Literature / Tower and the Hive
The Tower and the Hive
series (also known as the Rowan and the Talents
series) is a sci-fi series by Anne McCaffrey
The series is set against a backdrop of a technologically advanced future society in which telepathy, telekinesis and other psychic abilities
have become scientifically accepted and researched. Telekinetic and telepathic powers are used to communicate and teleport spaceships through space, thus avoiding the light barrier and allowing for the colonization of other solar systems. Books in the series include
- To Ride Pegasus: The first novel in the series (it reprinted several earlier short stories) was the 1973 Pegasus, in which the existence of psychic powers were scientifically proven and psychics began organizing to both take care of their own and carve out a place for themselves in society.
- Pegasus In Flight and Pegasus In Space: Direct sequels to To Ride Pegasus meant to officially merge the Pegasus storyline with that of the Talents.
- The Rowan: The series as most know it started here, with the story of The Rowan, an orphaned Prime Talent, as she deals with life, loneliness and a possible alien invasion.
- Damia: The Rowan's sequel is part straight sequel, part-P.O.V. Sequel and part backstory for Afra Lyon, a secondary character from the previous book. The book is mostly about the relationship between Afra and the most important women in his life (his beloved older sister, The Rowan and The Rowan's middle child, Damia). And another alien invasion.
- Damia's Children and Lyon's Pride stars Damia and Afra's kids who work with humanity's new alien allies, the Mrdini, to deal with the threat of the Hivers - the insectoid race responsible for the attacks in The Rowan.
- The Tower and The Hive: The wrap-up to the threat of the Hivers (and probably the series itself after McCaffrey's death)
Two early short stories, "The Lady in the Tower" and "A Meeting of Minds", were written in 1959 and 1969, and collected in Get Off the Unicorn
; edited versions of the stories were incorporated into The Rowan
The Talents Series contains examples of the following tropes:
- Aborted Arc: Zara's mental connection with the captive Hiver queen at the end of Damia's Children. It looked to be forshadowing Zara's part in the ultimate endgame, but was pretty much shrugged off with "No one knows how she did it, not even Zara," and she was eventually Put on a Bus (shipped off to train as a medical Prime).
- The Ace: Jeff Raven.
- Aliens Made Them Do It: Laria and Kincaid hooking up due to their Mrdini companions "encouraging" it.
- Always Identical Twins: Sascha and Boris Roznine.
- Babies Ever After: Every story arc of the series has ended with the main female character pregnant (the Rowan was pregnant with her second at the end of The Rowan.)
- Brainwashing for the Greater Good: How the Hiver threat is ultimately dealt with - though here, it was not so much Mind Rape as introducing them to a pheromone cocktail that turns them from The Swarm to peaceful agrarians.
- Broken Pedestal: A minor example, but still depressing: while they're searching for Tirla, Carmen starts to build up an idea of her as a strong, smart and talented runaway, but who is also an innocent who needs their help. When they meet, Tirla's callousness about the horrible situation the kids she rescued are in makes Carmen quite dismayed.
- Brown Note: Any Talent in proximity to anything Hiver-made experiences a sensation known as "sting-pzzt", which makes them edgy and irritable.
- Can Not Spit It Out: Afra, twice: once with The Rowan - though she already knew, once with Damia - who couldn't either.
- Cleaning Up Romantic Loose Ends: Every important character must be attached by the end of The Tower And The Hive, even if the Mrdini have to rewrite someone's sexuality to make it happen. No exceptions.
- The Pegasus trilogy has one major aversion; Amariyah Bantam isn't shown hooking up with anyone.
- Combined Energy Attack: Merges (Talents combining their power to one quasi-gestalt) are standard operating procedure for pushing Tower freight. More powerful merges are used as Wave Motion Guns against alien motherships.
- Cool Pet: The Barque Cats and the Coonies (genetically altered and domesticated raccoons).
- As the Coonies were at times referred to as "Coonie cats", and McCaffrey was known to have owned several Maine Coon cats over the course of her life, many fans believe that Main Coons were at least a partial basis for the Coonies (despite the cover artist for Damia taking "coonie" at face value and placing a raccoon with the title character).
- Companion Cube: The Rowan and the Pukha (a stuffed toy she was given that hides a raft of monitoring devices). She knows it's "just" a toy, but she still has (one-sided) conversations with it.
- Da Chief: Peter Reidinger.
- Dead Guy Junior: Laria.
- Demoted to Extra: Damia's older siblings.
- Death by Origin Story: The Rowan's entire family (and all records saying who she was) were wiped out by a freak mudslide.
- Death Is Cheap: For some Mrdini. They're born to parents, like humans, but unlike humans, the Mrdini parents can get together and essentially create another Mrdini that is exactly the same as the dead one. Unfortunately, if one or both of the parents die, this obviously isn't possible. When the hibernatory on Clarf has a power failure, the result is catastrophic because so many who died couldn't be recreated, or couldn't recreate others who died.
