RESTOREE A Fond Look Back

004I’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…)002



The Mysterious and Alluring Selkies

golden cityOver at USA Today Happily Ever After, I’m interviewing J. Kathleen Cheney today about her Golden City fantasy series, set in an HEAalternate world and featuring a dark murder mystery mixed up with magic. (Isn’t her cover gorgeous?) She selected 1902 Portugal as the site  for her stories, for  reasons she discusses in the HEA  column.  Her world of  sirens and selkies living amongst the non-magical folks is fascinating. Hop on over to read more about JKC and her novels.

The first time I encountered the legends of selkies was in the movie “Roan Inish,” which I happened to catch on TV one afternoon. I’m sorry to say but the whole concept of these immortal beings of the sea who were roan inishseals but could become human if they shed their coats wasn’t too clear to me even after watching the movie. Then in 2008 I read Virginia Kantra’s Sea Witch , first book in her  Children of the Sea series, and oh boy, I got the picture! I also loved the series because a lot of the action was set on an island off the coast of Maine and I have relatives who live on such an island, so I could really relate.

And of course there’s a selkie in the Anne McCaffrey Petaybee Series which I’m tempted to go reread right now, except for the fact I’m trying to finish writing my own next novel LOL.

I’m sure other people write about selkies – a search of Amazon turns up about 90 results without even refining the terms further – but for me, the fascination of JKC’s Portuguese setting and the addition of sirens and some other very interesting paranormal types make The Golden City series memorable.

Selkies or similar creatures appear in myth from Ireland to Iceland, which surprised me a bit, as after watching “Roan Inish” I thought they were all Irish! There are many many legends surrounding these beings and most times any romance between a human and a selkie in human form doesn’t seem too turn out too happily. Lots of rules…many “gotchas”…I like the one about a woman having to cry exactly seven tears into the ocean if she wants to have a handsome selkie man pay her a visit. On the other hand, I never liked the idea that a human man could keep a selkie woman for his wife by locking her sealskin away, which struck me as cruel and contrary to true love….the “dark Faerie Celtic vocal band” Pandora Celtica sum the entire situation up very well in this song “Sister Selkie”: