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Dragons of Pern Series by Anne McCaffrey

Updated on February 20, 2018
DzyMsLizzy profile image

Words, wordplay, reading, and writing have been favorites of Liz's since early childhood. She enjoys exploring science and science fiction.

There Be Dragons Here

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Science Fiction or Fantasy?

In author Anne McCaffrey's PERN series books, there is some of each genre. Fans of both will be pleased with the way the crossover is handled.

Ms. McCaffrey begins the series in modern times, with a crew aboard an interstellar spaceship traversing the universe. Shades of Star Trek, anyone? From that beginning, however, the series takes a very, very different turn than that explored by Star Trek in any of its incarnations.

In the very first book of the series, Dragons Dawn, the crew of a spaceship carrying colonists, who are intent on setting up human habitation elsewhere in the galaxy, comes upon what they feel is the 'perfect' planet.

The mission was intended as a one-way trip. One of the officers remarks that "PERN," as it is bannered across their worksheets, probably stood for something at some time past. We later discover what that acronym was.

The reader soon realizes that this is actually set in the future, when humans have supposedly mastered the art of interstellar, and possibly intergalactic travel. This had me hooked from the get-go. As a long-time "Trekkie," (as fans of the Star Trek franchise are often called), I love stories that purport to explore other worlds. It is always interesting to see through another author's eyes, what their interpretation of such places might look like.

Overall, I prefer this type of positive speculation about life on other worlds, rather than the dystopian view of some sci-fi authors.

Lions and Tigers and Bears and...Dragons?

Well, no, lions, tigers or bears, but there are...dragons!

Yes, the fire-breathing kind. However, there is something unique and special about these dragons, and they are not to be feared, but actually make themselves quite useful: they can be trained and ridden!

The relationship between the humans and the dragons as it plays out over the entire series is quite fascinating, and a well-done journey into the fantastic.

These dragons are able to take shortcuts to cover vast distances by going somewhere called "between," which most fans of science fiction will probably interpret as being something on the order of a wormhole.

The Whole Story?

No, I'm not going to go into a full synopsis of the entire series--that would be a spoiler for sure. In fact, I cannot, as I have not yet read all of the books myself!

The series is a very interesting exploration, however, into how societies manage their culture, how traditions become entrenched, and in this case, what happens when a modern society reverts back to a pre-industrial culture.

For you see, somewhere along the line, the spaceship became inaccessible, and the explorers became settlers, stranded on Pern. They had to use what resources they still had, and for a time, the computers and data-banks were still operational.

I did find some ambiguity in whether the initial settlers were stranded explorers, or the inbound colonists, who were intended to make the one-way trip, or some of each. Other than that little hiccup, though, the stories are still quite the page-turners.

One of my favorites, though, is titled The Masterharper of Pern. It follows the progression of one individual as he progresses in the society they have created. He comes to have a rather important position as an instructor and valued musician. The character is likeable and believable; the reader is able to empathize with his progress and his struggles.

A Great Loss

As the population ages, and new generations come along, however, they begin to lose their technology, until finally they have none.

The books are worth reading for that alone--it is a lesson for us all--and points up the importance of keeping the schools intact and the young pointed toward the best education and hands-on training they can get.

You just "get" this, without the stories being in the least preachy or lesson-like. They are purely fantasy, and enjoyable on that level alone.

Still, we should pay heed, though, lest we find ourselves in the same boat as the fictional settlers of Pern.

A Strict Series?

No, this is not one of those series the action of which directly follows from the previous book. You can pick up any one of the books and enjoy it on its own merits.

You may prefer to follow them in order, but it is not necessary to understand the characters and the action.

It may be helpful to read Dragons Dawn first, for the general outline of how the people arrived at Pern, and their initial struggles, but after that, you will have enough of the concept to enjoy any of the books in any order.

All of the books in the series are still readily available, and many are also available in Kindle editions.

There May Be More to Come

Though Ms. McCaffrey is no longer with us, having passed on at the age of 85 in November of 2011, she had previously consented to allowing her son, Todd McCaffrey, and her granddaughter, "Gigi," to take up the pen and continue writing Pern stories of their own.


“Anne McCaffrey.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 9 Feb. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_McCaffrey. last updated, 09 Feb. 2018, accessed 19 Feb. 2018

© 2011 Liz Elias

Comments

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  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    11 months ago from Oakley, CA

    Hi, Kari

    We love them also; in fact, my husband and I think the series would make a screaming good movie. (And I don't mean that in the 'scary' sense.)

    Then again, knowing Hollywood, they'd probably mess the stories up...

