cover image The Girl Who Heard Dragons

The Girl Who Heard Dragons

Anne McCaffrey / Author Tor Books $22.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-312

Spanning a variety of eras, settings and genres (SF to mainstream), this new collection of 15 tales by the prolific McCaffrey is a satisfying exhibition of her storytelling ability. In the haunting ``Velvet Fields,'' colonists on a new world must make a terrible decision when the planet turns out not to be as uninhabited as it appears. The title story, the only tale set on Pern, recounts some of the circumstances leading up to Renegades of Pern , focusing on the plight of the masterless and homeless in times of peril. In ``Zulei, Grace, Nimshi, and the Damnyankees,'' an Arab woman sold into slavery protects a plantation and its horses during the Civil War and its aftermath. A random group of people from different eras caught in a time storm are dominated by an old woman who can predict the time changes in ``A Flock of Geese.'' The contemporary ``Euterpe on a Fling'' explores the relationship between a singer and an audience in producing a performance. Few horsemen have been left on the Earth depicted in ``The Quiet One,'' where large animals have had to make way for an expanding human population. McCaffrey ( Lyon's Pride ) niceley demonstrates her range and world-building skills in this eminently readable assembly. Illustrations by Mike Whelan . (May)