Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert

Title:  Dune Messiah

Author:  Frank Herbert

Paperback:  279 pages

Published: 1969

ISBN:  0425074986

“I prefer the cynical view,” Paul said, testing.  “You obviously are trained in all the lying tricks of statecraft, the double meanings and the power words.  Language is nothing more than a weapon to you and, thus, you test my armor.”

“The cynical view,” Edric said, a smile stretching his mouth.  “And rulers are notoriously cynical where religions are concerned.  Religion, too, is a weapon.  What manner of weapon is religion when it becomes the government?”

-Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert, pages 108-109

Earlier this year, I read and reviewed the first of the Dune novels by Frank Herbert, which is arguabley one of the greatest science fiction books ever written.  And while Dune Messiah isn’t as beloved as the original, it is, in my oppinion, every bit as good as the first.  It is intellectual, even philosophical, and the characters are tangible and relateable.  There is one caveat I’d warn you if you plan on reading it.  Dune Messiah is NOT brain candy.  It requires thinking as you read it.  At times, it gets a little deep in thought, but it’s well worth it.

Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert picks up about 12 years later after Paul Muad’Dib has led the Fremen in a galactic jihad.  He has not only become the emporer, but also has become the religious central figure, along with his sister Alia.  Officially married to the Princess Irulan, she functions more as his ettiquette and political advisor, while Chani, his Fremen concubine, is his love and true wife.  He refuses to allow Irulan’s desire to be the mother of the imperial line, deferring that to Chani.  The trouble is, Irulan isn’t the only one who want his genetic material, but the Bene Gesserits and the Bene Tleilaxu do, as well.  The latter two want to make a kwisatz haderach that they can control.  Irulan seems to want it out of pride.

Also going on is the declining appoval of the new world Muad’Dib has brought to the planet Dune, also called Arrakis.  Fremen ways are passing, as water has become more abundant and the society is becoming more fragmented and people become more isolated.  Really, it’s no surprise ot me, considering a second term president can go from a 60%+ approval rating before being re-elected and plummet to a less than 30% rating before leaving office. 

Paul, too, has undergone change.  He has become more sullen and feels trapped by his own mythology.  He has known for a long time that no matter which way he turned, fanatics would take up his name as a banner in jihads, that they will worship him whether he is alive or dead, so he tried to pick the best of all the crap paths through his presience powers to lead them.  Unfortunately, however, he’s become a bit of a despot, and he hates what he’s become.

So he has to figure out how he’s going to manage to ensure his child lives to carry on the emire without being under the thumb of either of the Bene schools, that he can escape the weight of being a living god, and somehow return the Fremen to their ways while still having his contributions of planetary changes remain. 

I think one of the biggest reasons why those who loved Dune and hate Dune Messiah do so because this book shows Muad’Dib in a very human and flawed light.  Pride, arrogance, and even cruelty at times are all part of who Paul is and he shows it.  He goes on walks around the city after dark, despite council against it from Stilgar, his closest friend and advisor.  He take in Hayt, the ghola (a reanimated corpse, or a clone of a dead person, not sure which) of Duncan Idaho, despite his warning to get rid of him, as well as his own feelings that Hayt’s meant to be a weapon and every advisor telling  him it’s unnatural.  In this second book, Paul is a bit less likeable than in the first.

I do plan on re-reading both Dune and Dune Messiah, as well as read the third book in the series, Children of Dune.  There is a mini-series made that combined the second and third books, which I’ve watched just the part for this book.  Like most movies-from-books, it left a lot out and failed to completely capture the book, but I’m sure it was doomed from the start, given just how much is in the book.  I give Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Title:  Fahrenheit 451

Author:  Ray Bradbury

Paperback:  191 pages

Date published:  1953

Publisher:  Del Rey (div of Random House)

ISBN:  9780345342966

Miscellaneous:  This book was first published in 1953, and has since won the National Book Award and the Prometheus Hall of Fame Award.  The copy I have is a 50th anniversary edition, and has an interview with Bradbury in the back of the book.

