Revisiting Pern, the great McCaffrey reread: THE DOLPHINS OF PERN

Tehani and Marisol bonded over Pern (and Doctor Who) at a science fiction convention, decided that it was time for a reread of the series, and really, they should blog about that. They are reading in Anne McCaffrey’s preferred way, which is basically publication order.  

gl49of4nx3uzug5weu1fPern Series – The Dolphins of Pern

M: This was one of my favorite Pern books growing up, and after reading it, I’d still say it’s in the top 5. I really enjoy seeing the fallout AIVAS caused on all of Pern, and this is a special subset affected – those who love dolphins and want to reestablish a working relationship with them.

(I was raised on a steady diet of Flipper and The Little Mermaid, so it’s no surprise I enjoyed a story about dolphins. Which, like other sea mammals, seem horribly underrepresented in sci-fi/fantasy until recently. I guess I’m not the only one who finds them fascinating.)

T: Flipper? You watched FLIPPER? Woah. (I didn’t really get to watch that show, as our television access was spotty, to say the least, when I was a kid!). I’ve always loved dolphins too, so yes, having a book ostensibly about a society revolving around dragons being about dolphins was pretty much going to hit about a million of my “yes please” buttons!

M: Hell yeah! Flipper was on Nickelodeon, I loved all of its cheesy glory.  

In what has become an unfortunate theme in this series, though, I’m really unimpressed with the showcasing of women in this book. In particular, I find the portrayal of Readis’s mother, Aramina, who has previously been this strong, confident woman, into a shrinking fearful for my baaaaaby mother, infuriating. The woman goes through kidnapping, betrayal, holdessness, survives the trip to the Southern Continent, but loses her brain over one of her four kids? She doesn’t do anything to her other kids at all to back up the big shift in her attitude, and overall just found it to be disappointing.

9781423357421T: *sigh* Yes. That characterisation was really off. McCaffrey seemed to work really hard to explain Aramina’s attitude but it just didn’t fly. I could get it to a certain point, because in her own short story and in Renegades, there were some aspects of her personality that could lend themselves to her becoming overprotective and handling things in a way that might seem strange, but she really does go over the top, and it makes no sense in the context of the life they lead. It makes less sense that Jayge never addresses it with her and Readis, or that Alemi doesn’t prod him to do so!

M: Exactly!  Where is the changeover? It’s like she goes from zero to ninety in no space. It makes her come off a bit crazy. And the fact everyone else either never acknowledges it or handwaves it away is so out of character.

And other than that, we get short bits with Menolly and Mirrim, and stand-in characters for sisters, etc. We’ve hit this point where women are becoming equal, at least that’s what we’re being fed, so where are they?

T: Well, as you know Marisol, the perception of women as equal is really at about 15%, right? 😛 I think I forgave this one a little more than I should have, reading your comments now, because it didn’t bother me while I read it. Possibly that was a little in part due to the fact I really like Alemi as a character, and he plays a significant role. I fear I may have done that thing where you think there are more female characters than there are when a few a randomly mentioned by name and have a bit to do (such as Temma, for example). But you are definitely right. Like, why couldn’t Persellan, the healer, have been a woman, to give us another reasonably important character?

M: I’ve wondered if one of the girls had been the eldest and the planned holder if we could have had the exact same story, and I don’t see why not, other than she’d be the first female Holder. Which would have made for a better story/angle, far more believable than a sudden fear of Readis and a watery grave simply because he was in one storm. Continue reading

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Revisiting Pern, the great McCaffrey reread: THE CHRONICLES OF PERN: FIRST FALL

Tehani and Marisol bonded over Pern (and Doctor Who) at a science fiction convention, decided that it was time for a reread of the series, and really, they should blog about that. They are reading in Anne McCaffrey’s preferred way, which is basically publication order.  

gl49of4nx3uzug5weu1fPern Series – The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall

T: Well it turns out that most of what’s in this book is basically half of what I (mis)remembered as being in Dragonsdawn. Even the first story, “The Survey: P.E.R.N.”, which is about the survey ship that first found the planet, could have been a prologue in Dragonsdawn. The last piece, “Rescue Run” in which a ship comes across the distress beacon Ted Tubberman sent out and finds a despotic Stev Kimmer still alive and awaiting rescue, reads as a final epilogue to that same book. The other three pieces, “The Dolphins’ Bell”, “The Ford of Red Hanrahan” and “The Second Weyr” honestly read to me like they were edited out of Dragonsdawn for length!

