Freedom's Choice - Anne McCaffrey

Freedoms Choice - Anne McCaffrey

TW for rape.


I read the first book in the Catteni series (Freedom's Landing, I think?) ages and ages ago (as in years), and literally the only thing I remembered about it was the relationship between an alien and a human.


Fortunately, McCaffrey provides a neat recap at the beginning of the book: the Earth has been invaded by Catteni, an alien race under the control of a sinister disembodied alien race called the Eosi. The Catteni MO for subjugating inhabited planets is to round up the inhabitants of fifty cities and dump them on unexplored planets to in order to kick-start a colonisation process.


So Freedom's Choice opens a couple of months after the previous book finished. The mainly-human camps on the planet of Botany (named by its unwilling colonisers after Botany Bay, Australia) seem surprisingly well-established after only nine months of work, but they've yet to find out who built the vast barns on the planet, and what the automated harvesters they've cannibalised for parts are there for. The events of the novel, then, mainly cover the colonists' attempts at 1) finding out who the absent Farmers are, and 2) trying to escape the planet and go rescue Earth.


There are two problems with Freedom's Choice: firstly, it's fucking boring. The colonists' plans, carefully detailed in advance, all go perfectly to plan, keeping any tension to a bare minimum. Secondly, it's fucking sexist.


The central characters in the book are Zainal, a renegade Catteni dumped on the planet alongside the humans, and Kris, his human girlfriend. (Theirs is the human-alien relationship I mentioned earlier.) About halfway through, Kris is informed of a vote taken while they were out on a scouting mission which says that, to help the young colony thrive, every woman of an appropriate age has to have at least one child in the imminent future.


Kris is really upset about this, partly because having a child has never been on her agenda, and partly because she and Zainal can't have a child (him being an alien and all). When he finds her crying, he basically tells her that she's being silly and prevents her from walking away from the conversation using physical force. McCaffrey seems to think that this is a sensible attitude for someone's boyfriend to take.


Later on, a human colonist deliberately gets an injured and vulnerable Kris drunk (Zainal is off on another recon mission) and has sex with her. One of the colony's leaders does call this out as rape; but Kris thinks that because she enjoyed it it doesn't count as rape. Predictably, Kris gets pregnant by her rapist; at first she conceals the fact that the child is his from him, but later regrets it and lets him know, whereupon everyone is happy. The whole thing is treated like a hilarious and wry joke instead of, you know, actual rape. Again, McCaffrey seems to think this is perfectly OK.




And why do we only ever see female colonists on washing up duty when supposedly everyone does it? Why?


Needless to say, I won't be reading the rest of the series.