“With schools turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word ‘intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be.  You always dread the unfamiliar.  Surely you remember the boy in your own school class who was exceptionally ‘bright,’ did most of the reciting and answering while the others sat like so many leaden idols, hating him.  And wasn’t it this bright boy you selected for beatings and tortures after hours?  Of course it was.  We must all be alike.  Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal.  Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against.  So!  A book is a loaded gun in the house next door.  Burn it.  Take the shot from the weapon.  Breach man’s mind.  Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man?  Me?  I won’t stomach them for a minute.  And so when houses were finally fireproofed completely, all over the world… there was no longer need of firemen for the old purposes.  They were given the new job, as custodians of our peace of mind, the focus of our understandable and rightful dread of being inferior:  official censors, judges, and executors.  That’s you, Montag, and that’s me….  You must understand that our civilization is so vast that we can’t have our minorities upset and stirred.  Ask yourself, What do we want in this country, above all?  People want to be happy, isn’t that right?  Haven’t you heard it all your life?  I want to be happy, people say.  Well, aren’t they?  Don’t we keep them moving, don’t we give them fun?  That’s all we live for, isn’t it?  For pleasure, for titillation?  And you must admit our culture provides plenty of these….  Colored people don’t like Little Black Sambo.  Burn it.  White people don’t feel good about Uncle Tom’s Cabin.  Burn it.  Someone’s written a book on tobacco and cancer of the lungs?  The cigarette people are weeping?  Burn the book.  Serenity, Montag.  Peace, Montag.  Take your fight outside….  Burn all, burn everything.  Fire is bright and fire is clean.”

-Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, pages 58-60 (emphasis added)

In the first line of Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury,  Guy Montag tells us, “It was a pleasure to burn.”  Guy is a fireman who loves setting fires and watching things undergo change via the flames.  He aims his firehose and sprays the kerosene over the contents of a house and lights the match.  A permanent smile is plastered to his face from the hundreds and hundreds of fires he’s set over the ten years he has spent in service to his city.  Life for Montag is good and makes sense.

Then a series of events occur that rocks his world.  He meets Clarisse McClellen, who is “seventeen and crazy” as she says.  She’s been labeled “anti-social” for asking “why?” instead of “how?” and for wanting to connect to people instead of merely co-existing with them.  She likes to go on hikes and collect butterflies, and is forced to see a psychiatrist for such odd behaviours.  Clarisse’s innocent questions and simple, romantic views on life awakens some long-comotosed awareness in Montag’ssoul.  With the question, “Are you happy?” Guy is forced to re-evaluate himself and the world around him.  His wife attempts suicide, then goes on pretending it had happened and, in fact, refusing to believe Guy. 

The crisis moment for Montag happens when he’s at a house to burn and the older woman chooses to set herself on fire with her books, rather than leaving them.  He is forced to question whether it is morally right to destroy something of such value that people are willing to die for them.  And if such an act is wrong, what can he, MUST he, do about it?

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Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradburywill have to go on my top 10 list… just not sure which book to bump for it.  First off, I love dystopic books, it’s probably my favorite genre.  My definition of Dytopia is:  Someone’s Utopia is another’s HELL.  Second, Fahrenheit 451 speaks to the time it was written, but also has something to say to future generations of readers.  It’s a cautionary tale of a possible future, barely imaginable when he wrote it nearly 60 years ago, and frighteningly close to life today.  And as I read this, I couldn’t help but feel we did not listen to the warning.

For instance, when Bradbury wrote Fahrenheit 451, wallscreen and battery operated televisions weren’t around.  Black and white television itself was in its infancy, but the love of Mrs. Montag’s life is her parlor wallscreens that allow her to be surrounded by her “family”, virtually live and in color.  A device allows the people on the shows to insert her name and even look like they’re saying it.  A device called a Seashell is worn in the ear, and allows a person to hear music, without disturbing those around them, and Mildred Montagwears hers so often that she’s become a proficient lip-reader.  I immediately thought of MP3 players… Sam wears hers so much that she had a meltdown the other day when I told her she couldn’t take it to church with her.

