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Book Reviews by Amy O'Connor

Freedom's Ransom
Anne McCaffrey

Review by Amy O'Connor

"I dropped, I stay."

Earth, invaded by the Catteni, mercenaries for an alien race called the Eosi, is left to survive with its natural resourses in short supply and a good number of its inhabitants captured to be used as slaves and/or dropped on a planet with barely enough supplies to survive.

Kris Bjornson and Zainal, her Catteni mate, have found themselves in such a predicament. Along with hundreds of others, they have been dropped on an M-type planet and have been left to survive on the unknown world. After much hard work, the people of Botany are free. They have been able to build a society to support them and their growing number of offspring.

Despite Botany's success, it cannot provide everything the inhabitants need to make it a fully functioning world. Communication devices, tires, and batteries are desperately needed by people on both Earth and Botany. Looted from Earth during the invasion, the warehouses on Barevi are filled with everything the colonists need, but the Barevi merchants won't give it back easily.

Kris and Zainal find themselves needing to trade for these essential stolen items, but what did Botany have that these merchants would want? After a little brainstorming and a brief trip to Earth, they discover that items as simple as a cup of freshly brewed coffee are highly sought after! Ingenuity and determination, along with a bit of luck and some freshly brewed coffee, will decide the fates of Botany and Earth. Can Kris and Zainal obtain the items the two planets so desperately need or will they find the ransom to be too high?

This book is the fourth of McCaffrey's Catteni/Freedom series. The previous books in the series are Freedom's Landing, Freedom's Choice, and Freedom's Challenge. I did not realize this until after I had finished reading the book, and although I have not read the others, I did not feel lost or confused at all through the book. McCaffrey does provide a Preface which explains the history of the invasion and establishment of Botany.

McCaffrey really touches on the will and determination of the human race, and takes into consideration what would happen to Earth if an invasion did occur. As a reader, I found myself thinking about how items she focused on in the book, like freshly baked rolls and a hot cup of coffee, could indeed become the most sought after and valuable goods. In a world now were everything is automated and people want everything to happen at the touch of a button, how would we as a people be able to survive such outright destruction?

Would we be able to put our differences behind us and band together with people of other races and nationalities? With hardly any natural resources such as vegetation, gas, oil, and metals, how would we be able to rebuild our society? Already weakened from the first raid, would we be able to survive another attack?

It seemed to me, that McCaffrey used the book almost as a tool to get the reader thinking about these questions and scenarios. I got the impression that not only does she want the reader to follow the characters and storyline she has laid out, but she also wants the reader to look at our world today and contemplate how well we would survive in such a situation. Would we be as successful as the survivors on Earth and/or the people who were dropped on Botany, or would our petty differences divide us and keep us from surviving?

Although it was written well, I did feel that McCaffrey could have elaborated more on some situations in the book. There were a couple times during the book were I felt that she just explained something as quickly as she could and then went on to the next scene. That being said, I would still recommend this to any science fiction reader. It was an intriguing, thought-provoking read and well worth the time.

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