HelenEdith's Blog

The minutiae of my life, plus website updates and book reviews

Posts Tagged ‘mccaffrey’

Book Review: Anne & Todd McCaffrey – Dragon Harper

Posted by HelenEdith on July 27, 2009

It seems that Anne & Todd are continuing to collaborate rather than Todd being set loose alone again in Pern after his one solo foray in Dragonsblood. The collaboration yields novels which are nearer to the original style of a Pern novel than Todd’s single solo novel was.

The thing about Pern is that it has Intervals which last for 200 Turns between the Passes when Thread falls; and there are Pern books set during a number of different Passes. There aren’t so many set during the Intervals, although as with this book, some are set as a Pass approaches. Anyway, it means that there are huge time periods which haven’t been explored in any Pern novels so far, and therefore new novels can easily be created, either by Anne & Todd collaborating, as here, or by either alone. A complete new set of characters will exist in a novel set in a time not yet explored, so there isn’t a huge problem with continuity, although I was a little surprised by the presence of fire lizards in Dragon Harper. I thought that they had ceased to be kept as companions 500 Turns after Landing, and were not rediscovered until several more Passes had been and gone.

The fire lizards in the story are useful, but are not the main plot of the story. The plot is one which Anne & Todd must have dreamed up a couple of years ago, but it’s a very topical one right now, as it concerns an Influenza epidemic which is spreading through Pern.

The main character in the story is Kindan, who also appears in Dragon’s Kin and Dragon’s Fire, the other two novels in which mother and son have collaborated. Kindan is now resident at the Harper Hall, where he is an apprentice. He is desperately searching old Records for mention of earlier Plagues, when a mishap with a torch results in a fire among the Records. Kindan is expelled from the Harper Hall and banished to nearby Fort Hold, where the Influenza epidemic is taking a terrible toll. With the Healer dead, it falls upon Kindan to do the best he can for the sick of Fort Hold.

The dragons pop in and out of the book, but they are more out than in, due to the risk of infecting the Weyrfolk shortly before a Pass. Kindan takes on Harper duties not usually expected of an apprentice as Pern faces the twin perils of the Influenza and starvation caused by having no-one to gather food. Kindan tackles both problems, and all comes out right in the end.

This was a good read in the usual McCaffrey style. One wonders how much longer Anne will exercise a certain amount of control over her son’s Pern efforts in a bid to keep him conforming to the original style of the books.

It also occurs to me that I would be interested to read something by Todd McCaffrey alone set somewhere other than Pern. I’d like to know whether he’s got what it takes to build his own universe, and what his style would be like when unconstrained by previous books written by his mother. I suspect that he may not have quite the same interest in anthropology and music as his mother obviously has, so any solo books he produces might be quite different.

Actually, I’d probably read the books if Todd would write about the Brain & Brawn ships or the Crystal Singer universe (which are connected) as those are two series for which I would love to have more episodes to read. Bearing the potential differences in his style in mind, however, I don’t guarantee that I’d like them as much as what his mother has already produced.

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Book Review: Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough – Second Wave

Posted by HelenEdith on January 4, 2009

(Book two of the spin-off series dealing with Acorna’s Children)

This book is also about Khorii, daughter of Acorna and Aari. The plague from First Warning appears to have run its course, and Khorii, who has a talent for being able to see the plague, is checking whether the plague has really gone.

The illness may have, but it turns out that the bodies of those who died are not staying at rest. In fact, they have developed a taste for inorganic materials and have started devouring buildings and spaceships.

We don’t really get a resolution to this problem during Second Wave, but we do get Ariin entering the story. She is the twin who was stolen by Grimalkin and she was brought up in an earlier time by the Friends, who want to study her. She finds out the truth about herself and manages to get hold of Grimalkin’s time-travel device and brings herself forward to her own time, where she demands to see her parents.

Acorna and Aari are still in quarantine due to being plague carriers, but Ariin gets to meet her sister Khorii. Unlike Khorii, Ariin knows the truth about the cat Khiindi – namely that he’s really Grimalkin and responsible for her incarceration in the past. Khiindi knows that she knows, too!

