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Doona #1

Decision at Doona

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A fateful encounter between star-roving races by the author of the bestselling Dragonriders of Pern series!

After the first human contact with the Siwannese, that entire race committed mass suicide. So the Terran government made a law--no further contact would be allowed with sentient creatures anywhere in the galaxy. Therefore Doona could be colonized only if an official survey established that the planet was both habitable and uninhabited.

But Spacedep had made a mistake--Doona was inhabited. Now the colonists' choice was limited. Leave Doona and return to the teeming hell of an overpopulated Terra. Or kill the catlike Hrrubans. Or learn, for the first time in history, how to coexist with an alien race.

256 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published April 1, 1969

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About the author

Anne McCaffrey

406 books6,946 followers
Anne McCaffrey was born on April 1st, 1926, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Her parents were George Herbert McCaffrey, BA, MA PhD (Harvard), Colonel USA Army (retired), and Anne Dorothy McElroy McCaffrey, estate agent. She had two brothers: Hugh McCaffrey (deceased 1988), Major US Army, and Kevin Richard McCaffrey, still living.

Anne was educated at Stuart Hall in Staunton Virginia, Montclair High School in Montclair, New Jersey, and graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College, majoring in Slavonic Languages and Literatures.

Her working career included Liberty Music Shops and Helena Rubinstein (1947-1952). She married in 1950 and had three children: Alec Anthony, b. 1952, Todd, b.1956, and Georgeanne, b.1959.

Anne McCaffrey’s first story was published by Sam Moskowitz in Science Fiction + Magazine and her first novel was published by Ballantine Books in 1967. By the time the three children of her marriage were comfortably in school most of the day, she had already achieved enough success with short stories to devote full time to writing. Her first novel, Restoree, was written as a protest against the absurd and unrealistic portrayals of women in s-f novels in the 50s and early 60s. It is, however, in the handling of broader themes and the worlds of her imagination, particularly the two series The Ship Who Sang and the fourteen novels about the Dragonriders of Pern that Ms. McCaffrey’s talents as a story-teller are best displayed.

She died at the age of 85, after suffering a massive stroke on 21 November 2011.

Obituaries: Locus, GalleyCat.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 122 reviews
October 1, 2012
Here's another one that was written pre-Dragon-Flight.

I read this a long time ago and enjoyed it. This is the one written by Anne McCaffrey, not by someone else with thair name placed next to her's. It was one of three Anne McCaffrey stories that I remember as Science Fiction from McCaffrey. That made this different from her Dragon Rider (Pern) Series. Which i liked, but not more than this and the Dinasaur Planet series.

This is from the same vein, albeit older, as Coyote by Alan Steele . It's a story about exploration and colonization of new worlds. It is about a basic family, dad, mom, son, lucky to be away from the cramped overcrowded planets where they couldn't even raise voices without getting frowns and dirty looks from people around them.

It's also about tolerance of others adults learning to share, without figing and war, and the shere joy of exploring and understanding what's in the galaxy other than us. It's not a comming of age tale, but it is aboutfather and a son learning to understand eachother and be proud each other. There's a very 1960s, almost Disney like, pleasant atmosphere about it, and, yet, it's still a serious sci-fi story in it's own right. One I'll share with my children as they grow older.

In fact, I may go see if I can find my copy now.

It's a good read that the entire family can enjoy from the moment their old enough to understand basic concepts until they are grandparents with children crowded on the couch, reading for the enjoyment of reading.

good for YA, good for AA, good for OA...just a good story for all.
Profile Image for Allynn Riggs.
Author 5 books23 followers
March 4, 2016
Now this is the type of science fiction I love. Published in 1969 it looks at possible solutions to an overcrowded, bored, unenthusiastic world(s). McCaffrey also looks at the problems with non-resident government making ALL the decisions with few or none of the facts - even not believing the facts they are given or that the government may be incorrect. Adherence to rules absolutely also can get you into trouble so when things get out of control you have to punt and do the best you can. Sometime if we take the government out of our lives the people get along just fine.

