. . . of fire lizards, the periodic Fall of all-consuming Thread, and the girl Menolly, forbidden because of her sex to realize her talents as a Harper. This takes place on Pern, one of those Other planets where the names are vaguely Welsh, and there's a portentous foreword about the deadly Thread spores, the flying dragons bred to char Thread to ash in the sky, and the perilous neglect of the dragon Weyrs as people become complacent. But McCaffrey seems to have scrapped the story you'd expect to follow from this for a smaller one about Menolly, who runs away from her Hold when she's deprived of her music, gets caught in a couple of Thread falls, lives in a cave with a family of the elusive, much sought fire lizards, and is at last taken in to a Weyr community where the people admire her command of the creatures and--being less sexist than traditional Holdmaster father--encourage her musical ability. As the master Harper puts it, ""(had I but known) you might have been spared a great deal of anguish""--always a thin thread on which to hang a whole adventure. For those who are content with the trappings of winged fantasy both Menolly and her society are smoothly realized, but McCaffrey's setting and framework suggest a weightier Peru that the center cannot hold.