Truly, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury was prophetic.  The society found in within the pages of the book bear a lot of similarities with our culture today.  Disconnected from one another, they/we go about with our devices in our ears (Seashell, MP3 player, cell phone, etc) and no longer take the time for conversations with our neighbors and others we meet in passing, and if we do happen to “chat,” it’s shallower than a pie pan. 

They/we are so afraid of offending others that the thought police (Firemen or Political Correctness) have made it socially unacceptable, and in some cases  criminal, to express ourselves, even monitoring our own self-talk.  Free speech?  HA!  Congress is doing everything they can to eliminate that little inconvenience.

They/we are so obsessed with instant gratification that they/we no longer want to take the time to think about what they/we read, to let it distill in our souls.  So books are flatter and more “pastepudding,” as Bradbury calls it, and the average person is no longer able to read and comprehend a newspaper article… not that they actually have the patience to read a whole one, just the headline and first paragraph, then onto the funnies (and even they are getting too long).  Supermarket tabloids, Harlequin romance novels, car and sports magazines are the only books found in some homes, and to be “intelligent” is to be reviled.

I don’t say this often, if I’ve ever said it at all, but Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is a MUST READ.  It should be taught in schools and read every year.  Oddly enough, this book was actually challenged as part of a school curriculum… A parent wanted to ban a book that is a warning against book banning!  How ironic.  

Obviously, I give Fahrenheit 451 5 out of 5 stars.  READ IT!

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Dune by Frank Herbert

Title:  Dune

Author:  Frank Herbert

Date Published:  January 1977

Publisher:  Berkley Medallion Books

Miscellaneous:  1966 winner of the Hugo Award and was the inagural winner of the Nebula Award in 1965.

His mother was beside him, holding his hands, her face a gray blob peering at him.  “Paul, what’s wrong?”

….”What have you done to me?”  he demanded.

In a burst of clarity, she sensed some of the roots in the question, said:  “I gave birth to you.”

…”Did you know what you were doing when you tranined me?”  he asked.

There’s no more childhood in his voice, she thought.  And she said:  “I hoped the thing any parent hopes – that you’d be … superior, different.”

…”You didn’t want a son!”  he said.  “You wanted a Kwisatz Haderach!  You wanted a male Bene Gesserit!  … Did you ever consult my father in this?”

She spoke gently out of the freshness of her grief:  “Whatever you are, Paul, the heredity is as much your father as me.”

“But not the training,” he said.  “Not the things that awakened… the sleeper…. You wanted the Reverend Mother to hear about my dreams:  You listen in her place now.  I’ve just had a waking dream.  Do you know why?”

“You must calm yourself,” she said.  “If there’s -”

“The spice,” he said.  “It’s in everything here – the air, the soi, the food, the geriatric spice.  It’s like the Truthsayer drug.  It’s a poison!”

She stiffened.

His voice lowered and he repeated:  “A poison – so subtle, so insidious … so irreversible.  It won’t even kill you unless you stop taking it.  We can’t leave Arrakis unless we take part of Arrakis with us.”

The terrifying presence of his voice brooked no dispute.

“You and the spice,” Paul said.  “The spice changes anyone who gets this much of it, but thanks to you, I could bring the change to consciousness.  I don’t get to leave it in the unconscious where its distrubance can be blanked out.  I can see it.”

… She heard madness in his voice, didn’t know what to do…. We’re trapped here, she agreed.

-Dune by Frank Herbert, pages 195-196

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I could seriously cry. I just wrote the full review, clicked “publish” and WordPress ATE IT! AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

short version.

Dune is really cool. read it.

I give it 5 out of 5.

Boo! WordPress!

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OKay, trying this again. *deep cleansing breath*

Dune by Frank Herbert is the science fiction/fantasy book of all time, with the exception of Tolkien’s work. It enfolds ecology, feudal lords, space travel, mysticism, and combat and creates an amazing world that is both an advancement of humanity, while at the same time the regression of it. I found the place water plays in the everyday life of the Fremen of the desert planet of Arrakis completely fascinating, it is the beginning and the ending of their existance, as well as the very essence and the centerpiece of their dream: Arrakis as an Eden.