I know why my novels are the way they are - because I grew up on this type of science fiction and fantasy. It was not all blood and terror - it was people working together in whatever situation they found themselves in to the very best of their abilities and they learned that they can do much more than they thought.

I have been pleased to find the Doona trilogy - books 2 & 3 were written in the 1990's - so much later and with a co-author (Jody Lynn Nye). It will be interesting to see how some of the characters have grown up and how the story has developed. My thanks to Anne McCaffrey for starting something good.
Profile Image for Karen GoatKeeper.
Author 16 books29 followers
July 22, 2015
Before dragons Anne McCaffrey wrote many other scifi books. Decision At Doona was one of these.
What happens when two sentient species find themselves colonizing the same planet?
Both species come from overpopulated, paranoid planets where most people are too apathetic to dare any adventure. Both species come from planets where almost the only life forms left are they themselves.
Todd is any parent's nightmare. He wants to be loud when rules call for quiet. He wants to run when rules call for minced walking steps. Even at six he is a rebel.
Todd is the link between the Hrrubans and the humans. The outcome of this confrontation rests squarely on his tiny shoulders.
The story is interesting. The characters are believable, even those you could cheerfully strangle. The themes are good ideas to consider.
Profile Image for Jodi G..
125 reviews3 followers
March 13, 2019
tried and failed to separate the plot of the book from the inherent sexism that infuses everything that happens. A reminder of how ingrained gender stereotypes were, a female author wrote a book about the future with no women in leadership positions. All the women were subservient, in need of comforting and consoling, and had to have everything explained to them by men. Tough read.
May 21, 2017
I’ve read many of Anne McCaffrey’s books, but for some reason I never got around to her Doona books. This first one primarily stars Ken Reeve. Earth is enormously overcrowded, so Ken is excited to learn that Doona, a planet uninhabited by intelligent sentient beings, has been discovered and that he and his family have been picked to be some of the first colonists.

The “uninhabited by intelligent sentient beings” part is important. Two hundred years earlier, a botched first contact situation led to an entire alien species, the Siwannese, committing suicide. This led to the Non-Cohabitation Principle, which stated that humans could only colonize a planet if there was no evidence that intelligent beings already lived there. Doona seems perfect - until the human colonists come across a settlement of cat-like aliens known as Hrrubans.

Nobody wants to go back to overcrowded Earth, but the Non-Cohabitation Principle is serious business. Still, it isn’t as easy as just packing up and leaving. They need the bigwigs back on Earth to believe what they’ve seen and reported, they need a ship, and they need orders on how to conduct themselves until a ship can come pick them up. Meanwhile, the Hrrubans don’t seem to care about any of that and are just as determined to interact with the humans as the humans are to keep their interactions with the Hrrubans friendly but brief.

I tend to gravitate towards first contact science fiction. And one with stubbornly friendly cat-like aliens? Gimme! Unfortunately, I didn’t like it nearly as much as I expected I would.

The first third of the book was probably the best. I enjoyed the humans’ initial interactions with the Hrrubans, particularly the Hrrubans’ polite determination to work together with the humans. I also liked that this seemed to be a subversion of the usual “colonists with more advanced technology save the poor low-tech natives” story, without going the “mystical natives” route. The Hrrubans were polite and friendly, yes, but even the humans noticed that the Hrrubans seemed more concerned with them learning the Hrruban way of speaking and doing things than the other way around. And although the Hrrubans asked the humans for help building a bridge, in the end it didn’t seem like the humans were particularly necessary at all. The Hrrubans had all the necessary materials, technology, and knowledge, so the bridge-building was really more of a cross-species togetherness activity than anything.

