The Skies of Pern (Dragonriders of Pern Series #16)

The Skies of Pern (Dragonriders of Pern Series #16)

by Anne McCaffrey

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The Skies of Pern (Dragonriders of Pern Series #16) by Anne McCaffrey

In this triumphant return to Pern, Anne McCaffrey takes us on an adventure as surprising and unforgettable as any that has come before . . .

It is a time of hope and regret, of endings and beginnings. The Red Star, that celestial curse whose eccentric orbit was responsible for Thread, has been shifted to a harmless orbit, and the current Threadfall will be the last. Technological marvels are changing the face of life on Pern. And the dragonriders, led by F'lessan, son of F'lar and Lessa and rider of bronze Golanth, and Tia, rider of green Zaranth, must forge a new place for themselves in a world that may no longer need them.

But change is not easy for everyone. There are those who will stop at nothing—not even violence—to keep Pern and its people pure. And now a brand-new danger looms from the skies . . . and threatens a catastrophe of unimaginable proportions.

Once again, the world looks to the dragons and their riders to solve the crisis and save the world. But now, as the friendship of F'lessan and Tia begins to bloom into something more, unforeseen tragedy strikes: a tragedy destined to forever change the future—not just of the two young lovers, but of every human and dragon on Pern . . .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345434692
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/02/2002
Series: Dragonriders of Pern Series , #16
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 131,685
Product dimensions: 4.17(w) x 6.88(h) x 1.25(d)
Lexile: 920L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

Anne McCaffrey, one of the world’s most popular authors, is best known for her Dragonriders of Pern® series. She was the first woman to win the two top prizes for science fiction writing, the Hugo and Nebula awards. She was also given the American Library Association’s Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement in Young Adult Fiction, was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, and was named a Science Fiction Writers of America Nebula Grand Master. Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1926, McCaffrey relocated to Ireland in the 1970s, where she lived in a house of her own design, named Dragonhold-Underhill. She died in 2011.

From the Hardcover edition.

Read an Excerpt

Part 1


Turnover at Landing—1.1.31 Present Pass Aivas—Aivas Adjusted Turn 2553
Since it was not at all unusual for dragonriders to be found poring over the volumes in the extensive Aivas archives, F’lessan, rider of bronze
Golanth, was not surprised to see a girl wearing the shoulder knots of a green rider from Monaco Bay deeply engrossed in study. What did strike him as odd was that anyone at all was here in the main archive reading room during Turnover. Tonight the planet, north and south continents,
would officially celebrate the beginning of the thirty-second Turn of the present and, hopefully, final Pass of Threadfall. Even through the thick walls of the building, he could hear drums and occasionally the sound of the brass instruments from Landing’s Gather Square.

Why wasn’t the girl, especially a green rider, out dancing? Why wasn’t he? He grimaced. He was still trying to overcome the carelessly lustful reputation that he had earned early in this Pass. Not that he was any different from many bronze and brown riders. “Just more noticeable,”
Mirrim had told him in her candid fashion. Mirrim had astonished everyone, including herself, when she had Impressed green Path at a
Benden Weyr Hatching. Being T’gellan’s weyrmate had mellowed her natural assertiveness, but she never spared him her blunt opinions.

The girl was engrossed in her study of a foldout page depicting Rukbat’s planetary system, spread across the tilted reading desk. Not everyone’s reading choice certainly, F’lessan thought.

