In the future, Earth is a heavily overpopulated planet with less than 12 square miles of undeveloped land - most people have never actually seen a real plant, or had real meat. People have to marry at the age of sixteen in hopes of having the two allowed children they could have by the age of thirty, providing that they pass the screening process and have no genetic issues.
Finally, after years of lobbying, the decision to colonized a pastoral jewel, called Doona, has been passed. The colonists are pleased, and after surviving a hard winter, eagerly await the arrival of their families. However, complications arise when a simple walk into the nearby forest uncovers an unsettling revelation - the colonists from Earth are not alone.
The cat-like race known as the Hrrubans, hailing from a similar situation back on their homeworld, have also colonized the planet, calling it Rrala. Initially pretending to be primitive natives, it is eventually revealed that they are as native as the humans themselves.
Soon, a deal is stuck, and the planet is used as an experiment to see if the two races can get along in the long run.
The series comprises of:
Decision at Doona (1969)
Crisis on Doona (1992 with Jody Lynn Nye)
Treaty at Doona (1994)
The books feature the following tropes:
- A Child Shall Lead Them: While the children don't do any actually leading, it is the interactions between Human Todd Reeve and Hrruban Hrriss that show that their respective races can get along, and in time, they do become figures of authority to their peoples. Then, their own children befriend those of the Gringg. Seems to run in the family.
- Alien Non-Interference Clause: The Non-Cohabitation Clause on the part of the humans. Humanity's first contact with an alien species resulted in every member of the peaceful Siwannese committing suicide. Determined to never let such a tragedy occur again, humans set up an active quarantine procedure for their colonies, refusing to allow settlements to be built on planets containing signs of indigenous intelligent life.
- Bears Are Bad News: Played straight with the bearlike mda. Averted with the intelligent alien Gringgs, unless forced to defend themselves or their loved ones.
- Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: Due to how well Humans and Hrrubans work together, this is what the bearlike Gringg thought of the two races when they first came to Doona. Of course, this mistake was soon corrected.
- Cat Folk: The Hrrubans are very much cat like, other than being bipedal and having thumbs.
- Cats Are Mean: Largely averted, save for Third Speaker of Hrruba and his cronies.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Sampson De Veer, and Poldep members, dress in black uniforms with silver sashes. However, they do investigate the crimes that Todd and Hrriss are accused of, and even assist in proving their innocence, eventually arresting the real culprits.
- Devil's Advocate: In Treaty, Captain Grace Castleton of Spacedep, upon learning about the Gringg, and seeing that her superiors, and certain Hrruban officials, were acting upon the possibility that the creatures were secretly hostile, decided to take this position, on the possibility that the Gringg were whom they claimed to be, stating that she wouldn't be doing her duty if someone didn't at least speak for that possibility.
- Disproportionate Retribution: A Hidden Villain in Crisis, Mark Aden, seems to have used this method a lot, often striking back at those whom he believed wronged them in ways greater than the perceived offence. In fact, the very reason he framed Todd Reeve and Hrris for various crimes is because Todd's younger sister turned down his marriage proposal.
- Easily Forgiven: Occurs a few times -
- Chaminade becomes this during the time between Decision and Crisis, after his initial disbelief about there being another race on Doona.
- In Treaty, Admiral Barnstable of Spacedep, and Second Speaker for External Affairs Hrrto are also forgiven by the Gringg themselves, as the two had acted upon evidence that made it seem like the bear-like aliens were actually hostile and were preparing to spring a trap, when in truth the aliens were actually peaceful.
- Fantastic Slurs: Those who show Fantastic Racism, tend to call humans bareskins, in the case of Hrrubans insulting humans, or, in the case of humans insulting Hrrubans, cats. Oddly enough, there is at least one Hrruban calling another a "Mangy old cat", causing their human friend to look at them with a bit of surprise at the use of the epitaph. Of course, there is also the equivalent of N-Word Privileges between the two groups.
- First Contact: While not their first contact with another race, this is the first time where, in both Human and Hrruban history where things manage to go reasonably well, enough to the point that they manage to co-habit the same planet. Same with the Gringg.
- Free-Range Children: Todd Reeve likes to do a lot of unsupervised walking, which gets him into trouble a few times. Later, his own children, and those of his life-long friend Hrriss, to say nothing about son of the Gringg captain, also do some wandering, which gets them into trouble.
- Future Food Is Artificial: In Decision and Crisis, there is a lot of mention about how the food on earth is bland and tasteless, being little more than globs that, while being full of all the nutrients that one needs, lack any real flavors. Real food is quite a treat, as evidence by the reactions of a child in Crisis and even a Spacedep engineer in Treaty. Colonists from Doona don't want to go back to eating the stuff, especially those raised on Real Food.
- Half-Human Hybrid: During the Home Coming/Snake Hunt celebrations, some colonists sing a funny song about how one of their parents was a Hrruban, and the other was a Human, with one child being human themselves, and another being a Hrruban, but their sister was human by day and Hrruban by night. While meant as a joke, and the colonists see it as this, the government representatives react to the idea of a human and a Hrruban mating with more than a bit of Squick.
