and the as-yet unseen Catteni overlords (as well as the
equally invisible and mysterious masters of Botany) down to the
personal involvement of Kris and Zainal, one of the Catteni. In
spite of the elaborate setting, however, Freedom's Landing
does not have a strong plot and mostly deals with the exploration
of Botany and the rapid recreation of civilization there,
including cellular phones. The story is definitely unfinished; the
book just pauses at a convenient place, not quite a cliff hanger,
until the next installment can come out.
Despite McCaffrey's popular and best-selling status, her
writing often begs for stronger editing. As usual, she is at her
most awkward when discussing food: "She bit appreciatively into
the firm, reddish flesh of the fruit, and the succulent juices
dribbled down her chin onto her tanned breasts." She also has an
aggravating habit of placing words in unnecessary quotation marks,
as if condescending to tell the reader, "well, not really": "But
there were so many 'things' they lacked" or "he didn't seem to
have 'muscles' where humans did." And the characters are always
grinning, sometimes as often as three and four times a page.
While McCaffrey can produce quite good novels, both singularly
and within series -- Pegasus in Flight and Powers That
Be are two recent titles -- Freedom's Landing is far
from her best. Let's hope the series improves.
Freedom's Landing. Putnam, 1995.
Freedom's Choice. Putnam, 1997
Freedom's Challenge. Putnam, 1998
McCaffrey's web page