Re-reading, revisiting, and re-loving The Dragonriders of Pern

*Note: series spoilers!

When I was in high school, I was introduced to Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series. I fell in love with the dragons and their riders. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have a telepathic relationship with a dragon, not to mention being able to actually ride one in flight?

I devoured the series as a teenager, and recently was discussing the series with a friend.  I remembered how much joy I had felt when reading the series and decided that since I had already met my yearly Goodreads Reading Challenge goal that I would re-read the whole series.

The first book, Dragonflight, brought me back immediately.  The abandoned Terran colony, left on its own for thousands of years, has grown into a semi-feudal society with guilds, lord holders, and dragonriders.  Now, why would a  society need dragonriders? And where did the dragons come from? All of this is explained as the story progresses, focused around the central story of Lessa of Ruatha Hold.

While the story still captivated me, still pulled me in, I was much more discerning of the way the story was written.  I felt a distinct lack of character development and insight.  This was really apparent to me in the second book when it was announced that Lessa had a child. No discussion of her being pregnant, nothing about riding a dragon while pregnant, nothing. Just that she’d had a child and that it had been difficult on her.  When I contrast that with the way Diana Gabaldon described Claire’s pregnancies in the Outlander series, the lack was even more apparent.

That didn’t stop me from continuing to re-read the series because… dragons! And I always loved the idea of a planet being settled by a technologically-advanced society, regressing to a less technologically-advanced society, and then that society finding evidence of the original settlers and re-learning their technology.  An archaeologist’s thought-assignment (I had a similar project in the Intro to Archaeology course I took in college) turns into a series of fantastic novels.  My inner archaeologist thrilled when the Pernese explorers found various non-natural mounds that proved to house colonial transports and other technology.

I love McCaffrey’s world-building.  Pern is believable as a planet: there are tropical zones, mountainous zones, temperate zones; in short, everything that a human could want. Then there’s that whole thread issue.  Well, you always need conflict, right? What better motivator than an insidious planet-killing organism that rains down from the sky?

Then there are elements of time-travel (because what sci-fi fantasy series wouldn’t be complete without time-travel?) facilitated by astronomy and dragon skill.  The characters are a bit predictable in that they play to archetypes. F’lar, the dashing young leader; F’nor, his supportive best friend. Lessa, the Cinderella-esque heir to a hold who becomes the co-leader of the dragon renewal movement. Then, of course, there are the supporting characters who provide advice, supplies, and more conflict. So, if you’re looking for amazing characters that really leap off the page, who you could call a book-boyfriend, you may want to keep looking.  But, what is compelling is what these characters manage to accomplish within a few years of coming into power.  They completely revitalize a stagnant society, rise to meet a global threat, and leave their world a better place than the one they received.

So, Pern still pulls me in. I definitely read it differently than I did as a teen, but I still love the series. If you’re looking for a fun, easy-to-read series, take a trip to Pern.  You won’t be disappointed.

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Outlander Hiatus = Time to Write

It’s been quite a while since I actually posted new, and original, content. I apologize for that, Dear Readers, but sometimes life just takes hold and won’t let go.  Or in my case, Outlander took hold and didn’t let go.  At least until the mid-season finale which aired on September 27th in the US.

I was faithfully glued to the tv each Saturday night, watching in awe as one of my favorite books came to life on the screen. During the weeks, when not at work, I was faithfully glued to Facebook, Twitter, and whatever other social media site I could deal with before my brain gave up and forced me to go to sleep.

Dinner? We’d better be home before 9 o’clock! Movie? Same deal. Channel changed at 9 o’clock to Starz. One of the most enjoyable elements of the show, for me, was being able to watch it with my folks, seeing them fall in love (or at least become interested) in the characters I’ve loved for so many years. I came home one evening and found my dad watching The Wedding episode by himself because he “had to catch up.” And then there was the time we had to DVR the show because we were away.  We came home from our trip, and as soon as dinner was done, Dad said “Outlander, Outlander!”  Score 1 Outmander convert for this gal!

So now it’s over for the time being and the fever-pitch of fandom has cooled. Now is the slow simmer of our discontent… at not having Outlander on the television every week. But, there is some good news to be had at the 6 month hiatus of Outlander. I can get back to writing.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you know I faced an existential crisis at the end of last year- I didn’t meet my Goodreads goal. I was devastated. I’ve pretty muched blocked last year out of my memory with regard to books, but doubled my efforts for this year to make sure I didn’t fall behind my schedule. I’m proud to say that I’ve read 84 books since January 1st and I’m 9 books ahead of target for my goal of 100 books for 2014.

