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Wonderful Insights Into Pern's History!
on July 1, 2003
The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall is actually a collection of 5 short stories that take place around the time of Dragonsdawn. They are:
The Survey: P.E.R.N - This is the shortest story of the collection and it deals with the original surveyors who were mapping that part of the galaxy and recommended Pern for colonization. The reader is offered tantalizing glimpses of a bigger story behind the tension of the survey crew, but, at only 18 pages, this story doesn't allow a lot of time for any detail.
The Dolphin's Bell - This story takes place concurrently with the end of Dragonsdawn, but from the perspective of the dolphins and their caretakers. It was interesting to see the story from a different perspective and to experience what the colonists had to go through as they braved the treacherous ocean voyage to the northern continent. The story centers around Jim Tillek (of the later Tillek Hold), his love of the sea and his growing love for a courageous young woman named Theo.
The Ford of Red Hanrahan - After the colonists had settled in the Northern Continent at Fort Hold, there was plenty of room for their greatly diminished numbers in the cavernous space. However, after some time, space is getting tight and there are those who are ready to venture forth and create new holds. One of them is Red Hanrahan, whom readers will recognize from Dragonsdawn (as a character and as Sorka's father). He journeys quite a distance from Fort Hold and founds what will become known as the famous Ruatha Hold. This story was quite interesting because it addressed the history of the plague that took so many lives in Moreta's time and how the colonists started fostering their children out to live with other families.
The Second Weyr - Sean and Sorka have done a wonderful job training all of the other dragonriders and are the best weyrleaders that any dragonrider could hope for, but Fort Weyr just doesn't have enough space for them all! Torene, with her maturing queen, has dreams of settling a new weyr and has even found the perfect location, but is afraid to say anything to Sean. When Sean makes the surprise announcement that the dragonriders will be expanding into not just one weyr - but three! Torene is thrilled. She dreams of becoming new weyrwoman at one of the weyrs and waits in eager anticipation to see who will fly her queen in her first mating flight, for they will become the new leaders of the justly named Benden Weyr after their beloved leader who passed on. I have to say that this was my favorite story of the bunch, I just love to read about the dragonriders!
Rescue Run - When Lieutenant Ross Benden's ship comes upon a distress signal around the Rukbat system, he cannot help but think of his uncle, who set off 50 years previously to colonize a planet there. He cannot believe that his uncle, hero of so many battles, would have panicked and set off a signal for help, not 7 years after starting colonization. Still, he is duty bound to explore the area and see if there are any survivors. The biologist on board is fascinated by the organisms that seem to come from the Oort cloud circling so close to the planet. A small team leaves the ship to take a shuttle down to Pern and are surprised to encounter a small band of survivors: Stev Kimmer (whom readers will recognize from Dragonsdawn as being one of Avril's group) and Kenjo & Ito Fusaiyuki's (whom readers will also recognize as being the pilot killed by Avril to steal the plane) children. They insist that there are no other survivors and, though Benden does a sweep of the area, he has no other choice but to believe that his uncle is gone, killed in the Thread attack and leave with the few survivors that remain. This story was interesting because it explains why no one else has ever gone to Pern and why that area of space is simply avoided, as I always thought that someone must come to see the colony after so many hundreds of years.
I am not a big fan of short stories, as a rule, but I enjoyed this book. The stories are typically about 60 pages, except for the first one about the exploration team, which is only about 15. They are all well written and the characters are very interesting - almost too interesting for a short story because I wanted to know more about them! For anyone who has enjoyed the Pern series, I think that they will love the insights this book gives them into the history of Pern and its original colonists. Highly recommended for fans of science fiction & fantasy!