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Dragons of Pern Series by Anne McCaffrey
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, , this crew is piloting a spaceship of colonists, intent on setting up human habitation elsewhere in the galaxy. 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...we later discover what that acronym was. Dragons Dawn
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.
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.
© 2011 Liz Elias