Thanks to Anne McCaffrey, millions of readers have soared the skies on dragonback, shared the thoughts and dreams of the great dragons of Pern, and risked life and limb to safeguard the planet from the deadly threat of falling Thread. With the Dragonriders of Pern, McCaffrey has given us more than just an extraordinary masterwork of imagination. She has given us a whole world--and has taught us to fly. Now, in this triumphant return to Pern, Anne McCaffrey takes us on an adventure as surprising and unforgettable as any that has come before . . . It is a time of hope and regret, of endings and beginnings. The Red Star, that celestial curse whose eccentric orbit was responsible for Thread, has been shifted to a harmless orbit, and the current Threadfall will be the last. Technological marvels are changing the face of life on Pern. And the dragonriders, led by F'lessan, son of F'lar and Lessa and rider of bronze Golanth, and Tia, rider of green Zaranth, must forge a new place for themselves in a world that may no longer need them.
Bestseller McCaffrey's first Pern novel in three years returns to the world of her most popular series, Dragonriders of Pern, reprising almost all the best-loved Pernese characters. In earlier episodes, hero and heroine F'lar and Lessa summoned the captivating dragons and their riders from the remote past to save Pern from a devastating rain of Thread, while the later discovery of Aivas, the artificial intelligence that guided Pern's original human settlers, brought technological marvels like printing to Pern and helped shift the Thread-producing Red Star from its lethal orbit before it self-destructed. Now neo-Luddite Abominators are bent on destroying all of Aivas's gifts and returning watery Pern to its primitive state, while the Dragonriders struggle to find new purpose in a Threadless world. F'lar and Lessa uneasily contemplate second careers or horrors! retirement, while their genteel and amorous son F'lessan and perceptive green rider Tai arrive at both a dragon-assisted romance and a whole new role for the telepathic and telekinetic dragons. McCaffrey's various themes traditionalism vs. technology, the necessity of societal change, feminist commentary on draconian psychology are at times awkwardly integrated. And her slightly watered-down villains seem peripheral to the action, merely a means to showcase familiar personalities performing during crises. Nonetheless, as all her Pern novels amply demonstrate, McCaffrey's sexy and cunning dragons carry the day and the novel with impeccable, irresistible panache. (Apr. 3) Forecast: A likely genre bestseller, but some younger Pern fans may be put off by the emphasis on retirement, unable to appreciate the angst of inexorably approaching age. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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January 01, 2002
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Excerpt from The Skies of Pern by Anne McCaffrey
Ours not to ponder what were fair in Life,
But, finding what may be,
Make it fair up to our means.
When Mankind first discovered Pern, third planet of the sun Rukbat, in the Sagittarian Sector, they paid little attention to the eccentric orbit of another satellite in the system.
Settling the new planet, adjusting to its differences, the colonists spread out across the southern, most hospitable continent. Then disaster struck in the form of a rain of mycorrhizoid organisms, which voraciously devoured all but stone, metal, and water. The initial losses were staggering. But fortunately for the young colony, "Thread," as the settlers called the devastating showers, was not entirely invincible: both water and fire would destroy the menace on contact.
Using their old-world ingenuity and genetic engineering, the settlers altered an indigenous life-form that resembled the dragons of legend. Telepathically bonded with a human at birth, these enormous creatures became Pern's most effective weapon against Thread. Able to chew and digest a phosphine-bearing rock, the dragons could literally breathe fire and sear the airborne Thread before it could reach the ground. Able not only to fly but to teleport as well, the dragons could maneuver quickly to avoid injury during their battles with Thread. And their telepathic communication enabled them to work with their riders and with each other to form extremely efficient fighting units -- wings.
Being a dragonrider required special talents and complete dedication. Thus the dragonriders became a separate group, set apart from those who held land against the depredations of Thread, or those whose craft skills produced other necessities of life in their crafthalls.
Over the centuries, the settlers forgot their origins in their struggle to survive against Thread, which fell across the land whenever the Red Star's eccentric orbit coincided with Pern's. There were long Intervals, too, when no Thread ravaged the land, when the dragonriders in their Weyrs kept faith with their mighty friends until they would be needed once more to protect the people they were pledged to serve.
After one such long Interval, when Thread renewed its violence, the dragonriders were down to one single Weyr: Benden. Its courageous Weyrwoman, Lessa, rider of the only gold queen, Ramoth, discovering that dragons could move through time as well as space, took a desperate gamble and flew four hundred Turns into the past to bring the other five Weyrs forward in time to renew the defense of Pern.