Final Fantasy IV

The Final Fantasy series of games, developed by Squaresoft,[1] have proven to be one of the few places one could consistently go to for a reasonable narrative within a story. The games are simple in terms of interface, and ludologically speaking generally don’t need a great deal of timing or frenetic pace. Final Fantasy IV was originally developed by SquareSoft in 1991 for Nintendo’s Super Famicom game console. Shortly afterwards, it was localized (translated), and brought to the U.S. as Final Fantasy II for the Super Nintendo (the original Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy III never left Japan). This was really the first console based video game to heavily emphasize narrative, and enjoyed moderate commercial success for it.

Final Fantasy IV is a story centering around Cecil, a dark knight in the service of the king of Baron. After questioning a particularly brutal order, Cecil is stripped of rank and sent off on a courier mission, which ends with the destruction of a village. This is the last straw for Cecil, and he begins his quest to put an end to Baron’s villainy. The plot takes several twists and turns, and ultimately ends on the planet’s moon, where an evil being known as Zemus has been manipulating the chain of events transpiring on the planet. As far as subtle and complex story lines go, it’s pretty simplistic. The dialogue is on par with a high school fantasy adventure, and none of the plot twists really take you by surprise at all (I should mention that I can say this about even the first time I played this game, when I was 11). Yet it still managed to immerse the player, encouraging attachment to the characters you enlist the aid of in the course of the story.
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Virtual Economies within the Real World

As much as we might hate to admit it, a major element of social interaction is based around commerce; social hierarchy and structure has formed around it since the days of hunter/gatherer societies, and does not show any sign of changing any time soon. Whether capital based or commodity based, commerce is simply a part of the human social organism. It shouldn’t be surprising, then, that commerce has migrated into the online world as well. We are already familiar with using real world finances to purchase real world items via the internet (such as eBay and Amazon, among many others); what has become a hot topic for designers and scholars alike is the purchase of virtual goods with real or even virtual money through virtual worlds.

Virtual worlds is a term that has grown out of a need to describe the communal aspect of massively multiplayer online games (MMOG) in a manner that delineates it from the ludological elements of the game. “Virtual World” and MMOG are used relatively interchangeably at this time, though they will continue to diverge as more research and study is performed: a MMOG is by nature a virtual world, but a virtual world needn’t have any ludological element to succeed.

As virtual worlds have grown in complexity and popularity over the past several years, they have begun to take on more and more elements from daily life, including that of commerce. Most virtual worlds have methods for sale and trade of items and virtual currency between players, most often based around the auction house method of sale: you place an item up for bid with a minimum asking price; players bid on the item until the minimum asking price (or more) is offered, at which point the item is sold. Alternatively, player to player private transactions can also be performed. These capabilities have enabled a new type of commerce: trade of real world currency for in game currency or goods. This originated via eBay, with early MMOGs such as Ultima Online and Everquest. These prototypical sales tended to be either in-game currency, or a high level character, selling for anywhere between $100 and $700. As time went on, the trend gained popularity, until it reached a point that people were collecting in-game cash for real world sale as a profession, primarily in parts of Southeast Asia where the exchange value would be maximized. These individuals have become known as “gold farmers,” and are considered a nuisance to players as well as the designers. (According to most End User License Agreements, the sale of in game assets for real money is not allowed, and justification for denial of services.)
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The Role of Writing in Games

[S]ince the games are generally about power, control, and those other primitive things, the stories tend to be so as well. This means they tend to be power fantasies. That’€™s generally considered to be a pretty juvenile sort of story.