Many of the younger riders, who would see the end of this Pass in sixteen Turns, were studying to become proficient in another craft. In that way they would be able to support themselves once the traditional tithe to the Weyrs ceased. While Thread still fell, Hold and Hall would continue to support the dragonriders, in exchange for aerial protection against the voracious organism that could destroy anything but metal and stone. But when Thread ceased, so would that support. Those riders whose families owned holds or halls might simply be reabsorbed, but weyrbred dragonriders like F’lessan had to find another way. Fortunately for
F’lessan, he had discovered Honshu, in the foothills of the great
Southern moun- tain range, and since the Weyrs had wrung out of the council that loosely governed the planet the concession that dragonriders might claim holdings on the Southern continent, F’lessan had claimed Honshu as his. He had based most of his argument on the fact that he intended to restore and preserve the Ancient habitation and its splendors for everyone to enjoy. He had used every ounce of his considerable charm and every jot of guile with other Weyrleaders,
Craftmasters, and Lord Holders in order to secure that title to himself.
And once the formidable intelligence of the Artificial Intelligence
Voice Address System—Aivas—and the combined might of all the Weyrs of
Pern had diverted the orbit of the menacing Red Star, he had begun to spend all the time he could spare from his duties as a Benden Wingleader in refurbishing Honshu.

F’lessan had never been a studious youngster—his interests as well as his concentration span had been limited to escaping lessons whenever he could and having the greatest amount of fun. Impressing bronze Golanth had imposed discipline at last, because there was no way he would neglect his dragon. He had learned a determination and focus that had resulted in his becoming one of the most adept riders, held up as a fine example—at least of riding—by weyrlingmasters.

Honshu had become another passion. The Ancient holding, with the splendid murals in its main hall, had exerted a strange compulsion on him from the start: to preserve the ancient treasures found there and to discover as much as possible about its founders and residents. With the boyish impudence that was his most ingenuous characteristic, he had appointed himself Honshu’s guardian and caretaker. He had worked harder than anyone else in clearing out the muck and mold and restoring the fabric of the place. Tonight he had a puzzle he wanted to solve. He had specifically chosen this time to come to the Aivas facility, hoping to be its sole visitor. He preferred not to share his research—his fascination with Honshu was at odds with his reputation.

You protect Honshu. I like being there very much, said his dragon,
Golanth, from where he had settled himself in the hot noontime sun among the dragons who had brought their riders to Landing’s Turnover festivities. Good sunning places, clear water, and many fat herdbeasts.

Still paused quietly on the threshold of the reading room, F’lessan grinned. You found it. We’ll keep it.

Yes, Golanth agreed amiably.

F’lessan stuffed his riding gloves into the Turnover gift of a fine carisak, giving the wide cuffs a good push; the new wher-hide leather was stiff, despite the good oiling he had given it yesterday evening.
The carisak had been presented to him by Lessa and F’lar. He rarely thought of them as “mother” or “father”: they were his Weyrleaders, and that was more relevant. His birthing day, his Impression Day—the day marking the advent of Golanth into his life—and Turnover were, however,
always recognized by some gift from them. F’lessan didn’t know if this was occasioned by their need to remind him of his parents, or themselves of their son. Fostering was the rule in a weyr, so no child was without several people, not necessarily the birth parents, who took special interest in him or her. As F’lessan grew up and saw how easygoing life was in a weyr, and the conformity required of children in the holds, he was as glad he’d been weyrbred.

He gave the gloves one more shove to store them completely, but still he hesitated to enter the room. He didn’t want to disturb the single reader who was so engrossed in her study that she was unaware of him standing there.

No one has ever disliked your company, said his dragon.

I don’t like to break into such concentration, F’lessan replied. How do we know she isn’t studying an alternative occupation for After?

Dragons will always be needed on Pern, Golanth said stoutly.

Golanth was fond of making that observation. Almost as if Golanth, too,
needed to reassure himself. Maybe it was just the mind-set of a bronze dragon—or more likely Mnementh’s in particular, since F’lar’s great bronze took a keen interest in the subtle tuition of any bronzes hatched on Benden’s sands. However, succeeding F’lar as Weyrleader of Benden was most certainly not in F’lessan’s future plans. F’lessan earnestly hoped that F’lar would lead the Weyr out of this Pass: a triumph in itself,
over and above what F’lar had done at its beginning with the slender force he’d had available then. Being Wingleader suited F’lessan’s blithe personality, especially now that he had claimed Honshu as his special domain. Now, if the Weyrleaders—or rather F’lar—would just come out and say that he and Lessa would retire there, no one would dare contest his claim.

