Anne McCaffery and impossible Pern

I finished reading the Harper Hall series. They were satisfying small bites, and buying the actual books meant I wasn’t raging about the poor quality of the e-reader transcriptions. That’s a big deal. How can you tell if the author cares about you?  No typos. No line editing problems.

For those of you not familiar with the series, it’s sci-fi/fantasy.  Fantasy because the science behind it all is flimsy at best and laughable at its worst. Before you go all commenty on me, consider: If you have a planetary mass that is close to another planetary mass, you get the interesting effects of gravity. Thus, tides with oceans, right?  But this mass apparently is close enough that stuff (thread) breaks free of the bad planet’s gravity when it’s close to Pern and it bridges the zillion mile gap to land on the poor Pernian heads, thus the development of telepathic dragons to combat it.

Wait, did I say the mass is close enough to have thread bridging the gap between the planets?

And apparently vacuum and extreme cold and extreme heat and radiation do not kill thread. Assuming that Pern has an atmosphere like Earth (and by all means, the planet of Pern is a clone of Earth in many ways… everything operates the same as if it were Earth), then space outside of Pern is either in unshielded sunlight or shaded from sunlight, and we get two extremes.

How extreme? According to Angela Libal, 120 C in sunlight and -100 C in shade. Not much can withstand that, right?

“This solar radiation heats the space near Earth to 393.15 kelvins (120 degrees Celsius or 248 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher, while shaded objects plummet to temperatures lower than 173.5 kelvins (minus 100 degrees Celsius or minus 148 degrees Fahrenheit).”

The Temperatures of Outer Space Around the Earth, by Angela Libal, accessed November 10, 2016.

Plus, we have the effects of radiation itself, beyond just its heat properties.

Throw in re-entry in the atmosphere where temps get up to 3000º, and now we’re talking impossibilities.

Back to planets, masses, gravitic attraction, and tectonic plates. Something big and close is going to create massive upheaval in the plate tectonics. Beyond mere earthquakes.

At least Anne has fantastic characterization and plot. But she gets an F on science.

4 thoughts on “Anne McCaffery and impossible Pern

    • Oh, no question I enjoyed the books. I just can’t apply logic to it. I try to view it as a fantasy, and then I can laugh at the other parts. “Oh Anne, you’re so funny, Rukbat is a G type star, yes, yes, and magical thread is falling.” And the character interaction is spot on fascinating and well done. That’s why I picked them up, decades later. I am fond of the stories. Threadfall and dragons are just catalysts for delivering an interesting story with conflicts everywhere. Oldtimers! Thread! Petty social drama! Good stuff.


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