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The Talent #1

To Ride Pegasus

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They were four extraordinary women who read minds, healed bodies, diverted disasters, foretold the future--and became pariahs in their own land. A talented, elite cadre, they stepped out of the everyday human race...to enter their own!

232 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1973

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About the author

Anne McCaffrey

580 books7,089 followers
Anne McCaffrey was born on April 1st, 1926, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Her parents were George Herbert McCaffrey, BA, MA PhD (Harvard), Colonel USA Army (retired), and Anne Dorothy McElroy McCaffrey, estate agent. She had two brothers: Hugh McCaffrey (deceased 1988), Major US Army, and Kevin Richard McCaffrey, still living.

Anne was educated at Stuart Hall in Staunton Virginia, Montclair High School in Montclair, New Jersey, and graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College, majoring in Slavonic Languages and Literatures.

Her working career included Liberty Music Shops and Helena Rubinstein (1947-1952). She married in 1950 and had three children: Alec Anthony, b. 1952, Todd, b.1956, and Georgeanne, b.1959.

Anne McCaffrey’s first story was published by Sam Moskowitz in Science Fiction + Magazine and her first novel was published by Ballantine Books in 1967. By the time the three children of her marriage were comfortably in school most of the day, she had already achieved enough success with short stories to devote full time to writing. Her first novel, Restoree, was written as a protest against the absurd and unrealistic portrayals of women in s-f novels in the 50s and early 60s. It is, however, in the handling of broader themes and the worlds of her imagination, particularly the two series The Ship Who Sang and the fourteen novels about the Dragonriders of Pern that Ms. McCaffrey’s talents as a story-teller are best displayed.

She died at the age of 85, after suffering a massive stroke on 21 November 2011.

Obituaries: Locus, GalleyCat.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 240 reviews
Profile Image for Karen’s Library.
1,090 reviews166 followers
June 15, 2023
Anne McCaffrey's books are like a comfort food for me. I've read most of her books and have reread so many of them about a zillion times. My copy of To Ride Pegasus is pretty beat up as it's one of my go-to reads. I was having a crummy night and needed something that I knew would make me feel better. Mission accomplished!
Profile Image for Melinda VanLone.
Author 22 books66 followers
October 26, 2011
I just finished reading To Ride Pegasus, by Anne McCaffrey, for about the 20th time. It never gets old to me, and I know this won’t be the last time I read it. Yes, I’m one of those people who can read a book or watch a movie over, and over, and over. Part of the reason is that if it’s a great book I tend to read it way too fast and I miss things, so I read it again later to pick up all the things I missed. This time through Pegasus I tried to focus on exactly why I love it so much.

It might be the writing. The characters, even the minor ones, are so three dimensional that I feel like I know them. They are my neighbors and my friends. The world she sketches is vibrant and to me a logical extension of our own. It’s us, on steroids. Or psychic Talent, as it were. Mind you, when she wrote it 1997 seemed like far enough into the future to make all the futuristic things logical. Have we become what she envisioned? No. But we still might, maybe 100 years from now.

It might be the story. It’s an epic plot line, by which I mean it spans several lives and years rather than focusing on one small moment in time. The story is an overview of how Talent came to be, and how it got organized. I think even those who don’t normally read Sci-Fi will appreciate the politics of a minority group trying to make their place in the world. At the base of it, the plot is about people trying to navigate through a society that doesn’t always accept them. A pretty universal theme, I’d say.

Somehow I think it’s more than the story, the characters and the great writing (which is enough to keep me in just about any book). This story has a little something extra. A spark. It holds a fascination for me that I find in most of McCaffrey’s books, and that few others duplicate. It’s like she weaves pixie dust into every line. In this particular story, it’s the idea that we humans might evolve our latent parapsychic talents. The idea that telepathy might be something we eventually happen upon and grow into has always fascinated me.