M: I wondered the same thing – were these all edits taken out, or afterthoughts she’d never been able to put in? Some of the detailing, like with Tillek and the dolphins in “The Dolphin’s Bell”, would have dragged the book out, I suspect. Then again, “The Second Weyr” wouldn’t have really fit the arc in Dragonsdawn. I actually would have loved a dragon-focused book based on that time period rather than more survivor-based, as my love of Pern comes from the dragons and the way that impacts everything.

T: I agree they wouldn’t have fit in to Dragonsdawn but you can certainly see where they could have gone. And I agree that we got a bit shortchanged on the first dragons – there was so much potential to explore there!

220px-TheChroniclesOfPernFirstFallM: This was my first time reading these stories, so I had no idea that Kimmer lived. What a jerkoff! I mean, the whole story was great, because it was like reading a what-if, post-apocalypse spin-off. The idea no one else survived except Kimmer and his small harem is both a great what if and a bit of a trainwreck read. All of these emotions came pouring out for me as I relived his part in the betrayal of the first colony, and quite a bit of sadness as I realized Benden, Admiral Bendon’s survivor, would never have a chance to find out that he did survive, do all of these great things, and Kimmer was wrong.

T: Maybe I didn’t want to look too closely at it, but I couldn’t quite figure out the family generations of the little lost colony – a bit ick to say the least! I had read it before, more than once, and it still surprised me! I’d forgotten entirely.

M: Plus, there is that deeply delicious I wish slice of revenge pie. Kimmer would have an apoplexy if he saw what happened to the colonists. Then again, there’s a part of me that has wondered if he lied so well about them dying that he believed it, too… He’d be the sole survivor with Avril’s plan to leave with riches galore. Smart tactic. For a jerkoff.

T: I think it was clear in Dragonsdawn that he was smart (cunning, perhaps?) but I didn’t peg him as being *quite* that selfish and self-centred. I guess thinking you’re the only survivors of the apocalypse wouldn’t have helped his mental state.

96463M: “Survey” was short and sweet; and really, it had no place here. It would have been a better read as a prologue or first chapter in the last book than the rehashed synopsis we received in Dragonsdawn. I felt like the information about the survey came up an awful lot in the book, and I think this would have done a better job cementing the idea than the rehashings.

T: I was a bit disappointed in “Survey”, because it contradicts information about Avril that we get in Dragonsdawn. That should have been fact-checked! Although I like the idea that part of the reason the survey was incomplete was the shortage of qualified team members.

M: Confession time: I have a super large love affair with The Dolphins of Pern. Something I’m wondering if I will cringe at as I read it for the first time in, oh, ten years? Probably longer. I read it in middle and high school, when I dreamed daily of being taken away by talking animals to any place that didn’t include football and cheerleaders. Coming from that love of dolphins and that book in particular, I found myself much less enthused reading the short story. It was far more interesting to read about Tillek and Theo, and that development than the dolphins.

61935T: “The Dolphin’s Bell” is probably more interesting read with The Dolphins of Pern in your head, though, because it’s absolutely fascinating to see how that group maintained their societal structure through the centuries! Theo and Tillek were interesting, yes, but why did there have to be such an age difference? She’s VERY young for him!

M: True, but seeing an age gap couple that no one put down was refreshing. Although I would have enjoyed a role reversal. Seems people always ok the older man with younger girl, but not the reverse. I guess that wouldn’t work well for their populating ways though, haha.

In my dream world, if we’d had “The Ford of Red Hanrahan” and “The Second Weyr” put in a book, I could have had that dragon story post settling the north. It’s enough to make me wistfully sigh, because you know even back then publishers didn’t appreciate what an amazing story world (aka moneymaker) they had in Pern.

T: I agree – more about the first Benden Weyr team, and the expansion of the weyrs in general, would have made a great book. More Sorka and Sean! More about how the Weyr society evolved! Because that’s a quite thought-provoking element of the books, the fact that Weyr life is rather different and generally more open than Hold life. More needed!

I think “The Ford of Red Hanrahan” is my favourite story in the book. I’m a Ruatha fan, as we’re positioned to be as readers, and I really do love this story about its origins.

