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Old Nov 30 2011, 02:31 PM   #1
kindan
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Default Pegasus Trilogy

Well, I just started on these books. Ever since Dragon*Con I've been making a concerted effort to expand my McCaffrey reading to everything she's written, and I just finished To Ride Pegasus last week, and am in the middle of Pegasus in Flight.

I'm definitely pleased with this series so far. It's good going in knowing that To Ride Pegasus is just a few short stories and not really one cohesive novel. In fact, I really am starting to like reading short stories that build off of one another like this, Ship Who Sang and Dragonflight. It's a really effective means of storytelling.

The first short story is a little misleading as the reader expects to really follow Henry Darrow, and it's disappointing that he only gets brief mentions ins subsequent stories, as much as Daffyd op Owen stands as a strong character in his own right. I'm left with the big question that was built up in that story: How did Henry Darrow die? Is that ever explained? He mentions his pre-cog but I don't believe I saw it resolved.

Other than that, I'm noticing a similarity in the way Anne writes her settings which is kind of fun, though my knowledge is only based off these two novels and I know there's a lot to go.

Here's what I found in terms of common motifs/themes/settings:

- The strong, female lead character in Rhyssa. That one's obvious since it's pretty much her signature thing.
- Telepathy. Here we have pure telepaths vs. the Pern telepathy with Dragons.
- A search for people with certain abilities, or in this case, Talent.
- A place where people of a certain fantastical class gather, Weyr or the Centers.
- The fantastical class of people (Dragonriders, Talents) are as a whole mostly altruistic and seem to be more noble than the average person.
- There's a fairly obvious and dim-witted "bad guy" who wants to harm/hold down the fantastical class. Fax in Dragonflight, The senator in Bridle for Pegasus whose name eludes me right now.

I'm not going for anything in particular with this list, just thought it'd be an interesting discussion starter. Sure there's some similarties I've missed as well.
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Old Nov 30 2011, 06:23 PM   #2
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I found To Ride Pegasus a little boring, but I really, really liked pegasus in flight. Pegasus in space was pretty good too. that's interesting that you found all those similarities, I have never thought about that.
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Old Nov 30 2011, 10:25 PM   #3
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Yeah, you've hit on several of AMC's writing "trademarks". As you work through her other series, you'll see more patterns, such as the Lessa/Rowan/Killashandra character similarities thing, the F'lar/Jeff Raven/Lars Dahl thing, and the F'nor/Afra/Trag thing. (Killashandra, Lars, and Trag are from the Crystal Singer series, and Rowan, Jeff, and Afra from the Tower and Hive series, which is set about 300 years after the Pegasus series in the same universe.) (You could also argue that Sebell is a Lars Dahl lite.)

To Ride Pegasus is my favorite Pegasus book, though, closely followed by Peagsus in Flight. I never got into Pegasus in Space all that much, though. I should probably re-read it; I did a very cursory, light read when it was published.
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Old Dec 1 2011, 01:13 PM   #4
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Anne's earlier SF books have a very different feel from her later ones. Not that it's bad, it's just a noticeable and interesting difference. There are also differences in her co-written books - the two with Elizabeth Moon are very distinct, for example.
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Old Dec 1 2011, 02:56 PM   #5
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Anne's earlier SF books have a very different feel from her later ones. Not that it's bad, it's just a noticeable and interesting difference. There are also differences in her co-written books - the two with Elizabeth Moon are very distinct, for example.
Very true. Any author grows and makes more complicated/interesting stories, from what I can tell. Her early novels definitely feel much more like they've got a formula than the later ones. And that's just growing as a writer over time.

As far as the co-written ones, I think the differences are so big because it feels like it's the other authors' voices coming through much more than Anne's. I think for the majority of those it was written by the other author and sorta edited by Anne. Don't know that for sure, but that's what it seems like when reading them.

Finished Pegasus In Flight this morning. Great book. I feel like with these books she really speeds along through time so fast and there's so many compelling characters that there could have been a zillion more of these stories.
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Old Dec 1 2011, 06:09 PM   #6
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I can definitely see Elizabeth Moon's voice coming out distinctly in Sassinak and Generation Warriors - and I see a lot of elements that were later incorporated into her Familias Regnant series.
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Old Dec 3 2011, 11:50 AM   #7
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Very true. Any author grows and makes more complicated/interesting stories, from what I can tell. Her early novels definitely feel much more like they've got a formula than the later ones. And that's just growing as a writer over time.
I would actually argue that her later books in each series are of poorer quality. The "formula" actually keeps her early books hopping, and tight, and interesting.

Writers, I've noticed, seem to follow one of two patterns...

A) They either start out hungry, eager to be published, and kick out their best work at the start of their career because it's been stewing for years and they Just. Have. To. Get. It. Out...and then after they've gained fame, suffer from a lack of editing because people will buy their stuff anyway.

Or...

B) They start out solid but not exciting, and work hard at their craft over the course of many published books to gain the experience they need to hit it out of the park.

AMC to me seems to be the first type. Her early books in each series are all great (with the exception of a few series). But as they go on they start to peter out. Terry Goodkind is another example of an author that started out with a bang and went downhill.

Terry Pratchett and Jim Butcher are examples of the second type. I didn't like Pratchett's early books, but now I read all the new ones as they come out. Jim Butcher I did like his first books, but I wouldn't have considered him one of the best writers out there by any means. But now you can pretty much be assured his next Dresden book will be better than 98% of the other urban fantasy.