We’ve all had those moments…that freaky moment when you know the phone is about to ring with bad news, and then it does. The odd sensation of deja ‘vu when you just know you’ve seen this or been there before, even though there’s no possible way you could have. Or even that feeling when you let go of the ball and just know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that it is going into the net and you will win the game. Whatever the moment was, you probably just brushed it off as intuition.
But what if it’s more than that? What if…

That’s why this book fascinates me so much. McCaffrey takes that question, the what if, and draws it out in a way that captivates me and makes me want to walk right into the story and live there. If you’ve never read her books, do yourself a favor and pick one up. The most famous are the Pern series, but I’ve read them all and you can’t go wrong with any of them. If you like hard core SF, try the Ship Who Sang. If you like a bit of fantasy with your SF, try the Pern series. If you love dreaming about how our world might grow into something different, try To Ride Pegasus, and then the rest of the Talent series, especially The Rowan. What the heck, try them all!
Profile Image for Julianne.
Author 1 book8 followers
June 23, 2017
Oh...wow. What can I say? This is vintage AMC batshit. Not the new school oddness of her turning Pern over to her son without any regard for the fact that he is a crap writer, but the old school stuff. Oh yeah.

It was first published in 1974, which would explain the horrendous portrayal of women if it wasn't science fiction and set in 1997 and beyond. Oh yeah. 1997. A terrible version of 1997 with half the technology and double the misogyny.

In the world of TRP, all the people in Charge of Things are male. And they're in charge of the minds of all the women. One woman gets angry because no one will help her deal with her telempathic ability, so the Man in Charge shoots her with a tranquillizer gun and then discusses how best to manipulate her with her boyfriend.

A woman whose psychic powers haven't been really discovered yet has a child with incredible psychic potential. Not only do the Men in Charge not tell her, but when they do tell her and her power comes out in reaction and doesn't do what they want it to do, they end up hypnotising her so that she forgets what her power is and uses it automatically. And then when it turns out she has another ability as well, they never tell her about that one!

Men gets manipulated as well but not on the same deep mental level. It's just a case of information being left out - they get told everything in the end. The Men in Charge do what they consider will be best for these women, and the women never find out what they've done. They're just "happier", apparently. It's completely bizarre. AMC is a woman, and yet she went along with what I assume was the popular male view of women? Was this the only way to have commercial success?

AMC has a great imagination when she's plotting, coming up with interesting concepts, etc, but she completely fails in one major way: she just cannot see society changing. Her books date quickly. The newer stuff is dated even though it was published this decade. I don't get why she envisions a future without dramatic social change, despite the fact that she's in her 70s and has lived through so much.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Nettle.
180 reviews54 followers
January 9, 2013
Interesting book, but it felt like a bit of a slog. The fact it was originally separate short stories showed through, and after each segment I found myself wanting to put it down and read something else for a bit.

There was an interesting current of mind-control throughout the book, seemingly without thought from any of the main characters. At one point a woman is hypnotised into what appears to be a totally different personality, which is then glossed over as "she's happier now", as well as the fact that the talented are required to register themselves or be arrested, and then encouraged to live in the commune, giving over all their wages to it sort of like a cult. I would have liked this to be touched upon a bit more, although maybe it is in the further books.

It got into my head and it made me think, but I'm not sure right now if I'll bother with the rest of the books.
Profile Image for Freya.
572 reviews118 followers
October 17, 2013
I have read most if not all of Anne MaCaffrey's Pern series and a few of her short stories so I thought I'd start expanding into her other series. I gather that this series might somehow link into the Tower and Hive series (also on my to-read list) though this is a complete guess as my brain just decided to link a couple of things together.

I found this book a little strange to begin with, but then as the story warmed up I really started to enjoy it. McCaffrey basically uses the story to explore the positives, negatives and practicalities of having Talents in the world. The reactions of people, the sort of double standards, fear and lawsuits that are inevitable, not to mention trying to be taken seriously. So it gave me a lot to think about as well as being entertaining!
Profile Image for Hannele Kormano.
112 reviews1 follower
February 6, 2017
The first story is the only one I can actually recommend - the tale of creating the institute to protect and develop psychic powers, the difficulty of finding a suitably secluded space in crowded city.

But the rest - oof. What a painful instance of internalized gender politics, so many instances of rational male characters deciding what's best for the dangerous emotional women. It just goes to show how women can be complicit in perpetuating this kind of stuff.

A few choice quotes:

"If only she could be a full woman to Lajos, not just caring for him, but raising his children, preferably his Talented children!"

"Op Owen knew, sadly, that his instinct about not telling Ruth at once had been all too well-founded." -- she's just too emotional to have knowledge about her own child!

"The consensus is that while a man might lift furs and jewels, possibly the dress, only a woman would take the shoes, too."

"As she had learned to accept Bruce's right to decide for them both, she accepted his decision now."