- Here We Go Again!: In Treaty at Doona, the inhabitants of Doona meet up with another race facing similar issues as their own, and, once again, it's the children who become key to the three races getting along. At the end of the book, the Gringg state that they just received a message from yet a fourth race, prompting the characters to wonder how well the other race's children would play with theirs.
- Honey Trap: In Crisis, Nrrna uses some perfume that smells like she's near her "heat" state, in order to distract a teleport guard from inspecting a package that contains a hidden Kelly. However, this backfires when Treaty Controller shows up to collect a package of his own, and becomes more than a little too interested in the female Hrruban. Luckily, his package shows up before things went too far, but it does reveal a level of is own corruption not previously known to the protagonists.
- Honorary Uncle: By the third book, Todd Reeve and Hrriss as seen as this to each other's kids respectively. This also applies to Jilamey Landreau as well.
- Humans Are Bastards: Due to their history, the humans see this as why co-habitation is something that won't work, even warning the Hrrubans about their violent history. Of course, in a case of Aliens are Bastards, one Hrruban remarks that the two races aren't so different in that regard.
- Informed Obscenity: The first book features uses of phrases like "Sweat it/ Sweat this/ Sweat that!" and the descriptor "unprintable" (an "unprintable mess," this "unprintable situation," "unprintable behavior," etc...) as futuristic naughty words.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Al Landreau is quick to point out that Doona didn't have any sentient life when it was explored, and therefor the "alleged natives" must actually be aliens. He turns out to be correct.
- Like Father, Like Son: Todd Reeve, as a child, is known for his outbursts, and being loud. However, his father, Kenneth Reeve, is introduced as having trouble holding back his joy, and even showing plenty of energy as he all but rushes home to his family, causing the local Proctor to remark that he can see where Todd got his unsocial tendencies from.
- Like Father, Unlike Son: Well, Uncle and Nephew respectively. Al Landreau has a grudge against the Reeves, and tries to get them and their friends in legal trouble. His nephew, Jilamey Landreau, becomes a friend of the Reeves and their Hrruban friends, and is something of an Honorary Uncle to the children of Todd and Hrriss by the third book.
- Lions and Tigers and Humans... Oh, My!: Lampshaded, and practically named, in Treaty by Kelly, referring to the fact that there's Humans, cat-like Hrrubans, and bear-like Gringg on the planet - "Lions and Hayumans and Bears, oh my!"
- Mistaken for Foreigner: In an inversion, Humans mistake the Hrrubans for being Native to Doona, and the Hrrubans oblige the humans of this idea for a while. This mistake is eventually corrected. Later, the Gringg make the same mistake about both Humans and Hrrubans being natives of Doona - it is corrected quicker this time around.
- Noble Bigot with a Badge: Sampson De Veer of Earth's Poldep group is against the Doona colony, and sees the Hrrubans as an unknown element that could make investigating crimes difficult. However, he does admit that his attitude is colored by the effects of the Siwannese Tragedy, and helps to clear the names of Todd Reece and Hrriss, eventually arresting those responsible for the crimes.
- Not So Different: This is, in many ways, the theme of the series. Both Earth and Hrruba are overpopulated planets. Both send a group of colonists to a planet that was like what theirs once was. Both have corrupt and obstructive bureaucrats. Both have reasonable authority figures. Both have parents who deeply care for the safety of their children. And both decided to use a low technology approach to settling the pastoral jewel.
- Obvious Rule Patch: One of the agreements made during Decision was that there were certain planets that humans weren't allowed to go to that were of interest to Hrruba, as well as ones that Hrrubans weren't allowed to go to that were of interest to Earth. After responding to a "Mayday" alarm in Crisis, Todd Revee and Hriss soon find themselves in something of a legal quandary. After talking to the colony leaders, who were friends of the two, not to mention the father of the one, it is decided to make an amendment to the rule to make an exception to rescue situations, and to severely punish those who create fraudulent situations.
- Only Electric Sheep Are Cheap: Conditions on the overcrowded Earth have resulted in a rarity of natural products:
- Only twelve "square miles" of undeveloped land remain, and visitation to these parcels of land is meted out as a reward for good behavior or superior school performance. Ken was once awarded a one-day visit to a square mile, and it was that visit that prompted him to join the Colony effort in the hopes that he could one day bring his family to a beautiful, unspoiled planet.
- Ken mentions that artificial food is common, with his wife Patricia only ever having eaten real beef once in her life (finding it hard to chew).
- When the colonists are faced with the possibility of having to return to Earth, they ponder what natural treasures they could bring from Doona and sell or trade to enrich themselves. Mentions are made of river pebbles and feathers as items that could fetch great value back on Earth.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Both Humans and Hrrubans have some of these -
- Among the colony itself are Hu Shih for the humans and Hrrestan for the Hrrubans
- On Earth, there is Admiral Sumitral of Alreldep, and later Admiral Barnstable of Spacedep, once he admits his mistake where the Gringg are concerned.