Early on, I suspected that there was more going on with the Hrrubans than they were letting on. How had whole Hrruban villages gone unnoticed during the initial evaluations of Doona as a possible colony planet candidate? Why were the Hrrubans handling first contact with humans so calmly and so well? I had a guess as to what was going on, and I really wanted to find out if I was right or if McCaffrey had something even better up her sleeve. I enjoyed the big reveal, when it came, although I was a little less thrilled with it when I realized that the book included an enormous spoiler at the beginning that I just hadn’t been observant enough to catch. It also bugged me that the big reveal essentially negated some of the things I’d previously enjoyed about the book.

The characters were pretty flat - most of them were little more than names to me. Also, many aspects of the story were dated. There was a reference to a hugely important event in 2010 that, obviously, never happened (and was linguistically suspect). And the colonists anxiously read communications from Earth using microfilm readers.

The thing that really turned me off this book, though, was Todd, Ken’s 6-year-old son. Since Earth was so overcrowded, everyone was taught from an early age to be quiet, move carefully, and not take up too much space. Todd violated societal norms by being loud, energetic, and occasionally aggressive. He was so difficult to deal with during the journey to Doona that he’d had to be locked up and supervised in 4-hour shifts. One of his first actions upon arriving on Doona was to run up to one of the Hrrubans and yank his tail as hard as he could.

While I could sympathize with Todd’s frustration with the requirement to keep his behavior restrained and with the way he was treated (more on that in a bit), the tail-yanking was absolutely not okay and he should have been old enough to know better. The humans were horrified, but surprisingly the Hrrubans treated Todd indulgently. Later on, one of them even said that his behavior indicated he’d one day be a leader.

As much as I disliked Todd, I also didn’t like the way his parents spoke of him. Until a certain point in the book, Todd’s mom (Pat, Ken’s wife) never said anything truly positive about him and Ken’s feelings about him were mixed but leaned heavily towards negative. At one point, Ken almost beat Todd but refrained because he’d have had an audience. When the Hrrubans offered to essentially act as Todd’s daycare, Pat couldn’t have agreed more quickly and Ken’s protests were token at best. (I initially understood the Hrrubans’ offer as a kind of temporary adoption, which made Pat and Ken’s relief and celebratory sex especially difficult to take.)

Todd turned out to be instrumental to the book’s ending, and...ugh. McCaffrey wanted readers to believe that 6-year-old Todd was incapable/unwilling to conform to behavioral norms on Earth, and yet Um, no. Even an adult would probably have had periods of boredom and mental exhaustion.

McCaffrey was one of my favorite authors when I was a teen, but this definitely isn’t making it onto my list of favorite books by her. Still, I won’t rule out reading the next book in the series, which was published a couple decades later and might potentially work better for me.

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)
Profile Image for Douglas Milewski.
Author 31 books3 followers
July 4, 2015
Decision at Doona was published in 1969 byAnne McCaffrey, In this book, two races, both living on overcrowded world, decide to live on the same pastoral planet at the same time. Once they discover each other, both are wary, but quickly learn to overcome their differences. However, each believes that only misery will come from cohabiting with another race, and their laws forbid it. If not for the out-of-control and headache inducing son of the main character, all might be thrown to ruin.

Due warnings: The science, tech, and social relationships are archaic. The inherent sexism of the age shows. There are more than a few things contrived. It's all part of the age. At least nobody smokes. There's even the period lack of characterization.

The book reads like an SF version of Dennis the Menace collided with Gunsmoke, with some Lassie thrown in as well. The motivators behind the book are not violent, but social. So lost kids get lost, herds stampede, and barns get raised. And worse of all, the government gets involved, and that's where the major trainwrecks threaten. Fortunately, the book never devolves into Libertarian World.

The story sometimes flounders a bit, making choices that we would consider odd, but fit perfectly well within its own time. The idea is there more than the story. Despite that, I have a great respect for the book, for writing an SF novel without violence as the narrative backbone is harder than it looks.

