I’m not by any means a book reviewer – I like what I like, and I don’t dissect the components too much. Conversely, if I don’t like a book, it becomes a Did Not Finish and I won’t waste time talking about it either. But for a while now I’ve been wanting to pay affectionate tribute to Anne McCaffrey’s Restoree, which was probably the first true science fiction romance I ever read.
And reread. And read again. I’ve worn out three paperback copies, although I kept my original (seen to the left) for sentimental reasons. It lives on my kindle too. This is one of my favorite books of all time, people.
Andre Norton was actually my favorite science fiction author and she occasionally had hints of glimpses of glimmers of romance (squint hard) but when I found Restoree I was enchanted to have the SF and the R in one place, with no need for me to privately expand the story in my head.
I think the competent heroine Sara is every ordinary Earth girl who gets abducted by aliens, makes her way admirably through the complicated alien society, finds true love and a lofty place for herself at the center of the new civilization. (The sex was much tamer in that era though!). I LOVED that she was a librarian. I was enchanted at her modesty, not just assuming the Warlord Harlan would ever really fall in love with her. (Spoiler Alert: he does.) She has a great sense of humor too. At that age, I liked to test myself against SF heroines – could I manage to do the things they did? With Sara, I felt I could probably manage it.
I really liked the character of Harlan, and the worldbuilding of the planet Lothar, although I remember being a bit annoyed at all the politics.
I didn’t exactly understand all the “restoree” stuff when I was younger, although I get it now. I didn’t let it distract me from the story when I was a kid.
I was ALWAYS – and still – frustrated that there was never a sequel. I didn’t appreciate that Harlan disappears offstage at the end of the book, leaving the final pages covering Sara’s fight more or less alone against Monsorlit, the is-he-evil-or-not physician. (I never really was satisfied with how things turned out re Monsorlit. HE got off too lightly IMHO.)
Nowadays of course, there’d be a sequel for each of the brothers, Jokan and Jessl. There’d be a sequel for Ferrell. There might even be a sequel for one of Sara’s brothers, come to Lothar to check on her maybe, and falling in love with a Searcher of his own. Although as her brothers were described in the early going, not sure they could be made sympathetic enough. Perhaps she had a Navy SEAL cousin who could volunteer to go to Lothar to fight the Mil and check up on her…..
But it’s pretty much a little jewel of an SFR story as it is and one I’ll always have deep affection for.
Yes, I went on to become a total addict to Ms. McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern and other series, but nothing will ever take the place of Sara and Harlan in my bookloving heart.
(I never liked this cover but here it is anyway…)