The Dolphins of Pern

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Anne McCaffrey’s tales of the inhabitants of Pern and their marvelous dragons are notable for complex simplicity. On the one hand Pern is a preindustrial society faced with periodic destruction from within and without. From without, came the depredations of a space-born organism that destroys living plants, animals and sentient beings. At the same time, Pern is an uneasy society increasingly dissatisfied with the constraints imposed by tradition and necessity.

Yet beneath such a conventional tale, with all its medieval overtones, was a darker reality. The population of Pern, including its dragons, was not indigenous to the planet by any means. Pern, as McCaffrey revealed in tantalizing bits and intriguing pieces, was deliberately settled in the distant past by migrants from a distant star system. What happened to reduce the star travelers to an ofttimes meager existence?

The immediately previous volume, ALL THE WEYRS OF PERN, tied up the missing threads left dangling from earlier works and supplied the missing informational ingredients. Simultaneously, McCaffrey cracked open the door of a new development in the Pern saga. What will happen to the comfortable symbiotic relationship between Weyr, Craft, and Hold when the thread no longer falls? THE DOLPHINS OF PERN explores this new idea still further, and introduces a new race of sentient beings to join the now familiar dragons of Pern.

McCaffrey continues to explore and illuminate previously unsuspected or shadowy corners in this most famous of her literary creations. It is to be hoped that at least as many volumes await as have been produced to date. McCaffrey encourages readers to pursue her works in the order of publication and that is sound advice.