Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
Isaac and Reid dig into the legendary world of Pern. Dragonflight put Anne McCaffrey on the radar of science fiction and fantasy, and introduced the world to Pern. Made up of four stories – the first of two which were published previously as separate short stories – Dragonflight is a story of dragons, time travel, and how to blend the line between science fiction and fantasy. Anne McCaffrey is a well decorated author and among other awards was name the 2005 Grandmaster of the Science Fiction Fantasy Writers of America.
Discussed this Episode
- The world of Pern. How Lessa goes from being a woman who wanted to inherit her birthright hold to the dragonwoman of Pern. The “thread” and the need for dragons to stop this thread from burning the world.
- How this is not your expected dragon story. Dragons were engineered to protect Pern. Pern is strictly unique. Dragons can time travel. How the discussion of “the between” allows for a lack of show when time travel is introduced.
- Expectation vs Reality. The Prologue to the story does borderline more work than the actual story itself. The Prologue builds the world, sets the tone, but the actions and scenes carry a weight that does not necessarily build the world. Dragonflight focuses much on the politics. And the dragons themselves don’t make much of an appearance.
- The importance of: who is talking, where are they, why do I care?
- The Level of Inaccessibility. The lore of the world is deep. Names are similar. Keeps and holds can mix. There are segments of the book where you can go pages where there are only proper nouns deep in the lore of Pern. On one side this allows for a deep world to get lost in, but there is a steep learning cure in order to get lost in the fantasy experience.
- Are the characters worth it? Isaac and Reid would say no, that the characters stand on each of their sides, but there is not much if any change in the characters.
- Fax was a bad guy, but we never see how awful he was. We see through F’lar’s eyes a ruler who is not keeping up traditions. We see through Lessa’s eyes someone who took the keep from her; but, we do not see the horrors of Fax being an awful ruler.
- The divide between F’lar’s perspective of how to utilize dragons and get his way is one that is set in stone, and he wins. There is not growth.
- Perhaps due to the time this story was written, it feels like it is unfair to criticize Dragonflight on its lack of depth of character and being compared to contemporary stories.
- Constantly while read we were asking ourselves: who is talking? where are they? why do we care?
- There are iconic moments, especially the moment of Lessa traveling back in time and speaking with the past dragonriders. The conversation of how dragonriders have a purpose when the thread is falling, but do not feel the purpose if there is not a danger of the thread.
- The question of, is it worth it to get to these powerful moments? And that is tough. Luckily the prose reads easily.
- We understand there is plenty of love for Dragonflight, so we focus in on the elements that just didn’t work for us.
- The characters. Lessa has a tragic backstory, but she stays flat as needing to prove herself and seeking out an enemy that isn’t there. And the blatant sexism of how she can’t do anything unless F’lar allows it. Which leads to the discussion of F’lar and his savior syndrome.
- The Queen Dragon Chase. The lack of romance between F’lar and Lessa, and how there is an animalistic chase that then becomes this just justified reason for these two people to be together. Can you compare this story to modern or contemporary stories? Could this problematic relationship have been explored? (Remember that The Left Hand of Darkness was published a year later.)
- 6/7: The Unbroken by CL Clark
- 6/21: Short Stories of Karen Osborne, including:
- The Two Bullet War, read on Beneath Ceaseless Skies
- Cratered, read on Future, Science Fiction Digest
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