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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Anne McCaffrey returns to Pern for more adventures of the Dragonriders in a novel sure to surprise and amaze her fans. As her readers need no reminder, Pern is a planet plagued by deadly silver strands called Thread falling from its skies, in cycles determined by the orbiting Red Star. Dragons were genetically developed by the ancients to battle Thread by burning it from the air before it can harm the life below.
In All the Weyrs of Pern, beloved Masterharper Robinton and riders F'lar and Lessa excavated the ruins of the planet's original settlement and uncovered the colonists' Artificial Intelligence Voice Address System (AIVAS). This archive contains technological advances that have been sealed away for centuries, but many people think they are an Abomination.
Now Shankolin, an Abominator who tried to destroy AIVAS, escapes imprisonment when a meteorite strikes the prison, and he sets out to organize an underground movement against AIVAS-based advances. Meanwhile, charming young F'lessan, son of F'lar and Lessa and rider of the bronze dragon Golanth, visits Landing Weyr to undertake research there. When F'lessan meets Tai, a bright and beautiful but shy Dragonrider, he is intrigued by her love of astronomy, and as they study the skies together, romance begins to bloom. F'lar and Lessa also reappear; more experienced than the younger generation, they are concerned with the coming final fall of Thread and with how society will change in its aftermath.
McCaffrey's latest installment is action-packed with disasters wreaked by the saboteurs, a comet from the Oort Cloud, and a thrilling development concerning the psychic powers of the dragons. Shankolin's tactics shake the courage of the Holders, Master Craftsmen, and commonfolk of Pern, but the Harpers prove themselves skillful counteragents. Even during the horrors of the Comet's assault, with its attendant massive flooding and tidal waves that leave hundreds without homes or possessions -- an assault that the Abominators blame on interference with AIVAS -- F'lessan, Tai, and their dragons conceive a bold plan to present to the Master Council that will deal both with those who fear change in their society and with danger from the skies.
McCaffrey sets up an ambitious array of questions in The Skies of Pern. How will the culture adapt to the advances offered by AIVAS? How will Pern adapt to life without Thread? And how will Dragonriders, who have always been honored by Holds and Halls for their protection against Thread, assimilate into this new culture once the threat of Thread has passed? Fans will love the characters of F'lessan and Tai and will find McCaffrey's new developments deeply satisfying. (Fiona Kelleghan)
Fiona Kelleghan is a librarian at the University of Miami. Book reviews editor for Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts, she has written reviews and articles for Science-Fiction Studies; Extrapolation; The New York Review of Science Fiction; Science Fiction Research Association Review; Nova Express; St. James Guide to Science Fiction Writers; Magill's Guide to Science Fiction and Fantasy Literature; Neil Barron's Fantasy and Horror: A Critical and Historical Guide; Contemporary Novelists, 7th Edition; and American Women Writers. Her book Mike Resnick: An Annotated Bibliography and Guide to His Work was published by Alexander Books in 2000.