This may not look like a watershed book to you, but it is for Anne. This book contains the blueprints for all the future dragon rider books. The colonists here have purposely chosen a lower-tech lifestyle, an idea that returns in future McCaffrey books. This novel centers around social conflict, differing goals, rather than the fight. Strangely, there aren't any psychics at all, which is pretty rare for an early McCaffrey.

I suppose that the novel examines race-relations of the age, an allegory of black and white living together. The late 60's were a terrible time in race relations. The book shows that despite laws, both races have the same goals of living good lives, and it's up to the ordinary person to seize that. Mutual cooperation will breed mutual respect and bring blessings to all.
Profile Image for Kathryn.
407 reviews9 followers
May 7, 2018
I really wanted to like this book more than I did. I'm a huge Anne McCaffrey fan, and I thought I'd long since read the vast majority of her bibliography. When I was hunting for a book published in a specific year for a reading challenge I came across Decision at Doona and realized I never had read this one. I was pretty excited to find a new (to me) Anne McCaffrey book - I love both her straight sci-fi books and her sci-fantasy books (even if she would have said they were all sci-fi)!

Anyhow, the short version is we follow Ken Reeve, a fairly likable protagonist as he along with a small group of other colonists sent from an overcrowded, mostly apathetic Earth population start a settlement on a "pastoral jewel" planet called Doona. Earth colonies have a strict, inviolate rule of not settling on any planets with another sentient species on them.

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, it turns out there is another settlement of sentient cat-people (Hrrubans) just across the river from where the human colonists settle.

The bureaucratic ridiculousness that happens when the two colonies find each other is all too foreseeable and painfully accurate. That might be my favorite part of the book.

However, here's where I have a lot of trouble with the book.

Hrruban bureaucrats and Human bureaucrats? Basically interchangeable. I had to re-skim the first few chapters where there were Hrruban government meetings because I quite honestly thought they were the Human government meetings and didn't realize they weren't until a few chapters in. Intentional? Maybe.

World building? Pretty light. Seems like a random nice forest with a river running through it. There are a few interestingly named plants that can be harmful and the trees smell cinnamoney. There are a few animals mentioned - they're all pretty much standins for Earth animals (bears, deer). There's one more monsterish one that crops up later, so I'll give that one some credit.

Different race? Pretty much humans with fur, cat-like ears, and tails.

The Humans do a good job of picking up the Hrruban language and the Hrrubans mysteriously pick up on the Human language really quickly. Apparently if you're a 6 year old boy you can learn the Hrruban language instantly if you just "listen hard". I mean, children do learn language quickly, but that was a little silly unless we were going to go down a telepathy storyline (I hoped we were, we did not). I will say, the bit where Todd (the 6 year old boy in question) immediately finds some rope to tie around his waist to be a Hrruban "tail" was pretty endearing. Even more odd to me was the decision to have the 6 year old boy end up being the main negotiator/translator between Hrruban and Human.

The worst offender to me was the sheer sexism of the story. I understand it was written in a different era, I really do - but the humans only sent men to initially settle the colony. The wives and kids show up later and the women quite literally seem to arrive only so the men can have sex and so the women can cook for a feast. They show up on a spaceship and immediately start cooking and cleaning. Pat (our protagonist Ken's wife) is excited to cook and clean the "real" way instead of pushing a button. That's her adventure in the new world. Their daughter appears only as a worried babysitter for the son, Todd who is a bit of a star toward the latter part of the book. The only glimmer I saw was when Pat seemed appalled that one of the Hrruban wives basically had the equivalent of multiple advanced degrees but was spending her time "playing house" on Doona. Also, once again, our protagonist seems to find that repeatedly shaking the woman in his life is a good way to communicate with her. On my recent re-read of Dragonflight I was surprised at how often that popped up, so it was interesting to see it in this book as well.