I daresay that there will be a showdown between Ariin and Khiindi at some point, but it isn’t in this book. I will keep reading. I have Third Watch reserved at the library even as I write this.

I should add a note about the glossary at the end of the book. It’s useful to refer to in order to keep the growing number of characters in the series straight, but you almost need to get the glossary from the previous book rather than this one to use as reference, as the glossary at the end of this book lets slip some of the items of the plot.

The other comment I would make about this book is that the editing was a bit questionable. I noticed a couple of things that weren’t “quite right”, but the most glaring was a reference to Petaybee (which is a planet in a different series written by McCaffrey and Scarborough) in a context where I think that Vhiliinyar or maybe narhii-Vhiliinyar was the intended place.

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Book Review: Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough – Deluge

Posted by HelenEdith on September 20, 2008

(Book three of The Twins of Petaybee)

Much of Deluge takes place away from Petaybee, as the twins leave on a mission to help their friend Marmie, who has been arrested for rescuing the people from Halau.

There is action going on upon Petaybee as well, as the resourceful folks from Kilcoole evade the invading force who, after arresting Marmie, have decided to turn their attentions to the inhabitants of Petaybee.

The twins end up on the prison world Gwinnet, where Marmie has been taken, along with the refugees from Halau and all of Marmie’s not incosiderable number of employees. There they set about trying to free Marmie, assisted by Sky the otter and Zuzu the cat. Things don’t go entirely their own way, and their alien friends help out in ways that aren’t always completely helpful.

It all ends happily with everyone back where they belong, and this could be the end of the series, although if McCaffrey and Scarborough wish to continue it, there are plenty of characters left to explore.

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Book Review: Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough – First Warning

Posted by HelenEdith on September 20, 2008

(Book one of the spin-off series dealing with Acorna’s Children)

In this book, McCaffrey and Scarborough introduce Khorii, Acorna’s daughter. Acorna and her life-mate Aari do also feature in the book, but they take a minor role. The central character of the book is Khorii.

Khorii and her parents are on a simple journey through space (on the Condor, with Captain Becker and his first mate, the Makahomian Temple Cat RoadKill) to visit Acorna’s adopted human relatives when they chance upon a derelict space-liner whose passengers and crew are all dead. It turns out to be their first experience of a plague which is spreading through the Universe.

Khorii uses her healing powers as she has never had to before, as she undertakes a trip through various systems in an attempt to cure people of the plague. She is accompanied by her own Makahomian Temple Cat, Khiindi, who happens to be Grimalkin, trapped in cat form. (Grimalkin popped up in earlier Acorna books, where he was an Ancestral Friend who used his shape-shifting abilities to get up to mischief one too many times, which is how he comes to be confined to a cat’s shape.)

Once again, McCaffrey and Scarborough have come up with a good spacefaring adventure yarn, and I will be on the lookout for the later books in the series, of which I believe there are already a couple.

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Book Review: Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough – Maelstrom

Posted by HelenEdith on August 4, 2008

(Book two of The Twins of Petaybee)

This is another good adventure story. It takes place partly on Halau, an uninhabitable planet where the Honu turtle came from, where the Twins, with the help of Marmie Algemeine and her spaceship “Piaf” go to rescue the remaining Honu turtles and their people; and partly on Petaybee.

The rescue on Halau upsets the commander of a Federation spaceship, and he features again later on in the story.

However, the rescued people and their aquatic animals are delivered by Marmie to Petaybee, where the Twins, in their seal form, escort the Honu to their new home in waters warmed by a volcano. The Twins also want to find the Deep Sea Otters and warn them about the new life forms arriving on Petaybee, as the Honu aren’t all they bring back from Halau, and the other species they bring back is rather less benign than the Honu.

Murel falls asleep while in the ocean and gets attacked by a pod of Orcas who don’t realise that she isn’t just any old seal, but she gets rescued in the nick of time when a whirlpool appears and pulls her under. It would spoil the plot to tell you what happens next. Some of it borders a bit close to fantasy for my liking, but as the plot thickens, it all turns out to be quite reasonable after all.

