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Literature / The Celaenoseries

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"It's been a long hard job, building a world. I don't know how our children will judge us, I only pray we did the right thing" - Peter McKay, final dairy entry


A series of science fiction novels set on a planet that became a lady land during colonisation due to the planet's alien fauna making men infertile. Named after the colony ship, The Celaeno, who's navigation system failed during the colonists cryoSleep and stranded them around a death world with no advanced technology outside those used for genetics and biology. The series starts 519 years after colonisation after the world has reverted to medieval technology level, focusing on the societal change that occurs as the colony grows, with short excerpts from the original colonists.

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Each book focuses on a different group of characters who witness the changing world, from the first major gang to the formation of a separate nation. Written by Jane Fletcher, author of other lesbian novels such as The Lyremouth Cronicals, and published between 1999-2008.


This series provides examples of:

  • A Girl in Every Port: Considered the MO of the Rangers. Due to there constant relocation rangers don't get a chance to have proper relationships, so many of them sleep around.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Lynn to Kim, knowing that she is unable to do anything about it.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The native life on the planet seem to be similar to Earth's on the surface, the plant life especially, but there are several important differences. The native fauna finds Iron toxic, and have a cyanide like chemical in there blood stream. The flora is similar enough to earths for consumption with only a new enzyme to help break them down, the pollen leaves earth males infertile and prevents them from forming in the womb.
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  • Bodyguard Crush: Kim develops a crush on Lynn during the journey over the mountain pass where she and the other rangers guard her.
  • Bow and Sword, in Accord: The ranger's standard equipment; although individuals will favour one over the other most of the time, entrance requirements to the rangers mean that they have to be competent at both. the guards also occasionally use bows, but not to the same degree.
  • Can't Have Sex, Ever: In The Temple at Landfall this is invoked between Lynn and Kim due to fears that having sex will leave Lynn without her imprinting powers. In the end this is subverted and turns out to be a myth.
  • Citadel City: While relatively tame compared to most examples of this trope, Westernfort is designed to defend against much larger forces and does so successfully.
  • City Guards: the militia fill this role.
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  • Corrupt Church: The sister's are often shown in a negative light, focusing more on internal political struggles and profits from exploiting the Imprinters rather then religious devotion.
  • Dirty Cop: A massive plot point in Shadow of the Knife, through a combination of bribes and blackmail the Butcher's knives are able to go about there business without the law interfering.
  • Downer Ending: The first book, Shadow of the Knife, has one of these. The main character might have survived and the Butcher's gang been defeated, but now the reality of the damage crime can do has been realised, the first major conflict between woman has left a lot of death, and Ellen Mittal will likely be haunted by unanswered questions for the rest of her life.
  • Feminist Fantasy: Due to humanity becoming a one gender race gender roles have been completely forgotten, and gender expression is varied between individuals. Earth seems to be this as well, from what little we hear about the culture there seems to be very little discrimination about gender or sexuality.
  • Healing Hands: the healer's sense requires skin on skin contact, usually the healer uses their hands. The healing sense itself seems to be rather limited, mostly used to heal bruises and help the body recover by itself as well as diagnosing issues. The healer's sense was originally created to provide a method of Homosexual Reproduction, and was implanted into the genes of all the new children, however people turn out to have a wide variety of differing ability with it.
  • Homosexual Reproduction: The healing sense is capable of this, although the ability is rarely strong enough for those who are capable are given a title, imprinters, and are kept under church guard.
  • In Love with the Mark: there are two cases of this:
    • Hal clames that she fell in love with Ellen while trying to get information out of her pertaining to the Ranger's activities. Weather she is lying or not is left ambiguis.
    • while not her main target, Natasha falls in love with Dani while in the middle of trying to kill the Heretics' leaders in an attempt to destroy them.
  • Interservice Rivalry: The three brances of militery forces in the homelands, the Melitia, the rangers, and the guards, rarely see eye to eye.
    • The militia is where everyone starts, recruits having to complete two years of probation before transferring to one of the other branches, but are often looked down on as either incompetent or lacking ambition.
    • The rangers are the elite, having the hardest requirements to join, and have a reputation to be a little wild. the militia either looks at them in awe or jealousy while the guards see them as faithless hedonists.
    • The guards are responsible for guarding the temples as well as those who inhabit it. to outsiders they are nothing more then set dressing, meant to look impressive but not much else.
  • Knight Templar: many of the guards seem to be this, and promotion seems to be tied to devotion and willingness to obey the sisters more then ability.
  • Lady Land: the entire planet is inhabited only by women due to a pollen that prevents earth males from developing.
  • La Résistance: The Heretics are a shade of this, opposing the churches vice grip on society leaves them outcasts. although unlike most examples of this trope they seem more focused on making a new nation then overthrowing the old government.
  • Multiethnic Name: Throughout the series names tend to conform to this. it makes sense given they come from earth that is implied to have become unified, and in the 500 years since colonisation there are no real associations to different cultures.
  • Now or Never Kiss: Lynn does this when she and Kim are set to part ways because she knows that once she is in the temple she will never leave again.
  • One-Gender Race: All life from earth has become this, relying on the use of healer's sense to clone and imprint new embryos.
  • Opposites Attract: Free-Spirited criminal Hal and straight laced militia woman Ellen, they both comment on it.
  • Punishment Detail: Kim finds herself dealing with this when her squadron is sent to support guards due to her "defilement" of an imprinter.
  • Ranger: The Rangers.
  • Religion Is Wrong: The entirty of the church's beleifs and practices have been shown to be based off lies, misinterpritations, or the word of Himoti that are no longer relivent. The Heratics form when one of the sisters read the fobiden books and find things that don't match up, although she admits that although the sisters are wrong there might be a goddess.
    • The sister's uniform is based off the clothing worn by Himoties assistence, meant to keep the lab clean of contamination.
    • Due to the limited phenotypes that where passed to the new inhabitents, the origional colonests where described as having hair and skin "of many hues and tones". this is often represented in art by giving them unatural colours, such as blue or green.
    • Celeano being seen as a goddess instead of a ship, with the colonests being considered angels and named "old ones"
    • Imprinters being kept in the temples is a result of Himoti keeping the first Imprinters in her labs, due to there small initial number making having them travel be inefficient.
    • Imprinters and Sisters are forbidden from having sex due to Himoti's views, despite this there are no negatives when they actually do have sex.
  • Taking the Heat: Lynn convinces Kim to let her take the heat after they are caught kissing in the stables, knowing that the Sister's wont do anything to harm her.
  • The Church: The Church of Celaeno.
  • The Only One I Trust: Ellen Mittal is the only one the Rangers can trust to get information after the ambush due to The Mole.
  • The Mole: Terrie Rasheed is this for the Butcher's gang.
    • Rohanna, Calinda, and Natasha take this role for the guards against the Heretics.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Himoti is implied to be this, manipulating the colonists in order to make an ideal society of women with little racial differences to not only deal with racism and sexism, but get rid of possessive relationships. The series shows how this dosn't work out.
    • arguably Gina is one as well, trying to reveal the truth of the world's history to as many people as she can leads to the formation of the Heretics.
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