Unlike the position of Lord Holders, the Weyrleadership was not hereditary. A good example was the recent stepping down of R’mart and
Bedella of Telgar. To establish the new leadership, the challenge had been for the best bronze in the Weyr to fly the first junior queen ready to mate. J’fery, rider of bronze Willerth, was now Telgar’s Weyrleader,
and Palla, golden Talmanth’s rider, was Weyrwoman. F’lessan knew them both well, and knew they would lead Telgar Weyr well under Threadfree skies.

If we don’t make the arrogant mistakes that the Oldtimers did, F’lessan added to himself, and expect to continue receiving the perquisites due the Weyrs during a Pass, once there is no more Thread.

A movement brought him back to the present. The girl’s boots scraped over the stone floor as she recrossed her ankles. She was hunched forward over the reading desk and now leaned her elbows on the table.
Her profile was well lit by the softly disseminated light, and she had thinned her lips over whatever it was she was reading. She frowned, then sighed over the wide page. F’lessan saw the well-defined arch of a black eyebrow as her frown relaxed. She had a long and very delicately formed nose, he observed with mild approval. Her hair, a midbrown sparking with red as she moved, was clipped short on top to reduce sweating under her helmet. Left long at the nape of her neck, the wavy mass reached halfway down her back, where it was neatly cut off in a straight line.

She turned her head abruptly, suddenly aware of his scrutiny.

“Sorry. Thought I’d have the place to myself,” F’lessan said genially,
striding forward, his dress shoes making very little sound on the stone floor.

Her startlement suggested to him that she, too, had thought she could study in solitary quiet. She was in the act of pushing back her chair when he held out a hand to prevent her from rising. Most riders knew who he was: he made a habit of flying Thread with the two southern Weyrs and usually attended every Impression. The latter was sheer indulgence on his part, for at each Impression, he and Golanth reaffirmed their lifelong commitment to each other.

Now that he could see her full face, he recognized her.

“You’re Tai, aren’t you? Zaranth’s rider?” he asked, hoping he remembered rightly.

You always do, Golanth murmured.

She’d Impressed, unexpectedly, nearly five Turns ago at Monaco Bay.
She’d come south, though he couldn’t remember from where. There had been so many people flooding through Landing since Aivas was discovered in
2538. While she couldn’t be much older than her mid twenties, he wondered if she’d been part of the workforce during those astonishing five Turns of Aivas. After all, Aivas had demonstrated a distinct bias for green dragons and their riders.

F’lessan stepped forward, extending his hand to her. She looked embarrassed, dropping her eyes as soon as their hands had clasped politely. Her handshake was firm, if brisk almost to the point of rudeness, and he could feel some odd ridges, scars, on the back of her hand and on her forefinger. She wasn’t pretty; she didn’t act sensual,
the way some green riders did, and she was only half a head shorter than he was. She wasn’t too thin, but the lack of flesh on her bones gave her a slightly boyish appearance.

“I’m F’lessan, Golanth’s rider, of Benden.”

“Yes,” she said, shooting him a sharp look. Her eyes were set at an unusual upward slant, but she looked away so quickly he couldn’t see what color they were. Oddly enough, she flushed. “I know.” She seemed to gather breath to continue. “Zaranth just told me that Golanth had apologized for disturbing her nap on the ledge.” She flicked him another almost contrite glance, awkwardly clasping her left wrist with her right hand so that the knuckles turned white.

F’lessan grinned in his most ingratiating fashion. “By nature, Golanth is very considerate.” He gave a little bow and gestured toward the volume open on the reading desk. “Don’t let me disturb your studies.
I’ll be over there.” He pointed to the far right.

He could just as easily work in the alcove as in the main room and not intrude on her solitude. In no time at all he had collected three of the records he thought most likely to contain the information he sought, and brought them to the smaller reading desk in the alcove. A narrow window gave him a view of the eastern hills and the barest sparkle of the sea.
He seated himself, placed the piece of paper that he had brought with him on the table, and started riffling through the thinly coated plastic pages of the COM Tower records. He was looking for one name: Stev
Kimmer, listed in the colony records as Stakeholder on Bitkim Island,
now called Ista Hold. He needed to find any connection between Kimmer and Kenjo Fusaiyuki, who had been the original Honshu Stakeholder.

