‘Treecats’ and teens protect nature

Carol A. Wright

By A Contributor

There are some really good science fiction novels that have kept me glued to each page until the very end. I especially think highly of certain science fiction and fantasy writers, such as Philip K. Dick, Ray Bradbury, H.P. Lovecraft, Mercedes Lackey, Rachel Cohn, William Burroughs and Harlan Ellison.

I have just completed reading “Fire Season: A Star Kingdom Novel,” by co-authors David Weber and Jane Lindskold. To be honest, I wasn’t totally thrilled by it, but I can see how young adults would benefit from it.

I realize that a lot of science fiction readers have become quick fans of Weber and Lindskold. The novel’s theme focuses on the survival of a new species, called “treecats,” as they are being threatened and soon to possibly lose their habitat. It seems that throughout history, human beings have considered themselves superior beings. After all the stages of evolution that have taken place, by now, we should be willing to accept the fact that new species are being discovered all the time by anthropologists and other environmental researchers.

“Fire Season” involves two intelligent teens, Stephanie Harrington and Karl Zivonik, who fight fires as the probationary rangers within the Sphinxian Forestry Service. They scout around in an air car and locate areas where they hope to extinguish forest fires. A treecat named Lionheart travels with them. He and Stephanie have become close companions. Lionheart reveals a unique kind of intelligence and displays telepathic powers in which the cat can read Harrington’s mind-glow easier than that of Zivonik. Lionheart has his own names for the two-legged ‘aliens’ : Stephanie is Death Fang’s Bane, and her partner is Shadowed Sunlight.

This novel is not only about futuristic fire-fighting techniques; it is about protecting the environment and allowing present-day and new creatures to live together in the forests on planet Sphinx and other planets as well.

Throughout the novel, Weber and Lindskold stress the need for young people to be educated about the harm and destruction fires can do to species that rely on the trees and forests for survival.

Treecats and humans like Harrington and Zivonik are a team that seeks justice for new species. They know there are other humans who want to use the treecats for their own financial gains or for irresponsible lab studies. A treecat such as Lionheart is not really a pet; it possesses certain animalistic and human characteristics, but it should not be treated as if it does not have any significant purpose.

Respect for life is just one crucial message the co-authors aim to accomplish. The novel does have romantic elements, which will most likely entertain and please young readers if they get bored with the heroism, humor and anger shared by Harrington, Zivonik and Lionheart, plus the tension that is ever constant with the ups and downs of teenage and family relationships.

Although I admired Lionheart’s dialogue and his love of Harrington, I was not too impressed with some of the additional character portrayals. What I found interesting and useful was the manner in which the co-authors presented the need to sometimes start fires to help stimulate new growth—which does happen today—and the need to be aware of climate change and what effect severe climate changes can have on people, animals, vegetation and the role of evolution.

Those who are captivated by “Fire Season” might also enjoy and anticipate a new treecat novel by Weber that has been released fairly recently.

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