“Powers That Be” by Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Sunday, January 30, 2011 - Book Reading
“Powers That Be” by Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

Back of the Book:

Strange things were happening on the icy planet called Petaybee. Unauthorized genetically engineered species had been spotted, while some people were simply disappearing. None of the locals were talking to the company, so the company sent disabled combat veteran Yanaba Maddock to spy. But a strange thing happened. With her relocation to the arctic planet came a return of Yana’s health and strength. And the more she got to know the people of Petaybee, the more determined she became to protect her new home….

From Publishers Weekly:

A frontier society outwits a big, uncaring parent company in this appealing joint venture by McCaffrey ( Damia’s Children ) and Scarborough ( The Healer’s War ), the Hugo and Nebula Award-winning representatives of two generations of science fiction writers. Major Yanaba Maddock, medically retired with severely damaged lungs after military action aboard a space station, is pressured into acting as a spy by her employer, the sinister Intergal corporation. Colonel Giancarlo, local head of psychological operations, seeks evidence that colonists on the bitterly cold and inhospitable planet Petaybee are abducting company geological survey teams, engaging in illegal genetic engineering and plotting rebellion. Yana finds the locals charming, helpful and uncannily effective as healers; their home remedies salvage her ruined lungs. As the company and its forces move in to quell what they perceive as rebellion, Yana casts her lot with the Petaybeans and geneticist Sean Shongili, the man she has come to love. Perceptive characterizations and a vivid depiction of a nurturing culture integrated with nature make up for the somewhat hackneyed plot.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Anne McCaffrey has been my favorite author since sixth grade when I picked up “Dragonsong” in the school library…

Literary Merit:

I know that I’m really biased in regards to Anne McCaffrey, but I still feel that this book is both really well written and interesting enough to last through the ages.  Even if people only pick it up because of the author (you know, like me) I’m fairly sure that any future readers will love it.


There are some very interesting concepts in this book.  Naturally, the idea that a planet can be sentient is the most interesting, but so is the idea that a company can pretty much control the universe.  Reading McCaffrey’s books always entertains me because there’s always something that is completely new and original.

Naturally, we’ve got some of the usual boy meets girl romance; we’ve also got some of the usual new person in the area scenarios.  However, we’ve got some very amusing, entertaining, and unusual twists.


The main character is Major Yanaba Maddock.  She’s a hero!  No, really, in the book her character is considered a hero.  She survived a Bremport and was badly hurt.  She’s being retired to Petaybee, the sentient planet.

Petaybee was awakened by a terraforming process which is kind of like extreme landscaping on a global scale!  After being terraformed, Petaybee is colonized and helps the inhabitants of the surface adapt to the extreme temperatures on the planet.

Dr. Sean Shongili is a descendant of the original Dr. Sean Shongili.  Both the current and the past Seans are employed by the company to adapt existing species to Petaybee’s climate.

While it’s a very abstract character, the company Intergal is kind of an entity unto itself in the way it’s referred to by the other characters.

There are lots of other characters such as Bunny, Clodagh, Diego, Sinead, Aisling, and many others.

Personal Enjoyment:

As I mentioned above, I’m biased in regards to Anne McCaffrey.  I’ve always loved her works and I always will.  It’s one of those facts of life that simply won’t change.  :-)  I’ve yet to read anything by her that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy.

The writing is solid, the plot is interesting and unique, the characters are memorable and well-fleshed out, and the storyline is well-explored.  There are plenty of details throughout the story that breathe life into her words.

In Conclusion:

Pages: 384

Published: 1994-05-01

Format Read: ebook

[xrr rating=4.5/5]

So, why did I knock off half a point?  I think the relationship between Sean and Yana is a little rushed.  I guess with everything else that goes on in the story that both characters are involved in that it just feels like they don’t have time to try to be a couple.

However, this book is incredible!  If I had a physical edition of this book it would go on my special bookshelf.  One day, I will own physical copies of every book by Anne McCaffrey, but until that happens I’m happy with my ebooks that take up no extra space at all.  (Let’s here a “whoo-hooooo” for the technology that allows us to have thousands of books on a memory card that size of my thumbnail!!)

The very worst thing about this book is the rushed feeling I get about the relationship between Sean and Yana.

The very best thing about this book is the unique character of Petaybee, a sentient planet.  Petaybee is very much an active character throughout the trilogy, by the way.


This book will be placed under the 42 Challenge 2011, the 2011 E-Book Reading Challenge, the 2011 Fantasy Reading Challenge, and the 2011 Futuristic/Sci-Fi Reading Challenge.

Occasionally Important Information:

"Power Lines" by Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
“Torment” by Lauren Kate

2 thoughts on ““Powers That Be” by Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

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