Today’s review is for Dragonsdawn by Anne McCaffrey. This is the story of how humans came to the planet of Pern and how the dragons that protect them came to be.
A group of humans, desperate to escape the technological and technocratic society they live in, not to mention a recent war that ravaged their planets, travel to the planet Pern on the edge of known space to make a new start and build a civilization that relies less on technology and more on humanity.
To begin with everything goes well, with only minor hiccups along the way to them achieving their goal, but several years after landing and starting their colony disaster strikes; without warning they are subjected to a mysterious rain, a rain that eats everything carbon based it touches, a rain that falls again and again.
There is no escape, the ships that brought them can’t take them away again, they must stay and defend themselves, and so begins a project to alter the native flying lizards and develop a self-reproducing means of surviving – the dragons of Pern.
This is a great novel with some wonderful characters, people I really care about. It doesn’t go into as much detail as it could about the mechanics of establishing a colony on a far off planet, but that’s good because it focuses instead on the characters, how they interact with one another and their new home, the joy of discovery and the pleasure of living a better life. In the second half the story changes as the colony has to fight for survival.
Anne McCaffrey does a great job of bringing out the best and worst of people as they react to the threat, and I can’t help thinking that what she describes must have been influenced in part by the way Great Britain faced the blitz during WW2.
Overall the best thing I can say about this book is that even after repeated readings I still tear up at the death of one of the main characters. To me that’s the sign of a great writer.