Just, painful.
Profile Image for keikii Eats Books.
1,073 reviews53 followers
July 20, 2019
To read more reviews in this series and others, check out my blog keikii eats books!

Average Rating: 60 points, 3 ¼ stars.
Trigger Warning: Old School Ethical Issues

"Okay for us, for the time being. But not for the rest of us. No, now don't worry, Molly luv. I know where we're going."
Molly regarded him steadily for a second. "But you don't know exactly how we'll get there, is that it?"

I'm kind of dreading reviewing To Ride Pegasus right now. On the one hand, I genuinely love the world and like most of the characters. On the other hand, holy gaping ethical issues! I hate that I love the world so much, because if I didn't I could just put the book down for good and be done with it and be righteous in my indignation. Instead I keep wanting to know more, and being horrified by the implications of things.

To Ride Pegasus is a collection of four novellas that start the Talents Universe. These stories were written between 1969 and 1973, and this collection was first published in 1973. While the storytelling was very quick, it was also an older storytelling mode that was a little hard for me to adapt to since I'm not used to.

But, most importantly, this should best be read as a product of its time. Read this and be glad at how far we have come as a society. To Ride Pegasus genuinely tries to figure out what it would be like to have psychic powers morally and ethically. It is almost like X-Men, but way less heavy-handed with the whole humans vs. mutants/psychics thing. Yet it misses the mark so, so badly. Like, jaw-droppingly, "what in the actual fuck did I just read" bad.

The biggest, most rage inducing incident of this book is the way that Anne McCaffrey has the characters use a mentally challenged boy. The characters praise themselves for using this child to correct the psychic actions of an adult. Which literally distresses the child. The wording used is so, so much worse, too.
I'm putting this quote under spoilers. Just be warned that it is actually pretty disgusting.

Yet disconcertingly, I wanted to know more about the story. The novellas all feature different aspects of what it would be like for psychics to be real and to come out in the world. The first story deals about finding out that psychics are real and figuring out how to make science back up the find while preparing for a future where psychics are real. The second story is when they get rights and they try and figure out how to use their powers ethically. The third story was probably the least interesting, as the psychics are trying to assimilate into the world but are being blamed for a rogue Talent. The last story is supposed to be how they need to figure out how to test for and create psychics better, but really it is about deep rooted ethical issues that they don't even realize is deeply wrong.

I just love the world that McCaffrey builds throughout these pages. It reminds me of one of my favourite book series if things had gone just a little bit differently. And I'm continuing on because I do really love that world, and I didn't mind the characters. Yet I hope the glaring problems I had get solved in the next book.
Profile Image for [ J o ].
1,950 reviews435 followers
January 8, 2016
Where the hell is Pegasus? Fled from the mid-century ideas, I assume. "The consensus is that while a man might lift furs and jewels, possibly the dress, only a woman would takes the shoes, too." Page 127

In one paragraph the second-wave protagonist is referred to, by the writer and by several other characters, invariantly as Op Owen, Dr Owen, Dai, Dave, Daffyd, Daffyd Op Owen. I assume the author is just super happy she used a Welsh name.
Profile Image for Sam (Hissing Potatoes).
546 reviews18 followers
March 18, 2020
I think I figured out what doesn't work for me from McCaffrey: her characters are flat as pancakes. They don't grow, the plot (if there is any) drives their actions/words rather than the other way around, they don't make sense. It is baffling that this book's blurb describes 5 important-sounding women in detail, promising their perspectives on how they shape the world of the Talents, but the whole story is told from the POV of 2 men. *throws hands up*
Profile Image for A Voracious Reader (a.k.a. Carol).
1,970 reviews1 follower
April 30, 2013
Henry Darrow is a surprisingly accurate astrologer. He predicted the car accident that would give him a serious head injury and would put him in the one hospital with an ultra-sensitive electroencephalograph, otherwise known as a Goosegg. After his surgery he woke to a nurse watching him. He had a precognitive episode predicting they would get married and since he was being monitored by the Goosegg the chart showed the unusual activity in his brain at the exact moment of his episode. Scientific proof that parapsychic talent exists. From that point Henry Darrow begins the hard work needed to form the Parapsychic Center and bring all those with Talent under its protection.

