Anne McCaffrey is best known for her work as the author of the series which brought dragons and humans together. The Dragonriders of Pern is a series unlike any other that has spanned almost four decades and continues to bring us great science fiction.
Back in 1982, Anne McCaffrey penned the first book of her Crystal Singer trilogy, entitled “Crystal Singer”. This book takes us to another world and while it doesn’t involve any dragons, it certainly gives us plenty of human drama.
Our main character is Killashandra Ree, who is whirling from a rejection after 10 years of training to be a top-level singer. Her last audition was a disaster and she was told that she would not be soloist anywhere, let alone renowned throughout the galaxy. Her path ended, she wanders aimlessly into the city.
At crossroads, she makes her way to the airport where a peculiar set of circumstances put her contact with Carrik, a member of the Heptite Guild of Ballybran. The respect and awe with which he is afforded attracts Killashandra to him and they spend many weeks enjoying his vast fortune and each other’s company. An accident takes Killashandra back to Carrik’s home on Ballybran where she decided to try to become what he was, a Crystal Singer.
The road to becoming a Crystal Singer is not a particular tough one but full of choices and circumstances that are beyond the control of someone wanting to belong to the elite society of Crystal Singers. Needing to be warned of all of the dangers, Killashandra and a group of other hopefuls make it down to the planet and begin the process of learning the world of crystals and becoming “infected” with the symbiont which will cause them to never be able to leave the planet, Ballybran, for very long.
Killashandra and her friends, Shillawn and Rimbol, spend time working to earn their keep while they wait for their “transition” to occur. While everyone has to go through a process of rejection and mutation with the symbiont, not everyone comes out of the process being able to be a Crystal Singer. Some people lose their hearing, others gain other abnormal powers, but few get to survive the symbiosis and become a Crystal Singer.
Killashandra is one of the lucky few that go through the process without any fever or convulsions and is soon out in the crystal ranges, searching for the one thing that will bring true fame and fortune, the black crystal. In the subsequent books of the trilogy, Killashandra has many adventures and those tales will be reviewed next.