Gloria Hartman,
Race for Doroon
(Robert D. Reed, 2001)

Race for Doroon is an action-oriented science fiction story. The plot centers around Race, a Space Ranger who discovers an intelligent alien life form on the sparsely populated planet of Doroon. The "Cats" may look like very large, beautifully marked and colored cats with wings, but they are rumored to be nasty, deadly creatures, prone to kill. Then Race befriends Satin, one of the Keeborn, after freeing her from a particularly nasty trap set by one of the settlers. He leaves the Rangers and settles down with Satin, exploring the telepathic bond that he has with her race.

More people get involved, including Sandy, an attractive young woman veterinarian who works with the Rangers and settlers. Sandy and Race team up after Sandy's lifeship crashes on Doroon, leaving her initially with no memory. As her memory returns, she and Race fall in love, and together they work with the Keeborn against others who would invade Doroon, including an alien lizard who is killing the settlers' cattle, and space pirates who kidnap two Keeborn kittens for games reminiscent of the Roman "Bread and Circuses."

The action moves very quickly in this story, a bit too quickly for my taste. There are a number of conflicts and problems that, between Race's cleverness and the Keeborn abilities, are solved rather easily. It felt like the story was rushing too fast, and I would have enjoyed it more if more time was taken to get to know the characters and flesh them out more fully. Race for Doroon for me read like a science-fiction pulp novel from the '40s. I would have liked more detailed characterization of the main players and more insight into their inner motivations. Also, the action moves so quickly that places where a climax was inevitable are not as exciting as they could have been.

In my opinion, Race for Doroon is a book that would benefit from some time and careful editing. There is a wonderful story hidden inside that wants to come out. The setting and the Keeborn really interested me, and I was disappointed that the book did not fulfill those expectations.

[ by Beth Derochea ]
Rambles: 15 February 2002

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