Thursday, October 14, 2010

100 Days of Fantasy: Day 65

This is an ongoing series looking at novels that influenced me as a fantasy author.

by Anne McCaffrey

DragonflightAs a young teen in the early 1980s, I was trying to expand my reading experiences into fantasy and science fiction, so I joined the Science Fiction Book Club in order to do so. One of the books I picked out as a member of the club was this one, Dragonflight.

Why did I pick it? Well, because it had a dragon on the cover and actually had the word "dragon" in the title. I knew next to nothing about the other than she seemed fairly popular, and the book was about dragons. What could go wrong?

It was an interesting tale, enough to cause me to read another half dozen books from this author, mixing fantasy and, later in the story, a little science fiction. The plot revolves around a background of humans living on a planet where every so often a deadly rain of giant silver string-like objects called Thread come from the skies and kill everything they touch. The only defense against the Thread are the dragons of Pern, the planet. Dragonriders ride the dragons and destroy the Thread.

It was a different take on the dragon myths than anything I'd ever read, and I enjoyed the take McCaffrey took with her story.

Eventually, I tired of McCaffrey. It wasn't that she was a bad writer, but I got to a point where I felt she'd said all she had to say that would be of interest to me. I guess there are only so many dragons of Pern stories I can read. I've not been back to this author in nearly 25 years, but perhaps I will someday.

If I learned anything from Dragonflight, and the other Pern novels I read, it was the idea of rethinking, reshaping our preconceptions about iconic figures, such as dragons, and the stories they inhabit. It was another way of thinking, a new way of thinking to the young writer I was back in the day.

Up next: Wizardry and Wild Romance

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