This book contains four short stories chronicling Henry Darrow’s hard work to get the Center started then a place for the Talented to stay where their quarters weren’t crammed in with others and could be shielded to protect their minds. Land for the center, finding Talents to bring into the fold and getting laws passed to protect them all started with Darrow, but continued well after his death.

While this book was first published in 1973, I didn’t read it until after came out in paperback in 1986. Did I read it in 1986? No. I read it in 1990 after reading The Rowan, the first book in The Tower and Hive series. After reading McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series, I was hunting for other works by her to read and when I picked up The Rowan I didn’t realized there were three books prior to it in a series called The Talent. Once I realized that fact it was just a matter of hunting down the books.

I was enthralled with the idea that people had extrasensory abilities and I remain enthralled to this day. A fan of Anne McCaffrey since my brother gave me Dragonflight when I was a kid (in the 70s), I love her writing. She brings a world and people to life with a minimum of description that is a perfect balance between describing what she sees and allowing the reader to paint their own version of the same picture, letting imagination fly. Her plots are tight and the characters are well-developed. The endings always make you want to have the next book on deck, so you can dive right back in.

To Ride Pegasus is the beginning of the The Talent series and it morphs into The Tower and the Hive series with The Rowan. If you like books that feature people with a wide range of parapsychic abilities then this story and all those that follow should appeal to you.

*Book source ~ My home library.
Profile Image for Lianne Burwell.
789 reviews24 followers
March 19, 2012
I haven't reread To Ride Pegasus in years, so revisiting it was interesting.

The writing style is very dated at this point. The book was originally a handfull of short stories, collected with an introductory 'story' (there wasn't much story to it, just a series of events) to set up the world.

The basic scenario is that in a future (which is mostly the past now, since in the initial story they state it is 1997), where the US has become basically a giant welfare state (Ms McCaffrey's crystal ball was way off there), and scientific proof has been found for parapsychology. Almost immediately, there seems to be large numbers of people who can read minds, 'find' things, and 'lift' things (teleportation). Mind you, a lot of these things could have been proved by demonstration, but now that they can show brainwave patterns along with them, suddenly eveyone believes.

Past the intro, the stories in the book include a story about the conception and development of a child of two 'talented' parents. The fact that they had to get approval to have a child made me roll my eyes, and in this story (and much of the rest of the book), the gender roles are practically archaic. Still, very sweet.

The next story deals with an unknown talent indulging in theft, an irrate police chief (who may be a talent in denial), and the first time that personal teleportation is used (which leads into the later books in the series, as well as the far future spin-off series that started with The Rowan). This story also proves that it's not all sweetness and light in this world.

The next story goes furthest in developing the sense that this setting is an over-crowded world with financial pressures, ethnic pressures, and just waiting for the spark to set off the powder-keg. Riots are a regular problem. The story involves the discovery of a broadcasting telempath, and the ethnic leader who wants to control her for his own purposes.

At this point, reading this collection is only really recommended if you're planning on reading the rest of the series. Otherwise, it's definitely past its 'best before' date.
Profile Image for Joan.
2,030 reviews
November 30, 2017
This is more of a 3.5 star rating but I rounded up. This is a series of connected short stories about the parapsychics and a future society. I noticed that McCaffrey had rioting be a problem because of unemployment problems, which is actually a future I have seen sociologists predict as robots and AI do take over more and more human jobs. That was very astute of her. To get back to the stories, I really enjoyed them. The characters are interesting and I love Sally Iselin, a minor character but such a fun one. All the characters are strong ones. I recommend this if you want to see McCaffrey do strong women without lots of sex in the story.
Profile Image for MaryD.
1,696 reviews3 followers
August 17, 2018
First, I know some reviewers have made comments about the fact that this seems to be putting women "in their place", but I take it as a product of its time.