Paul Muad’Dib has been trained in the Bene Gesserit ways by his mother, who disobeyed the command to give birth to a daughter, which has given him a hyper-awareness of the world and those around him. When his family is sent to Arrakis as his father, Duke Leto’s new fiefdom, the sudden supersaturation of melange, a cinnomon-y spice that extends life and allows the user to become more spiritually aware, and the shock of the attack from a rival Great House (“noble” family) forces a change in Paul. He is suddenly able to see all time, past present and future, and all their possibilities, and is troubled by the visions of jihad being mounted across the galaxy in his name and under his banner. He is determined to prevent this, while avenging his father’s death and leading the Fremen (native… sort of.. people of Arrakis) to autonomy and control of their planet and the spice found only on Arrakis.

I found Herbert’s imagination amazing. In Dune, Herbert created a future that was virtually unimaginable at the time. He gave the world its own rules and specific history. And he gave them a religion that has a sense of being the eventual mingling of the major religions. The Orange Catholic Bible is a sacred text, many of the names and terms have a Muslim feel, and the Litany Against Fear is positively Zen-like:

I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series, Dune Messiah :-)

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A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Title:  A Wrinkle In Time

Author:  Madeleine L’Engle

Paperback:  247 pages

Publisher:  Square Fish

Publish Date:  2007

ISBN:  9780312367541

Miscellaneous:  Originally published in 1962 (after 26 rejection letters, I might add), A Wrinkle in Time is the first book in The Wrinkle in Time Quintet book series.

Meg’s eyes ached from the strain of looking and seeing nothing.  Then, above the clouds which encircled the mountain, she seemed to see a shadow, a faint think of darkness so far off that she was scarcely sure she was really seeing it…  It was a shadow, nothing but a shadow.  It was not even as tangible as a cloud.  Was it cast by something?  Or was it a Thing in itself?

The sky darkened.  The gold left the light and they were surrounded by blue, blue deepening until where there had been nothing but the evening sky there was now a faint pulse of star, and then another and another and another.  There were more stars than Meg had ever seen before.

“The atmosphere is so thin here,” Mrs Whatsit said as though in answer to her unasked question, “that it does not obscure your vision as it would at home.  Now look.  Look straight ahead.”

Meg looked.  The dark shadow was still there.  It had not lessened or dispersed with the coming of night.  And where the shadow was the stars were not visible.

What could there be about a shadow that was so terrible that she knew that there had never been before or ever would be again, anything that would chill her with a fear that was beyond shuddering, beyond crying or screaming, beyond the possibility of comfort?

-A Wrinkle in Timeby Madeleine L’Engle, pages 81-82

I have started reading and put down without finishing A Wrinkle in Timeby Madeleine L’Engle three or more times in my life.  It is one of those few books that I have felt like I’m suppose to read it, or that I should read it, but have never been able to finish.  I have long felt like I couldn’t let the book beat me, even going so far as to watch the movie in hopes of encouraging myself.  And now, I can finally say that, after first picking it up nearly 25 years ago in fifth grade, I have read A Wrinkle in Time.

I’ve always said that I didn’t know why I couldn’t get into this book, and this time around I figured out what it is that grates my nerves about it.  MEG.  Meg is whiny, and mopey, and self-deprecating.  She’s horrid, to be quite honest, and every time she spoke I rolled my eyes so hard they nearly fell out.  “Wah Wah Wah… nobody likes me.  I’m dumb.  I’m ugly.  Blah, blah, blah.”  BUT, she does change, thank GAWD!  In fact, as the book neared it’s end, her attitude and behaviour is explained.

“I’m sorry… I wanted you to do it all for me.  I wanted everything to be all easy and simple….  So I tried to pretend that it was all your fault… because I was scared, and I didn’t want to have to do anything myself” -page 220

Beginning with a groaner of a first line, “It was a dark and stormy night…”  A Wrinkle in Timespins a tale that crosses the universe and even dimensions.  Young Charles Wallace is different from other people, he understands the world around him in a unique way.  He is very protective of his sister Meg, whom he sees as needing him.  Meg is a sulky teen girl going through an ugly duckling phase, who prefers math and science to anything having to do with the world of words.  The two of them plus Calvin, a local sports hero and relates to the world around him in a similar way to Charles Wallace, travel across the universe by tessering, something akin to a wormhole.  They are on a mission to save Charles and Meg’s father from IT, the controlling entity on Camazotz, a planet which has submitted to the darkness.  To accomplish this task, they will all learn much about themselves, their talents and faults, and ultimately about love, the only force capable of conquering evil.