Many of the the technology projections went well wide of the mark, but I don't find that as much of an issue in older sci-fi. It definitely does give you the feeling of it being dated though. Examples - messages being sent through space faster than light - but when they arrive they're pieces of microfiche in a capsule. Recorders and translators being big and bulky contraptions. The Computer being capitalized in several places gave me a chuckle. The far more hand-wavy approach to big advancements like matter transmitters actually worked a lot better for me.

So, despite my perception of the shortcomings I did find it an enjoyable read. Did I love it? No. Did I hate it? Also no. I do love a lot of Anne McCaffrey's later work more than this earlier piece and I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for her books.
Profile Image for Robin Reynolds.
759 reviews37 followers
May 31, 2021
One of the author's early books, pre-Pern, set in the future, though the exact year isn't specified. Earth has become so overpopulated that people live in extremely tight conditions, with small apartments and narrow corridors where walking fast or swinging your arms while you walk are outlawed due to the congestion of people. Ken is excited to be part of a group of men sent to Doona to set up a colony, where he gets to breathe fresh air and walk in forests for the first time. He and the other settlers have been on Doona for about a year, and their wives and children are on the way to join them, when they discover a village inhabited by a race of cats. Intelligent cats, who walk on their hind legs and who seem to have appeared overnight, except for the fact that they live in a fully functional community with homes and buildings and livestock. So now the Terran colony will have to be abandoned, because their laws state that they cannot cohabit a planet with another sentient race.

While the three main governing bodies of Terra battle it out as to who has authority and control over the situation, the Terrans become friends with the Hrrubans, and begin to discover it is possible to co-exist peaceably with another species.

Regarding the date, there are references to past incidents in Terran history, starting with "the Egyptian treatment of the wandering Semitic tribes...the German massacre of the Jews", and then (keeping in mind the book was first published in 1969) "...the Chinese attempt in 1974, the Black Riots of 1980. One goes on indefinitely until the Amalgamation of 2010 which was probably bloodier than any previous pogrom." I would have liked to learn more background about those incidents and what Ms. McCaffrey imagined would or could happen to our planet in the future!

Another thing that puzzled me was the use of the word "unprintable", such as in this exchange:
"I'm going back to the bed I never should have left this unprintable morning."

"And Toddy?" she quavered, following him to the door.

"Todd is the only one on this whole unprintable planet willing and able to take care of himself."

Anyway, I really enjoyed this book, which is still timely today regarding race relations, except unlike our world now where we have constant systemic racism, this future Terra have all become one race and avoid interacting with other sentient races, not through fear or racism, but to prevent any negative affect on or to those other races.
Profile Image for Catsalive.
1,756 reviews11 followers
January 16, 2022
I love the cats, the Hrrubans. So sophisticated, & advanced enough to approach the human settlers in a non-militaristic way. Far more advanced than humanity will ever be, & not just technologically, although they are attempting it in this piece of fiction. I enjoyed every minute of it & look forward to reading the much later sequels McCaffrey wrote with Jody Lynn Nye, Crisis on Doona & Treaty at Doona.

This is one of McCaffrey's earliest works & has a few time-related issues, but I just enjoyed it for what it is. I see some people have commented on the subordinate roles of women here - this is the case with humans but not so obvious with the Hrrubans, hence Mrrva 'playing house on Rrala'. I have read that her first novel, Restoree, had a strong, intelligent woman as the heroine & wonder what the reactions were in 1967. Certainly her later books had good, focal roles for women, the Pern & Petaybee series, for example.