The stories in most video games serve the same purpose as calling the uber-checker a “king.”€ It adds an interesting shading to the game, but the game at its core is unchanged, but at real way this what people enjoy, but somethings for football player can be different check this at

Remember:€“ my background is as a writer, so this actually pisses me off. Story deserves better treatment than that. (Koster 86)

I would be hard pressed to state this thought in a more clear or concise fashion or esports. Put simply, the stories in most games tend to be weak compared to their media counterparts (novels, comic books, movies, television). Over the years, there have been a few exceptional stories that span larger issues, or address the nature of power and control itself; a modest number of games have alternatively succeeded in refining the “€œpower fantasy”€ into a more engaging telling, but the underlying principles have remained the same. Stories are tacked on, extraneous except in providing a context for player empowerment. While certainly not the sole issue, this is a fairly damning point when attempting to defend games as a valid form of creative expression.

So what can be done to improve the situation? The short answer is to hire professional writers. The vast majority of companies currently have their dialogue and story written and developed by the game designers, programmers, and artists themselves, rather than spending the money on a professional writer. Take the hint from the media that have come before: games are not that far different from comics, books, or movies, all of which have had significantly more time to develop techniques to tell a compelling and nuanced story, techniques that are effective across media.
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Annotation: The End of Eternity

Isaac Asimov did more to validate Science Fiction than any other author I can think of. He was seen as a gentle giant by his friends, and is to date the only man to have ever written at least one book in every major subject of the Dewey Decimal system. He wrote hundreds of books, so many that I honestly have no idea where he found the time to sleep, let alone have the life he had. The End of Eternity is just one of dozens of science fiction novels he wrote, all revolving around the belief that Mankind is meant to go to the stars.

The End of Eternity takes place in a Reality where in the 27th century, mankind develops a temporal field that exists outside Time, and extends to the end of eternity, which they call (imagine that) Eternity. This facility is used to monitor the advances of civilization throughout the millenia, to make sure that nothing dangerous occurs (nuclear war, plagues, even high drug addiction counts), and alters world in the past to change the Reality of the future. The main character, Andrew Harlan is a Technician for Eternity, which means that he is the one who determines and enacts the Minimum Necessary Change in order to achieve the desired change in reality.

In the course of his work, Andrew meets a woman of the 482nd Century, whom he falls in love with — a cardinal sin for an Eternal, since that woman exists within Time, and thus is subject to any change in reality that happens. He secrets her away into Eternity, and becomes involved in a critical project necessary to begin Eternity, sending someone back in time to become the “inventor” of the temporal field. He sabotages the project, but not irreparably (they would have ceased to exist if he had), and is sent back in time to collect the inventor, so they can try again. He brings the woman with him.

Piecing together clues throughout the book, he realizes that the woman is not in fact from the 482nd Century, but significantly further “upwhen”, in the 111,000s, which is considered a “hidden century”, where Eternity is blocked from entering or meddling in the time stream. He figures out that she is here to stop Eternity from ever existing, to stop them from meddling with time. Realizing that perhaps Eternity’s meddling brings more harm than good, he chooses not to stop her, ending the existence of Eternity.

The story is good, and works well as a science fiction mystery, filled with intruige. The characters, in particular the protagonist Andrew Harlan, are a bit flat, however, which puts a bit of a hinderance on my enjoyment of the book. I like the underlying message, however: that safety and innovation are unfortunately mutually exclusive, and that the only way we’ll survive is if we stop mothering ourselves to death. The pacing is good. I managed to read it fairly quickly (about a day).

Would I recommend it? Alone, probably not. In conjunction with the read of Asimov’s work, absolutely. Asimov tended to write in one story-universe, even though the books were separate. Even his two most well known series (Robot and Foundation) are actually connected and made of the same world, and The End of Eternity is no exception. Seeing the mosaic as a whole is really remarkable, and where I think the story gives the most enjoyment.

Asimov, Isaac. The End of Eternity. Greenwich: Fawcett Crest Books, 1971.

Annotation: The Dispossessed

The Dispossessed is one of LeGuin’s more lauded novels, having won a slew of awards including the Hugo and the Nebula (the two highest awards in science fiction). Indeed, it’s a brilliantly executed novel, with an amazing writing style. The ideas she posits in this novel were relevant at the time, and continue to be relevant now, which is quite the accomplishment. That’s the problem with it, though, at least in my opinion. It’s an idea book.