The "official" description above is pure rubbish! That said, I love most of AM's books and this was no exception. I loved the idea of an organization that helps those with Talents to utilize their powers to the best of their ability.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
2,430 reviews52 followers
May 25, 2012
I don't know about more recent editions of To Ride Pegasus, but the cover of the 1973 mass market paperback is incredibly misleading. The cover makes it look like some cheesy fantasy novel while the back makes it sound like a mail-order-bride romance or something. In actuality, To Ride Pegasus is a surprisingly good collection of speculative short stories about the difficulties that would arise in legitimizing psychic powers after they have been proven scientifically, and the social/political problems that would occur in a society distrustful of a powerful minority. The world of To Ride Pegasus is an interesting near-future in which people's basic needs, food, clothing, housing and even entertainment channels, are met, but in which the possibility is still present for explosive discontent. Although To Ride Pegasus lays the groundwork for Anne McCaffrey's Talent novels, beginning with The Rowan, the short stories contained within it are speculative and more cerebral than the later series, and less space opera.
Profile Image for Denise Spicer.
Author 13 books62 followers
September 22, 2018
Although the characters and concepts are mildly interesting, this overly long and disjointed book about a group of telepaths is neither compelling nor even convincing.
Profile Image for Duncan (known as 'D').
27 reviews2 followers
March 29, 2022
To Ride Pegasus – Anne McCaffrey (1973, my Edition 1977 2nd Edition Paperback)

Anne McCaffrey’s books are a bit of a comfort read for me, I find her writing style a characterisation a bit of a warm Hug. That’s not to say they are simplistic; my viewpoint may have something to do with when I originally read a lot of her work and the context around that. In the pantheon of female Science Fiction writers, she is incredibly important and was a trailblazer. To Ride Pegasus was the first of her Talent books following the discovery and use of psychic abilities and the normalisation of them. This book is a compilation of 3 stories that were published in magazines, and one specifically written to bring this book together.

The Book opens with To Ride a Pegasus which was written specifically for the book and in my opinion is the strongest of the stories. It tells the story of Henry Darrow a former Astrologer and PreCog in his struggles in establishing and proving Talent as a Scientific phenomena and setting up a centre for those with talents.

A Womanly Talent follows the introduction of a Bill to grant immunity from prosecution for registered talents. It also follows a young couple and their wish to have a child. A point worth bringing up is I’ve recently read some reviews decrying the attitude to women especially in the story A Womanly Talent. Yes, I agree some of those viewpoints are dated but this does not negate the story or the interesting ideas that the author explores. I do think that people who cannot put an authors work in context to the time and attitudes it was written could be missing out on some great writers/books. That is not to say that McCaffrey’s work feels dated, even the first two stories written in the 1960’s do not give that feeling of a dated text.

The third Story in the collection Apple Just before the Bill for protection of Talents is due to pass a series of crimes obviously involving someone talented occur. This story is interesting as it explores the ideas of Talent as both positive and Negative. What struck me on this reread that with this and the final story was the feeling in the background of an almost fascist like Government trying to control people. It’s the first time I have noticed this and I’m not sure if it was just what I was bringing to it, or that I have never noticed it before.

The final Story A Bridle for a Pegasus concerns an unknown talent who does not realise that she has them. It is set in the background of possible ethnic tensions. This story was one of the later written one and the feeling I got of a controlling government was a bit more pronounced. The idea’s of someone not knowing that they had Talent and feeling totally out of control interestingly felt a lot like references to mental health and the unknown.

It was great to revisit this book, Anne McCaffrey’s ideas along with her characters always engage me. As this was originally a collection of stories it can at times feel disjointed, it is not her best work but still a highly enjoyable read. The sequel Pegasus in Flight which was written 17 years later has a better flowing narrative but as an introduction to the ‘Talent’s’ this book does a good job.

As always I like to mention the cover artist. This 1976 sphere version art was by Peter Jones an artist I’m not familiar with, but it is a great piece of 70’s futurism. I also have a 1980 copy of this book with a more Metaphorical cover by the recently departed great Chris Achilleos

Goodreads ratings are pretty limiting, my benchmark using those ratings are anything 3 or above is a good strong recommendation that I would happily reread at some point

My Blog:http://www.backawayfromthedonkey.co.uk/
Profile Image for StarMan.
637 reviews17 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
March 18, 2021

[Did Not Finish/DNF]

REVIEW: Avoid this book unless you need a cure for insomnia. The back cover description is quite misleading, as those characters have only minor roles. Instead, you mostly get the viewpoint of some constantly chuckling males.

No actual star ratings punched; would be ~1.6 stars if I did. I sped-read most of this one (to stay awake), and found nothing exciting. Starts off okay-ish, but the dated dialogue (including far too many unwarranted chuckles, laughs, and exclamation marks) quickly becomes tiresome.

