Dragonriders of Pern by the McCaffrey family

I have this distinct feeling I missed blogging last week. One day a week and I’m still struggling. Things will improve.

I’ve been doing a lot of rereading as I said the other week. I moved from Robert Asprin to Tom Holt and then to Anne McCaffrey. Reading many in the one series I’m beginning to notice things. I’ve not read the books in any logical order. I started in the middle of the books, working my way to the right then going back to the middle and working my way to the left one book at a time. In there was the second book in The Crystal Singer series. I read this and discovered why I’ve never really liked it. It’s a romance. Don’t misunderstand me, there’s a lot of science fiction in there but the romance overwhelms everything else and I’ve never enjoyed it. If you use this affiliate link to look at the description you’ll understand what I mean.

Anne McCaffrey is one of those iconic authors. Her writing career spans 46 years and she has written many influential books. Her son, Todd McCaffrey, has taken over the writing of the Dragonriders of Pern series.

I’ve just finished Dragonflight. First published in 1967 as Weyr Search and Dragonrider my copy was published in 1984. It’s signed by the author herself when I met her during my lunch hour one day the following year. I was walking through Myer’s shop and saw her standing, by herself, in the book shop. I’ve never worried about signatures from famous people but she looked so lonely just standing there so I bought two books and had her sign them. I wish I’d had more time to have stood there to chat.

What I’m finding interesting about these books is how the series changes and grows the more she writes. And how the information she gets from writing more informs the actual writing. There is a lot of crossover between books. Dragonflight intersects with part of The Masterharper of Pern published in 1998 after another fourteen Dragonrider of Pern books have been published and the differences are palpable.

What is different?

The writing has changed. It has become more mature, more confident. In the later books we can see how McCaffrey has learned to weave the information in more seamlessly. Experience counts for a lot in writing and Dragonflight was one of her very first books.

The setting has changed just a little. Some of the rules of the world have adapted to become more real. In Dragonflight the dragons seem to be able to fly within a few weeks of hatching, and the queen dragon, Ramoth, flies without bothering to strengthen her wings first. I can’t identify which book off hand but it’s certainly one published later and might be written by McCaffrey’s son, Todd. But in this later book all the dragons are given time for their bodies to grow and get some decent strength before being put through an extensive programme of strengthening their bodies and wings before being allowed to just glide off a shelf. This is just one example, though. If I’d been writing them down as I read I could give you several more.

The books have grown. They are now no longer thin novels but quite thick tomes. I can’t decide if this is good or not. On the one hand it’s good to have more, on the other the more pages they have the harder it is for my small hands to hold them.

Lastly

The last thing I want to say is this. In researching the timeline of the books I find that there is a new McCaffrey author in town. Gigi, Anne’s daughter, published her first Dragonriders of Pern book about a month ago. Called Dragon’s Code I find myself eager to find and read it.

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  1. Just finished Gigi’s book the other day (borrowed it from the library)… I think it’s written way better than Todd’s books, but there are problems with it by Pernese canon… The thing that bugs me most is that characters call each other by nicknames which they’ve never done in any of the other books.

    • That was well timed. From what you say it almost sounds as if she’s trying to write her own Pern books and not do them the same as her mother. I will read Gigi’s book one day and form an opinion based on that reading.