The story alternates between the past and present per chapter, both timelines centering around Shevek, a brilliant physicist who lives on the planet of Anarres, which is run as an community-centric anarchy. Personal responsibility and the opinion of one’s neighbors (since everyone must work together in order to survive) are the paramount principles of the society, which formed as an autonomous colony of its sister world Urras as a place to send the rebelling Odonians (the anarchist movement lead by a woman named Odo).

Needing the additional resources available on Urras in order to complete his Unified Field Theory in the field of Temporal Physics, Shevek leaves Anarres, rousing the enmity of many of his peers. The story bounces between the events leading up to his departure and his time spent on Urras (a “propertarian society”). From there, the story is largely about the nature of being in an alien society, and the greed of that world. He ultimately completes his theory, and escapes, arranging for it to be broadcast throughout the known universes, so that no government or world can “own” the idea. He then returns home.

There are interesting events that transpire within the book, and the setting is well thought out. The characterizations are well formulated. The book is technically flawless. Something about it rankles with me, however. Taken as an abstract it really feels like a setup; a way to preach about political, economic, and philosophic ideologies, couched inside a fictive universe. It’s the same setup Heinlein used in For Us, the Living, though he didn’t do it as well. The basic structure is the same: thrust an individual into another world (whether through time or space), and let that individual and the other world’s inhabitants have a dialogue about the differences in their cultures.

I don’t really have a problem with “idea books”. They can be a great deal of fun to read, and I tend to enjoy them. Hell, I enjoyed The Dispossessed, don’t get me wrong. I think what makes it sit uneasily for me is that this is LeGuin we’re talking about. She made a point of dunning expositional lumps in her book on writing Steering the Craft, and yet is guilty of writing a book filled with them. It just seems a little hypocritical.

All that said, I’d still recommend the book, but with the warning that it IS an “idea book”. If you are looking for conflict and resolution, this is not the book for you. Still, it’s probably one of the best books I’ve read on the subject of an anarchistic society that might actually work. It reminds me that one of the fundamental roles of science fiction (or speculative fiction, if you want to be more precise) is to push ideas forward, to couch the dangerous or frightening in ways that allow us to face them. To say, “Danger be damned, what if…”

LeGuin, Ursula K. The Dispossessed. New York: Eos, 2001.

Annotation: A Night in the Lonesome October

After reading Lord of Light, I decided to go on and read a bit more Zelazny, opting for A Night In the Lonesome October, which is a witty, funny, charming horror story. Written in first person, the novel centers around Snuff, the canine companion/familiar to Jack the Ripper. The story is broken down into days of October, leading up to the climax on Halloween night.

The premise breaks down like this: every 100 years, people of certain inclinations gather around a point of power (the point changes every time… it might be in Bangladesh one century, Paris the next, et cetera), and undertake a ritual concerning the Elder Gods, who have been locked away for ages. Some come to close the gate that will appear, others come to open it and release the Old Ones. If there is a deadlock in power between the openers and closers, it defaults to the closers.

The being known as Jack the Ripper is an old hand at these ceremonies, having attended several in the past. Other folks who show up over the course of the story include a witch, Count Dracula, Frankenstein (monster in tow), a mad monk, a demon worshiping pastor, and several others (even Sherlock Holmes makes a few appearances). Since the story is from the perspective of Jack’s familiar, most of the interaction that occurs is with the familiars of the other “players”.

There’s a lot more to the process of the ceremony than just collecting items of magic and sacrifice to help sway the gate in your direction. Since the location changes, no one knows where it is (as Snuff comments, there were times when no one figured it out correctly, even). A good deal of the book involves the deductive efforts of Snuff to calculate the location of the place of power, which involves triangulation based on the domiciles of the players in the area (it is always in the center of that triangulation, but the trick is figuring out where everyone lives, and even who everyone in the Game is).

