Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Wings of Pegasus

The Wings of Pegasus

Anne McCaffrey

Date: 1990   —   Book

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Fiction, Science Fiction

Yes, I know, once again with the omnibus edition. Truly, though, there comes a point in a reader's life when the paperbacks are simply falling apart, and omnibi are an elegant solution to the dual problems of durability and space. This edition contains two novels, To Ride Pegasus and Pegasus in Flight. There is apparently a third in the series, Pegasus in Space, which received less than rave reviews. I'm a little wary of obtaining it.

To Ride Pegasus is a story-compilation-style novel. As you might have gathered, I'm not fond of this type of novel that isn't really a novel; I much prefer when the author chooses to later blend the stories into a coherent whole. What makes it worse in this case is the fact that there is not a consistent set of protagonists from the beginning of the book to the end— and worse yet, we don't ever find out how some of them drop out of the picture. Now that's harsh.

The story is that of the rise of measurable psychic talents, beginning with the accidental brain scan of a foretelling in progress. Armed with the knowledge that psychic talents can be detected, Henry Darrow starts out to build an organization of psychic helpers. Along the way he has to face the expected misunderstandings, fear, persecution, and over-reliance that have become a familiar litany (like a more minor form of the X-men.) And then he passes the reins to Daffyd op Owen, presumably at his predicted death, and we go forward from there.

Perhaps these stories suffer somewhat from later works.

The second book is far more coherent. Earth is building a space platform for further exploration, and the organizers are all but forcing more Talent to help. (A sympathetic underling does improve the working conditions once it is pointed out to him exactly the stresses the 'sensitives' suffer.) However, a young boy with a paralyzed body has begun to do something strange and unusual with his abilities— using electrical power to supplement his own. This young boy is Peter Reidinger, the first of many (as we know from McCaffrey's The Rowan and later books in that series.)

Along the way there are problems to be solved, disasters to be averted, tempers to placate, and a child-smuggling ring to break up. You know, the good old adventure stories.

But overall, these stories are not among McCaffrey's best. Worth a borrow but not, perhaps, a buy.

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