SAY SOMETHING NICE: Readers who want several characters with psychic abilities may find some merit here.
Profile Image for Dawn Sister.
Author 15 books73 followers
October 6, 2018
Love this book and have read it, as I have read all of Anne's books, at least a dozen times, if not more. Like her Dragonrider series, the Talent series spans generations and then goes on to span centuries, as it continues in the Tower and the Hive series way into the future.
I love Anne's stories and the worlds that she created. There really is nothing quite like her worlds. They go on forever.
Profile Image for Jenny T.
838 reviews40 followers
June 13, 2020
Published in 1973, compiling earlier work, this one felt a little dated. But the story was good: a more realistic version of X-Men, in which the psychically Talented form an institute focusing on protecting and teaching their own. No supervillains here, though--just a society and government that fears the empathic and precognitive even as it seeks to use their abilities.
Profile Image for Debrac2014.
1,987 reviews14 followers
February 1, 2020
This is a collection of short stories! I only read the first story, To Ride Pegasus, which I enjoyed!
Profile Image for J C Steel.
Author 7 books182 followers
April 4, 2021
In many ways still a good book but the social interactions did not age well.
Profile Image for Sophie.
171 reviews32 followers
January 18, 2014
I like Anne McCaffrey’s works because of her straightforward, no-nonsense writing style, and To Ride Pegasus definitely met my expectations. The four short stories included in To Ride Pegasus are very fast-paced and driven by the storyline, and McCaffrey created clear-cut protagonists and antagonists that are very likable and hateable, respectively. This collection was a light, simple read that (presumably) sets the scene for the next few books of the series, and I was happy to not have experienced any angst and ALL THE FEELS moments.

To Ride Pegasus is a collection of four short stories that take place during the installment of the North and East American Parapsychic Centers. In the first story, To Ride Pegasus, Henry Darrow, an astrologer, meets Molly Mahony, a nurse at the hospital where Henry landed after getting into a car accident. By chance (or destiny?), both of them happen to be aware that they have mind-based super powers, which could be detected by the hospital’s “Goosegg”, the latest high-tech super-sensitive EEG machine. They realize that there are probably other people in the world who have super powers too, so they set forth to establish the first Center for the Talented: the North American Parapsychic Center. A Womanly Talent moves forward in time as Daffyd (Dave) op Owen, the director of the now-established East American Parapsychic Center, tries to get a bill passed in order to get professional immunity for Talents registered with the Center. The last two stories, Apple and A Bridle for Pegasus, continue with Dave’s excursions and the new Talents he finds.

I was seriously captivated from page one – To Ride Pegasus hits the ground running and starts right at Henry’s car accident, and the quick pace continues throughout the book. The only thing that felt a bit rushed (or maybe brushed aside) is the romance, but I was too busy reading an action-packed sci-fi book, you know? Each of the four stories centers around a particular goal or problem; if I had to draw a plot diagram, I’d draw four little mountains because these stories have proper action, climax, and resolution components, with none of that cliffhanger stuff.

From the reader’s point of view, the characters in all four stories are very much interpreted by their actions. The third-person is kind of like watching a movie in that I can’t get into Henry or Molly or Dave’s head… but even though there’s not a whole lot of introspection on the characters’ parts, I still ended up having feelings (of like or dislike) for all the characters because they’re simple to understand and easy to categorize as good or evil.

The concepts used throughout To Ride Pegasus were also interesting and predictably science-fiction-esque, from the Goosegg to the symbol of Pegasus for the Talented. I enjoyed the whole premise of mind-based powers, the formation of a society, and the realistic backlash from the unTalented; I think anything with that premise will bring out the super-power rebel in all of us!
“The Talented form their own society and that’s as it should be: birds of a feather. No, not birds. Winged horses! Ha! Yes, indeed. Pegasus... the poetic winged horse of flights of fancy. A bloody good symbol for us. You’d see a lot from the back of a winged horse...”

If you don’t want to invest too much emotion into a book and are in the mood for fast-paced stories and #romancewhatromance science-fiction, you should give To Ride Pegasus a try! If you’ve ever dreamed of having useful telepathic powers (like I have, when I squirrel-watch), this book has it all!

Paper Breathers (Book Reviews & Discussions)
Profile Image for Douglas Milewski.
Author 36 books4 followers
November 29, 2017
To Ride Pegasus (1973) by Anne McCaffrey screams SF for a different age. Even for the early 70's, the stories have a dated feel, most likely being written significantly earlier. The book explores the emergence of psychic powers in a future and slightly dystopian earth.

