Posts tagged ‘Nebula Award’

December 30, 2013

Dragonflight (Pern Series #1) by Anne McCaffery

Publisher: Ballantine PressDragonflight cover

Copyright: 1968

Pages: 309

Formats: e-format, paperback, hardcover

 

A couple of months ago I was doing some research into the first woman to win the Hugo Award and the Nebula Award when I came across the name Anne McCaffrey. Of course, this wasn’t the first time I came across the name but this time my interest was piqued to read a book written by her. I decided to go with Dragonflight because it is the first in a series and when possible I like to read the first book in a series.  I was able to download a copy from my local library and dived right in; and diving really is the best verb to use because once you get started it moves quickly from one big drama to the next. Dragonflight is a socially conscious adventure romance science fiction story.

 

Anne McCaffrey was an American-Irish author who lived from 1926 to 2011. She is best known for her Dragonrider series that takes place on Pern, a planet that is colonized by humans in the future. The original Dragonflight is the merging of two novellas “Dragonrider” and “Weyr Search.” Weyr Search” was originally published in Analog Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine in October of 1967 and it won the Hugo Award in 1968. “Dragonrider” was published in December of 1967 in Analog Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine and won the Nebula Award in 1969. Dragonflight as we know it now was published in 1968 by Ballantine Press.

 

I’m a sucker for a heroine that is both smart and romantically handicapped and Lessa, the heroine of Dragonflight, is just that type of character. Lessa is a smart, bold, passionate woman with a warrior’s heart and mind and these characteristics stay with our heroine through the story and prove to be her biggest assets and weakness. Her warrior’s heart gives her the strength to forge a complicated plan of revenge against the evil lord Fax that took over her home by killing her parents while at the same time it makes it difficult for her to let down her guard and be with F’lor, the leader of the dragon riders. Over time with gentile care from F’Lor her character grows and is able to open up and form a bond with F’lor which allows them to defend the people of Pern against the threads and internal threats.

 

Dragonflight is science fiction not fantasy even though it has dragons.  When I started the story I thought it was a fantasy because it has dragons but it turns out that if a dragon is genetically altered it is considered science fiction. Dragons and their ability to connect with humans telepathically are essential to the plot. Also time travel is an important part of the plot because it provides the heroes with a way to save the day. Mccaffrey gives a very good explanation about how it happens and even plays with the idea of crossing time lines.  The story takes place on a distant planet called Pern far in the distant future when humans have been forced to vacate the earth. The language and culture are similar to that of Europe in the middle ages with feudal systems creating the template for the social structure.

 

Because this is two novellas put together the flow of the story is different but none the less thrilling. A novella by nature is a longer version of a short story but not as long as a novel, so the main action will come sooner.  By combing two novellas there are two main action sequences so there is two times the intensity. Two of my favorite scenes from the first part or “Weyr Search” are the fight scene between F’lor and Flax for its vivid language and the intense scene when Lessa connects with Ramoth for the first time.  In the second part or “Dragonrider” there are several important firsts such as Ramoth’s and Lessa’s first flight and the first fight against the threads.   Talk about action packed.

 

Unfortunately, I did not like the ending to the second part. I like clear endings. Yes, I like a cliff hanger to keep me coming back to the next book but I didn’t feel the story ended or at least I wasn’t expecting that ending. The current story between F’lor and Lessa comes to a conclusion and the problem of how the people will fight the threads is resolved, but the story ends as they go off to battle. I would have preferred an ending where they weren’t about to go off to battle.

 

Overall, I recommend this book. McCaffrey’s word choice creates vivid images of the people and places. The story moves along quickly so you don’t even notice the number of pages. The idea of being able to telepathically connect with and bond for life with a dragon is an interesting idea. And for those that aren’t sure how they feel about science fiction but enjoy fantasy, this is a good book for trying out science fiction and vice versa.

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May 12, 2013

Musing on Quantum Rose

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been listening to the audio book Quantum Rose by Catherine Asaro. The novel was first published in its entirety by Tor Books in 2000. And in 2002, it won the Nebula Award Best Novel.  It is the science fiction retelling of Beauty and the Beast which isn’t one of my favorite tales, but I did like the Disney movie version.

Kamoj Argali, is young woman about 19 years-old who is the governor of a poor province. For the last ten year, she has been betrothed to a brutal and sadistic ruler of the wealthy neighboring province named Jax Ironbridge. That is until Havyrl Lionstar a prince of the Ruby Dynasty comes and through a series of miscommunication he ends up married to Kamoj.

Quantum Rose is a wonderful example of the blending of science fiction and romance.  The characters and their situation would not be possible without the science of the story. This was the first time that I chose a novel because it was science fiction and romance.  The fact that it won one of the most prestigious awards in science fiction only highlighted the point that this would be the type of story that I as a writer should aim to create.  I was worried that the romance would be different or somehow “not right”, but it was quite the opposite. Asaro explores the relationship between Kamoj, Jax, and Havryl in universal concepts that have little to do with science and everything to do with humans.

There came a point in the story, where I felt like it should be coming to end, but my iPod was saying the opposite. It was at this point that I Wiki’d Quantum Rose and found out the story has two parts. Truth, had I known at the start this story had two parts I don’t know if I would have picked it. The first half of the story focuses on the romance and relationship between the three. Kamoj and Havryl fall in love then Ironbridge comes in and tries to break them part but the lovers over come and the first part ends. At this point I was ready to be through with the story, after all once the main characters get together what more romance can there be (yes I know, but still). Now that I have come to beginning of a new part it is very hard to continue, but I’m going to solder through.

I like Lionstar. I can even stomach Ironbridge. But Kamoj’s character drove me up the wall. At one point, she pleads with Havyrl to use sex as a way of dealing with his PTSD.  My inner feminist reared up and pushed stop, it took me several days to push play again. Then her behavior when she was kidnapped by Ironbridge had me fast forwarding through sections. The character defects are explained through a complex mix of history and bio-engineering, but it didn’t stop the pain of hearing it. My inner “Girl Power” wasn’t having it.  Her character has changed since the beginning of the story, but I need to see more change.

The story has a very complex back story that deals with social issues, slavery, the ethics of bio-engineering, and Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder of veterans. Asaro does an amazing job of weaving a story where it all mixes together. While science is a key element, don’t worry you don’t need an engineering degree to enjoy it.