Wednesday, December 14, 2011

RIP Anne McCaffrey

Anne McCaffrey of The Dragonriders of Pern fame passed away almost a month ago. I was very sorry to hear it, although I'm not very familiar with her work.  I will always remember the Pern books as the first stories I read that started out medieval/fantasy style and turned out to be post-industrial space colonies (see Dragonflight and Dragonsdawn--the only two Pern books I've read).

(Spoiler Alert)

But I read these books long ago, and I have a question for McCaffrey fans.  I loved Dragonsdawn, but my memory of Dragonflight involves a flaw that really bugged me.  Dragonriders have lived on Pern for thousands of years at this point, presumably.  And they travel to distant places by visualizing them and going "between."  But somehow no one has ever accidentally traveled through time until Lessa did?  And she did it by picturing her target place as she remembered it?  No one else ever did that before?  Then what were they picturing?

Can someone who's read this book more recently, and/or who loves it and knows it well, tell me whether this is as far fetched as it seems to me?  Am I remembering it wrong?  Is it addressed in the story?  Am I the only one who noticed this?  I'd appreciate it, because I'm very tempted to read some of these books, but just the memory of that is bugging the heck out of me.

Thank you for your time and attention.

1 comment:

Cheryl said...

Hi! A McCaffrey fan here who found your blog post through a Google Alert.

Lessa was not the first to discover time travel. In the 6th Pass time travel is known to most bronze and gold riders, and leads to the death of Moreta. There's at least one character in that book that discovers it accidentally and makes use of it to spend time with a boyfriend in another Weyr. After Moreta's death, it's decided that the knowledge is dangerous and it's no longer passed on among the leaders.

It would make sense for time travel to have been discovered individually at many other points in time. It does take a bit of hand-waving to explain why it doesn't become widely known, but since it's not part of weyrling training, maybe those who discover it enjoy it being their own private ability, perhaps shared with a couple friends but never widely.

At Lessa's time, there weren't very many riders so not many to have the chance to make the discovery. She also very particularly pictures her coordinates with rich detail of a specific time. Other riders are perhaps less detailed in their pictures and are unlikely to provide details that are so specific to a certain time.

So, while it does take a certain amount of acceptance to believe Lessa was the first of her time-frame on Pern to discover it, it's not perhaps as unexplanable as you recall it.