The book itself is short, barely out of novella length. They reading easy, if somewhat uninspiring. The text gets the job done. The plot often happens in dialog, meaning that most of these stories could easily convert into radio plays with relative ease. This can make for interesting listening, but often gets tedious on the page. The good news is that the novel is just four stories as dull only lasts so long. The bad news is that the description often descends into mush.

As much as I harp on the writing, the concepts behind the writing are very interesting, if a little dissonant. The emergence of psychics would naturally bring up legal, ethical, and social consequences, so Anne strives to explore that in a future which feels a little tyrannical and dictatorial. While at one point, the psychics are talking about ethics, they are also hiring out to companies and governments to act as crowd control, literally manipulating others. When normal people fear psychics, they don't fear them because they're different, they fear them because the ordinary people can see the obvious that the psychics can't. This mind control stuff is authoritarian. Ironically, Anne played this all straight, not realizing the dissonance of her own setting.

(If this books was written as a black comedy, it certainly didn't come across that way.)

It's a curious future. Everyone seems to be unionized, even the waiters. Free speech and performances require licenses. If you want to do anything, it seems like you must ask permission. The world seems a bureaucratic nightmare to live in even while is posits itself as a well run society. Add psychics on top of that, and you have a means of suppressing the plebeians by using a well padded iron gauntlet. They literally don't know what's hitting them, or that they're being hit. Considering that her other works feature benevolent dictators guiding the group well while selfish dictators would guide the success for themselves, this continuing theme here should not comes as a surprise.

While I can't call these the best of Anne's stories, they're far from the worse. Enjoy them for the casual reading that they are.
Profile Image for Jack.
410 reviews11 followers
January 11, 2012
Ann McCaffrey is probably one of the 20th Century's most talented female SF authors. I have read most of her "Pern" books and thoroughly enjoyed them. This book is something of a departure from that fantasy mode, though still "soft SF" in that it utilizes psionic talents.
The main character, Henry Darrow, is a "Talent", meaning that he has psionic powers. He gathers and organizes others like him into a group and sells their abilities to predict disasters and accidents, which lowers insurance costs for individuals and cities. He then turns the operation over to a contemporary and this person solidifies the organization.
McCaffrey explores ideas such as: * How would "normal" humans act in a society where some people have more abilities than others? * How would society protect the Talented from wrongful legal suits? * Can the Talented police themselves?
While not an "in-depth" science fiction novel, it does give one pause. I've always enjoyed books that showcase empaths, telepaths and other PSI talents, mainly because I'm an empath myself. This is an engaging, fun read.
Profile Image for DDog.
398 reviews21 followers
August 10, 2017
I'm not even sure what I just read, and I don't want any more of it. The summary is entirely misleading—this book is all about the men who shepherd, cajole and control those so-called "powerful women."

It reads like Brave New World, Foundation, and Stranger in a Strange Land were thrown into a blender and all the interesting parts got strained out.

Maybe it's good by the standards of the '70s? Maybe it was cool then that a woman was writing popular SF at all, even if it's full of paternalistic cardboard cutouts? Maybe I would have liked it 20 years ago when I didn't know any better? I remember enjoying The Rowan et al. which I guess were a sequel series to this one.

Warning for rampant ableism and sexism, and weird "ethnic" subplots I didn't entirely understand but felt gross.
Profile Image for J C Steel.
Author 7 books182 followers
April 9, 2018
Oddly enough, when I first started reading sci-fi around age ten, Anne McCaffrey was my favourite author, no question.
In later years, and possibly as a result of changing social expectations, I find her characters decreasingly engaging, which is a hell of a shame as the concepts underlying many of her stories are worth attention.
To some extent I find this most true of her very earliest and very latest works; the ones towards the middle of her writing less so.
Profile Image for Becky.
27 reviews
January 10, 2009
I read the third book first, oops.

This story sets the stage - it lets you know about Talents, their hardships in being astablished for the world to acknowledge, so on.

The only complaint I have is the ending felt abrupt. If I did not have the second book to read immediately I might have been in the car trying to find it.
Profile Image for Justy.
68 reviews2 followers
May 8, 2011
Reading this book is like watching Classic Star Trek, you can see what the world was like when it was written but still love the vision of the future that is shown. Some of the attitudes in the book may be dated but the world is easy to slip into and I enjoyed visiting it again.
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