Why I Read It: There was this group read hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings.
Where I Got It: Own it…since like I was 12.
Who I Recommended This To: Dragons + Science = WIN! Who doesn’t want to read this?
Publisher: Del Rey (1968)
Length: 303 pages
Series: Book 1 The Dragonriders of Pern
I loved this book as a kid and I love it again as an adult. There is so much going on in this book, which was first published as two novellas and later smushed together into one coherent tale. On Pern, there is an aging fuedal system of strongholds (containing the farmers, the craftsmen, and some of the ruling humans) and the dragon weyrs (containing the dragonriders, their winged steeds, and support personnel) which are granted tithes of food and other products by the surrounding strongholds. This book opens with the dragonriders on search as the single Queen dragon has laid a Queen egg. These men fly from hold to hold assessing the available ladies for personality and mental abilities. The threat of Threads from the rogue red star is a long ago memory-turned-to-myth-turned-to-disbelief. Only a few of the greatly diminished dragonriders even believe the threat will reappear.
If you read only the the first few chapters of this book, you might think that Anne McCaffrey was a sexist, having bought into the myth that men are greater than women, etc. But she is a clever writer and merely sets you up to show how our Heroine Lessa will change that paradigm over a few short years by her bravery, her wit, her strong personality, and her lack of impulse control. Indeed, our Lessa is flawed, deeply flawed at the beginning as she is a somewhat selfish individual bent on revenge. However, McCaffrey pairs her wits with F’Lar’s steady hand. He has his issues too, having waited too long to set a definitive course for his people, and then once doing so playing his cards too close to his chest in a show of control freakishness. And I love these characters for their flaws, as it reflects the true human spirit.
The second half of the book truly shines with more explanation of the dragon’s abilities, the pseudo-science behind their fire breathing abilities, and info on the Threads which travel the void of space when the Red Rogue wanders close to Pern, mindlessly landing on any organic matter and attempting to devour it. In addition to the science, we have a time travel element (and I won’t say much because I don’t want to spoil it), and we have telepathic ability to chat with the dragons who are at least as cognizant as their human counterparts. Indeed, this book has a lot going for it and I look forward to reacquainting myself with the series.
What I Disliked: The first dragon-mating scene gave me mixed feelings as no one clued Lessa into what was going on with the dragon passion and it was her first sexual experience; F’Lar continues to shake Lessa throughout the book which also gave me mixed feelings (realistic for the setting, but not really necessary).
This is Vintage SciFi Month over at Little Red Reviewer. Make sure you stop by her place for some classic SF. Also, this book definitely counts as part of The Science Fiction Experience hosted over at Stainless Steel Droppings, which runs to the end of February. So, for even more SF goodness, make sure to check out his blog.