M: It’s funny, because I love sci-fi stories, and I love the sci-fi elements to Pern, but reading the previous book was the most tedious still, and reading these non-dragon stories was not a favorite. I mean, I love story backgrounds and flavoring as much as the next nerd, but because so much of this was well intoned in the first books, I felt like I didn’t learn enough that was ‘new’, as ridiculous as it may seem.

T: Not ridiculous! It was a fleshing out of backstory, with only a few surprises, which can be a problem of prequels, I guess. And it’s also the contrast of a novel to a bunch of loosely connected stories – a different reading experience. I enjoyed revisiting it, but I definitely wanted more depth for most of the stories.

mccaf1rlPreviously, in the Great Pern Reread of 2015:



The Harper Hall trilogy (Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, Dragondrums)

The White Dragon

Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern / Nerilka’s Story


The Renegades of Pern

All the Weyrs of Pern

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

60 hours to go for IN YOUR FACE!

There are just over 60 hours left in our In Your Face crowdfunding and pre-order campaign. Thank you so much to every person who has shared or backed the campaign, and to our incredible authors who have talked about the often very personal genesis of each of their stories (read about them via the links here).

We’re still chasing our stretch goal of pro-rates for all the original stories in the collection, so this last 60 hours could be huge!

The book comprises original and reprinted speculative fiction stories that deal with very provocative themes. These stories are confronting but with a firm purpose – they are pieces that will perhaps make readers uncomfortable because they are a bit too hard-hitting or close to the bone, but which interrogate these themes and ideas, and make a point about the world we live in.

If you’d like to support the book and pre-order your copy (in print or ebook – still fantastic pre-order prices available), you can back the campaign here, for as little as $8.00 for an ebook.


Posted in In Your Face | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Tehani on Galactic Suburbia – another life goal achieved!

GS1400IconI was absolutely over the moon to be invited to take part in the 2015 Galactic Suburbia’s New Year Special episode, which went live on December 31. Along with a bunch of other fabulous women, I got to chat about the year that was, have my own little Culture Consumed session AND share cool stuff we’re doing at FableCroft in 2016. I’ve always been such a huge Galactic Suburbia fangirl (and of course, consider Alex, Alisa and Tansy as good friends!), so this was definitely a highlight for me. Thanks for having me, Galactic Suburbians, and for your great show.

You can listen to the podcast (there are lots of other cool people talking too, not just me :) ) on iTunes or via the Galactic Suburbia Podbean.

Posted in Interviews | Tagged | Leave a comment

Ten days left for crowdfunding IN YOUR FACE

We are so very delighted to have now tripled our target, with the tally passing $1500 earlier today – to all our wonderful backers, THANK YOU! To every single person who has shared the campaign with their networks, friends, families and random people on the street, THANK YOU! To our amazing authors, who continue to astonish with their thoughtful posts about their stories, THANK YOU!

The tally so far means that we have been able to add several more stories to the anthology, taking us to 21 pieces (including four reprints), and a total of over 135,000 words (check out the amazing Table of Contents). We’ve also been able to increase the payment for authors of stories longer than 5,000 words (to pay them for the full length of the story), and the payment for reprint pieces. That’s fantastic!

But we’ve still got a dream! In order to pay pro rates of six cents per word for the original stories in the anthology, we estimate we need to reach a goal of $4,500 – and we’ve still got ten days to try for it! We’re happy to aim for the stars even if we don’t quite make it though, because even if we only get to $2,500, we can increase the per word payment, which would be fabulous.

So please, tell your friends! Share with your networks and check out the blog posts about the stories – this book is going to knock your socks off!

If you would like to support the the In Your Face Pozible campaign, you can do so here – thank you!


Posted in In Your Face | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Revisiting Pern, the great McCaffrey reread: ALL THE WEYRS OF PERN

Tehani and Marisol bonded over Pern (and Doctor Who) at a science fiction convention, decided that it was time for a reread of the series, and really, they should blog about that. They are reading in Anne McCaffrey’s preferred way, which is basically publication order.  

gl49of4nx3uzug5weu1fPern Series – All the Weyrs of Pern

T: This is the book you could really end the series with. And maybe McCaffrey should have, though I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve reread Dolphins and Skies (and the Masterharper), because I don’t think I’ve read some of those more than once, so don’t really remember much about them. I’ve not included The Chronicles of Pern in that, because everything in it comes from the beginning, prior to or following Dragonsdawn.