There's a few authors who are both A and B (they're A-type writers that have the work habits of type B writers)...but they're really freaking rare. Patrick Rothfuss, long-term, may be one. Also, John Scalzi. We'll have to see.

All right...now that I've taken the thread off-course...
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Old Dec 4 2011, 12:28 AM   #8
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I've been reading Terry Pratchett's Discworld series for the first time. I agree that the early ones have a lot different feel. However, when I picked up Interesting Times and started reading, I went "Oooh! Rincewind's back!" So apparently something stuck...

I agree that in most of Anne's series, I prefer the earlier books.
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Old Dec 5 2011, 01:30 AM   #9
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I would actually argue that her later books in each series are of poorer quality. The "formula" actually keeps her early books hopping, and tight, and interesting.

Writers, I've noticed, seem to follow one of two patterns...

A) They either start out hungry, eager to be published, and kick out their best work at the start of their career because it's been stewing for years and they Just. Have. To. Get. It. Out...and then after they've gained fame, suffer from a lack of editing because people will buy their stuff anyway.

Or...

B) They start out solid but not exciting, and work hard at their craft over the course of many published books to gain the experience they need to hit it out of the park.

AMC to me seems to be the first type. Her early books in each series are all great (with the exception of a few series). But as they go on they start to peter out. Terry Goodkind is another example of an author that started out with a bang and went downhill.

No it's a cool thought, and it's about the writing which I'm interested in.

I think that may be the case with some books within series, not because of formula and/or the quality of later writing, but because they're just that: ANOTHER book in the series. What's exciting about the first Talent book, the first Pern book, the first Crystal Singer book, to us as sci-fi readers, is that the concepts and characters are completely fresh and different. Out of this world, if you don't mind the cliche.

Since I haven't read enough of the talent books to speak of those, I'll use Pern as an example. F'Lar and Lessa's relationship and the dynamic that was that epic new world in the first couple Pern books was so exciting. Robinton as a character was such a mystery, a smart Obi-Wan type who guided everyone. When it became his story in Masterharper of Pern, continuity aside, some of that mystery about him was lost, and that's not very fun in a sci-fi setting. At that point, when it's the umpteenth Pern book though, I think Anne was pretty clear that she was just putting them out for money more than having a burning to tell another Pern story. Her other stories that she was putting out at that time: Freedom, Nimisha's Ship, etc. the new concepts were pretty fresh, fun and well written though. I think it has much more to do with being "another book in the series" more than she wasn't as good of a writer later.

Back onto the Talents: My original post asked if anyone remembered Henry Darrow dying? His precog of his death was mentioned several times in the short story, and he's referenced as a saintly figure afterward, but I don't remember reading about what happened with his death.
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Old Dec 5 2011, 02:32 AM   #10
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The first short story is a little misleading as the reader expects to really follow Henry Darrow, and it's disappointing that he only gets brief mentions ins subsequent stories, as much as Daffyd op Owen stands as a strong character in his own right. I'm left with the big question that was built up in that story: How did Henry Darrow die? Is that ever explained? He mentions his pre-cog but I don't believe I saw it resolved.
Heart attack. Pretty sure it's stated right out as a massive myocardial infarction.

Yeah, fifth paragraph of the story he says he exactly when and how he'll die - 15 years into the future. We don't see it happen, but there's easily enough time passing between the two stories. He does say that the issue of professional immunity will be resolved outside his lifetime, and that's the backdrop for A Womanly Talent...
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Old Dec 5 2011, 12:36 PM   #11
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Cool. I missed the heart attack bit when I read it, and since the first couple of stories focus on precogs changing the future, i wasn't sure if I missed something there. Thanks Kath.
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Old Dec 5 2011, 06:38 PM   #12
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I think if you wanted to look at it one way, you could look at Pegasus as a potted history of the early days of Talent history, showing how Talent came to be and how they came to be accepted in society without them going down the PsiCorps route a la B5.
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Old Jul 14 2016, 07:53 AM   #13
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Yeah, the first Pegasus book is a collection of short stories about the early days of the Talents.

I would agree that in many cases Anne's earlier books are better than the later ones, but I would make an exception of Pegasus in Space. IMO it's the best book Anne wrote after 1990.
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Old Jul 17 2016, 12:44 PM   #14
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I love all three of the novels which were prequels to what are now called the "Tower and the Hive" series of novels: (1) To Ride Pegasus, (2) Pegasus in Flight and (3) Pegasus in Space. Notably, I think it is remarkable how the basis of the entire Talent series of books (all 8 including the 3 above prequels) all began with the second story Anne published in her career, titled "The Lady in the Tower", The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Apr 1959 (see reference page, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_Ride_Pegasus"). I think it is rather remarkable that Anne McCaffrey wrote about the Talents in stories published in magazines, short stories and collections over the span of 40 years (from 1959 to 1999 - when The Tower and the Hive was published). I have read and re-read these novels more than I can count over the past 20 or so years. Although I have read much of Anne McCaffrey's work, these novels are my most favorite.
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Old Jul 18 2016, 02:14 AM   #15
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They're my favorite stories too. I'm less keen on To Ride Pegasus than the others, mainly because it feels so disjointed. Anne successfully rewrote The Lady in the Tower into The Rowan and A Meeting of Minds into Damia, but she never made any such effort with the stories in To Ride Pegasus.

It wasn't even the only time Anne did so, she did the same thing with a soft-porn story that became Freedom's Landing. Dragonflight was also originally published as a set of short stories, as was The Ship Who Sang. (Unless I'm completely misremembering things, so was Crystal Singer, but I'm less sure about that one.)
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