Short works

Books : reviews

Anne McCaffrey.

rating : 4 : passes the time
review : 9 April 2000

One minute Sara was walking in Central Park, then, after a nightmare of best-forgotten pain and fear in a Mil ship, she wakes up from her shock on an alien planet, in a modified body, playing the part of a moronic attendant in a mental institution. She rapidly discovers her patient, Harlan, is not mad, but drugged, and helps break him out. Her troubles are only just starting, as she must help Harlan defeat a usurper, foil an invasion of the flesh-eating Mil, all the while concealing her own status as a reviled restoree.

Anne McCaffrey writes mainly SF, with the odd romance. This is definitely at the romance-lite end of the SF spectrum: the occasional throbbing and thrusting can be safely skipped over. The main plot is "human dumped into middle of alien culture", and Sara, although often swept along by events out of her control, manages to cope quite well with the various trials she must overcome. The plot and style have an old-fashioned feel of a straightforward 1950s yarn; the eating sub-plot makes a pleasant change from today's fanatical health watching.

Anne McCaffrey.
Get Off the Unicorn.

(read but not reviewed)

[The title was intended to be Get of the Unicorn, but the typo survived]


Lady in the Tower. 1959
A Meeting of Minds. 1969
Daughter. 1971
Dull Drums. 1973
Changeling. 1977
Weather on Welladay. 1969
The Thorns of Barevi. 1970
Horse from a Different Sea. 1977
The Great Canine Chorus. 1971
Finder's Keepers. 1973
A Proper Santa Claus. 1973
The Smallest Dragon Boy. 1973
Apple. 1969
Honeymoon. 1977

Anne McCaffrey.
The Girl who Heard Dragons.
Corgi. 1994

rating : 4 : passes the time
review : 16 August 1997

I think the best story in this uneven collection is "The Greatest Love", for two reasons. Firstly, nowadays real life stories of host mothers carrying children for other couples are so common they make the news only when something goes wrong. But in 1956, when this story was written, such events truly were science fictional. It's fun to think how much things have changed within less than a lifetime. Secondly, the tale is a great romp, and tells an interesting and complete story.

[My edition of the book disgracefully includes no prior publication information, but I got the dates from The Locus Index.]


The Greatest Love. 1977
(written 1956) Peter Kellogg's wife, Cecily, can't have children. So his twin sister Patricia agrees to be a host mother. But Cecily's mother is surprisingly hostile to the procedure.
Cinderella Switch. 1980
Who is the intriguing guest at the Fomalhaut ball? And what is the secret of her fascinating hi-tech costume?
If Madam Likes You .... 1989
"Carmen Miranda's Ghost is Haunting Space Station Three."
The Girl Who Heard Dragons. 1986
Aramina, a 'holdless' child, can 'hear' the dragons as they talk to each other, and warn of Threadfall. This makes her valuable to various unsavoury characters.
Velvet Fields. 1973
Humans colonising a seemingly deserted planet learn to their cost that the natives are still present, waiting to mature.
Euterpe on a Fling. 1994
The live audience give an opera singer a standing ovation; the radio audience disagrees.
Duty Calls. 1988
Brainship Bil Hansing and new Brawn B'ghra Hrrunalkharr, a Hrruban, camouflage themselves to gather vital information from an informant.
A Sleeping Humpty Dumpty Beauty. 1990
Surgeon Bardie performs a brilliant operation on wounded pilot Roger O'Hara to save his life. But then he won't wake up.
The Mandalay Cure. 1990
A shipload of war-weary soldiers desperately require some R&R before their next battle.
A Flock of Geese. 1985
Chloe controls the cave, the only safe haven during the devastating time storms.
A Quiet One. 1991
Peri desperately wants to ride a real horse. The only way is to try for a job at the Working Farm.
Zulei, Grace, Nimshi, and the Damnyankees. 1992
A plantation slave uses her powers to save her owners during the American Civil War.
Habit is an Old Horse. 1979
Knock stands in his paddock, wondering why his mistress no longer visits him.
Lady in Waiting. 1978
Recently widowed Sally discovers that the old chest in the box room contains a surprise.
The Bones Do Lie. 1994
Vale slowly comes to realise that Chloe has her own plans for him.
So, You're Anne McCaffrey. 1994
Some biographical information and anecdotes

Anne McCaffrey, Margaret Ball.
Corgi. 1997

rating : 6 : unfinishable
review : 7 July 1999

Three asteroid miners discover an escape capsule containing a baby alien. They rescue her, and Acorna grows up -- rapidly -- as a humanoid with hoofs, fur, and a horn that can purify air and water and heal ills. Soon they are pursued by all sorts of people, for all sorts of reasons.

I find this poorly characterised (the three miners are indistinguishable apart from a few offensively stereotypical characteristics -- we don't see much of Acorna herself -- the stupid bureaucrat and the evil scientist are less than one-dimensional). There are too many coincidences used to drive the plot (the miners are being pursued for something they did in the past, and for Acorna, and for what the people did who originally owned the ship whose ID they appropriated to lose the other pursuits, and for Acorna by someone else) -- one of the key people who helps them early on turns up again later in a different key role [I know I support the theory that there are only 400 people in the world -- 200 who you know, and 200 "extras" to provide background -- because this is the only way to explain why you keep running into people you know in the strangest places -- but this is a galaxy full of planets, for ghu's sake]). And the story just isn't engaging. So I said the Eight Deadly Words, on page 198.

Anne McCaffrey.
The Ship Who Sang.

(read but not reviewed)


The Ship Who Sang. 1961
The Ship Who Mourned. 1966
The Ship Who Killed. 1966
Dramatic Mission. 1969
The Ship Who Dissembled. 1969
The Partnered Ship. 1969

Anne McCaffrey.
First Fall.
BCA. 1993


The P.E.R.N. Survey. 1993
The Dolphins' Bell. 1993
The Ford of Red Hanrahan. 1993
The Second Weyr. 1993
Rescue Run. 1993

Anne McCaffrey.

(read but not reviewed)

Anne McCaffrey, Elizabeth Moon.
Baen. 1990

(read but not reviewed)

Anne McCaffrey, Jody Lynn Nye.
The Death of Sleep.
Baen. 1990

(read but not reviewed)

Anne McCaffrey, Elizabeth Moon.
Generation Warriors.
Baen. 1991

(read but not reviewed)

Anne McCaffrey.
To Ride Pegasus.

(read but not reviewed)


Apple. 1969
To Ride Pegasus. 1973
A Womanly Talent. 1969
A Bridle for Pegasus. 1973

Anne McCaffrey.
Pegasus in Space.
Corgi. 2000