I really wish I had stuck with this story when I first started it.  I think I would have truly appreciated it had I pushed through the first fourth of the book.  As it is, I still enjoyed it, and want to read A Wind in the Door, the next book in the Quintet.  I was surprised by L’Engle’s Christian references.  If people are shocked and wish to challenge Narnian books on the basis of their religious overtones, then these same folk would have apoplectic fits when reading actual passages from the Bible in A Wrinkle in Time.

The fact that the book is so overtly Christian, though Buddha and Gandhi are also given credit as “lights” in the fight against the darkness, is even more stimulating when you take into consideration that the story takes Einstein’s theories about time and gravity as inspiration AND makes a further bold step (mind, this book was FIRST published in 1962, before civil rights and ERA) by making the hero and saviour a female.  The story itself is interesting, if not a bit simple, but the context surrounding it and the complex science it incorporates make A Wrinkle in Time an impressive book and a literary classic.

A Wrinkle in Timeby Madeleine L’Engle incorporates science and religion in a harmonious way and said that guys aren’t the only heroes, is math and science just for men.  For all that the story is and what the book represents, I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

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The following video is a clear and concise mathematical explanation of a tesseract. It incorporates lines from the book, as well.

Oww… OW! My brain hurts!!!

Friday Fill-Ins ~ The Cheeky Dark Hand of the Spanish Galleon

This week, Friday Fill-ins took the first sentence in 6 of Janet’s favorite books…you fill them in…with the right words or even better, ones of your own.

And…here we go!

1. “In a hole in the ground there lived one of the wickedest and cowardly men (if you could even call him that) that ever lived.”

2. “I think the swirling mist in the cemetary might mean there are ghosts  but that ain’t no matter.”

3. “After dark the rain began to fall again, just like the Universal Weather Program Department programmed it to do.”

4. “Look!  I found a pinata from the hold of the Spanish galleon.”

5. “There was a hand in the darkness, and I slapped it for being cheeky.”

6. “Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, but the men in white coats ambush those always suspecting.”

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I’m looking forward to hopefully finally kicking this stomach flu so I can read some, tomorrow my plans include going to the grocery store and doing some housework and Sunday, I want to watch a movie together with all my girls!

Freedom’s Landing by Anne McCaffrey

Title: Freedom’s Landing
Author: Anne McCntaffrey
Paperback: 324 pages
Publisher: Ace/Putnam
Publish Date: May 1995
ISBN: 0441003389

An afternoon breeze swirled the black clouds about and Kris caught glimpses of the man, lurching still further from the crash site. She saw him stumble and fall, after which he made no move to rise. Above, the bees buzzed angrily, circling the smoke and probably wondering if their prey had gone up in the explosion.

Catteni didn’t hunt each other as a rule, she told herself, surprised to find that she was halfway down from her perch.They fight like Irishmen, sur, but to chase a man so far from the city? What could he have done?

The crash had been too far away for Kris to distinguish the hunted man’s features or build. He might just be an escaped slave, like herself. If not Terran, he might be from one of the half-dozen other subjugated races that lived on Barevi. Someone who had had the guts to steal a flitter didn’t deserve to die under Catteni forcewhips.

… Keeping close to the brown rocks so nearly the shade of her own tanned skin, she crossed the remaining distance. She all but tripped over him as the wind puffed black smoke down amon the rocks.

“Catteni!” she cried, furious as she bent to examine the unconscious man and recognized the gray and yellow uniform despite its tattered and black-smeared condition.

-Freedom’s Landingby Anne McCaffrey, pages 4-5

Freedom’s Landing is the first in a series of four books by Anne McCaffrey chronicling the struggles and successes of the “colonists” of Botany.