But what about the writing? Well that has suffered more than the reading has.  The reading is an integral part of my day. Without reading, I feel undernourished. If books had calories, I’d be in deep trouble.  Thank God they’re nourishment for the soul, not the body. But writing, writing is different. For me, writing is based on mood and energy.  If I don’t feel like I have the mental energy to write, I won’t.  I  can only dedicate my focus to a finite number of things. This summer, work took up most of my focus. Outlander  took the rest. This is probably why I have never finished the novels I’ve started.

I have six months now, before the slow simmer roils back to a boil, in which to explore my writing again. I’m thinking of participating more in NaNoWriMo, so that I can possibly, finish one of my novels before the end of the year.  Even if I don’t do that, I do want to make sure to start writing more frequently.  I’ve missed the interaction that writing publicly brings, as well as the chance to hone my craft.

So, thank you, Outlander, for giving me time to write again. I’m off to make the most of it.

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Terry’s designs are stunning. Regardless of perfectly perfect historical accuracy, I find them beautiful & representative of the time periods. They are inspiring & I can just bet that I will not be the only one knitting Mrs. Fitz’s Knit Bits this fall. If the worst someone can say about your designs is that they don’t take enough time to put on onscreen, then you win. Terry Dresbach definitely wins in my book.

Terry Dresbach

I just checked the blog to find a post by Helena Jensen taking me to task about what kind of research I do, and how long it takes us to lace a corset on Outlander.

Hers was one of many posts of a similar nature. Apparently there quite a few blogs and forums that are concerned with how I do my job. I thought I would take the opportunity to answer all of the queries and concerns. 

Here is Helena’s post: 

“Your definition of research is not one that a serious academic would recognise.

And the idea that it takes twenty minutes to put on a corset, stays, jumps or bodies is risible.”

Actually Helena, you actually have NO idea what kind of research we have done or not done. Or apparently, what my job is.

The point of costume design for a television show or a film is not…

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Tweeting for Outlander Good (and Swag) – It’s what we do

#UKTVNeedsOutlander! Sad that the country where it’s filmed hasn’t picked it up for distribution yet!!

Outlander Ambassadors

I’m sure many of us had the same reaction when the news broke earlier this week that Lightbox in New Zealand and HBO in The Netherlands had secured the rights to air Outlander and that fans in those countries will be able to watch by the end of August – absolute joy, maybe a few happy tears followed by complete devastation on behalf of the fans in the UK.

Outlandish UK has set a Twitter event for August 6 from 8-10 pm UTC+1, which is noon – 2 pm in the Pacific Time Zone, 1-3 pm in Mountain, 2-4 pm in Central, 3-5 pm in Eastern, 9-11 pm in CEST, 5-7 am on August 7 in AEST, and 7-9 am in NZST.  They have asked us to tweet #UKTVNeedsOutlander to a list of networks, which will be published with suggested tweets by Monday, August 4 at 8 pm Pacific Time.

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Guidelines for #OutlanderCountdown July 10 1-3 pm Pacific, 2-4 pm Mountain, 3-5 pm Central, 4-6 pm Eastern, 9-11 pm BST, 10 pm – 12 am CEST July 11 6-8 am AEST, 8-10 am NZST

Please be sure to Tweet along with us!!

Outlander Ambassadors

We have two goals this time:

To spark interest in people who are not yet aware of Outlander, causing them to seek more information and subscribe to Starz/Showcase/SoHo.

To continue to stress to networks in Outlander-orphan countries that fans will watch and support the show.

Basic trending guidelines:

Tweets from “locked” accounts (tweets are protected or private) will not count in the effort. Go to your Twitter settings, then the privacy option and uncheck the “Protect my tweets” box before the event. You can go back afterward and check the box again.

Only tweets from accounts with more than 10 followers will count toward the trend. If your need more followers, send a tweet to @Reader_DG at least 24 hours in advance and we’ll help you get that many followers.

The hash-tag is #OutlanderCountdown. Use this in all of your tweets during the event and only ONCE in each tweet…

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