Well, after The Renegades of Pern ended in a bit of a cliffhanger, I was quite ready to dive back into Pern with this latest installment. And, much to my contentment, Weyrs picks up literally on the same day that Renegades ends. Weyrs was basically non-stop excitement as everyone begins to work together towards the common goal of eradicating Thread forever.
At the end of Renegades, the people of Pern had discovered the original settlement of their ancestors (who came from a different plant – presumably ours, actually). And, most importantly, a computer was discovered – operated by solar power, and thus still able to work. The Aivas (Artificial Intelligence Voice-Address System) responded to its rediscovery by sharing the origins of Pern with Pern’s current residence. Not only that, Aivas had a great deal of scientific information to share and teach. Throughout the story, Aivas is basically a separate entity. While technically a computer, it (he?) has a distinct personality and voice. Aivas also withholds information until he believes the time is right for it to be shared, portraying an almost human capability for reasoning, planning, and acting.
Throughout the story, as Aivas trains the people in tasks they will need to perfect in order to destroy Thread at its source, there are those who embrace Aivas and all he has to teach, and there are those who believe that he is an abomination and terror. Now, to me, it made perfect sense that not everyone would understand Aivas, and that even from among those who understand what he is some would disagree with blindly following his instructions. However, McCaffrey presented anyone and everyone who disagreed with Aivas as being stodgy, close-minded, bull-headed, and, frankly, a bit stupid. All – every single one – of our previous characters/heroes immediately jump onto Aivas’s bandwagon without hesitation or a second thought, despite the fact that Aivas refuses to explain his plan in full, but instead dolls out small doses of information as it is needed.
Am I missing something?? I feel like if I had never heard of or even imaged something like a giant computer (much less one that chats it up exactly like a person), I would be a bit freaked out by it and not necessarily inclined to immediately take it at its word when it says that if I just do these crazy things, my life will suddenly improve. So I guess I found it just a bit irritating that McCaffrey didn’t give us any intelligent dissenters.
Here’s the thing (minirant only moderately connected to the story coming on) – I don’t believe that all change is always good. And I get tired of fiction consistently portraying people opposed to change as being close-minded, stubborn, stupid, backward, etc. Just because it’s change doesn’t mean that it’s awesome. Being open-minded doesn’t mean that you have to embrace every change that comes down the pike. It means that you are willing to assess every change that comes down the pike and make an intelligent and objective decision as to whether or not that change is positive or negative. Thus, it is possible to be open-minded but still object to something new, not because it is new, but because the new genuinely isn’t better than the old. Is this making any sense??
And I’m maybe a bit sensitive to it because I have received a great deal of flack over the years for embracing my parents’ conservative viewpoints as my own. I have basically been told on multiple occasions that I’m a parrot who has never learned to think for myself (despite my 33 years, thank you). People never seem to consider it possible that I have, in fact, explored other avenues of beliefs and values and, at the end of the day, determined that my parents’ value system is the one I believe to be the best – not because they forced me to, or because I’ve never considered any other way, but because that’s just what I believe for myself, personally.
All that to say, it seemed unfair to me that McCaffrey chose her least likable characters and made them the only ones who disagreed with Aivas. The intelligent (and kind, generous, thoughtful) people of course realize that Aivas is 100% good and perfect and trustworthy, because they aren’t stupid and backward and determined to keep everyone tied to the old ways, ugh.
Anyway (rant over), other than that nagging irritation, the story really moved. It covered several years and sometimes jumped forward in time without a lot of explanation, but otherwise was engaging. McCaffrey is a little weak in writing convincing romantic relationships, so I had to use my imagination a bit, but still. The ending was also brilliant. I actually got a bit misty-eyed if I’m honest. It was perfect. Honestly, it wouldn’t be a bad place to have ended the series. I haven’t started the next book yet, so I’m curious to see where McCaffrey goes from here. I think most of the rest of the books go backwards in Pern history to fill in gaps there.
For now, Weyrs was another solid outing that I thoroughly enjoy and highly recommend.