Sunday, November 27, 2011

Get Off The Unicorn - Anne McCaffrey

Get Off The Unicorn
Anne McCaffrey
Del Rey
Copyright: 1977
978-0345349354

The amazon.com product description:
Open these pages and discover 14 remarkable stories of fantasy by a grand master of the genre. A wonderful writer, as well as successful and beloved by fans across the world, Anne McCaffrey has created an exciting collection of telepaths, secret gifts, dangerous missions, dragonriders, and more.
As an introduction to the various series and world that Anne McCaffrey's written in, Get Off The Unicorn does fairly well. There's The Littlest Dragonboy, which is the only story set in the world of the Dragonriders of Pern, and it's also possibly my favourite story in this book. There's two stories set in the world of The Rowan, and one set during the two Pegasus books (which are really the same world, just two different time periods). There's a story that introduces the Freedom series too - Thorns of Barevi.

What's kind of neat (I could be wrong in some of these cases, no longer owning copies of the books in question) is that several of the stories in Get Off The Unicorn predate the books. For The Thorns of Barevi  that dating is definite, as I remember when the book, Freedom's Landing, first came out, and that had to be in the nineties. The introduction to Lady In The Tower suggests the same. I know that Thorns of Barevi was incorporated into the later novel, and I think the same thing is true for Lady in the Tower and The Rowan.

There are also a number of stories that stand alone - somewhere between half and two thirds of the book. Of those, my favourites are the two Nora Fenn stories, which I think might have made for a really neat full-length novel. Still, they, like a fair number of other stories in here had something of a dated feel - though they weren't the worst for that. That, unfortunately ended up being the story Apple, which is set in the world of To Ride Pegasus and Pegasus in Flight. There's nothing too dated that I remember about this story in particular, but the thing is, I know that the two books are set in the mid 1990's. It was rather weird reading them a few years ago, and knowing that that time had past with nothing like the stories progress.

All of these stories were written between 1959 and 1973, so some of the basic attitudes are explained away simply by when the books were written.

Of course, with any book of short stories, there's going to be a few that you like more than others, and some that just don't work, at least for that particular read. So, to be honest, I'm going to have to say I either skimmed or skipped reading: Weather on Welladay, Honeymoon (which I think under normal circumstances I'd really like, but it's been too long since I read The Ship Who Sang, and so I couldn't remember anything about the characters), and The Great Canine Chorus. Besides, even for the stories I didn't especially care for, the author's notes are both interesting and entertaining.

Definitely a book for any true Anne McCaffrey fan, even with my grumbling and grousing. There's definitely no way I'm going to sell this one on anytime soon, considering the trouble I had finding it in the first place!
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