Tehani and Marisol bonded over Pern (and Doctor Who) at a science fiction convention, decided that it was time for a reread of the series, and really, they should blog about that. They are reading in Anne McCaffrey’s preferred way, which is basically publication order.
T: This was the first time in the reread I felt like I was reading a book for the first time. It’s NOT the first time I’ve read it, of course, but I had so little recollection of the events of the story it was like coming to it fresh. I think that was partly because all of the characters are new, so there was no context for the story outside of Pern itself?
M: I felt the same! The rest of the series really focuses around two different time periods, right around First Fall and ‘current’ era. I really enjoyed seeing the societal changes (and what’d remained the same).
It made me wonder if Anne had had more time if she’d have kept filling in the timeline, or kept with only forward stories.
T: I imagine that would probably have happened, yes. Although there would have been no objections from me if she’d had a brilliant idea for a story about the “next generation” after Jaxom, Lessa, F’lar, Menolly, Piemur etc, either!
M: Another fun aspect in this book is how there’s more mentions of what happened pre-Pern. There wasn’t a lot in Dragonsdawn, like you’d expect. In particular, there’s a conversation between the what will someday be Harpers regarding professors and instructors only being respected on Earth after allowed use classroom discipline and stunners. It’s one of the only predictive future bits we ever hear about old Earth in her books, and I found it oddly fascinating given the escalating violence concerns in schools now. Perhaps she’ll have the right of it.
T: I really liked that way she seeded stuff like that, and in some ways for me, that’s what makes it really *feel* like science fiction. McCaffrey took what she saw in the world at the time and extrapolated on it to a distant (or perhaps not-so-distant) future.
M: Lord Chalkin is the big bad in this book, and there seems to be a theme with certain holds having horrible Lord Holders with no redeeming qualities (Lord Meron, anyone?). Wow, what a wretched human being. I mean, at first he doesn’t seem too bad, more crotchety and difficult than evil. As Leopol said to poor Iantine after being rescued from Bitra, “Did you know even wherries won’t roost in Bitra Hold?”
T: What’s that saying about great power and great responsibility? It seems to be a theme McCaffrey felt strongly about…
M: But seeing the descent from that level to containment camps where his people were starved, hung up, and raped – his depravity was stunning. And then to go further and find out about the cold storage… I still get chills thinking about it. The stuff nightmares are made of.
T: It’s kind of serial killer level, really, or an interesting commentary on refugees, to an extent, well before the current issues we have in that area.
M: I suspect there’s commentary there about refugees and how we handle atrocities, as she’d have plenty of experience through the previous century to draw out of. Up to and including the sadly predictable deniers.
T: Very true.
M: What did you think about the Weyr and the dynamic between K’vin and Zulaya? I got the impression that Zulaya was directing K’vin the whole time, whether he realized it or not, and there was a growth in their relationship as they seemed to come together and merge as a team by the end. I was glad to see her not portrayed as some sort of sneaky, underhanded person, either.
T: Oh heck yes! For starters, Zulaya is quite a bit older than K’vin, so it doesn’t surprise me at all that she was moulding him, somewhat, to help him become the best Weyrleader he can be. But also, he was clearly looking for her support, and she quietly gave it, probably even when he didn’t realise it.
M: Also: female riders! I really want to know what caused women to stop being allowed for green dragons. I’m guessing we are to infer from Debera’s story that people got worse about letting their kids be Searched?
T: I think so! I think McCaffrey took the opportunity in stories like this to explore the reasons why societies change in the directions they do, and I find that fascinating! Interesting particularly how a significant mass death event (ie: the plagues) really affect a society like Pern.
M: This book was a great gap filler for where and how Pern society has progressed since Landing. It’s a good read, even if it leaves me wanting more of these gap fillers. Pern is an incredible fascinating society, regardless of what point in time we see them.
The Harper Hall trilogy (Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, Dragondrums)