The edition I have of the book has some delightful illustrations done by Gahan Wilson, which augment the simple narrative style of a dog (albeit a very intelligent one). The very first chapter really establishes the nature of the book quite well:

One night when we were in a graveyard recently an old watchdog came by, though, and we talked for a time.
“Hi. I’m a watchdog.”
“Me, too.”
“I’ve been watching you.”
“And I’ve been watching you.”
“Why is your person digging a big hole?”
“There are some things down there that he needs.”
“Oh. I don’t think he’s supposed to be doing that.”
“May I see your teeth?”
“Yes. Here. May I see yours?”
“Of course.”
“Perhaps it’s all right. Do you think you might leave a large bone somewhere nearby?”
“I believe that could be arranged.” (2)

The simplicity of it really captures the pragmatic attitude of what I imagine a dog’s mind would be. The entire book is spot on in that fashion, though naturally Snuff is far more capable a dog than most, being a familiar (with all the magical augmentation that title connotes).

The “daily journal” style is an interesting choice for the topic, and I think it works quite well to force the reader into a non-omnipotent position, which saves significantly on the amount of explanation of things that is needed. Not everyone knows how everything works and why, and it’s silly that so many stories make that assumption for the sake of exposition and establishing the setting. This book, and others like it, prove that it isn’t necessary in order to have an engaging, involved story. (A trait I’m guilty of myself when writing.)

If I was trying to introduce someone to Zelazny as an author, I’d probably suggest Lord of Light first, but that said, A Night In the Lonesome October is a fun (and relatively fast, weighing in at 280 pages of an easy to read typeface) read that I would happily recommend for the pure enjoyment of it. While the nature of the story is inherently macabre, it is really not very horrific, and I wouldn’t even twinge at giving this to a child to read.

Zelazny, Roger. A Night In the Lonesome October. New York: Avon Books, 1993.

Annotation: Lord of Light

Roger Zelazny, like Ray Bradbury, is an author whose prose reads like poetry. His writing style is sparse, yet every word evokes an image of clarity. I wish I could write like him, and hope to come close someday. He’s written dozens of novels, singly and in collaboration, and every one of them is well respected by his former peers (he died in 1995). Every author has one book, however, that leaps above the rest, more well known and lauded than any other. For Zelazny, that book would be Lord of Light. For good reason: the novel is nothing short of amazing. I haven’t felt so involved in a story in years.

The very concept of the story is fairly unique. It takes place in the distant future, on a colony world that has no contact with Earth. The original colonists developed a technology to transfer the soul of a person into a new body, and have attained virtual immortality through this use of reincarnation. They have also developed their psychokinetic abilities, or Aspects and Attributes, through training, drugs, and other methods, allowing them to act functionally as Gods to their descendants, who have restarted civilization from scratch. In particular, these “gods” simulate early Hindu or Vedic mythology, in trait and name.

Even demons and spirits exist in the world, the original inhabitants of the planet who long ago abandoned their physical bodies to become immortal beings of pure energy. The whole setup for establishing a modern science fiction tale couched in Vedic myth is brilliantly done, with nary a hole in the logic to be seen.

The tale centers around a disillusioned First (an original colonist) named Sam, better known as Siddhartha. He takes issue with the restrictions on civilization placed by the other Gods, in particular feeling that they have been hindering the society’s advancement in order to maintain the balance of power on the side of the Gods. He strives to undermine these efforts, taking on the role of the Buddha in order to establish a counter (yet complementary) movement among the people. He also bargains with the demons whom had been locked away centuries before, freeing them to fight against the Gods.

