The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

In 1967, Anne McCaffrey introduced readers to the Dragonriders of Pern series with the story “Weyr Search.” Pern’s story begins with Earth colonists landing on an agricultural planet. All goes well for eight years, until Pern is attacked by deadly spores called Thread. The initial losses to Thread in livestock, crops, and human life are staggering. To fight Thread, the Pernese biogenetically engineer large, telepathic, fire-breathing dragons (weyrs) and Thread-eating grubs.

A Thread attack, called a Pass, lasts fifty years; they come in Intervals of two hundred years. By the Ninth Pass, five weyrs have disappeared, Benden Weyr has fallen into disarray, and dragonriders are in disfavor. Only Benden Weyrleaders Lessa and F’lar and F’lar’s half brother F’nor believe that Thread will fall again. They try to prepare Pern, but the two hundred dragons of Benden cannot defend all the settlements. Lessa discovers that the dragons can teleport between times as well as between places, and she and her queen, Ramoth, travel back in time to bring the missing five weyrs forward to aid Benden’s fight with Thread.

Tensions mount because the Oldtimers resent the cultural changes in Pern. Dragonman fights dragonman as F’lar fights T’ron and later T’kul. A queen egg is stolen and then returned by the young Lord Holder Jaxom, who, against all tradition, impresses the white dragon Ruth. The male-dominated culture continues to evolve as Menolly...

(The entire section is 431 words.)