Talent Series

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To Ride Pegasus by Anne McCaffrey

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Originally published in 1973, To Ride Pegasus is being re-released by Del Rey in April 2000 along with Pegasus in Flight, to support the publication of McCaffrey’s next book in the series, Pegasus in Space. First, a warning — don’t be misled by the blurb released by the publisher or found on the book jacket about "extraordinary women." This book is actually a loosely linked series of four short stories. The first story focuses on Henry Darrow, a famous astrologer who actually has precognitive abilities. Darrow makes an astounding discovery leading to the legitimization of parapsychology. The next three stories detail the growth of the Parapsychic Center founded by Darrow and the challenges faced by his successor, Daffyd op Owen. While there are some "extraordinary women" in the book holding some key positions, they are really not the prime focus of this novel.

In my mind, the most important reason to read this book is for the background it provides about the very early beginnings of a group known as the Talents. McCaffrey later examines this group in much more depth in her Talent series (The Rowan, Damia’s Children, et al). I must admit to being disappointed that so many of the characters mentioned on the dust jacket were lucky to even be minor characters in the book itself. Still, this novel lays the groundwork for McCaffrey’s later treatment of the Talents. She explores the ethics involved with individuals whose Talents run the gamut from telekinesis to precognition to teleportation, as well as determining their moral and legal responsibilities. It was interesting to see how an enterprising leader with foresight was able to gather such a disparate group and turn them into a viable, profit-making business. My overall opinion is that, while not up to McCaffrey’s usual standards, this is still an enjoyable book.

Reviewed by: Diane

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Pegasus in Flight by Anne McCaffrey

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This follow up to McCaffrey’s earlier novel, To Ride Pegasus, was published in 1990. The intervening years were highly beneficial to McCaffrey’s story line. Her first book was simply a collection of short stories and was somewhat disappointing. This book, however, is a full-fledged novel that lives up to its promise, focusing on the discovery and training of two very different and highly Talented adolescents.

Rhyssa Owen is the current Director of the Center for Parapsychic Talents and granddaughter of Daffyd op Owen, a legend in Talent history. When Rhyssa’s sleep is disturbed by a furtive mind touch, an all-out search is begun. Highly Talented and well shielded, no one should have been able to reach Rhyssa. Rather than being alarmed, Rhyssa is determined to find the owner of such a unique and notable Talent. The search for an emerging Talent is probably the most pleasant of Rhyssa’s tasks at the moment since she is facing pressure on two different fronts. The Padrugoi Space Station is desperately needed to alleviate the crowded conditions on Earth. As it nears the critical stages of completion, Rhyssa is embroiled in a power struggle with an overbearing, insensitive official over the use of the Center’s kinetic Talents. At the same time, a ring of despicable criminals is preying on young children and the Talents have launched an all-out effort to infiltrate their organization and destroy these evil perpetrators.

McCaffrey is back in her usual excellent form with this book. She provides a quick review at the beginning to bring new readers up to date with the theories and concepts she discusses. McCaffrey allows the various plotlines to run simultaneously, yet still manages to tie them all together convincingly at the end. Those readers familiar with her Talent series will be interested to see the glimmers of their beginnings in this novel. Although mankind has not yet ventured far into space, it is clear that that time is not far off. This book has been re-released to support McCaffrey’s newest novel in the series, Pegasus in Flight, which appears to be a direct sequel. McCaffrey has once again created a well-constructed world and peopled it with individuals that are multi-dimensional and likeable. It will be interesting to see how the next book in this series shapes up.

Reviewed by: Diane

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Pegasus in Space by Anne McCaffrey

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I’m not ashamed to admit that Anne McCaffrey is one of those authors whose work I will buy without even reading the dust jacket. Well, okay, maybe I read the dust jacket, but only because I can’t wait to get into the novel! With Pegasus in Space, McCaffrey has scored another hit and completes the third book in the trilogy that presages her Talent series of novels.

At the end of Pegasus in Flight, the Padrugoi Space Station was nearing completion, but the help of the kinetic Talents was required on Earth to help prevent disastrous flooding in the Bangladesh region. Pegasus in Space picks up right where the previous book left off. A young girl is saved from the flood, but is orphaned and nameless. Unbeknownst to the orphanage, representatives of the Delhi Parapsychic Center are searching for her and her parents. In the meantime, the Talents have been mysteriously left off the guest list for the inaugural ceremonies at the space station. Concerned that something is amiss, Rhyssa Owen Lehardt and several other key Talents, including young Peter Reidinger, have found a way to circumvent this omission. When a military crisis strikes Padrugoi, many have good reason to be grateful that Rhyssa and her group were there.

Much of this story focuses on Peter Reidinger as he matures, in both body and mind. Peter’s Talent has only begun to show its potential and it soon becomes apparent that his limits may stretch far beyond what anyone has believed to be possible. There are many familiar faces in this novel and some old enemies return also, placing numerous roadblocks in Peter’s path. His friendship with the young orphan, Amariyah, has beneficial and unexpected consequences for him as well. As a subplot, I found the development of Amariyah’s mysterious Talent very interesting and felt that McCaffrey ties it into the main plot quite well. By the end of this tale, the early structure of Federated Telepath and Teleport has begun to take shape, gracefully tying this series together with McCaffrey’s Talent novels (The Rowen, Damia, et al).

Considering that the seeds for this trilogy began with a short story in 1959, I think McCaffrey did a great job with a concept that could very easily have seemed trite and dated by this time. Her character development is as good as ever, with complex, realistic personalities being the norm, rather than the exception. McCaffrey is an expert at shifting the viewpoint on her characters from one novel to the next. A lead character in one novel may become an auxiliary character in the next, but their personality and mannerisms remain true to form. It’s interesting to see familiar characters from a different angle, and even better to see bit players take on new roles and responsibilities. From time to time, McCaffrey will also slip in a subtle, or not so subtle, accolade to others in her writing. This time the tribute goes to various science fiction writers, among them Andre Norton, for whom she names the first spacefaring colony ship. Overall, I think this is another great addition to McCaffrey’s vast body of work.

Reviewed by: Diane

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