Thursday, August 30, 2007

Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern

Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern

Anne McCaffrey

Date: 12 September, 1984   —   $7.99   —   Book

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Fiction, Science Fiction

I seem to be drawn to plague novels. There's The Plague, by Camus, that has the trials of the bubonic plague in modern-day Africa; Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis, that deals with the bubonic plague and a modern-day flu simultaneously; The Stand, by Stephen King, where the superflu runs rampant... and Moreta, where an influenza pandemic threatens to topple Pern.

As opposed to most of the Pern novels, this book takes place in a very short period of time. (The Harper Hall novels are the other exception.) From the opening Gather Day when the contagion spreads to the time of Moreta's Ride (of which a ballad is refernced in those novels set later), the book lasts less than a month. If one reads the description of The Ballad of Moreta's Ride in Dragonsinger, one will notice substantial discrepancies between that version and this book, ones not ascribable to translation error. McCaffrey is a bit notorious for such lapses— things a good continuity editor could fix, such as making sure that rider/dragon names remained consistent, or at the very least, rider/color— though in this case, I am pretty sure that it is the result of changing her mind about the circumstances. It is hard to plot the spread of an unspecified disease with an unspecified cure (nuts and herbs, indeed!) so why not use a well-established disease, with an understood method of prevention?

Moreta, as a central character, is well-drawn. My only complaint is that as her current behavior is apparently a radical change from before, it would have been good to have some sketch of her character prior to the change, so that we could appreciate her newfound freedom and assertiveness.

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