I have to agree with Timothy McNeil about poor Ilsa. Why was the poor girl sketched in at all? Just to feel guilty when unable to control her obstreporous brother's actions? She needs a medal for not suffocating Todd much earlier, the little shit.
65 reviews1 follower
August 15, 2016
After a long period of accidentally reading the second of the series without reading the first, I am only know reading Decisions at Doona. Being a long term fan of Anne McCaffrey. my opinion is that it's a pretty good book, but okay for her. It's not her best book, but I have read quite a few worse. The beginning felt a little choppy, like it was missing chapters or at least needed a slightly more detail to fill in the big time jumps they had. At one point the main character just found out that he got onto the colonization bracket and the next a whole winter had passed and the only things we know about it was that it was rough and they were unprepared. I would have liked slightly more flowing detail on the situation. Then there was a much smaller problem where the characters seemed not to quite fit there backstory at times, but I could forgive. The rest wasn't bad, a good solid Anne Mccaffrey book, about a political situation involving two species.
Profile Image for Hanna  (lapetiteboleyn).
1,017 reviews34 followers
November 9, 2018
Before the dragons of Pern, Anne McCaffrey wrote several sci-fi novels, this among them. In that context, it's an interesting read. Even outside of the context there's a lot to be said for the concept of aliens that are distinctly feline. Unfortunately it's so deeply rooted in the misogyny of the time that parts of it were just outright disturbing. Example: the novel finishes with a woman crying because she's pregnant and afraid and the male character goes 'why is she crying?? Is she happy? She must be.' The only things any of the women do is cook and wail. The word 'females' was used so frequently and with such derision I felt like I was reading the neckbeard manifesto. It's impossible for me to imagine that not long after writing this the very same author wrote a character like Lessa of Pern.
Profile Image for Al "Tank".
344 reviews54 followers
September 8, 2021
The first human settlers on a new planet find existing, sentient, cat-like beings just over the river from their settlement. In spite of the official survey that proclaimed the planet as uninhabited.

To add to the main character's problems, his wife and son arrive and the kid is a problem child.

By Earth's law, they'll have to move back to Earth's teaming, claustrophobic environs. What a bummer! The colonists learn to get along with the cats, but Earth's officials start arriving to mess things up.

The entire book is a constant set of problems for the colonists to overcome and for readers, like me, to enjoy. And the finale is slam-bang and stunning (but you'll probably see some of it coming).
Profile Image for Lynnda Ell.
Author 6 books28 followers
September 26, 2010
Decision at Doona, written by Anne McCaffrey in 1969, tells the story of two distopian worlds whose citizens accidently colonize the same world. Even after 39 years, this story captivates the reader with the the confusion that can come from two law-abiding groups when neither set of laws allows for the existence of the other. The story of how they get beyond confusion and politics to forge a dynamic new community is satisfying without being sacchrine. This book is still fun to read.
Profile Image for Altivo Overo.
Author 6 books14 followers
May 29, 2015
Early McCaffrey at her best. This book is a classic so I will not say much other than that I had not read it until now. A must for the furry audience in my opinion. And I will certainly hunt down the other two books in the series, written and released much later in the author's career.
Profile Image for Jerry.
4,631 reviews57 followers
July 22, 2012
Good for what it is, but still not one of Anne McCaffrey's best.
Profile Image for Angel Ludwig.
272 reviews9 followers
December 25, 2018
5 star story, 4 star import

Read this first when I was much younger and enjoyed it just as much this time around. 😃 Even remember how peeved I was that she kept calling the veterinarian a veterinary. 😣 Sadly, the scan to import to Kindle wasn’t great. Lots of rn-to-m kinds of things, as well as missing or wrong punctuation (commas to periods and vice versa). Makes parsing structure a pain and blows the reading flow. 😢
Profile Image for Steven Allen.
926 reviews14 followers
September 10, 2019
An old favorite reread again for the (?) umpteenth time. I had the misfortune of having this and three other paperback McCaffrey books on deployment once, they got read so many times they fell apart.
Profile Image for Joe B..
240 reviews2 followers
September 1, 2022
This read like a western set on a distant planet. Humans meet cat-like aliens on a planet thinking they are the indigenous species and hence not wanting to disturb them according to the „first directive“. It turns out though that the aliens are also foreign to Doona, and have superior teleporting technology. A boy ends up being the linguistic link between the two species. It reminds one of a Star Trek episode. Not as good as the first Pern trilogy by McAffrey.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Timothy McNeil.
480 reviews9 followers
November 12, 2012
Let us, for a moment, ignore the incredibly dated gender roles, the lack of imagination in developing future technologies (this one is hard to fault since, in 1969, most people could not have foreseen how the computer advanced from the mid-1970s on), or the total lack of explanation as to why Todd Reeve is the special little guy who can bring two alien cultures together. Instead, let us consider the case of Ilsa Reeve.

