Literature / Petaybee

The six books of Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough's Petaybee series are divided into two trilogies: Petaybee and The Twins of Petaybee. The protagonist of the first is Yanaba "Yana" Maddock, a soldier sent to the planet of Petaybee when injuries from a terrorist attack make it impossible for her to continue in the army. In the second trilogy, the central characters are Yana's children, Ronan Born for Water and Murel Monster Slayer Maddock-Shongili.

In all six books, the plot is basically the same: the planet must be protected from Intergal, an interplanetary company that wishes to relocate the inhabitants so it can mine for valuable minerals.

The series is not nearly as well known as the McCaffrey Dragonriders of Pern books, but is often considered to be of greater quality, as a whole.

Books in this series:

  • Powers That Be (1993)
  • Power Lines (1994)
  • Power Play (1995)
  • Changelings (2005)
  • Maelstrom (2006)
  • Deluge (2008)


This series contains examples of:

  • Departure Means Death: Any native of Petaybee over a certain age cannot leave the planet's surface (due to adaptations that allow them to live comfortably in the planet's sub-arctic climate). Organ shutdown and death will occur within a matter of days.
  • Genius Loci: The planet Petaybee was 'awakened' through the terraforming methods used to make the planet habitable by humans and communicates with its inhabitants through hallucinations that are given through a network of special caves. It's also capable of changing the climate/topography of the land when it's so inclined to benefit its inhabitants or drive off bad guys. The first several books hinge around the Company who terraformed the planet trying to recoup its investment and the inhabitants' efforts to convince them of the planet's sentience.
  • The Lost Lenore: In Powers That Be, the death of Yana's first husband is suggested to be the reason she joined the InterGal's military in the first place (which led to the injuries that led her to be shipped to Petaybee, the company's version of a desk job in a podunk town). Her growing feelings for Sean Shongili bring back memories of Husband #1.
  • Selkies and Wereseals: The series employs the selkie myth in a futuristic setting. The Shongili family uses genetic engineering to create a selkie (Sean). Sean's kids are natural-born selkies as well. There's a hint from Sean that his grandmother was a selkie. He says she "taught him how to swim", with a significant wink at Yana.
  • Spin-Offspring: The second trilogy's protagonists, Murel and Ronan, are the offspring of the first trilogy's protagonist, Yana.
  • Touched by Vorlons:
    • Petaybee changes those who live on it to allow them to live comfortably in the planet's sub-arctic climate.
    • Sean Shongili was further altered to be able to transform into a seal-like creature. (The reason why isn't really explored to any depth.)
  • Unfortunate Names: The cult that raised 'Cita gave all of its girls humiliating names, until they "came of age." (Read: became old enough to join the leader's harem). 'Cita's name was "Goat-Dung."

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