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The Dolphins of Pern

Cover of The Dolphins of Pern

The Dolphins of Pern

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Two boys, one of them a dragonrider, re-establish crucial contact with the wise dolphins, the legendary "shipfish" of Pern.

Two boys, one of them a dragonrider, re-establish crucial contact with the wise dolphins, the legendary "shipfish" of Pern.

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  • From the book

    102 Years after Landing

    Kibbe gave the bell rope one last pull. He and Corey had been taking turns all morning, but now the sun was descending over the high ground and still no one answered them. Usually someone came out of Man's place on the dock, even if only one of the boat people. But the boats rocked at anchor under the high wharf, and it was obvious that no one had gone out in them, even to bring in fish, for some time.

    Corey clicked at him in disgust. The others of their pod had long gone fishing on their own, too bored to see if there might be humans to feed them when there were plenty of small fish to be gleaned at this time of year from the rich northern waters. She "blew" her hunger at him, so annoyed with the lack of human attention that she refused to Speak.

    "There has been illness. Ben told us that," Kibbe reminded her.

    "He was not well," Corey replied, reluctantly employing Speech to impart the concept. "Humans can die."

    "They do. It is true." Pod Leader, and one of the oldest in their pod, Kibbe had had two dolphineers as partners. He still fondly remembered Amy, his first one. She had been as much fish as he, even if she had to wear the long-feet and had no fins. She had given the best chin scratches and knew exactly where she had to slough off old skin. When he had been injured, she had stayed in the water by his cradle through the days and nights until she knew that he would recover. He would never have survived that long gash if she hadn't sewn it up and given him the human medicines that prevented infection.

    Corey had had only one person, and she hadn't seen him in a long time. That accounted for why she was so skeptical. She hadn't had the long association with humans that Kibbe had enjoyed. He missed it. They had worked well together; and there were still many long stretches of coastline to be mapped, and the locations of fishing schools to be determined. The work had seemed more like fun, and there had always been time for games. Lately all he had been able to do to keep the Dolphin Contract with men was to follow the ships, to be sure no one fell overboard without a dolphin to assist his rescue. He wasn't even sure if his warnings about imminent storms were heeded: humans sometimes disregarded advice, especially if the fish were running well.

    Kibbe was one of those who had been chosen to serve time up near the northwestern subsidence, where lived the Tillek, chosen of all the pods for her wisdom. The name given the pod leader was also traditional. He had been taught, as had other dolphin instructors, why dolphins had followed humans to this world, far from the waters of Earth, where they had evolved: the chance to inhabit clean waters of an unpolluted world and live as dolphins had before tech-nol-ogy (he had learned to pronounce that word very carefully) had spoiled the Old Oceans of humankind. He knew, and taught this despite the astonishment it caused, that dolphins had once walked on land. That was why they were air breathers and were required by Nature to surface to inhale oxygen. He listened to tales so old not even those who had taught the Tillek knew their origins: that dolphins had been special messengers of the gods, escorting those buried at sea to their special "underworld" place. As dolphins considered the seas to be underworld, this caused some confusion. The humankind underworld was where "souls" went -- whatever "souls" were.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 29, 1994
    In this latest addition to McCaffrey's popular Pern series (Chronicles of Pern: First Fall, etc.), the humans of Pern are reunited, after eons of noncontact, with the intelligent dolphins who had originally settled the planet with them. When a boy, Readis, is rescued by ``shipfish'' and realizes that they can talk, he develops a lifelong obsession with the fascinating creatures. But, though his interest is shared by the young dragonrider T'Lion and his dragon, Gadareth, it is forbidden by his mother, who has feared the unusual ever since she was kidnapped by outlaws because of her ability to hear and talk with dragons. Readis pursues his briney friendships nonetheless, reporting his findings to the computer, Aivas, which is attempting to guide the humans to a new era by freeing Pern forever from the devastating, life-consuming Thread. Meanwhile, the leading dragonriders and holdlords must act to contain the lust for land and power of Toric, Lord Holder of the South. Expanding upon events related in All the Weyrs of Pern, McCaffrey here adds yet another dimension to her colorful and vivid saga by focusing on the attractive dolphins and their highly believable society.

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The Dolphins of Pern
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Anne McCaffrey
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