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The Worlds of Anne McCaffrey

"In what started as a short story to improve the public image of the much maligned 'dragon,' I wrote 'Weyr Search,' set on a planet orbiting the sun Rukbat which I located on the National Geographic Star Map in the lower left hand corner. One million words later, I'm not allowed to stop!"

-- Anne McCaffrey, 1988

Anne McCaffrey was among the most successful writers in the entire field of science fiction. In a career that spanned over forty years, she wrote more than thirty novels and many shorter works of fiction, worked on at least a dozen collaborative novels, became the first woman to win a Hugo Award and a Nebula Award, and thoroughly earned the SFWA's accolade of "Grand Master of SF."

The Dragonriders of Pern

The Dragonriders of Pern is McCaffrey's best known set of works, including some twenty novels and several short stories spanning more than two thousand years of the history of the planet Pern. Originally intended as a quiet, pastoral colony, Pern become something else completely when the young colony was attacked from the skies by a deadly spaceborne organism called "Thread." To defend against the regular attacks by this lethal silver rain, the colonists developed an indigenous animal into enormous, intelligent, telepathic creatures very similar to Earthly dragons. The fire-breathing dragons and their riders are Pern's main defense against Thread.

The Pern books can be read in several different orders. I recommend you read them in the order I've listed them in.