After an invasion by an intergalactic race called the Catteni, tens of thousands of humans are rounded up and dropped off on the planet Barevi, a sort of trading post for the Catteni. Kris Bjornsen is one such Terran, as human are referred, having been captured in Denver. After becoming aware that her Catteni owner has sexual intentions toward her, Kris steals his flitter (a flying personal vehicle) and lives the next few months in the wilds a few miles from the only city on the planet.

When she observes a group of Catteni flitters chasing and firing upon another flitter, she assumes the man being hunted is another slave. However, she is shocked and disgusted that he is a Catteni. Despite her feelings for his race, she helps him to safety and hides him in her absconded flitter she now calls home.

“You’re one of the new species?”

“I’m a Terran,” she said with haughty pride, her stance marred by a convulsice shiver.

“Thin-skinned species,” he remarked. He looked at her chest, noticed the slight heave from her recent exertions that made her breasts strain against the all too inadequate covering and slowly started to stroker her shoulder with one firger. His touch was unexpectedly feather-light -and more. “Soft to the touch,” he said absently. “I haven’t tried a Terran yet…”

“And you’re not going to start on this one,” she said, jumping as far away from him as she could…

-Freedom’s Landing by Anne McCaffrey, page 10

When it becomes apparent to Kris that this Catteni intends to reward her kindness by raping her, she conks him as hard as she can, knocking him unconscious, and flies the flitter back to the outskirts of the city with the intention of dumping him where he belongs.

However, things do not go according to plan, and she and her passenger are caught in the middle of a riot. They are gassed and rounded up with the rebellious slaves and dumped on an uninhabited planet.

When they and the other “colonists” come to, many of them want to kill the lone representative of their captors. Kris, who feels responsible for his being dumped with them, convinces Mitford, a former Marine who has taken charge of the people in their dropped group, to spare the Catteni as he may be useful to them.

And useful Zainal turns out to be! Having seen the report on the planet they’ve come to name Botany, he is able to warn them of the some of dangers the planet poses and does his best to save many of those later dumped by Catteni ships.

While this is a Sci-Fi book, don’t let that put you off if you aren’t into that genre. It isn’t all “Dr. Who” and “Star Wars” kind of stuff, though there are a few references made to Dr. Who and one of the machines they encounter is given the name “dalek” because of its resemblance to the fictional “exterminate” proclaiming machine on the show.

More than anything, Freedom’s Landing is a story of survival and the banding together of peoples from differing backgrounds (not only different human groups, but also other alien species -Deskis, Rugarians, and others) to form a new society. If you like Survivor-type shows and books, you’d like Freedom’s Landing.

My friend who introduced me to this book loves the character Zainal, even naming his VR characters after him. And I also like Zainal, who is of Catteni nobility and displays more honor and respect than a lot of the humans he’s dropped with. However, Mitford is my favorite character. Sargent Mitford is the epitome of the concept that one of the best qualities a great leader possesses is the ability to delegate, delegate, delegate! What Sarge is capable of doing with the minimal resources they are deposited with in creating a civilized, working community is mind-boggling. I wouldn’t mind reading a book from Mitford’s perspective.

While there is much I love in Freedom’s Landing, there are a few things I didn’t like. First of all, I found McCaffrey’s writing style annoying in parts. Some of the word choices and expressions she used just rubbed me the wrong way. Also, there seemed to be a few incongruous things written in the book. One example is the initial description of Zainal: His pupils are described as gold and the irises black, but the rest of the book the description is reversed with his irises gold.

Also, McCaffrey never addresses difficulties that would have surely risen with a large number of human females, namely menstruation. With the main character, and from whose perspective much of the book is written, cast as a woman, you would think at least as much verbiage would be used to cover this difficulty as was used to detail the “facilities” for other bodily functions.

Overall, Freedom’s Landingis a fascinating look into the formation of a new society and all the difficulties that brings, as well as the adventure of survival in an unknown land. It’s worth reading, even with it’s faults, and shouldn’t be limited to Sci-Fi nutters.

I give Freedom’s Landing by Anne McCaffrey 3 and a half stars.

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