Most of the story takes place in the past. The first chapter involves Yama, God of Death, bringing Sam back into the physical world, after spending 50 years dispersed as energy in the troposphere of the planet. Each chapter after that is really a prologue, detailing Sam’s previous effort to battle the Gods (which ended with his spirit scattered across the planet, which brings us full circle), until the last two chapters, which deal with the final battle.

The entire adventure is truly epic and brilliantly done, with marvelous scenes of action and tension. That is not why I am so enamored with the story, however. It comes down to people. Zelazny was able to make me genuinely care about the people behind their Godhood. There is no clear good versus evil, everyone has a bit of both. Their conflict is a matter of opinions leading towards the same ideal, and no matter what side they may be on now, they have all fought and bled and cried and loved together in the past. They may be powerful and immortal, but they are still human.

It’s a question always at the forefront of my interests, and many of my favorite books address it either directly or indirectly: what makes us human? Where does humanity lie, and how do we retain that as we change and evolve and step beyond ourselves? Lord of Light is a book that addresses it directly, I think.

I would recommend Lord of Light to anyone, barring perhaps those who have problems with religious reinterpretation. Or perhaps not bar them at all, since they could most benefit from a new perspective. I suppose the question becomes whether the goal in reading it is to educate and enlighten, or merely to entertain.

Zelazny, Roger. Lord of Light. New York: Eos, 2004.

Annotation: The White Dragon

In my continuing desire to figure out what motivated me to previously write fan fiction based on Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series (in the hopes of getting back into the swing of fiction writing again), I re-read The White Dragon for the first time in nearly a decade. While it didn’t quite re-ignite my desire to write about Pern again, I do begin to see what drew me to do so in the past.

Of the original trilogy, The White Dragon is my favorite. It follows Jaxom, the young Lord Holder of Ruatha Hold, who also managed to Impress a small, unique white dragon named Ruth (all other dragons are either gold, bronze, brown, blue, or green, with Ruth being the sole exception). Because it follows Jaxom so much more directly than the previous two books followed their characters, I find myself connecting a lot more with this novel than the others in the trilogy. I think it also helps that at the start of the novel Jaxom is very close to the age I was when I first read it.

The book opens around two years after the end of Dragonquest, with Ruth finally mature enough to fly with a rider. The rest of the book follows Jaxom’s adventures as he comes of age and learns to accept his dual nature as both a Lord Holder and a dragonrider. The overall arc of the trilogy also concludes with the last of the “Oldtimer” leaders, banished in the previous book, making a last ditch attempt to regain power and get revenge on F’lar. With the final removal of the Oldtimers, the Southern Continent (where the Oldtimers had been banished) becomes open to exploration, with the help of Jaxom. Due to the unique nature of Ruth, fire-lizards are fascinated by him, and share images from their racial collective memory with him, which leads Jaxom to discover the original settlement of when Man first came to Pern several thousand years before. The book ends with excavations beginning on the ancient settlement (buried by ash from a nearby volcano, which proved to be the cause of the initial evacuation).

I think this story of personal growth, in addition to having a truly complete and robust world after three books is what caused me to decide to write about Pern. The writing is good, but I wouldn’t call it phenomenal, and I have a suspicion that is a large part of why I decided to write about it: writing that well seemed attainable. The world was rich enough, and there was plenty of room for the adventures of another dragonrider. Having just finished The White Dragon again, I must admit I do have a small craving to write a dragonrider story.

So why did I stop? And what can I do to start again? I started by finding that same writing club that had kicked me out years ago, and rejoined. I wanted to see people writing dynamically for Pern again, see the piles of stories to read. Instead, I got a trickle. Perhaps a single two page story a day, and lackluster stories at that Meanwhile, I couldn’t post, needing to submit anything through a mentor. I found it all almost laughable, and sad. I left without posting.

My quantity of writing hasn’t increased since then, and yet I still feel better off than that ghost of a club. I don’t think I’ll be returning to Pern again, in my own writing. But at least I feel some closure about it. I’m ready to move on, finally.