  • DRAGONFLIGHT
    Author: McCaffrey, Anne
    Copyright:1968
    Publisher: Ballantine Books
    ISBN: 0-345-28426-7
    Volume 1 of THE DRAGONRIDERS OF PERN trilogy. Covers the end of 8th interval and start of 9th Pass, from the Search that finds Lessa to her ride _between_ to bring the Oldtimers forward. Actually an anthology of four novelets: WEYR SEARCH, DRAGONFLIGHT, DUST FALL, and THE COLD BETWEEN.
  • DRAGONQUEST
    Author: McCaffrey, Anne
    Copyright:1974
    Publisher: Ballantine Books
    ISBN:
    It's been seven years since the Oldtimers came forward in time with Lessa. Pern has been saved, but at a cost. While the Oldtimers are trying to live the way they did in the Oldtime, the social changes during the Long Interval between Threadfalls has created a society that is no longer ready to simply wait out Thread attacks, or tolerate the Oldtimers' arrogant ways. When the Lords of Pern's Holds demand that the dragonriders find a way to end Thread forever, tensions begin building between factions that lead to a major confrontation.
  • DRAGONSONG
    Author: McCaffrey, Anne
    Copyright:1976
    Publisher: Bantam Books
    ISBN: 0-553-25852-4
    First of the Harperhall trilogy: Menolly is a lonely young girl at a Hold in eastern Pern called Half-Circle Sea Hold. Half-Circle is a working Hold with little time or tolerance for those who don't want to do sea-work. But Menolly isn't interested in sea-work; she would rather be a musician, a member of Pern's Harper Craft Hall. DRAGONSONG is about Menolly's life in Half-Circle Hold and how she comes to leave the place, and manage to become the owner of nine fire-lizards (the small, indigenous creatures that were engineered into the great dragons).
  • DRAGONSINGER
    Author: McCaffrey, Anne
    Copyright:1977
    Publisher: Bantam Books
    ISBN: 0-553-25854-0
    Second of the Harperhall trilogy, this short YA novel tells the story of Menolly's first week in the Harper Hall.
  • DRAGONDRUMS
    Author: McCaffrey, Anne
    Copyright:1979
    Publisher: Bantam Books
    ISBN: 0-553-25855-9
    Third of the Harperhall trilogy. Piemur was a great singer with a fine high treble voice. But now he can't sing anymore because his voice is changing. Instead, he's given new duties as a drum apprentice, and he finds himself in the middle of a series of adventures that change his life forever.
  • WHITE DRAGON, THE
    Author: McCaffrey, Anne
    Copyright:1979
    Publisher: Ballantine Books
    ISBN:
    They are the most unusual rider/dragon pair in Pernese history: Jaxom of Ruatha and his white dragon Ruth. Ruth is a runt that no one thinks will ever amount to anything. But Jaxom trains him in secret, to fly, and breathe fire, and to fight Thread. Then a sudden disastrous action by the exiled Oldtimers causes a crisis that only Jaxom and Ruth can solve. I personally think this is far and away the best single book in the entire Pern series.
  • DRAGONSDAWN
    Author: McCaffrey, Anne
    Copyright:1988
    Publisher: Del Rey
    ISBN: 0-345-36286-1
    In this novel, the series jumps back in time more than two thousand Pernese years, to the time when human colonists first landed on Pern. It tells the story of that initial landing: how the colonists explored their new world, spread out, and built houses, homesteads, and towns. It also tells of the monstrosity that struck from the sky when the colony was only eight years old: the silvery organism called Thread, brought to Pern by its wandering sister-planet the Red Star. And it tells how the colonists mobilized to fight back against this rain of destruction from the skies.
  • MORETA: DRAGONLADY OF PERN
    Author: McCaffrey, Anne
    Copyright:1983
    Publisher: Ballantine Books
    ISBN: 0-345-29873-X
    By Ninth Pass she is only a legend: Moreta, Weyrwoman of Fort Weyr at one of the most critical times in Pernese history. Near the end of Sixth Pass, Pern is struck by a vicious viral plague, which kills people by the hundreds in Pern's overcrowded Holds. Even the dragonriders who protect the land and people against Thread are not immune. Even worse, the plague comes in waves, and each wave leaves Pern weaker. A team of Holders, Healers, and dragonriders must find a cure before the plague kills so many people that those remaining cannot keep things going.
  • RENEGADES OF PERN, THE
    Author: McCaffrey, Anne
    Copyright:1989
    Publisher: Del Rey
    ISBN: 0-345-36933-5
    With this novel, the story jumps forward in time again, back to Ninth Pass. In the twenty years just prior to Ninth Pass, an angry young noblewoman named Thella fled into the hills. Over time she assembled a band of "holdless" renegades -- criminals one and all, killers and raiders, like landbound pirates -- and became a marauding force across the Northern Continent. After the Pass begins, Thella's path crosses those of a young trader named Jayge and a very special girl named Aramina, who has the rare talent of being able to hear any dragon. Intertwined with this story is a secondary story of how the Pernese found the old Landing site and began rediscovering the technology of their distant ancestors.
  • ALL THE WEYRS OF PERN
    Author: McCaffrey, Anne
    Copyright:1991
    Publisher: Del Rey
    ISBN: 0-345-36893-2
    A grand-scale SF adventure which tells how the Ninth Pass Pernese began using their rediscovered technology, including a long-buried computer system called AIVAS, to develop and carry out a plan to finally drive Thread away from Pern forever. AIVAS is dervied from a computer system brought by the colonists, but over the centuries it has developed into something more than just a computer. As a fully developed artificial intelligence, it becomes a character in its own right, as vibrant and alive as any other on Pern.
  • DOLPHINS OF PERN, THE
    Author: McCaffrey, Anne
    Copyright:1994
    Publisher: Del Rey
    ISBN: 0-345-36895-9
    They are the other colonists of Pern: the dolphins. The original Pern colony included a number of dolphins that had been genetically engineered for greater intelligence and an ability to speak. But in the chaos that followed the First Threadfall, the humans lost contact with the dolphins. The dolphins never stopped hoping that things would change and the humans would rediscover the age-old friendship . . . and now, in Ninth Pass, they finally have. AIVAS's records and a chance encounter lead a young Pernese boy named Readis to rediscover the dolphins and become Pern's first dolphineer in more than two thousand years.
  • CHRONICLES OF PERN, THE: FIRST FALL
    Author: McCaffrey, Anne
    Copyright:1993
    Publisher: Del rey
    ISBN: 0-345-36899-1
    Anthology of five Pern short stories, all from First Pass or earlier. 'The P.E.R.N. Survey' tells of the first EEC survey of Pern. 'The Dolphins' Bell' is about a savage storm that nearly wrecked the Second Crossing. 'The Ford of Red Hanrahan' is about the founding of Ruatha Hold. 'The Second Weyr' tells of the establishment of three new Weyrs: Benden, Ista, and Telgar. 'Rescue Run' tells of the only post-Fall contact between the FSP and Pern: a cruiser that found and rescued a handful of survivors.
  • DRAGONSEYE
    Author: McCaffrey, Anne
    Copyright:1997
    Publisher: Del Rey
    ISBN: 0-345-41879-4