In his careful clearing of debris in the ancient dwelling place, he had found the initials SK carved or etched on several surfaces: on the metal worktop in the garage of the ancient sled and on several drawers. No other inhabitant had defaced or initialed anything. The only SK not listed as going north in the Second Crossing—when the Thread-beleaguered colonists had resettled at Fort—was Stev Kimmer. Previous research revealed that the man had disappeared with a sled after Ted Tubberman’s illegal launch of an appeal for help from old Earth. Kimmer had not been seen again. The loss of a functional sled had been officially regretted;
Kimmer’s absence had not.


Anne McCaffrey on The Physics of Pern

The Physics of Pern -- ah, yes, well, they have been developed by Dr. Jack Cohen of Warwick University in Dragonsdawn and All the Weyrs of Pern and they are basically Newtonian physics and/or biology in which Jack holds both a Ph.D and a D.Sc. He is also a generalist and was able to correct some of my basic errors which were legion. I satisfied the science requirement at Radcliffe by taking cartography. (Although I did not know at that point in my life, that this would be a valuable asset in my life's work, nonetheless being able to develop a map of new worlds has been extremely valuable. Even expert Karen Wynn Fonstad, whom I helped with details in the Atlas of Pern, remarked that most of my suppositions about Pernese terrain jibed well with what was geologically possible. A case of the subconscious running with an idea in the best possible directions.

To Jack Cohen, I owe the biology of Pern, especially of the dragons and the fire-lizards who supplied the genetic material used to create -- by a special and now-unknown process of the alien race, the Eridani, the dragons of Pern. (You can't just breed large examples of a species to other large examples and keep increasing the size in a few generations.) He also figured out how to decimate the malignant and possibly dangerous life-forms that inhabited the Oort Cloud with the zebedees (his name and creation, a creature that replicates itself despite its environment).

I had, you see, backed myself into a corner in The White Dragon, because there was no way the present day population of Pern could eradicate the mychorrhizoid Thread life form without the help of the original colonists. It was my notion to have a voice address artificial intelligence unit -- AIVAS -- as part of the settlers' equipment and for the present day Pernese to discover this device and learn from it. I might have been ahead of the game in suggesting such a computer in l970 but current computer techniques indicate that such a device -- an artificial intelligence system -- is within the realm of possibility. What I desperately needed was a system by which my Pernese generation could access the technology left by their progenitors so that they could actively fight Thread and honor the Weyrleader's vow to end the Threat of the Red Star forever. Jack was ingenious in working out details from me that would forward this ambition. For instance, how the colony ships were powered. And he figured out that, in order to move such a mass as a planet, there would need to be several attacks on it: He utilized the draconic ability to move between time as well as place. And also set up the zebedees to be sure that the mycorrhizoid spore did not again leave the Oort Cloud. According to the Hoyle-Wickramansingh theory (to which Jack does not personally subscribe but was willing to use as a mechanism in the story) about Oort clouds, many organisms might lurk within such an astronomical features as well as embryonic cometary masses and it would be as well to disseminate a killer virus in the cloud to prevent any recurrence of Thread or similar nebular virii.

So, as far as the physics of Pern is discussed by me in the books, it is legitimate even if it hasn't happened elsewhere. Jack was adamant that I give a logical explanation of as much as I could because then people are more apt to trust you when you come to the improbable. It's much easier to describe Pern as Earth-like in many aspects and that is quite legitimate, too, especially now that we have discovered other star systems do have Earth-type planets around their primaries. I try to have some basis for even the most drastic suggestions I make.