As far as The White Dragon goes, I definitely enjoyed it, and would recommend it as a solid coming of age novel. It still works best as part of the trilogy, but it is sufficiently “different” from Dragonflight and Dragonquest, that I could say it almost stands on its own. It also feels good to finally get some closure on a topic that has rankled me for 8 years. That chain is finally unbound; now I just need to move forward.

McCaffrey, Anne. The White Dragon. New York: Ballantine Books, 1978.

Annotation: Dragonquest

As I stated with my annotation of Dragonflight, my decision to re-read these books stems from a desire to figure out what caused me to start writing fan fiction in the world of Dragonriders nearly a decade ago, in the hopes of also figuring out why I stopped writing fiction despite my desire to continue.

Dragonquest takes place seven years, or Turns, after Lessa brought the Weyrs of Pern forward in time in order to battle Thread once more. There are a number of plots occuring within this book, which is a bit more ambitious than Dragonflight. The chapters are divided primarily between F’lar, Weyrleader for Benden Weyr (mate to Lessa), and F’nor, his half-brother and second-in-command. The “Oldtimer” dragonriders who had come forward in time were becoming belligerent and divisive, uncomfortable with the changes in society that had occured during the Long Interval, and tired of fighting Thread after having spent 50 Turns in their own time fighting it, only to come forward to fight it for 50 more. F’nor is injured and sent elsewhere to recover, where he meets a young queenrider named Brekke. During his convalescence, he discovers and manages to bond with, or Impress, a just hatched fire-lizard, a signficantly smaller cousin of the dragons. These fire-lizards become used as messengers and pets throughout the rest of the series. Brekke’s queen ends up rising to mate at the same time as another dragon, and in the subsequent battle (which otherwise never happens between dragons), both queens are killed. F’nor, having developed a relationship with Brekke, nurses her back to health.

In the other story thread, F’lar works to keep the alliance of Weyrs and Holds together under the tensions caused by the Oldtimers. This tension comes to a head when one of the Oldtimer Weyrleaders attacks him, leading to a duel that F’lar ultimately wins. This signals a “changing of the guard”, and F’lar is made de facto leader of all of Pern. Following discoveries made in abandoned portions of the Weyrs, a telescope is discovered that allows them to see the surface of the Red Star. Following increased pressure from the Lords to go to the source itself to destroy the thread, F’nor manages to get vivid enough coordinates to teleport to the planet, and is nearly killed by the violent conditions of that other planet.

Towards the end of the book, there is a Hatching (a period when the dragon eggs hatch and Impress their riders). One egg is smaller than the others, and no one expects it to hatch. Jaxom, a young Lord Holder, overcome with emotion, frees the small dragon from the egg, and Impresses it. Due to the clear demarcation between Hold and Weyr, this causes quite a bit of contention (you can’t be a Lord Holder AND a Dragonrider). Due to the unique nature of the small dragon, (he is extremely small and white, which is entirely unheard of), the dragon’s life expectancy is very low, so Jaxom is allowed to remain as a Lord Holder.

It’s clear when McCaffrey wrote Dragonquest, she was already planning to write the third book in the series, The White Dragon, which follows Jaxom and his dragon Ruth. Overall, I’d say Dragonquest is better written than Dragonflight. The characters are more developed and engaging, the descriptions and names are more consistent (though there are still discrepancies), and the overall story is significantly more complex and robust. That said, it does not stand alone, and really requires reading Dragonflight to be appreciated.

Like Dragonflight, I still don’t see what drew me to write about Pern. There is nothing remarkable about the novel, though I do feel it was well written and entertaining. What about it made myself and literally hundreds of others decide to write about the draognriders? It’s a violent world, with only a privileged elite having a truly good life, the rest spending it in servitude or hardship. Why would we choose THAT, of all worlds, to write in?

