Average Rating: 60 points, 3 ¼ stars.
Trigger Warning: Old School Ethical Issues
They were people whose gifts were unique. For years – centuries – they had not even understood just what they could do with their minds. They had sometimes become astrologers, clairvoyants, or healers, but their Talents were undeveloped and untrained. Henry Darrow was the first to explore the huge wealth of psychic gifts hidden amongst mankind, and it was he who formed the first Parapsychic Centre where Talents could train and be used to revolutionise the world. But their powers set them apart, made them feared, then threatened by the un-Talented. And when dangerous freak ‘wild’ Talents began to wreak havoc in the outside world, it took all their combined Talented efforts to save themselves.
“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. Highlight to read. Just be warned that it is actually pretty disgusting.
The first sessions with Harold Orley had been conducted with Amalda fairly well sedated. The girl had been revolted by Harold’s witlessness. There could have been no clearer mirror for her reaction. Pity for the moronic empath had been quickly suppressed because Harold would disconcertingly burst into tears. At first Amalda had rebelled at being forced to work with Harold but she could not refute the fact that he would react instantly to her emotions and until she could control them in his presence, she couldn’t expect to be able to control them sufficiently in public.
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.