  • MASTERHARPER OF PERN, THE
    Author: McCaffrey, Anne
    Copyright:1998
    Publisher: Del Rey
    ISBN: 0-345-38823-2
    Masterharper Robinton is already a familiar character to Ninth Pass Pern. But where did he come from and how did he become one of the most powerful and influential men on Pern? This novel answers that question, as it follows Robinton's life from his childhood up to the beginning of Ninth Pass.
  • SKIES OF PERN, THE
    Author: McCaffrey, Anne
    Copyright:2001
    Publisher: Del rey
    ISBN: 0-345-43468-4
    A very different kind of Pern story. As a result of the discovery of the AIVAS computer, a vicious conflict has erupted within Pernese society. A faction of Holders and crafters want to preserve the traditional Pernese culture by destroying all traces of the "new" technology provided by AIVAS. The reactionaries aren't above using force to get what they want, either. In the middle of this conflict, Pern is threatened by a new menace from the skies: a huge meteorite that strikes the planet with enough force to trigger planet-wide earthquakes and massive destruction.

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The Brainships series

While Pern is McCaffrey's best-known series, it's not her only one. The "Brainship" series, for example, started as a short story, grew into a series of short stories, and finally spun off several novels that McCaffrey wrote in collaboration with other SF authors. The basic premise is that in a far-future universe, humans who have normal minds and sevrely deformed bodies can be encased in "shells" -- permanent life-support systems which essentially turn the "shell-person" inside into a human computer. Shell-people are ideal for employment as high-grade core "brains" for advanced equipment such as small starships, orbiting space stations, and other applications that require a core processor more advanced than a computer.

  • SHIP WHO SANG, THE
    Author: McCaffrey, Anne
    Copyright:1969
    Publisher: Del Rey
    ISBN: 0-345-28505-0
    An anthology of the five stories that began the Brainships arc. Helva is a shell-person with a talent for singing and a fiery, active personality. Shellpeople are supposed to be organic computers, with no emotions and no ability for emotional entanglements. Helva is unusual in more ways than one, though...
  • SHIP WHO SEARCHED, THE
    Author: McCaffrey and lackey
    Copyright:1992
    Publisher: Baen
    ISBN: 0-671-72129-1
    Tia was an ordinary, happy young girl, living with her parents on their archaeological digs. Then an alien disease left her completely paralyzed from the neck down. Her doctor was able to get her into the shell program, though, and now Tia is a starship with a brawn she loves and a mission.

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The Pegasus/Talent series

Another series that began with a short story and .... grew. Actually, the Talent series grew out of two short stories that had little in common except the concept of psi-Talented humans.

  • WINGS OF PEGASUS, THE
    Author: McCaffrey, Anne
    Copyright:1990
    Publisher: GildAmerica
    ISBN:
    Omnibus edition of TO RIDE PEGASUS and PEGASUS IN FLIGHT
  • PEGASUS IN SPACE
    Author: McCaffrey, Anne
    Copyright:2000
    Publisher: Del Rey
    ISBN: 0-345-43467-6

  • ROWAN, THE
    Author: McCaffrey, Anne
    Copyright:1990
    Publisher: Del Rey
    ISBN: 0-441-73576-2

  • DAMIA'S CHILDREN
    Author: McCaffrey, Anne
    Copyright:1993
    Publisher: Ace Books
    ISBN: 0-441-00007-X
    Last in the Talent/FT&T series.

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Planet Pirates

An alien world inhabited by Earth animals -- primarily dinosaurs -- became the germ of the Planet Pirate universe, another long-running series of novels, some written by McCaffrey alone, others by her in cooperation with other authors.

  • DINOSAUR PLANET
    Author: McCaffrey, Anne
    Copyright:1978
    Publisher: Del Rey
    ISBN: 0-345-30776-3
    Kai and Varian are the leaders of an expedition to the planet Ireta. Their primary mission is to catalog the planet's lifeforms and search for mine-able mineral ores. But there are no ores where they should be, and the planet's animals bear some striking -- and impossible -- resemblances to the ancient Earth animals called dinosaurs. What's going on on Ireta? Why isn't the expedition mothership responding to communications? And why are some of the explorer team acting like they don't want to leave?
  • DINOSAUR PLANET SURVIVORS
    Author: McCaffrey, Anne
    Copyright:1984
    Publisher: Del Rey
    ISBN: 0-345-27246-3
    After forty years in cold-sleep, Kai, Varian, and their teammates awaken to find that Ireta is threatened by "planet pirates": greedy men and women who seize valuable planets from thie Federation and then exploit the planets' resources for their own gain. Meanwhile, they still have no idea why Ireta is inhabited by Earth dinosaurs. Nor do they have any explanation for why the alien Thek, senior members of the Federation, also claim Ireta as their own.

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