  • k@ri profile image

    Kari Poulsen 

    11 months ago from Ohio

    I love Anne McCaffrey. I have not read this series yet, but I would like to after reading this article. Now I have something to ask for for Christmas.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    6 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello, toomuchmint, This is a great and fun series of books, isn't it! I, too, was saddened to learn of the author's passing.

    Thanks very much for your input; much appreciated.

  • toomuchmint profile image

    toomuchmint 

    6 years ago

    The Pern series is one of my favorites. This hub is pretty bittersweet. Only through the comments did I learn of Anne McCaffrey's passing. She's an author who will be sorely missed.

    Thanks Lizzy!

  • profile image

    lilbookkeeper 

    6 years ago

    tyvm ill take it as that till i finish the book but ill reread bk so am able to give a page number/chapter etc its really a good book :o ive been reading since september

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    6 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello, lilbookkeeper--

    Without knowing the context in which that phrase was used, I'd be unable to offer any insight. I've read several of these books and enjoyed them, but it has been a while, and I've not memorized any of the dialogue or descriptions.

    Offhand, I'd want to just say to take it literally, as in there are flowers blooming.

  • profile image

    lilbookkeeper 

    6 years ago

    hello ive just got started reading the series and there was a sentenceim abit puzzled by.....when it says "lavender in bloom" does it mean unseen sorrow :o cause thats wat im getting and i thought id ask other readers but most my friends never read her books

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    6 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello, sarah--

    Thanks very much for that input. I never was able to finish the entire series. I only intended to provide a general overview of these fascinating books. The books are a bit hard to keep straight as to proper sequence, as the list in each book is shown in a different order.

    The books I had read had threadfall as a major problem above a nuisance, yet coming from the sky, and they did not know the source ... in a later book a meteor, or some other celestial object I believe, was suspected, due to the somewhat cyclic nature of the problem.

    Thanks again for stopping by. Much appreciated.

  • profile image

    sarah 

    6 years ago

    erm just wanted to point out that the dolphins of pern the book tells how the dolphins came with the first colonists and how they could already talk to them, via enhanced stuff. Also the dragons were gentically created by the colonists to help fight off thread from the fire lizards that they found lived on pern. Oh and the name of the planet was from the expolation team who found the planet before it was opened up for colonisation.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    6 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello again, homesteadbound--

    Yes, it is a very engaging series--one that I have to read judiciously, as I can get involved in books and end up reading until 4:a.m.--so I have to mind what time I start reading! Glad you liked the post. Thanks much!

  • homesteadbound profile image

    Cindy Murdoch 

    6 years ago from Texas

    This sounds like a series that I would really enjoy I will have to check it out. Thanks so much for posting.

  • capricornrising profile image

    capricornrising 

    6 years ago from Wilmington, NC

    I've seen a few of my favorites leave us as well, recently. If only our best mentors could just hang out forever!

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    6 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hi again, capricornrising--

    Oh, my goodness, no, I had not heard that bit of news. How sad. She was, indeed a wonderful writer! It is the end of an era. Thank you for sharing that information.

    Gosh--another favorite writer of mine also recently passed on, well into her eighties, or maybe even ninety-something.

  • capricornrising profile image

    capricornrising 

    6 years ago from Wilmington, NC

    Ms. Lizzy, I didn't know that Anne had died in November until Patty Inglish posted about it just now. I wasn't sure you were aware. She was a great, great writer.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    6 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello, there, capricornrising--

    Thank you so very much for your input. the Pern series is indeed complex and fascinating. So glad you enjoyed the article.

  • capricornrising profile image

    capricornrising 

    6 years ago from Wilmington, NC

    I ADORE the Pern books, and own almost all, if not all, of them. The complexity of her world, its characters, society, the fabulous surprise tie back to Earth's "history" (really its future), and especially, the class strata, adventures and rituals that have arisen because of the necessity of dealing with "thread" make for highly satisfying journeys through each book. Sorry to go on and on, but thank you for this hub!

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    6 years ago from Oakley, CA

    @ GoGvo-- Thanks for your input. Nice to meet another Pern fan.

    @ suzettenaples--Thanks so much for stopping by. You might want to check them out--the Pern stories are about so much more than just dragons! Thanks also for the votes!

  • suzettenaples profile image

    Suzette Walker 

    6 years ago from Taos, NM

    Although I am not much interested in dragon stories or novels, this is an interesting hub and I had not heard of PERN books before. So, this is very informative and you are very knowledgeable on the subject. Great hub! voted up! And I like the illustrations!

  • GoGvo profile image

    GoGvo 

    6 years ago from London

    They are good books... Easy to read, pern is a entertaining escapism!

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