This year marks 40 years of Del Rey Books publishing. Throughout 2017 this renowned imprint of Random House will roll out a number of fresh wrappings, i.e. new book covers, for its roster of speculative fiction masterpieces in paperback.
Anne McCaffrey’s new book covers were the talk of the town earlier in May, so we are a bit behind, but let’s not let this party stop!
We’ve been catching “Pern” fever, and you should, too, by reading the first 3 novels Anne McCaffrey has written about this world.
On August 1st, this collection will have a new cover…
I, Hawk, picked up this series at about the same time as I started reading JoAnne Bertin’s The Last DragonLord (followed by Dragon and Phoenix).
They both begin with a quest to find new dragonriders. Bertin then heads off into political intrigue and underhanded schemes that seems might lead to war. McCaffrey straightforwardly has a war and kills off a corrupt leader and just gets on with the story (Dragonflight). – Anne even read it and commented a quote worthy of the cover.
One major difference in these two stories is that Bertin’s dragons are really people with the ability to morph their bodies into dragons. This gives them longevity, youthfulness, and magic. McCaffrey’s dragons are separate entities that carry riders on their shoulders into battle. They use mindspeak to talk to their humans, whom they impress at their hatching.
Another major difference is the world. Bertin’s world is a medieval fantasy landscape, a map, not a planet. The dragons fly across the land to take care of a long winded political scheme. There’s forests and castles and oceans and grassy plains. There is a natural environment of hot summers and cooler winter places.
Pern, the world by McCaffrey, is an entire planet, influenced by other planetary objects, most notably by the Red Star that emits shards of ‘thread’ the dragons must use their fiery breath to burn to ash mid-flight. Their ability to fly ‘between’ places and ‘between’ times fleshes out the rest of the basic idea behind the usefulness and proper place of dragons in Pern. They rule. RULE! There are continents, oceans, various biomes, everything a planet should have, and beyond the atmosphere are stars and objects that influence the life on Pern.
There is a level of world building involved in Pern that very few have equaled. The magic and majesty of Pern is the reason that she is grouped with writing greats like Ursula LeGuin, Frank Herbert and J.R.R. Tolkien. Current writers like George M. Martin, Robin Hobb, and D. M. Cornish are striving for that type total world immersion, but she is the wellspring from which these stories flow. She did it first and did it best. Her dragon stories tie space opera, intrigue, and fantasy into a knot that she crafted long before girl power had any power at all. She bulldozed a path in an age and genre that, besides one or two others, was only for the boys. McCaffrey was a pioneer in every sense of the word.
We, Hawk and Young, are still building our world. If you read Robots Love Techno, you got a small piece of the world; one part where it touches our Earth. We’ve been working on two more short stories that are parts of this world. We’re still figuring out how it all connects and that is very exciting! One thing is for certain, even though our stories span different places and times, you will see characters or elements cross over. It’s an Easter Egg hunt. When you see it, it will hit you and all the pieces will fall into place.
We would love to go live in Pern.
I, Hawk, think Young is most like Jaxom.
He is a character who is youthful, a little reckless, raised with manners as a Lord, but is both a commoner, Lord, and a dragonrider. He is able to do missions that others can’t. His dragon is unique in that it is all colors and no colors at once; all white, but with shimmers of all colors. They are both all and none at the same time. Sometimes this makes life difficult because you don’t know where you fit in. Yet when you realize you can use this to your advantage, you’re unstoppable!
Hawk, I relate to Brekke most.
Brekke started out as a healer, caring for others, but soon discovers she has the ability to hear all the dragons speaking in her head. This makes her important, but her role is more introverted, behind the scenes, serving others. She falls in love above herself (F’Nor) and yet as she defies her role as a healer in becoming a dragonrider, with a queen dragon no less, she finds this love might be ripped away because a queen is a level above her lover. In the end, her lover is exactly the one for her and he proves it. Aww, true love! But she must deal with incredible loss as she loses her dragon and nearly herself. I often feel as an emapth, or empathetic person, as well as an introvert, that I seek a role that I do not feel worthy of. When I suffer a loss, I really suffer.
Young says that Hawk is more like Lessa, the Wyer woman of the most powerful Weyr, Brenden Weyr.
Even though she is the protagonist of the first book, she is relentless and unyielding. “I also have a sworn affidavit from her two children that Elsha Hawk is a slave driving feudalistic tyrant.” (I’m a MOM, they have CHORES, ’nuff said! Otherwise, I have no idea what Young is saying about me. Personally, I liked Lessa in book 1, but by book 3, I was not so pleased. She gets unjustly bossy and nearly creates a war of revenge. I hope I have more emotional restraint… I hope.)
Young relates most to F’Nor for his brazen, impulsive risk of jumping to the Red Star and nearly killing himself and his brown dragon, Canth. He doesn’t feel he’d ride a bronze, the highest level of male dragon, and leaders of Weyrs. He thinks he’d ride a brown, like F’Nor.
At the very least, having a fire lizard (tiny dragons as seen in the picture with F’Nor) would be really cool! (Brekkie has many and can communicate with all of them!)
Artist’s rendition of characters from the Pern Wiki
Detailed information on the Atlas of Pern
Amazon link to the Atlas of Pern
Link to Anne McCaffrey’s Amazon page