cover image FREEDOM'S RANSOM


Anne McCaffrey, . . Ace, $23.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-0-399-14889-7

Coffee, not oil, becomes black gold in this eagerly awaited fourth volume in McCaffrey's intriguing Catteni/Freedom series (Freedom's Landing, etc.), which focuses on the business side of revolution. On Earth and the planets Barevi and Botany in the not-so-distant future, the traditional gold standard has fallen and coffee, fresh bread and meat become more valuable than diamonds when trading for the technological parts stolen by greedy Catteni mercenaries for the evil Eosi. These vital aerospace supplies will aid Terrans and Botany colonists seeking independence from the Eosi, whose barbaric routine of loot, pillage and destroy includes removing entire urban populations and selling them to other Catteni worlds as slaves. "I dropped. I stay," is the rallying cry of Zainal, a rebel Catteni who's taken from a prison on Barevi, a trading center for the Catteni Empire, and "dropped" with other slaves of assorted species on Botany, owned by the mysterious Farmers. Zainal becomes a reluctant leader of the other slaves and becomes mate to Terran Kris Bjornsen. Zainal and his team ultimately undertake two missions—one to Earth, to acquire coffee beans and dental equipment for Dr. Eric Sachs, Botany colonist and former Manhattanite, and one to Barevi, to barter the beans and dentistry, turning this installment into an entertaining lesson on supply and demand. The visit to a bleak Manhattan after the Eosian looting is as disturbing, touching and humorous as the trading in the Barevian market. (June 10)

FYI:The first woman ever to win both the Hugo and the Nebula awards, McCaffrey was the recipient of the American Library Association's 1999 Margaret A. Edwards Life Achievement Award.

Correction: In the review of Nancy Collins's Dead Roses for a Blue Lady (Forecasts, Mar. 4), the correct address for Crossroads Press is P.O. Box 10433, Holyoke, Mass. 01041.