Doona Series

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Decision at Doona by Anne McCaffrey  

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Imagine a world so overpopulated that the worst insult you can give is to tell someone to "Sweat it." When even the length of your stride and the speed of your walk is regulated. When flatulence is not a social faux pas, it’s a prosecutable offense. When you must make a reservation years in advance for just the hope of being able to walk in your local Square Mile of open ground. Ken Reeves and his family have been existing in this world. However, all that changes when Ken receives word that they have been selected to colonize the planet of Doona. A new future dawns for Ken, his wife Patricia, daughter Ilsa and over-active son Todd.

Secure in the knowledge that the planet has been thoroughly checked out and deemed habitable and unoccupied prior to their arrival, the men have been sent as the advance wave to prepare the planet over the long winter months for their families’ imminent arrival. The colonists’ dismay is great when signs are found of another intelligent, cat-like species on the planet. The Principle of Non-Cohabitation decrees that man may not share a planet with another native species, due to a tragic incident that took place early in their space-faring days. Unfortunately, a rule that looks good on paper isn’t as easy to keep in real life, especially when Todd arrives on the planet and immediately befriends members of the new species.

McCaffrey has chosen an interesting concept for this novel. The ever-exuberant Todd plays a crucial role in her story and the alien Hrubbans are as mysterious as their cat-like looks seem to imply. McCaffrey makes it very clear that the rules decreed back on Earth may not be workable, or even necessary, on this new planet. She makes a very good case for the importance of being flexible and maintaining an open mind when faced with new situations. Written back in 1969, this is a short, quick read compared to the S/F novels of today. Although some of the characterization is a bit weak and possibly dated by current standards, I found that the plot kept my attention. Overall, I thought this was an enjoyable novel. Since Decision at Doona is the first in a trilogy, you can be sure that there is more to learn about Doona and the Hrubbans.

Reviewed by: Diane

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Crisis on Doona by Anne McCaffrey and Jody Lynn Nye

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25 years have passed since the monumental events McCaffrey described in Decision at Doona. In this round she teams up with Jody Lynn Nye to write a satisfying sequel. Todd and Hriss, Human and Hrubban, have remained fast friends since their childhood, grown up and taken leadership roles in their mixed species community. Looked up to and admired for their integrity, they are often cited as role models for the alliance between the two species. This is especially important since the contract, which enabled this experimental community to continue for the last 25 years, is now up for renewal. Both species have core elements that would dearly love to see the experiment come to an end.

When Todd and Hriss answer a mayday call on their way home from a diplomatic mission, they set off a chain of events that is unexpected and potentially disastrous for their friendship, their home and the future of Doona. McCaffrey and Nye have created a story that enlarges upon McCaffrey’s original theme of cooperation and unity between the two alien species. The two young men must fight to prove their honor and integrity and still find a way to defeat the unknown forces trying to void the contract between the Humans and Hrubbans.

The collaboration between Nye and McCaffrey appears relatively seamless. I am a big McCaffrey fan and I’ve got to admit I couldn’t differentiate between the two authors’ work or style. The characters all worked well together and stayed true to those in the original novel. The plot was detailed and took some convoluted twists and turns but ultimately reached a satisfying conclusion. Some of the elements relied on events that occurred in the first novel, however it would be possible to read and enjoy this book without having read the first, since the authors do provide some background information.

Reviewed by: Diane

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Treaty at Doona by Anne McCaffrey and Jody Lynn Nye

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McCaffrey and Nye team up again and return to the world of Doona. Thirty-three years after the original Decision was agreed upon, the residents of Doona face another momentous decision. This time it involves the formation of a spaceport and free trade zone on one of the world’s subcontinents. The decision has divided not only the residents but also lifelong friends Todd and Hriss. For the first time that anyone can remember these two friends of different species are at odds with one another.

Considering how well the Humans and Hrubbans have gotten along on Doona, there is still a great deal of distrust and suspicion about each other on each species home world. The xenophobia is compounded when a third species, the bear-like Gringg, appear at the height of the bargaining for the new spaceport. Their appearance causes a lot of intrigue and political maneuvering, as well as a great deal of military posturing. It also provides an opportunity for Doona’s enemies to do irreparable harm to the developing interspecies relationships, unless Todd can defuse the situation.

Introducing a third species takes the focus from the developing rift between the two friends and sends the book in an entirely new direction. Although interesting, it also becomes something of a caricature in some areas as the authors try to draw numerous similarities between the Gringg and the bears of Earth. It gets a bit farfetched when the Gringg’s names are converted to "bear" names (Eonneh becomes Honey, Grzzeearoghh becomes Grizz, etc.). The friendship between Todd and Hriss has always been a key element in the Doona series, but this time Hriss’ character is almost completely ignored, while other Hrubbans seem to take on greater importance. Todd’s character is still a major player, as are his children, but the Gringg seem to take center stage much of the time.

All in all, this wasn’t a bad book, but I think that the authors lost their focus along the way. The varying names the planet is referred to in the book — Doona, Rrala, Rraladoona, Doonarrala or Rraladoon, depending on whom you’re talking to and what period of world history you’re in, is just one example. This one didn’t really have the same feel as the earlier Doona books.

Reviewed by: Diane

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