Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern: Dragon's Time by Todd McCaffrey

Lorana, the Dragonqueen Rider, has at last cured the plague that was killing the Dragons of Pern. But doing so extracted its own horrible cost: her own Golden Queen died in the plague, along with too many other Dragons of all colors. Now, there aren't enough Dragons left to successfully fight the horrible thread that falls from the sky, and the Dragons that are left will slowly fall in fighting thread. Unless something is done, the Dragons who daily fight thread will wither away and die.

The only one who can possibly save the Dragons is Lorana, and with no Queen she must ride a borrowed Queen Dragon into both the past and the future to find a cure. But isn't it impossible to change what has already happened? As Lorana herself discovers, the Laws of Time may not be broken, but they can be bent. Although even for that bending to occur, there will be some significant consequences. But to save the people and Dragons she loves, Lorana is willing to do anything.

Meanwhile, back in the Weyrs, the Queens rest and eat and prepare to clutch. But the humans have their own issues to deal with. Even without enough Dragons, and all the Queens mating and clutching, there needs to be enough Dragonriders to ride those new Dragons. And all those candidates must be searched and trained and housed and fed. And that will require a great deal of resources, not to mention trainers and cooks, and new places to house all the new dragons and their riders.

And Lorana isn't going to be responsible for saving the Dragons on her own. In the current time, the Weyrwoman Fiona, and her husband, Kindan, are going to have to be the planners who see to it that all the other things need to be done, the finding of new places to Weyr dragons, and setting up those Weyrs and seeing to it that they are manned and supplied. But there will be a price for all this timing it and cheating time. The question is... is it one that Pern as a whole is prepared to pay?

I don't really know what to think about Todd McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern stories. Yes, he's Anne McCaffrey's son, and he grew up with these stories as told to him by his mom, but his writing, while it's fine in its own way, doesn't really have the same feel to me as hers did. It feels hollow and empty and different, and not in a good way. There was a lyrical quality to Anne's words that Todd lacks, and he also lacks clarity.

With so much back and forth-ing through time, any writer must have clarity to make it clear what is going on and to make the plot understandable. This book starts off okay, but soon ends up a confused mess, and I don't know that having to put the book down several times along the way hindered me from understanding the plot, but it certainly didn't help! Characters appear, disappear, have to act nasty and hateful, because to move the time travel plot along requires it, and.. Let's just say it very soon turns into a horrible, muddled mess, and it doesn't really get better. The author's note makes it clear that the Author's agent wanted to take Pern "In a new direction", but that direction is a major wrong turn.

What really rankles is how past Pernese history and conventions are completely ignored or turned on their ear. Between is now a place more like hyperspace than a dark, cold black endlessness, and when Lorana found a "pocket" in it, I had a hard time not throwing the book down and going, "Come on!" I don't want to say that Todd's "new direction" and writing is the equivalent of him spitting on her legacy, but it comes damn close, and that is extremely disappointing. Todd, maybe you should stick to writing your own stories set in your own worlds. It can't be any worse than this.

For anyone who enjoyed the original Pern books, this book and this entire new series, is a disappointment. I kept hoping for it to get better, and it didn't. I can't recommend this book at all, and in fact, I'd advise you to avoid it completely. Pern's stories ended with Anne's passing, and I think fans will just have to face that. Not recommended.


Anonymous said...

I do sincerely regret the passing of the PERN magic that I've loved for many years.
This Todd may have a "new direction" for Pern but it is no longer the planet I fell in love with so many years ago. In my 78 years I've seen many writers come and go, and am waiting till he is forced to stop killing off the= up to his event ==mostly healthy dragons. I will no longer waste money on any book with his name on it.

What I would love to see are new Pern books written by the grand master's previous companions who wrote with her. Perhaps Anne herself could outline her idea of a new book and have these two, Elizabeth Moon and Jody Lynn Nye write the new books. There are also others who have written with her, far more successfully than her own son.
Others have done this when the original writers have been unable to continue their popular series.
I will continue to read again the old magic ones and totally avoid any new ones with her son's name on them. They are of a place I don't like and never want to read about again.

LadyRhian said...

I have to say, I agree with you. This is not the Pern I loved as a young woman, and I resent the publisher labeling this as a Pern book. It wasn't, in any of the ways that matter.