The Universal Appeal of Dragons
Ask any hardcore YA fantasy fan and they will tell you that the Dragonriders of Pern rocks! Written by Anne McCaffrey (1926-2011). Ms. McCaffrey was born in the United States but later emigrated to Ireland when the country exempted resident artists from income taxes. She began her writing career with short stories in the 1950s, and turned to novels in the 1960s. She has been quoted as saying the she had grown tired of the “weak women screaming in the corner while their boyfriends were beating off the aliens.” As a result she often wrote about strong female protagonists who could take care of themselves.
She found that the young adult market was an opportunity to increase her audience. Her Dragonriders of Pern series encompasses 23 novels and two collections of stories. The author strongly suggests reading them in the order they were written as opposed to historical order. The original trilogy consists of Dragonflight (1968), Dragonquest (1970) and The White Dragon (1978). This was released in one omnibus collection in 1978 called The Dragonriders of Pern. Dragonsong (1976) and its sequels, Dragonsinger (1977) and Dragondrums (1978) make up the Harper Hall Trilogy.
Other books that make up the Pern books include:
Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern
The Dragonlover’s Guide to Pern
Renegades of Pern
All the Weyrs of Pern
The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall
The Dolphins of Pern
The Masterharper of Pern
The Skies of Pern
A Gift of Dragons
Her son, Todd, has also written and collaborated on many more Pern books. This lengthy series has spawn game books, graphic novels, music CDs, TV and film adaptations, games, and a huge fan community that enjoys clubs that “play” Pern and print fanfiction and artwork.
So what is all the hype about? Ms. McCaffrey didn’t like the bad rap that dragons often get as the quintessential bad guys of fantasy. So she created a planet where advanced technology has been lost and dragons are ridden by elite riders who can communicate telepathically with them. The dragons are heroes and work with humans instead of just breathing fire and desimating them. 🙂
This creation made Anne McCaffrey the first woman to win a Hugo or Nebula Award!