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Dragonholder    by Todd McCaffrey order for
by Todd J. McCaffrey
Order:  USA  Can
Del Rey, 1999 (1999)

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* *   Reviewed by Marian Powell

Ever wonder how Anne McCaffrey got started on her great stories about the dragonriders of Pern? According to her son, Todd, one day his mother told him not to disturb her as she was thinking about a story about dragons. When he asked her why dragons, she answered 'Because they've had bad press all these years.' Yes, for those old enough to recall the world before 1967, dragons were traditional monsters. Then Anne McCaffrey wrote Weyr Search and it won the 1968 Hugo Award for best science fiction novella of the year. That was thirty-four years ago and the most recent in the series, The Skies of Pern came out last year so it's likely more dragon tales will be forthcoming.

Who is Anne McCaffrey? Where did she come from? Her son Todd has written her biography with his mother's full cooperation. Todd gives some basic facts about where they lived; the tragedy of how bad the marriage was between his parents and how much happier they all were when it ended; how Anne came to move to Ireland and her lengthy financial struggles. As for her writing, we learn that her first published story won a contest; her second story was bought for an anthology of the year's best stories; she published two stories in Analog and then Weyr Search. That was the start of the immensely popular Pern novels. Meanwhile, she has written other series as well; the Pegasus books about wild talents; the Ship Who Sang stories; the Acorna series and more.

Dragonholder is a charming book. It's not so much biography as family reminiscence. It's full of anecdotes about Anne's father, Anne's aunt, Anne's friends, Todd and his brother and sister and, oh, yes, here and there Anne herself. That's both the strength and weakness of the book. It's a warm and loving tribute by a son to his mother. It is not an in-depth biography. At the end of the story, you feel like you've had a lengthy visit with some very nice people and enjoyed every minute of your stay, yet you realize you finished the visit without any of your questions having been answered. Still, you are happy you had the visit and your only regret is that it couldn't have been longer.

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