Seriously. Has any other character, in any medium, had as much of a Chuck Cunningham moment (save Chuck himself) than Ilsa? If memory serves, she gets a slightly larger role in the sequel (but that is trusting my memory of a book I read on a vacation in 1992), but after complaining about not being fed near the halfway point of Decision at Doona, Ilsa never resurfaces. I'd think she starved to death except for the knowledge that she comes back later. Even the other children get more attention than poor Ilsa.

Back to the book itself. It is fine light science fiction, but it is more than a little immature when compared to the Sci-Fi boom of the late '80s and early '90s. It is the child of Star Trek in that it tries to imagine the weight of the actions of a small group rather than have the larger politics play an important factor. The impact of the politics on the individual or those seeking to escape government oppression (benign or not) is the more important lens through which the story than any imagining of the greater governments and their reaches.
Profile Image for Anastasia.
941 reviews16 followers
June 24, 2021
This is a difficult book to rate for me. Anne McCaffrey has always been one of my favourite writers. She has strong characters that usually do not fit into a mold. This book is not that.

It was written in 1969, making it one of her first books published. Writing a book that had to pass the white male publishers to interest a predominately white male audience must have been difficult. Maybe that is why she chose to have wailing women who only saw the inside of a kitchen. The only new types of characters were cat people. Ones that were more intelligent, technologically advanced and able to defend themselves against invasion, that did not want to invade others.

The main focuses of the novel is not outstripping the resources of the place you live, that colonialism is bad, and that violence is not the answer. All of those ideas are good ones. If I had read this book closer to the date it was published, or probably in my early teens, I would have really enjoyed the story. I would have learned something too.

Now the story is dated. The lack of women's rights is very glaring. It was a disappointing read.
554 reviews6 followers
July 7, 2018
originally published in 1969 and it shows.

To me, the worst aspect of this book was the patriarchal nature of the male/female social roles. And I really don't understand why McCaffrey was stuck there when Andre Norton--a much older writer--had managed to move beyond the culture of the time. But no, Decision at Doona has an all male leadership in both alien and human cultures, while human men do all work outside the home, human women do all the cooking and childrearing, plus there's the classic female=passive nurturer, male=active provider nonsense. It was disappointing, as was McCaffrey's failure to include any speculation about how technology might develop in her future. Instead she just uses the computer tapes and printouts of the sixties--something that's decidedly quaint sounding even now, much less in a future set hundreds of years from now. For me too, the story wasn't good enough to outweigh the book's evident issues, so this was a real clunker.
11 reviews
November 9, 2012
I've never really liked McCaffrey's science fiction stories. They always feel like a sketch more than a painting. Pern, on the other hand, even if you read only one book, feels more vibrant and alive. I can almost taste the klah and bubbly pies. I can feel the dragons humming.

