Reading Pern

In these stressful times, many of us have been turning to old favorites, or comfort reads, and I’ve done the same. Whether it’s a favorite mystery series, science fiction, fantasy or other beloved books from our past, there’s comfort and a relaxing smile to be had from our “oldies”.

Few series give me as much enjoyment as Anne McCaffrey’s books about Pern. Though they all have to do with dragons, they are science fiction, not fantasy (some will argue that), as the whole thing starts with humans on three colony ships arriving at the planet Pern (Parallel Earth, Resources Negligible, as defined in The Dragonriders of Pern) and beginning a new colony. Later events call for bioengineering “dragons” from a small native species.

I’ve read the entire series of books by Anne McCaffrey several times. Note: I’ve tried, and do not care for or recommend those written or co-written by her son, Todd.

There are two ways to read the series. One is the way McCaffrey herself suggests reading the books. While I like and approve of that order, I have a second order of my own, which my experience with the books makes me think is better. Here you go:

McCaffrey’s Order:
1. Dragonflight
2. Dragonquest
3. Dragonsong
4. Dragonsinger
5. White Dragon (1st 2 chapters)
6. Dragondrums
7. White Dragon (chapter 3 to end)
8. “The Smallest Dragonboy” from Get Off the Unicorn
9. Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern
10. Nerilka’s Story
11. Dragonsdawn
12. Nerilka’s Story
13. Dragonseye
14. “The Girl Who Heard Dragons” from The Girl Who Heard Dragons
15. The Renegades of Pern
16. Masterharper of Pern
17. “Runner of Pern” from Legends
18. All the Weirs of Pern
19. Dolphins of Pern
20. Skies of Pern

the Robinson suggested order:

1. Dragonsdawn
2. Chronicles of Pern: First Fall
3. Dragonseye
4. Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern
5. Nerilka’s Story
6. Dragonflight
7. Dragonquest
8. White Dragon
9. Dragonsong
10. Dragonsinger
11. “The Smallest Dragonboy” from Get Off the Unicorn
12. Dragondrums
13. “The Girl Who Heard Dragons” from The Girl Who Heard Dragons
14. “Runner of Pern” from Legends
15. The Renegades of Pern
16. Masterharper of Pern
17. All the Weirs of Pern
18. Dolphins of Pern
19. Skies of Pern

Either way, enjoy the reading! Expect reviews of these over the next weeks.

About Rick Robinson

Enjoying life in Portland, OR
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20 Responses to Reading Pern

  1. Margot Kinberg says:

    My husband is re-reading the Pern novels right now. Interesting timing!

  2. Steve Oerkfitz says:

    Read a couple when they first came out but lost interest somewhere along the line. it has been so long I’m not sure what my opinion would be of them now. Not that I’m going to start a series with so many titles at this point. Right now I’m rereading Dune and am pleasantly surprised how good it is. It doesn’t date at all. I last read it in 1965. I don’t find my reading tastes changing much due to stressful times. Glad you are enjoying them though. At least my library has partially opened back up. I can’t go in and browse but I can go and pick up books at the door.
    Are you planning on reading the entire series? That would take some time unless you read a lot faster than me. Also some later ones were written with her son Todd. These were not very well reviewed.

  3. tracybham says:

    Rick, I am 2/3 of the way through Dragonsdawn and enjoying it very much. I will definitely read more but not sure which book next.

  4. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Next one. When I read Jo Walton’s book on revisiting the Hugos, she almost convinced me to try one of these. I’m not big on fantasy, as you know, but you argue it is science fiction. Hmm, let me see. I think I’ll wait for a few more comments before I decide. I am looking forward to your reviews of the series.

    There are a few mystery series that might benefit from this kind of treatment, as well as a couple of “straight” fiction series. But do I want to commit myself to rereading a long series?

  5. Jeff Meyerson says:

    Funny. I looked on Amazon. Your first choice had one person saying “I would not start with this book if you have not read the series before” and a couple of others suggesting, like you, that it is a good place to start.

  6. I read the first few books in the Pern series when they were initially published. I own a few more but I don’t know when I’ll read them. Perhaps your future reviews of this series will motivate me. Love the covers on these books!

  7. Patti Abbott says:

    What separates science fiction from fantasy? The lack of any humans?

    • No, the science. In this series, the humans came to the planet in space ships, and had computers and all the other technological items of any space venture. Most fantasy has humans, but not the hard science technology.

    • Steve Oerkfitz says:

      SF is science based. Fantasy tends to revolve around the supernatural-Fairies, Elfs, Wizards etc.

  8. I’ve only read two books in this series, Dragonflight and Dragonsong and have enjoyed both of them. I have several of them and should read them.

  9. stevelewis62 says:

    I read the first one, but I remember little of it. know these are supposed to be science fiction, but it’s always been difficult for me to read books about dragons, whether SFnal or not.

    • What are called dragons are a native species of flying reptile, bioengeneered to be large enough to ride on. They were so named after the Old Earth fantastic beast. The series starts in the middle, as written, but the first book by chronology has the colony ships arriving at the planet.

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