- On Hrruba, First Speaker Hrruna, as well as Second Speaker for External Affairs Hrrto, once he admits his mistake about the Gringg.
- Smells Sexy: Hrruban Females come into heat every so often, giving off a pheromone that indicates to males that they are receptive to sex. In one case in Crisis, Nrruna, betrothed and later mate to Hrriss, uses a perfume-like substance in a Honey Trap in order to distract a teleport operator from inspecting a certain packages that contains a smuggled Kelly, who is the betrothed and later wife to Todd Reeve. This backfires somewhat when the Treaty Controller shows an interest that's more than a little too friendly. Luckily, he gets distracted by the arrival of his own package before things go too far.
- Snakes Are Sinister: In Decision, the colonists encounter large snake-like creatures, that range anywhere from three to twelve meters (ten to forty feet) in length, with at least one of them swallowing a mare whole, much like an Earth snake would. Over time, however, the colonists, both human and Hrrubans working together, have learned how to deal with them, utilizing something similar to a Cattle Drive, herding most of the snakes away from settled areas, with escapees and renegades being carefully killed. This helps to add to the food supply, and as a means of making money from tourists. Some Hunters even get medals for killing two or more allowable snakes, or for snatching half a dozen eggs.
- Space Marine: Spacedep, being Earth's main form of defense, is filled with people called Marines. That being said, none have fought a real battle in centuries, being more of a Paper Tiger, and have a minor difficulty dealing with colonists armed with farming implements, despite being armed with sidearms and batons for riots. In Treaty, Jon Greene, a Commander in Spacedep, with a lot of tournament medals to his name, realizes that, when challenged by Todd Reeve, who has wrestled snakes since he was a teenager, he is outmatched in a real fight and wisely backs down.
- Spanner in the Works: This seems to be Captain Ali Kiachif's hat. Despite being a minor character, his actions have profound effects on both Terran and Hrruban society. To wit:
- 1. In Decision, Kaichif has his ship, the Astrid, leave just minutes before a message ordering him to take the colonists off of Doona arrives, resulting in the planet being cohabited by both races.
- 2. In Crisis, when Todd Reeve and Hrriss are accused of various crimes, he is able to give them key information that leads to the pair eventually being cleared of the various charges against them. He also tells a fellow merchant captain to get a hold of Poldep, due to having a damaged container that had a missing beacon that kept shouting out "Mayday".
- In Treaty, he drops the bombshell that Spacedep and the Hrruban Space Arm had both sent armed fleets in response to an alleged Gringg threat, which leads to the bear-like aliens explaining the very reason that none of their ships were armed, due to a past incident that had cost them a ship that the Terran Spacedep later found.
- Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: By the standards of Earth, the fact that Todd, as a child, is prone to outbursts and loud noises, instead of being quiet and demure, is look at as this. Ironically, this isn't much of an issue on Doona, where being loud can come in handy.
- Truce Zone: While Earth and Hrruba are not at war, Doona/Rrala is the one planet that both humans and Hrrubans can go to without getting into problems with the law. Otherwise, a member of one race would have to get special permission to go to a planet claimed by the other. Then the Gringg show up.
- Truth Serums: When Todd Reeve and Hriss are accused of a large number of serious crimes, Admiral Landreau suggests administering a substance called Querastrin to them. However, due to the drug's side-effects, which stripped the person of both privacy and dignity, and had a tendency to cause those who'd been questioned via the use of it to commit suicide, especially among those who were proved to be innocent, causes the the judges to not allow its use, unless absolutely needed. Later, after a sympathetic member of Spacedep begins leaking information to the Reeves and their allies, Landreau tells his Dragon, Rogitel, to use the drug in an attempt to find the traitor.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Both Earth and Hrruba have their fair share of these sorts.
- In Decision and Crisis, Commander, later Admiral, Al Landreau of Spacedep from Earth and Third Speaker for Internal Affairs from Hrruba, are afraid of the other race's intentions, and have managed to form an Enemy Mine kind of relationship, in order to disband what both see as an unnatural colony. However, they cross the Moral Event Horizon when they frame Todd Reeve and Hrriss for crimes that they didn't commit, in an attempt to prevent the treaty from being renewed. Karma eventually catches up to both of them.
- In Treaty, Admiral Barnstable of Spacedep, and Second Speaker for External Affairs Hrrto are this to a lesser extent, and are more sympathetic to understand. This is because they'd seen video of a planet that had been destroyed by a war, and above that planet was an armed Gringg spaceship. When the Gringg tell their story about what had occurred at that planet - the ship had found the planet in the middle of a civil war and had been attacked by both sides - it causes the two to admit to being wrong. That being said, the Gringg captain told them that they were just acting with the best of intentions for their peoples' safety, and didn't hold the unpleasantness that had just occurred against them.