World specific sources--focus on Pern.
Nye, Jody Lynn, with McCaffrey, Anne. Dragonlover's Guide to Pern. (1st edition) New York, NY: Del Rey, c1989.
Wood, Robin, text and introduction by McCaffrey, Anne. People of Pern. Norfolk, VA: Donning, c1988.
Reference type: Geographical
Authority: These books have all been approved, and in some cases contain contributions by Anne McCaffrey, author of the Pern series of books.
Audience Relation: On of the most important elements in science fiction writing is the setting, particularly if that setting is not familiar Earth but some other newly created world. The world must contain its own geography, culture, and people that ring just as true as those on Earth, otherwise the audience will not care what happens in the story. Many authors who have created a universe that is used in many books or for a long series of books commission, write, or approve other people to develop an all-encompassing descriptive atlas of their world. Examples of this include J.R.R. Tolkein's Middle Earth, C.S. Lewis' Narnia, Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek universe, and George Lucas' Star Wars universe. Learning about other well-developed worlds is a great way to stimulate ideas for one's own. This review focuses on on such fictional place, the world of Pern by Anne McCaffrey.
Scope: These three books are intended to give the reader more information about the world of Pern than is introduced in the novels themselves. They are also compilations of the scattered data contained in the novels.
Content Evaluation: Although written by three different authors, these books really do compliment each other and create a unified view of Pern because they all are based on input by Anne McCaffrey. In fact, one is even authored by her.
The Atlas of Pern by Karen Wynn Fonstad is more than just maps of the world. It contains descriptive data about the inner workings of the holds and dragon weyrs. The book is written in chronological fashion in that the maps and descriptions of the places mentioned are presented in the order that they are in the novels. The maps are wonderful line drawings by Fonstad based on McCaffrey's descriptions. The text is an embellishment of McCaffrey's with plenty of direct quotes. The book itself is tall and thin, and contains creamy white pages with black text.
The Dragonlover's Guide to Pern is by Jody Lynn Nye, who is an accomplished fantasy author in her own right and includes considerable input from McCaffrey. This books purpose is to detail the everyday culture of the people of Pern and elaborate on their social, political, and familial structures. Recipes, songs, poetry, and illustrations of insignia and dress are all included to give this book a real insider's feel. The book is tall and thin and is black ink on off-white pages. Entries are arranged in geographical clusters.
The People of Pern by Robin Wood is basically a book of portraits of the major and minor characters from the novels. McCaffrey herself provides the one-page text that accompanies each portrait, often offering juicy details about the characters not mentioned in the novels. The portraits themselves are full color and simply breathtaking. The book is tall and thin with glossy white paper, as in most "coffee table" books.
Taken together, these books offer a complete description of McCaffrey's fully developed world. After reading the novels and these books, one feels as if one has actually been there. This is a good example for science fiction writers on what to do for a successful world.
Availability: Science Fiction