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Dragonsdawn by Anne McCaffrey
Published by Del Rey Books
Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel
After writing eight wildly successful Pern books, Anne McCaffrey decided to go back to events only hinted at in The White Dragon, namely, the origins of the human colony on Pern. As a result, Dragonsdawn has a much more clearly "science fiction" feel, as compared to the more fantasy-like feel of the books set at later times when technology has been forgotten.
Dragonsdawn is rather like Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover Landfall. In both cases, the origin book was written after books set far later in the series timeline had become wildly popular. They were both stories of colonists who set out to find a new world unspoiled by overuse and abuse of technology as Terra had become, only to wind up stranded on a planet that proved hostile. And in both, previously untapped psionic powers proved important in the colony's survival.
However, unlike the unwilling colonists who landed on Darkover by accident, Pern's settlers came there deliberately. All seemed to be going according to plan, and this new world was rapidly becoming home. Until the day the unthinkable happened.
It began with a grayness on the horizon. Suddenly silver rain was falling on everything, voracious threadlike spores that devoured everything organic. Nothing but stone and some silicate plastics could stand against them. Whole settlements vanished in moments.
Paradise has turned into a nightmare, and it gets worse when the colony's scientists tell them this deadly rain will continue for the next fifty years. Efforts to fight the Threadfall with flamethrower-equipped airsleds prove deadly, and the colonists know they cannot keep it up indefinitely. They need some self-replicating means of defense -- if only they could make the tiny fire-breathing winged lizards into larger beasts, big enough to be ridden and wise enough to be directed...
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This review posted May 23, 1999
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