They had called the planet Botany, after the old penal colony on earth. For that is what they were - prisoners and dissidents from other worlds whom the hated Catteni had banished to an empty planet - or what they thought was an empty planet.
Kris Bjornsen and her fellow slaves had survived very well - and one reason was that amongst their number was Zainal, a high ranking Catteni who was as trapped on Botany as they were. Zainal knew the Catteni ways and the Catteni technology, and he had plans for fighting back. For, as he explained, the Catteni too were victims - subject to the mighty and terrifying Eosi race who used the Catteni as a galactic police force - and also used them in more grisly and horrifying ways.
And over Zainal's daring and secret plans, over the surveying expeditions and the exploration of the strange hidden valleys, hung a further mystery - to whom did Botany really belong? Who had created the giant grain sheds - the mammoth machinery that tilled the great fields? The new inhabitants of Botany called them the 'Farmers' - and waited for the day they would come to harvest their crops.
And when that happened, the refugees were awed into silence - for the Farmers were greater than anything the universe had ever seen.
Anne McCaffrey was one of the world's leading science-fiction writers, and won both the Hugo and Nebula awards as well as the Margaret A. Edwards' Lifetime Literary Achievement Award. She was deeply honoured to have been made a Grand Master of Science Fiction in 2005, and was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2006. Born and raised in the US and of Irish extraction, she moved to Ireland in 1970 where she lived in the ‘Garden of Ireland’, County Wicklow, until her death in 2011 at the age of eighty-five. She is the creator of the Dragonriders of Pern® series. Her website is www.pernhome.com.