The story introduces some completely new and unexpected characters at that point; and it also reintroduces the disgruntled spaceship captain from Halau. There are enough developments arising from what happens next, that you’d just know that there was going to be another book in the series, even if you weren’t already aware of its existence. 🙂

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Book Review: Anne & Todd McCaffrey – Dragon’s Fire

Posted by HelenEdith on May 24, 2008

I thought that Todd had now taken over the Pern novels from his mother, but this one is a collaboration between the two of them. This is a sequel to Dragon’s Kin, on which they also collaborated.

I don’t recall the concept of the Shunned cropping up on Pern before, but these are a group of criminals who have been cast out from the various holds. The problem is that their children, who may have done no wrong, are also effectively Shunned, and with Thread due in a few more turns, neither the criminal parents nor their mainly blameless children have protection and the Harper’s Hall is becoming concerned that the Shunned may attempt to obtain shelter from thread by forceful means.

Therefore a Harper is sent out to infiltrate the Shunned with a view to attempting to improve their lot.

Meanwhile, in another theme within the book, the last dangerous firestone mine explodes and there is nowhere for firestone to be obtained to supply the dragons for when thread falls. A new firestone mine is discovered, but study of old manuscripts leads some young Harper students to believe that the dragons used to use a less dangerous form of firestone, so a quest to rediscover it is started.

This is a good yarn, as are most of the McCaffrey books. I have to say that these collaborations have worked better for me than the one solo Todd McCaffrey Pern book I have read so far. Maybe Anne thought so too and decided that Todd needed to collaborate for a bit longer!

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Book Review: Anne McCaffrey & Elizabeth Ann Scarborough – Changelings

Posted by HelenEdith on March 22, 2008

(Book one of The Twins of Petaybee)

It is some time since I read the original three Petaybee novels, and I was pleased to see that McCaffrey and Scarborough have revisited Petaybee and produced a new series set there.

Petaybee is a planet which has been terraformed and settled, with the settlers mainly being Irish and Innuit. It’s a cold planet, and Sean Shongili, who appeared in the original series, is genetically modified and able to shape-shift between human and seal forms – which makes him a Selkie – a useful adaption in such a cold climate.

He is married to Yana Maddock, who also appeared in the original series, and this novel starts with the birth of their twins Ronan Born for Water Shongili and Murel Monster Slayer Shongili. The twins have inherited their father’s shape-shifting ability.

This novel follows the twins from babyhood to adolescence, and charts the mishaps and dangers encountered by a pair of Selkie children whose abilities need to be kept secret from off-worlders who would like to capture them and study them.

As always, McCaffrey and Scarborough manage to spin a good tale and I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

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Book review: Anne McCaffrey – Pegasus in Space

Posted by HelenEdith on September 27, 2007

This is the third book in the ‘Talent’ series – a series which Anne McCaffrey started back in 1959. This book neatly fills a gap between ‘Pegasus in Flight’ (the second ‘Talent’ book) and ‘The Rowan’ (the first ‘Tower and Hive’ book).

Anne McCaffrey has remained true to her original characters, but has incorporated things into this latest book which hadn’t been thought of in 1959. The one that comes to mind is the ‘Reeve Board’: a device which those with a spinal injury can use to keep their muscles in tone. I’m not aware of whether there actually *is* a Reeve Board in reality, but this book is dedicated to Christopher Reeve, so we know where she got the idea from.

The story told by the book is that of Peter Reidinger, who also appeared earlier in the ‘Talent’ series. Peter has a spinal injury, but has learnt to move using telekinesis. He can move not only himself, but also other objects, and he can move them considerable distances. His powers of telepathy also come in handy, and he’s on hand to avert more than one disaster in space as the story unfolds.

Anne McCaffrey’s ‘Talent’ and ‘Tower and Hive’ books are my favourites among all of her work. I can almost feel I’m there with the kinetics as they shift loads by mental strength – with a little help from special generators they can tap into. I would love there to be more books in this series.

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