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Literature / Acorna Series

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A science fiction species co-authored by Anne McCaffrey, Margaret Ball and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. The first series follows the life of the eponymous unicorn girl Acorna from the discovery of her escape pod by three miners to her rediscovering her heritage and her place in the universe. The sequel, Acorna's Children is currently a trilogy.

This series provides examples of:

  • Asteroid Miner: Calum, Rafik and Gill are this when they come across Acorna's escape pod.
  • Cats Are Superior: Roadkill again and the entire Makahomian Temple Cat species in general.
  • Cat Guy: Grimalkin's preferred humanoid form is described as this.
  • Coitus Interruptus : When Acorna and Aari finally get together, Their First Time is interrupted by Nadhari, who is both mortified that she interrupted them and upset that no one gave her a heads up that Acorna (whom she was looking for) was "busy."
  • Computer Voice: Ship's computers speak with a female voice by default. A male character who spends long stretches of time with no one but his cat and his ship's computer changed its voice from the default, because apparently hearing a female voice made him stop at whorehouses too often.
  • Constructed Language: The authors over the books have put together quite a few grammar and pronunciation rules for the Linyaari language as well as a small word corpus.
  • Crapsack World: Kezdet. Rife with corruption, child slavery and exploitation.
  • Easily Thwarted Alien Invasion: The Khleevi fleet heading for Kezdet were easily chased off by the simple fact that they were capable of fighting back. Once they find a certain plant, destroying Khleevi infestations became as easy as spraying for weeds.
  • Emotion Eater: The Khleevi (especially their offspring) feed on the pain and fear they cause their victims, hence the torturing them to death. The Linyaari, due to their pacifist nature, empathic ability and rapid healing, are considered a delicacy.
  • Everyone Can See It: Everyone knew Acorna and Aari were meant for each other, except Acorna and Aari.
  • Fumbling the Gauntlet: In Linyaari culture, Acorna's human-style smiling (with teeth showing) basically means "I'm about to attack you."
  • Harmful Healing: Healing effects that mend broken bones may cause the bones to knit together and regrow before the fracture has been properly set, leading to pain and deformity. This happened to a character.
  • Healing Hands: Or Healing Horns in the case of the Linyaari. In addition to healing wounds, the horns also allow them to purify substances (including neutralising poisons) and communicate telepathically .
  • Horde of Alien Locusts: The Khleevi can be considered this. It is implied in Acorna's Triumph that they have a scoured a galaxy or two of organic life.
  • Humans Are Warriors: The Khleevi learnt the hard way at the end of Acorna's Quest. They were shocked to find a species that actually fought back when attacked, and resolved to stay away from humanity.
  • I Kiss Your Hand: In the first book, Baron Manjari makes a point of actually kissing Acorna's hand at her social debut instead of miming it as expected. He's just dosed her with a contact poison applied to his lips (he wipes them clean immediately afterward and takes the antidote, claiming it's his daily medication). Too bad he didn't know about Acorna's ability to neutralize toxins.
  • ISO Standard Human Spaceship: The Linyaari are baffled by the uniform, uncolored nature of human starships. On the flip side, humans find the colors on Linyaari craft loud and garish.
  • I Thought Everyone Could Do That: The Linyaari didn't realize that not everyone knew how to make paint that could withstand interstellar travel.
  • It Must Be Mine!: In the first book, Hafiz Harakamian sought to add Acorna to his collection of rarities as the crown jewel. A desire with quickly disappeared once he learned she wasn't some sort of mutant, but a lost member of an space-faring race.
  • Mystical White Hair: Acorna has white hair and is a humanoid-unicorn hybrid, with healing and other magical powers through her horn, though the whiteness of her hair stems for her people's tendency to go white after spending large amounts of time in space.
  • Old Retainer: Aminah, for Tapha.
  • Perfect Pacifist People: The Linyaari, who preferred to run and abandon their world rather than fight the Khleevi once they saw they couldn't be reasoned with. This is partly due to the nature of their abilities and partly due to their society.
    • Acorna and Aari, due to their past experiences, lack the Linyaari's cultural and psychological aversions and are much more pragmatic about the use of violence.
      • The Nirii take this up to eleven: They consider the Linyaari Hot-Blooded.
    • The Ancestral Friends claimed to be this, which is where the Linyaari got it from (not from the unicorns, who were quite happy to use their horns to defend themselves), but had a more Blue-and-Orange Morality definition of violence.
  • Precursors: The Ancestral Friends, who called themselves the Hosts, are the precursors of the Linyaari, Makahomian Temple Cats, and probably many other races through a combination of Shapeshifting, genetic engineering and Boldly Coming.
  • Phony Psychic: Karina is initially depicted as this in Acorna's Quest. Subverted throughout the series where it is shown that she actually has the gift but just not as much she believes.
    • Played hilariously with her first interactions with actual psychics, the Linyaari, when her standard-phony-psychic visualization exercises actually shut down the rudimentary communication that they've established.
    "No luck, all I'm getting now is blue."
  • Quest for the Rest: Inverted - Acorna's family was looking for her.
  • Sacred Language: One planet considers Acorna a god because she speaks the native tongue of her people. They had been visited many many years ago by Aari and Grimalkin, and their priests had miraculously picked up the language in a single visit.
  • Science Fantasy: Played with. Acorna looks like a "unicorn girl", complete with a horn on her forehead, unearthly beauty, and the power to purify water and air. Except she's not exactly magical: she's an alien, and the setting is basic science fiction with spaceships and interplanetary travel. Then it is revealed that her species was genetically engineered by aliens who combined their own DNA with that of unicorns they rescued from Earth.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: Grimalkin's ultimate fate at the end of Acorna's Triumph, trapped in the form of a kitten by his superiors.
  • Shell Shocked Survivor: Aari, horrifically tortured by the Khleevi then abandoned on his dying homeworld as the sole survivor. He has issues.
  • The Swear Jar: After the miners take in a little alien girl they institute this, just because they don't want her learning those particular words.
  • Telepathy: Quite a few species in the series are telepathic.
  • Time Travel: The Hosts had this down to an art form. Becomes a centre plot point in Acorna's Search and Acorna's Triumph
  • Ultraterrestrials: Acorna is a member of a humanoid race of unicorns, descended from more traditional equine unicorns and the Sufficiently Advanced Aliens who rescued them from being hunted to extinction on Earth in the middle ages.
  • Unicorn: Acorna and her species the Linyaari are Alien Little Bit Beastly versions of them, and share many of the qualities that unicorns are said to have.
    • Also the Ancestors, who are the descendants of the unicorns who were rescued from Earth by the Ancestral Friends.
  • Weather-Control Machine: Central to one of the major plots in Acorna's Quest.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Acorna's name is unpronounceable in Linyaari, the nearest equivalent is Khornya, which incidentally means "One Horn" in Linyaari. Needless to say, many are amused and bemused by her name.