However, I went to the source, as it were, for correct astronomical date for the latest Pern book, Skies of Pern, by asking Dr. Steven M. Beard of Edinburgh Observatory and Scott Manley of the Armagh Observatory for substantiating facts in deploying a Fireball above and into Pern. I went up to Armagh, also meeting Dr. Bill Napier, author of Nemesis, and other members of the observatory staff to see Scott's Cosmic Impact Program from which he directed Pern's fire-ball. Coincidentally, Earth itself had a Near Earth Object scare about the time I finished writing the manuscript and many concerned scientists are watching the rather busy skies near our planet to identify and forewarn of other close encounters with NEO's and PHA (possibly hazardous asteroids). Such movies as Deep Impact and Armageddon gave me visual evidences of such a disaster but the dragons of Pern are unusually designed to help mitigate the worst effects of such a catastrophe. The thrust of Skies of Pern, the need for the inhabitants to become more aware of their spatial environment and the critical need to set up additional observatories to help prevent a recurrence of such a Cosmic Impact, is as modern and timely as the one currently in operation on Earth, even if it requires the dragons of Perns to implement.

So, to the query: "Did I plan the physics of Pern or did it develop along the way?" The answer, "I didn't plan, it did develop along the usual lines for any Earth-type planet and I dragged in whatever experts I needed to substantiate any unusual actions or positing." People want Pern to be believable: I've tried to make it logical as well. I also hope that the general attitude of the Pern People within the books has reflected their growing awareness of science and technology which I tried to infer by their less restricted vocabulary and general acceptance of their historical origins. (Anne McCaffery)

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The Skies of Pern (Dragonriders of Pern Series #16) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 69 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
of all the dragonrider books i have read this is the best. This book finishes the tale of Avias and also tells some of the reprections from the improvments Avias. This book also tells about an ability that dragons have but never used. The end is kinda sad but this is still the best one yet. a MUST READ for all dragonrider fans.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The skies of pern is at least as good as the earlier pern books. Lessa and F'lar and most of the other characters were still there, but also some new young people with different ideas. More than in the other pern books, there were a lot of vivid descriptions of disasters. Reading about the dragons attempting to control their new abilities is nothing short of hilarious. Although i'm not sure this is the best of the Pern series, it is certainly not the weakest!
harstan More than 1 year ago
It has been two years since AIVAS (artificial intelligence voice address system) shut himself down, but Many remain grateful for the knowledge, tools, and technology AIVAS provided them such as paper, print, and medical treatment.

Not everyone is pleased with the changes AIVAS brought about for the Pernese society. The Abominators believe AIVAS was the devil and society needs to return to the pre-AIVAS days. They believe in the use of force to enforce their beliefs. As Weyr, holder, and craft unite to battle the Abominators, F¿Lessan, the son of Lessa and F¿lar, seeks a way to make the dragonriders remain important to Pern long after the thread threat leaves.

Three years have passed since a Pern book was published, but readers will know that THE SKIES OF PERN was worth the wait. Once again the mistress of science fiction, Anne McCaffrey has crafted a novel about a world that many genre fans love. The evolution of society serves as the underlying theme to a story line rich with tradition, strong characterizations, and a powerful plot that will excite fans into demanding the next novel come out much faster.

Harriet Klausner

Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You feel like you are actually at Pern. Wonderful writer.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the part where they were helping the seaholders evacuate before the tsunami struck.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the best I've read. Will read the rest of the series and all her other books because I know they will keep me entertained.
Anonymous 24 days ago
Always loved the dragonrider series. Probably read them at least 10 times i know.. Always liked all of Annes books and series. Great writer
Anonymous 5 months ago
Since the very 1st time I've read it, I've enjoyed reading this series time and again.
MickCO More than 1 year ago
I believe I have the entire series about Dragonriders of Pern. They are all great to me. Style of writing and plot keeps you going and wanting more. I recommend reading the whole series. Always nice to get lost in another world of possibilities.
MrsCorr More than 1 year ago
Anne McCaffery's writing style is captivating, drawing you into the story. She will be so missed, Rest in Pern Anne.
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Very good as usual.
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Definitely worth a read.
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