That being said, this is one of McCaffrey's better science fiction tales. Dated, of course, like watching old Star Trek episodes, and technology of today far outstrips anything imagined back in the 60s. But it's kinda fun to imagine the rigid rules and bureaucracy of 2 similar civilizations who accidentally encounter one another. And of course, cat people are cool.
Profile Image for Dougel.
11 reviews
July 16, 2016
just got the last book in the trilogy so rereading the first and i still enjoy it as well as i did originally. first contact is a common theme for science fiction and this is an interesting look at it,the story flows nicely and the moral fiber of Anne's books always rings true the character development is excellent and she doesn't allow introducing a whole new world and the home planets and there governmental organizations get bogged down in minutia.
Profile Image for Brendan.
122 reviews1 follower
June 24, 2011
I'd forgotten how much I enjoy this book. I was originally going to give it a 4, based on what I remembered of reading it before, but after reading it again, the pacing and general plot are just really good in this. I particularly enjoy Todd's character, as it reminds me very much of myself and some of the other kids in my family. Also, cat people are worth a whole star all by themselves. ;)
Profile Image for Salvatore Leone.
187 reviews6 followers
November 2, 2010
This sci fi story was written quite a while back but it holds up nicely. Two groups want to colonize the same world and the consequences, an interesting read, with especially vivid characters.
Profile Image for Tatra.
1,498 reviews
February 2, 2016
I love this book. I find something new in it every time I read it. There's a pure enjoyment in the story and then there's appreciation for the ideas contained in this book.
Profile Image for Lorelei.
459 reviews69 followers
May 10, 2014
I was really surprized to find I enjoyed it as much as I did.
Profile Image for Wendy S. Delmater.
Author 14 books14 followers
August 25, 2019
The Doona books are not my favorite Anne McCaffrey series--that will forever be the Harper Hall Trilogy--but they're pretty good. A little of the characterization is sort of "on the nose," and you can often guess what's coming next, but Doona is a great world and this is a worthy opening to the trilogy.

Ken Reeve and his wife Pat live on a very overcrowded Earth and endure lesser privileges because their dream is to emigrate to another planet when one opens to colonization. They'd better: their six-year-old son is a little hellraiser by Earth's crowded standards. To the average reader, though, Todd seems a normal little boy who has trouble keeping still and likes physical play and has a loud voice.

When Doona is opened up for colonization, the Reeve family is in the first batch of colonists. After and difficult ten-Earth-month-long winter, they start reaping the planet's harvest and learning which plants are safe to touch or eat. Donna is to be--by design--a pastoral world, with minimal tech, because civilization on earth is in serious and stagnant decline and its leaders decide that a pioneer spirit will help humanity. The settlers get a shipment of cows, pigs, chickens and horses, and just as they are getting used to them, when they run into what look like natives of another sentient species. These beings are decidedly feline in appearance and are just as startled as the humans to find other people there. They have an intricate language and are tool makers, but seem primitive - and friendly.

Despite the thrill of first contact the Hurrbans, the cat people, spell the death of the human colony since Earth will not allow them to settle on a planet already occupied by another sentient race. But how did the multiple surveys and sensors miss them before clearing the planet for human colonization? And where were the cat people during Doona's 10-month winter? The humans sadly dispatch message drones to the colonial department, alien relations, and Spacedep (the military). They know it is only a matter of time before they have to leave, but they dread leaving.

In the meantime the leaders of the cat people want to stay in contact and despite orders to the contrary that humans not even be seen by the aliens. It's hard for the humans to say no since the cat people are so insistent on being friends, to the point of building a bridge over a river between the settlements; a rather sophisticated bridge, too, albeit of native materials. Ken Reeve leads the effort to communicate with the cat people, but the real breakthrough happens when his six-year-old son Todd becomes inseparable best friends with the young son of the leader of the Hurrban settlement.

You also get the viewpoint of the feline Hurrbans, who are also settlers, and no one knows which race came first. The cat people also have a moribund society that has stagnated and want Doona--which they call Rrala--for the same reason humanity does.

Then when Spacedep shows up the Hurbans--and their entire village--completely disappear without a trace. When Spacedep leaves they come back, village and all. What's going on? To make matters worse, the second time all of the Hurrbans disappear they take Todd with them.

Can the two species coexist on Doona/Rrala without a war or at least one victor and the other banished? Young Todd becomes the key.

Fun fact: You may enjoy knowing that Todd Reeve was modeled after McCaffrey's own son Todd, who still writes in the Dragonriders of Pern universe.
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