Despite the new, unread books I may own sometimes I can’t resist picking up and reading a book I’ve read before (usually more than once). I love re-reading stories and it shows in the amount of physical copies that I own (I haven’t gotten into the swing of buying more ebooks than paperbacks).
Most of the time, if I’m picking up a book to re-read then I’m just in the mood or I was reminded of something in the book. Then there are the stories that’ve become the books I re-read annually. There aren’t many on this list and, generally, I don’t set out to read a particular book at specific times. I highly doubt that keeping a rigid schedule for reading would suit me.
There’s something nice about reading a book that’s familiar but I tend to find something new about it at the same time, especially if I’m reading it every year or so, which is great.
You’re never really the same person, a lot can change in a year, and I know that I never read a story from the same ‘frame of mind’ each time I pick it up.
I was about fourteen years old when I first read Anne McCaffrey’s ‘Talent Series’ and I thought that it was brilliant. I still do. Back then, I vaguely remember thinking that the idea of ordinary people having extraordinary powers was so enchanting. It was science fiction like I’d not read before. It didn’t begin on a far off planet or in the distant future but it was realistic while it stretched the boundaries of what was possible.
I know now that the story was written more than twenty years before I was born. I borrowed, and continue to borrow, the books from my parents. They’re both fans of Anne McCaffrey and I believe that there is a photograph somewhere of me as a very young child holding onto a copy of ‘Powers That Be’ by Anne McCaffrey. I doubt I could understand many of the words at the time. We had a look for the photograph, but we couldn’t find it although we know that it is around somewhere. It was nice to see old photo’s though.
Especially the ones I’d forgotten about. Since we couldn’t find the photo here is one of me now re-reading ‘To Ride Pegasus’, the first book in the ‘Talent Series’.
Honestly, I don’t vividly remember than first time that I read ‘To Ride Pegasus’. The book is so wonderfully detailed but there’s a lot to remember about the world that is created and introduced in the first book so it makes sense to me that I remember the book better from re-reading them semi-frequently. Yet, there is a quote from the first book that has always stuck with me, from the first time I read it, “I can see horizons wider than mortality but I cannot always see the sparrow fall” (Page 48). Here, in the book the character is worried about the fate of a friend as well as the future but the quote reflects something much bigger than a single event. I find that it’s about the divide between the big picture and the small moments. It always seemed to remind me that becoming too focused on one or the other can mean that you might miss something on the other side.
The second book in the series, ‘Pegasus in Flight’ is the book I remember falling in love with. I still find it extraordinary when I read it now. Even if I just look at it as a feat of storytelling it is beautifully crafted and complex in the best way. As a reader we’re presented with a multi-lingual and achingly real world despite the fantastical limits of the science fiction genre. I’m not sure that I can pinpoint just one thing that led me to falling in love with this book but I thoroughly recommend it.
The final book in the series is called ‘Pegasus in Space’ and follows on more or less immediately from the events in ‘Pegasus in Flight’. (There is a series, ‘The Tower and The Hive’ based in the same universe but it is set in the future, a few generations down the line, after the end of the third book of the Talent Series. The first three books are commonly referred to as the ‘Pegasus’ series to try and distinguish between the two series set in the Talent universe.) ‘Pegasus in Space’ is slightly longer than the first two books and it continues to tell the story of characters who are working towards the goal of a better future, a precedent which was set from the very first pages of ‘To Ride Pegasus’. However, it’s not just a culmination of the events that’ve occurred in the previous books. Anne McCaffrey tells an amazing story throughout the arc about what can be achieved if there are individuals who do not give up hope.
If there’s one thing that I like about all of the books it’s probably that they’re so vivid. Everything from the problems – overpopulation, lawsuits and public relations – to the hopes – safety, legitimacy and friendships/relationships – are all realistic. I have no problem immersing myself in the world because it doesn’t take an extraordinary suspension of disbelief to believe in the events of the book even if it does sit comfortably within the purview of fiction.
Even now, as I’m glancing through the book to check that I’ve got my references right I’m getting pulled into the story and my fingers are itching to open the book at the first page. I’ll finish writing this post before I succumb to the temptation.
I find a lot of truth in fiction. Fiction writers may tell stories that don’t always mesh with reality but there is a lot to be learned from the way that a fiction writer sees the world. More often than not, they see people better than anyone and that kind of knowledge about the way that people act and react works its way into writing. I spend a lot of time reading, no surprise there, and sometimes that’s because I appreciate the honesty of a fiction book more than anything else.
After writing that last paragraph I became unsure as to how to finish this blog post. I talked about how the books focus on ordinary people with extraordinary abilities and I found a quote in ‘To Ride Pegasus’ on page 20 that, for me, sums up the idea. So, I’ll happily leave you with the words of Anne McCaffrey.
“Talent, gentlemen, can include something as simple as being a born mechanic. We’ve all known or heard of the guy who just listens to the sound of an engine and knows what’s wrong with it. Or the plumber who can dowse the exact location of a break in water pipes. Or the pyromaniac who “knows” when and where a fire will break out and has so often been accused of starting it; the woman whose hands ease a fever or soothe a pain, the worker who knows instinctively what the boss needs, the person who can always find what’s been mislaid or lost. These are everyday, but valid, evidences of the parapsychic Talent. These are the people we want to include in our Centres – not just the more dramatic mind-readers and clairvoyants. The Talented are rarely supermen and women, just people who operate on a different wavelength.”