I would recommend Dragonquest to those willing to read the rest of the original trilogy (if not more). It is an enjoyable read, and does in fact have a complete primary story arc, but I would by no means say that the book is a stand alone novel. It needs its prequel, and it needs its sequel to truly be a strong novel.

McCaffrey, Anne. Dragonquest. New York: Ballantine Books, 1971.

Annotation: Dragonflight

I first read Dragonflight my freshman year in high school, along with the rest of the Dragonriders series. I enjoyed it well enough, and after reading the entire series (there are around twenty books total), I decided I wanted to write some Dragonriders stories. I joined a “fanfic” (fan fiction, stories written in a pre-existing universe) mailing list during my sophomore year, and wrote short stories based on “Pern” (the world the series takes place on) for about six months. I managed to rouse the enmity of the people in charge, and got kicked out. I haven’t written consistently since. This semester’s focus on writing caused me to decide to re-examine my time with the mailing list, and the books that caused me to join in the first place, books I haven’t re-read since being kicked out of the writing club eight years ago.

Dragonflight is the first book in the Dragonriders of Pern series. It establishes the world and main characters for the rest of the series. The world in particular needs some explanation, since it is decidedly alien to the reader. The social structure is broken into three hierarchies, Craft, Hold, and Weyr. Crafts are specialists in a given field (smithing, mining, and farming, for instance), and are autonomous within themselves (a Mining Craftmaster would not have jurisdiction over a Smith, for instance). Holds are the general populace of the planet, operating on a semi-feudal system of Lords. Weyrs make up the dragonriders, who live in extinct volcanoes and are sworn to the protection of Pern against an alien threat known as Thread. Since the Weyrs do not have arable land, the Holds and Crafts tithe to the Weyr that protects them against Thread (there are six Weyrs total, spread across the continent).

Thread is an alien organism that eats through any organic material with ease. It is drawn to Pern by the erratic elliptical orbit of another planet that has become known as the “Red Star”. Because the orbit is erratic, it generally only passes near enough to Pern to drop Thread every two hundred years, or “Turns”, and then does so for roughly 50 Turns. Every once in a while, however, the Red Star’s orbit is sufficiently erratic that an extended period without Thread occurs, known as a “Long Interval”.

Dragonflight opens at the end of one of these Long Intervals. During the extended absence of Thread, the Weyrs have fallen into disrepute with the rest of the population, and their numbers have dwindled to a fraction of their previous numbers. The sole remaining “Queen” dragon laid a new Queen egg before passing on, and the dragonriders are in search of candidates to become linked (to “Impress”) to the new queen once it hatches. They discover a young, driven girl named Lessa, who subsequently Impresses Ramoth, the new queen dragon. This makes her the “Weyrwoman” of the Weyr (the Weyr is lead by the Weyrwoman and the Weyrleader, who is the rider of the dragon that manages to mate with the Queen).

As the story progresses, the remaining dragons attempt to prepare the planet against the imminent return of Thread (which most of the planet now regards as a myth), and face the desperate need to increase their ranks quickly. At great risk of life, Lessa and Ramoth travel back in time (an ability dragons have is teleportation; Lessa discovers they can teleport through time as well as space), to the end of the last Pass of the Red Star. She leads the vast majority of the dragons from that time forward to her own time, explaining the reduction in dragon numbers over the Long Interval, and by doing so repopulates the Weyrs in time to save the planet against Thread.

That’s the book in a nutshell. By and large, it’s reasonably well written, and won several awards when it came out in the late 1960s. That said, I’m not entirely sure what I saw in it the first time I read it. There are some major plot holes, and naming discrepancies within the book (let alone compared to future books). That said, the world itself is well developed, with a clear social structure and culture, and the dialogue in general is well written. It’s an enjoyable read, and worth reading if only as an interesting blending of science fiction and fantasy aspects. I’d recommend it as a good example of that hybrid genre.

McCaffrey, Anne. Dragonflight. New York: Ballantine Books, 1968.