Authors: Todd McCaffrey
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BALLANTINE BOOKS • NEW YORK
For my sister,
Brave, strong, courageous
When Shelly Shapiro, our Del Rey editor, asked me to write this intro, I
hemmed and hawed because, let’s face it, I’m compromised on several
counts. One, it is my world Todd is writing in; and two, he is my son.
However, he comes from quite an authorial background. His
great-grandfather was a printer-engraver. His grandfather, Colonel George
Herbert McCaffrey, wrote many reports to the government dealing with the
occupation of countries; his uncle, Hugh McCaffrey, wrote about his
experiences as a military adviser to Thailand when they were training their
border police corps in a book called
published by Ballantine
Books in 1988. His grandmother dabbled in writing murder mysteries, but
with three kids to raise and my father to contend with, she never went as far
as writing them down. And then there’s me, his mother, and him growing up
while I was writing the Pern series, which I’ve been doing since 1967.
They do say that teenagers are very impressionable. And as he was born in
1956, he was certainly immersed in the Pern experience at exactly the
most tender time. Grown up, he has helped me work my way through
scenes. He has put his military experience (he was in the U.S. Army), his
flying experience (he holds a private pilot’s license), and his knowledge of
spaceships (he has a graduate credit in spaceship design) to good use in
advising me and sometimes even contributing whole scenes to books like
Pegasus in Space, Freedom’s Challenge,
Todd has published a number of short stories—some even without the
editors realizing his maternal connection! And he collaborated with me to
write the recent Pern novel
—an experience that proved both
gratifying and fun for both of us!
So he is well qualified to write this book. He is also a damned good writer,
will confirm. Perish forbid you should take my word for
his abilities. But you should.
You see, I’ve always been paranoid about people writing in my world. If
you’d seen some of the lovingly but inaccurately written stories I’ve seen,
including a film script that had me cringing in fear that it would be produced,
you’d understand how I feel about having my literary child misrepresented.
But Todd was in at the beginning, and he
Pern as well as he knows
the innards of his computer (and as a computer person by nature and by
his computer!). And I knew he could write well. So I
knew—well, to be honest, I
—that he was right for Pern.
Todd’s insight into the world and its culture is well-nigh perfectly Pernese.
He also had some of my strongest and most reliable Pern fans, like Marilyn
and Harry Alm, go over the manuscript, so it isn’t just Momma encouraging
her child. They were harder on him than I ever could have been. Not that I
didn’t watch him closely! I couldn’t let him make mistakes, and we did have
a couple of arguments about scenes, but I am happy to admit that
is a good yarn, fitting perfectly into the Pern series, yet
something I don’t think I would have thought up myself.
Enjoy, as I did, another point of view about Pern. And thanks, son, you done
did good and me proud!
Red Star at night:
Dragons take flight.
Fort Weyr, at the end of the Second Interval,
After Landing (AL) 507
Four men stood in a knot around the Star Stones of Fort Weyr. The sun
was just above the horizon, casting the harsh shadows of early dawn at
winter’s end. Each man wore the prestigious shoulder knots of Weyrleader.
Their warm wher-hide jackets proclaimed them the leaders of Benden, Fort,
Telgar, and Ista Weyrs.
K’lior, Fort’s Weyrleader, was host and the youngest present. He was also
the newest Weyrleader, having gained his position less than a Turn before.
He glanced back to the Star Stones—to the Eye Rock, which bracketed the
Finger Rock, which itself was lit by the baleful Red Star. Thread was
The air was made more chilly by the steady breeze blowing across the
plateau where Fort’s Star Stones were placed. K’lior suppressed a shiver.
“Fort is still wing light. We’ve only had the one clutch—”
“There’s time yet, K’lior,” C’rion, Ista’s Weyrleader, judged. He pointed at
the Red Star and the Eye Rock. “Thread won’t fall until after the last frost.”
“There’s no doubt, then, that Thread is coming,” K’lior said, wishing the
other Weyrleaders would disagree with him.
For over two hundred Turns, the planet of Pern had been free of the threat