The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Marion Zimmer Bradley wrote Darkover Landfall to explain the origins of the people and culture of her created world of Darkover, the setting of numerous books. After a starship crashes, its surviving crew and passengers are stranded on an unknown planet. Repair of the ship, a tenuous hope at best, becomes impossible when someone erases its computer programs during a hallucinatory “ghost wind” episode. A survey group discovers alien life, including two reclusive humanoid races. The planet has terrible weather, poor soil, few metals, and mysterious psi phenomena, but it can support human life. Building a low-technology society on this strange planet is an unappealing prospect to many from the ship. As the book ends, however, households and basic crafts, as well as the colony’s first children, are flourishing.

Rafael MacAran, a geologist, leads the initial survey party. Romantically linked with First Officer Camilla Del Rey, he is able to follow a hunch to locate her when a sudden blizzard hits. This paves the way for using extrasensory gifts as technology. As a scientist, MacAran understands the captain’s initial impulse to repair the ship and his wish to save technical knowledge for future generations. He also appreciates the planet’s rugged beauty, however, and the logic of the New Hebrides commune’s simple lifestyle. These conflicts are heightened for him because Camilla, space-born and-bred, has difficulty accepting the loss of her...

(The entire section is 519 words.)