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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Changelings by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Changelings by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. New York: Ballantine Books, 2006. ISBN: 0-345-47002-8

Changelings is listed on the title page as “Book One of The Twins of Petaybee.” I was surprised when I checked to see that none of the previous Petaybee novels appear on my blog, as it seemed to me like I had just read them a within the past couple of years. Obviously it's been longer than that, and when I checked, I found that the original Petyabee trilogy was originally published back in the early 90's as follows: Powers That Be: 1993, Power Lines: 1993 and Power Play: 1994. I could hardly believe that it was that long ago!

Petaybee is the name of the planet where these stories take place, and is also the name of one of the characters, since it turns out that the planet itself is a sentient being, capable of communicating with and looking out for its inhabitants, both human and animal. The human inhabitants are an entertaining mix of Irish and Inuit, with much of the folklore and traditions of both those cultures included in the books.

Changelings chronices the story of Ronan and Murel, twin children of Yana and Sean, the human protectors of Petaybee from the rapacious corporate exploiters, and unfeeling scientists who want to exploit the planet's wealth, or dissect and study its life forms. Sean is a selkie, changing into a seal form when he enters the water, and the twins have inherited this capability. They have to hide their ability from the scientists who would like to study them as specimens, with little regard for their humanity.

Petaybee, meanwhile, is herself giving birth to a new continent out in the ocean via volcanic eruptions. Sean disappears while attempting to study this new creation in process, and the twins have to return from their off-planet study exile to help rescue him.

Another ancient earth culture, the Hawaiian, is meanwhile attracted to Petaybee. Can the exiled Hawaiians also find refuge there? The Petabeean stories are science fiction with a very strong ecological orientation and message. Like much of McCaffrey's writing, the stories are very life affirming, culture affirming, and filled with loving and lovable people fighting off the evil corporate and scientific exploiters.

If you haven't read the three previous books, this one and its sequels will make much more sense if you read the Powers trilogy first. For a brief synopsis and story of how the books and collaboration that created them came to be, see the bottom half of Scarborough's Changelings web page. This book is recommended for anyone who enjoyed the other books.


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