Freedom's Choice, An Ace/Putnam Book, Copyright 1997 by Anne McCaffrey, ISBN: 0-399-14270-3, Sequel to: Freedom's Landing.
Freedom's Choice is the second book in Anne McCaffrey's Freedom series. While very entertaining fiction, this series deals with a unique vision of what could be.
The Catteni, mercenaries for a race called the Eosi, have invaded earth. Using their standard domination tactics, they have rounded up citizens from fifty cities and distributed them throughout the Catteni worlds as slaves. The Catteni/Eosi team have done this on many other planets, successfully; and, their worlds are populated with many conquered species.
Kris Bjornsen, along with other humans, Deski, Rugarians, and one very special rogue Catteni have been dropped on a supposedly uninhabited M-type planet. They discover that while not inhabited by any intelligent species, the planet is inhabited by 6 legged bovine type creature, a nasty predator type bird, and night crawlers (nasty worm like creatures who feed at night on anything!). They also discover that the planet belongs to a highly intelligent race who utilize the planet as their farm land. All of the farming is accomplished in a highly mechanized, practically self repairing fashion. The droppees help themselves to much of the Farmers equipment, after discovering the garages when accidently rounded up with the loo-cows.
When it is discovered by his family that Zainal, rogue Catteni, has been dropped, they set out to "bring him back". Zainal was chosen as a young boy to become a host for the Mentat Ix. When he was "called" he was to report to the Eosi to be subsumed, and his physical body utilized as a vessel for the highly intelligent species. Zainal has other plans, and is often heard on Botany to state, "I drop, I stay!"
With careful planning, Kris, Zainal, and the other leaders of Botany are able to sabotage a Catteni and Drassi landing party and acquire a ship. The manuever was so successful, the colonists utilized it a second time, and acquired another ship.
Discovering that their agricultural venture had been sabotaged, the Farmers pay a visit to Botany. Upon finding the colonists they assume forms each of the species recognize, and are able to speak mind to mind with all they meet. The Farmers learn of the actions of the Eosi and Catteni and are appalled. Surprising to both the colonists and the Eosi, the Farmers erect an impentrable bubble around the planet. The colonists can leave and return, but the Eosi and Catteni can not even enter the bubble.
There are many little sub-plots to this series. It became necessary, while the Catteni were still dropping captives, for the original droppees to begin organizing a rudimentary form of government. Because so many people came from differing places, it was also necessary to ease people past their own prejudices, particularly of Zainal. His being Catteni was difficult for many of the humans to see past. When it is determined that the Botanist may never get back to earth, they decide to increase the population. This alone provides an interesting sub-plot.
While I try to avoid subjectivity, I MUST state that this series has given me much food for thought. And it's entertaining! Yes, in some ways the plot has "been done before". And you can definitely see many points where Ms. McCaffrey's style is blatantly obvious. As an Anne McCaffrey fan, and reader of MOST of her books, she could have tried a little harder to be more original; but, she has still provided a wonderful experience in the Freedom Series.