Welcome back everyone to the second half of the read along of Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey. Our wonderful host is Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings, so make sure to stop by his blog to catch his answers and also links to other participating bloggers. If you have not read Dragonflight, please be aware this post contains major spoilers about the book, especially focusing on the last 2 sections of the book.
1. The Threads are further explored and become very much the focal point in parts 3 and 4 of Dragonflight. What are your thoughts on the Threads in general and how do you feel these worked as an enemy vs. the traditional enemies you see in SFF novels?
The biologist in me loves the little tidbits we learn about the Threads. Some kind of mycorrhiza(?), but really, really aggressive. The thought of a spore form traveling through space, such a cold void, to make it to a living, breathing planet. Perhaps. If you have heard of tardigrades (or waterbears), then you know there lies the possibility. Humans struggle against nature, whether here or on Pern, will be our greatest struggle. With that in mind, the Threads serve as a great, mindless antagonist and also to unite the various factions of humans on Pern.
2. The science fictional concept of time travel becomes an important device in the later half of Dragonflight, how do you feel McCaffrey did in working time travel into the plot?
First, let me say I really like that the plot wasn’t so predictable, and the time travel thing I didn’t see coming (not the first time I read it like 20 years ago, and not this last time because I forgot nearly all of it). Second, I think it is very realistic that Lessa would picture her Ruathan home as she remembered it, not as it stood in the present. So, very easy to see how this mistake could happen. But, third, with that said, why hasn’t this mistake happened with other riders recently? I know that F’Lar has a brief conversation pondering that if Lessa stumbled upon it, others probably have at some point. I wonder if this is explored further later in the series.
3. Of the new characters introduced in this second half of Dragonflight, who did you like/not like and why?
Let me just say that F’Nor is still one of my favorite characters and I am glad he had a serious role to play in the second half of the book. Next, I seriously like the changes that F’Lar and Lessa make in how the dragons are handled from egg, such as bringing in potential candidates early on so they won’t fear the baby dragons on Imperssion day. It was great to see Robinton – he was one of the characters I remember strongly from reading these books 20 years ago. And dude, many ladies flying queens using flame throwers. Anne McCaffrey is the bomb just for that.
4. We talked about it in the first discussion and there is no way we can get away from it in Part 2: What are your feelings on the progression of the relationship between F’lar and Lessa throughout this second half of the book?
They’ve both grown, taming each other, and eventually learning to trust and support each other. I am glad they also eventually found some mutual enjoyment in bed too. Lessa has shown the most growth, even risking herself in fetching the dragons and riders of the past. F’Lar had to make some tough choices, such as going ahead with the Southern Weyr, even though he knew his brother would be in danger. Once again, the changes these 2 rulers made to the Weyr in being less secretive with potential riders and the civilian populace are of great benefit. I expect that future Queen riders won’t be surprised during their first mating flight, but rather, will have knowledge of how they will be affected by their psychic connection to their dragons.
5. And finally, what is your overall assessment of Dragonflight? How does it measure up against other classic science fiction you’ve read? Would you recommend it to modern readers, why or why not?
I have greatly enjoyed this reread – Thank you Carl! I remember being perplexed teen that a scifi story had dragons, and yet there was some biological plausibility to these dragons and their fire breathing. Then you throw in the lost knowledge of a time gone by (space colony, anyone?) and time travel and you have some basic scifi elements. I would recommend this story to folks who do not give up on a tale at first blush. If I had simply stayed stuck in the first few chapters, I would have walked away thinking that Anne McCaffrey was really a sexist male using a pen name to appeal to the female half of society. One of the strengths of this story is that not only do the main characters grow, but so does the culture.