M: I’d be really sad if we didn’t include Dolphins, that’s one of my favorites from my childhood, although we shall see if that’s still the case.

AnneMcCaffrey_AllTheWeyrsOfPernT: Oh, we’re totally doing it, I’m just saying that the story cycle really completes nicely in All the Weyrs

M: I remember being surprised they came out with more books after, because it seemed like they were going to stop after this one. At the same time, though, I really enjoyed reading about the ‘fallout’ post AIVAS in the next books, and I’ve got some thoughts on that I’ll keep shushed til we get there. Continue reading

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Sparking In Your Face: Cat Sparks

Cat Sparks is a multi-award-winning author, editor and artist whose former employment has included: media monitor, political and archaeological photographer, graphic designer and manager of Agog! Press amongst other (much less interesting) things. She’s currently fiction editor of Cosmos Magazine while simultaneously grappling with a PhD on YA climate change fiction.  Her debut novel, Lotus Blue, is forthcoming from Talos Press in February 2017.

A friend of mine, an English teacher once remarked upon a curiosity amongst her class of 17-year-old boys. When asked for the worst thing they could think of in regards to their own futures, all apparently cited the same thing. That the absolutely worst thing ever would be to get blind drunk and wake up in bed next to a fat girl.

My friend was gobsmacked. Surely the boys were more worried about employment, or climate change, terrorism, HECS debt, rising house prices or maybe speeding and getting mangled in a car wreck? Nope. Unanimously fat chicks were the epitome of social and personal apocalypse.

Which got me thinking…

I reckon every Aussie woman larger than a size 14 has likely experienced a man criticising her appearance. I’m not talking about garment choices, I’m talking about overweight, and the invisible accompanying license to express contempt.

My In Your Face story, “No Fat Chicks”, is set in the near future where a mystery virus has rendered all women obese. The story focuses on a group of male friends not coping well at all with the situation.

I’d had the idea for this one for some time, but hadn’t known where or how to start. I recognised the story would be tricky – but all my stories are difficult these days. Perhaps I should have realised a sci-fi semi-satire piece might prove particularly troublesome to place.

An Australian literary publication invited me to sub a story. They sat on “No Fat Chicks” for months before finally giving it the flick. My rejection came with a half page email mansplaining the intricate mechanics of human attraction. As far as that particular editor was concerned, I simply didn’t know how such things worked.

I sent the story out again a dozen times. A few submissions scored a polite ‘no thanks’ but other rejections read more along the lines of “ew – get this thing out of my face!” Even a sci-fi feminist magazine wouldn’t touch it. They weren’t sure why they didn’t want it, but they didn’t. A prominent editor friend had a look and advised me that the story was too misogynist.

It wasn’t the fact of the rejections that bothered me so much as the wording of them. As a writer of 25+ years in the saddle, I’m no stranger to editorial rejection, no kind of delicate little flower who expects her words to be regarded as precious gifts. I’m an editor myself – and a bit of a hardarse – well aware that no can mean no for many reasons.

“No Fat Chicks” is not about #allmen, but the men it describes are absolutely real. For research, I waded through a swamp of unpleasant websites. The kind that advocate dating girls with eating disorders as they’re hot in the sack and easy to control. And then there was the miserable hatefest known as @fatshamingweek. Don’t go there – I really wish I hadn’t.

To be fair on the editors who rejected my submissions, I tweaked the story every time it bounced. Perhaps my earlier drafts didn’t do my ideas proper justice. Perhaps my writing needed a bit more polish. But the overwhelming feeling I experienced with each no was that I wasn’t supposed to be telling this tale at all.

Western women are raised with the belief that it’s more important to be beautiful than anything. We can all name five supermodels or screen sirens, but how do we score naming five top female CEOs or scientists?

There are many men out there who consider ‘fat chicks’ a blight upon the landscape. They believe the world was made for them alone. That women and girls are servants and accessories, and all are supposed to be petite and small. Anything else is unnecessary and offensive. This story is about those men. It is not about all men everywhere, any more than any other story could be expected to reflect all men everywhere.

Thank you Tehani for giving “No Fat Chicks” a go.

Editor’s Note: Cat’s story is the true spark that brought the In Your Face anthology into being. I wasn’t going to do an anthology this year. “No Fat Chicks” is the reason the book came to life. 

