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~The "Darkover" series~

by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Heroines:  varied


              Colonists journeying to a new home make an emergency landing on an inhospitable planet and are stranded there.  The once technologically advanced people regress to a medieval type of feudalism but acquire some impressive psi powers along the way thanks to intermarrying with the planet's natives, a large supply of a psychic ability boosting flower called Kireseth, and matrix crystals. 


             The Darkoverans' still spacefaring Terran cousins rediscover them a few thousand years later and culture shock ensues as they try to become members of a galactic Imperial society.


What worked for me:


             You may already know her as the author of "The Mists of Avalon" and "The Firebrand", but Marion Zimmer Bradley was also an excellent writer of science fiction as well.  I got into the "Darkover" series as a teen and slurped them up quite eagerly.  (Bear in mind these novels were written from the early 1960s onward, so some of them have a heavy dose of pro-woman thinking.  But I can live with that, as there were no stories of this sort in that day and age.  DARKOVER was groundbreaking when it came to putting women at the forefront of science fiction and fantasy novels instead of relegating them to the cast of supporting characters behind a "more capable" male protagonist.)


             Size-wise the women come in every shape, size, and ability.


What didn't work for me:


             Opinion is divided as to how to sort out all these books. There are 20+ novels set in this world, but the author did not write them "in order".  You can go to her home page and see both the publication order and the chronological order of the books and decide for yourself how to read them.  If you choose to start with the chronologically earliest novel be forewarned it's good and will give you a great sense of background on the world, but it isn't the very best of the series so read a few more titles as well before making your decision about the universe of DARKOVER.  (There lots of enjoyable short stories about this world as well, but I suggest reading at least a few novels before trying an anthology.)




             Princess Leia meets Xena Warrior Princess in this blend of science fiction and fantasy where laser pistol shootouts occur alongside sword fighting.   A must-read for fans of those two genres.


Warning: There are some references to homosexuality in some of the books.

If you liked the Darkover series you might also enjoy "Lady of the Knife", "Time of the Twins", "Thinner Than Thou", "Brave New World", "Camp Concentration", "Sorrows of Adoration", "Cosm", "HomeGoing", "A Civil Campaign", "Memory", "Mirror Dance", "Channeling Cleopatra", "Cleopatra 7.2", "The Petaybee Trilogy", "Khorii", the "Mike Callahan" series, "Beneath the Thirteen Moons", "Time Pressure", "Ascendant Sun", "StarKissed", "Star-Crossed Lovers", or "Oracle".

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