The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey - Fiction
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Finally together in one volume, the first three books in the world's most beloved science fiction series, THE DRAGONRIDERS OF PERN, by Anne McCaffrey, one of the great science fiction writers of all time: DRAGONFLIGHT, DRAGONQUEST, THE WHITE DRAGON. Those who know these extraordinary tales will be able to re-visit with Lessa, F'lar, Ruth, Lord Jaxon, and all the others. And for those just discovering this magical place, there are incomparable tales of danger, deceit, and daring, just waiting to be explored..
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Rukbat, in the Sagittarian Sector, was a golden G-type star. It
had five planets, two asteroid belts and a stray planet that it had
attracted and held in recent millennia. When men first settled on
Rukbat's third world and called it Pern, they had taken little notice of
the strange planet swinging around its adopted primary in a wildly
erratic elliptical orbit. For two generations, the colonists gave the
bright Red Star little thought -- until the path of the wanderer brought
it close to its stepsister at perihelion. When such aspects were
harmonious and not distorted by conjunctions with other planets in the
system, the indigenous life form of the wandering planet sought to
bridge the space gap between its home and the more temperate and
hospitable planet. At these times, silver Threads dropped through Pern's
skies, destroying anything they touched. The initial losses the
colonists suffered were staggering. As a result, during the subsequent
struggle to survive and combat this menace, Pern's tenuous contact with
the mother planet was broken.
To control the incursions of the dreadful Threads -- for the Pernese had
cannibalized their transport ships early on and abandoned such
technological sophistication as was irrelevant to this pastoral planet
-- the more resourceful men embarked on a long-term plan. The first
phase involved breeding a highly specialized variety of a life form
indigenous to their new world. Men and women with high empathy ratings
and some innate telepathic ability were trained to use and preserve
these unusual animals. These dragons -- named for the mythical Terran
beast they resembled -- had two valuable characteristics: they could get
from one place to another instantaneously and, after chewing a
phosphine-bearing rock, they would emit a flaming gas. Because the
dragons could fly, they were able to char Thread in midair, and then
escape from its ravages.
It took generations to develop to the fullest the potential of these
dragons. The second phase of the proposed defense against the deadly
incursions would take even longer. For Thread, a space-traveling
mycorrhizoid spore, with mindless voracity devoured all organic matter
and, once grounded, burrowed and proliferated with terrifying speed. So
a symbiote of the same strain was developed to counter this parasite,
and the resulting grub was introduced into the soil of the southern
continent. The original plan was that the dragons would be visible
protection, charring Thread while it was still skyborne and protecting
the dwellings and the livestock of the colonists. The grub-symbiote
would protect vegetation by devouring any Thread that managed to evade
the dragons' fire.
The originators of the two-stage defense did not allow for change or for
hard geological fact. The southern continent, overtly more attractive
than the harsher nothern land, proved unstable and the entire colony was
eventually forced to move north to seek refuge from the Threads in the
natural caves on the continental shield rock of the north.
The original Fort, constructed in the eastern face of the Great West
Mountain Range, soon grew too small to hold the colonists. Another
settlement was started slightly to the north, alongside a great lake
conveniently formed near a cave-filled cliff. But Ruatha Hold, as the
settlement was called, became overcrowded within a few generations.