If Cat has sparked your interest in the In Your Face anthology and the powerful stories it contains, you might like to support the crowdfunding campaign by pre-ordering the book (and lots of other goodies) at Pozible. And please feel free to share with your networks!

You can find more posts by our authors linked here.


Posted in In Your Face | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Revisiting Pern, the great McCaffrey reread: THE RENEGADES OF PERN

Tehani and Marisol bonded over Pern (and Doctor Who) at a science fiction convention, decided that it was time for a reread of the series, and really, they should blog about that. They are reading in Anne McCaffrey’s preferred way, which is basically publication order.  

gl49of4nx3uzug5weu1fPern Series – The Renegades of Pern

M: This is the book I always think of as “The Gypsy Book”. I always forget all the OTHER stuff that happens in it.

T: The events of The White Dragon, The Renegades of Pern and All the Weyrs of Pern are apparently just one big jumble in my head, because I really had no idea which events took place in what book (or sometimes, short story…), so it was wonderful fun revisiting these to find out!

M: Given the ridiculously wide timeframe this book covers, it’s no surprise. I mean, we see Fax before he’s been killed. That’s ages ago!

michael whelan_anne mccaffrey_pern_renegades of pernT: At first I felt like we really *should* have skipped Moreta/Nerilka and Dragonsdawn to come back to later, because Renegades runs concurrently in the chronology to Dragonflight, Dragonquest, the Harper books and The White Dragon (as well as a couple of short stories!) for a big chunk! However, as I read on, I realised that it probably would have been a bit irritating to read the book in too close a proximity, and in fact the break really made this a better read. It also helps one gloss over the little continuity errors…

M: Too much dipping in the same pot, I agree. Even if Dragonsdawn is my least favorite story (so far as I remember). This book is like the book that shouldn’t be. It’s vignettes sliced up over an enormously long time.

T: Renegades certainly has the most ensemble cast of any of the books so far, I think. We get multiple widely varied points of view, with the dragonriders and harpers interesting quite sidelined for most of the story. Quite a fascinating choice McCaffrey made there! Continue reading

Posted in Reviews | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Announcement: Table of Contents for IN YOUR FACE

We’re delighted to announce the preliminary table of contents for the In Your Face anthology. There may still be some additions over the coming weeks, but the following are firm acceptances!

Thoraiya Dyer Where The Pelican Builds Her Nest
Tansy Rayner Roberts Letters to Cleopatra
Stephanie Lai Cherries in Winter, Rivers in Spring
Simon Brown Rain from a New God (reprint)
Shauna O’Meara No one Here is Going to Save You
Sean Williams Lust, Entrapment, and the Matter Transmitter: a Case Study
Paul Haines Wives (reprint)
Kirstyn McDermott Accidents Happen
Kaaron Warren All Roll Over
Jo Anderton A pain that must be suffered
Jason Nahrung A House in Blue
Ian McHugh Tolerance
Dirk Flinthart Waters of Kati Thanda
David McDonald And Now Art Thou Cursed From the Earth
Darren Goossens Zero Sum Game
Craig Cormick The Lost Boys
Claire McKenna The Autumn Dog Cannot Live to Spring
Cat Sparks No Fat Chicks
Barbara Robson Absolution (reprint)
Angela Slatter Home and Hearth (reprint)
Alan Baxter Bodies of Evidence

If you would like to learn more about the stories, check out the authors talking about their piece via our link round up here. And if you are keen to get your hands on the book, you can pre-order via the crowdfunding campaign, with the added bonus of helping the authors earn more for their work!


Posted in In Your Face | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Updating the IN YOUR FACE crowdfunding campaign

Well, we’re absolutely blown away by the fantastic response we’ve had to the In Your Face crowdfunding campaign. In five days we’re heading to nearly double the initial target, and all the early bird print rewards have been taken! But there is still a long way to go and plenty excellent rewards (particularly pre-orders of the book) still available. Based on the word count of stories we have in hand, we will need to hit around $4,500 in the campaign to be able to pay pro-rates for all original stories, so that is the target we’re aiming for as a stretch goal.

You might also be interested in reading about the story behind the story that many of our authors are posting – we’ve rounded up the ones published so far here.

Thank you to everyone who has already backed the campaign – we look forward to having your book to you in late March. And a huge thanks to everyone who has shared the campaign with their social networks – it’s a massive help, and greatly appreciated!


Posted in In Your Face | Tagged , , | Leave a comment