- Department of Child Disservices: Subverted — No one thinks giving the Rowan to Siglen to be trained as a Prime is the best idea — Siglen is a great Prime but an otherwise horrible person. But there's no one else on the planet qualified to teach her and sending her elsewhere would do more harm than good, thanks to Travel Sickness.
- Differently Powered Individual: The Talents.
- Diplomatic Impunity: Invoked by the Big Bad of Pegasus In Flight. Unfortunately for him, his boss got the whole story and pulled the rug out from under him.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: Stock in trade for precognitive Talents. Henry Darrow is the exception; he focuses his predictions through astrology rather than psychic dreams.
- Easily Thwarted Alien Invasion: Once the Talents figure out where the engine cores of Hiver ships were and develop the strategy of teleporting live warheads directly into them, the conflict becomes mostly about finding ways to stop the Hivers without committing genocide.
- Exact Words: Through the entire Padrugoi Space Station construction arc, Ludmilla Barchenka had been harassing the Talents to get the station completed on time, though there are implications that bonuses for early completion were involved but concealed by Barchenka. Her efforts to complete the station are outright to the effect of We Have Reserves, with evidence that grunts had been left to die in space without bothering to send rescues for them. The epilogue of Pegasus In Flight has her Hoist By Her Own Petard when they delay shipping the last batch of parts to the station until the estimated installation time would be precisely to the completion deadline, no earlier, no later.
- Faster-Than-Light Travel: Averted, as the Talents allow mankind to circumvent the light barrier entirely via interstellar teleportation.
- Fixup Novel: Three of the four sections of To Ride Pegasus are previously published short stories.
- Generational Saga: Sort of. Pegasus In Flight takes place about eighty years after To Ride Pegasus, with Pegasus In Space taking place maybe a few months afterwards. The Rowan, however, takes place three hundred years later, with the sequel novels to that centering around Rowan's children and grandchildren.
- The Ghost: Damia's youngest sibling, Ezro.
- Gone Horribly Right: Damia takes her little brother camping and tells him a scary story. She ends up scaring him so much that he does his best to set the forest on fire.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: Because the Mrdini planets are so overpopulated, some high officials decide to perform an experiment in a popular hibernatory to see if they can reduce the birth rate. It ends up killing hundreds and badly injuring even more.
- Good Is Not Nice: The Rowan is rather high-maintenance. Part of Peter Reidinger's job is keeping her staff somewhat together.
- Handicapped Badass: Peter Reidinger I, who overcomes spinal damage and moves around by TK. Later repaired by Amariyah.
- Healing Hands: Amariyah Bantam, though she doesn't know it.
- Heart Is an Awesome Power: Tirla is a very restricted telepath… who also happens to have a Talent that makes her fluent in every language in existence, and she can translate them effortlessly. Given that she lives in a giant community full of people who speak different languages, it's basically her full-time job.
- Heroic Albino: The Rowan, though she's more very pale than a true albino.
- High Turnover Rate: Afra is the first of Rowan's right-hand men to last more than a few months.
- Humans Are Psychic in the Future: Not all, not even most, but a significant percentage.
- Humanity Is Superior: The Mrdini have been fighting the Hivers for hundreds of years. Humanity figures out how to swat them down for good within a couple of generations (during which the Hivers were only briefly a real threat).
- Hurl It into the Sun: It's what the Talents do to the first Hiver invasion ship.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Afra's attitude towards The Rowan, whom he'd been in love with for years before Jeff Raven swooped in.
- If I Can't Have You/Taking You with Me: Sodan, the psychic entity trying to seduce Damianote used the last of his strength to try and kill Afra after he'd picked up on Damia's feelings for him. It should be noted that Afra, Damia's parents and Damia's brother Larak were trying to destroy him at the time. He ended up killing Larak and knocking the others out of commission for weeks.
- If It's You, It's Okay: Gay Kincaid sleeping with his straight best friend, Laria, because they were both lonely and hurting over bad breakups. Turns out their Mrdini companions mentally "nudged" them towards each other. They didn't really mind.
- It's All About Me: Siglen.
- Jail Bait Wait: Sascha and Tirla
- Kissing Cousins: Rojer and his second cousin, Asia Eagles.
- Known Only by Their Nickname: Even after The Rowan recovers her memories and remembers her real namenote , most people refer to her as "The Rowan". Averted by Peter Reidinger, who made a point of calling her by her birth name, once he knew it.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: The Rowans's real name is known by everyone who cares to know it by the end of the first book. Her kids all have hyphenated last names.
- Lovable Rogue: Jeff Raven, before he gets Kicked Upstairs in the later books.
- The Maiden Name Debate: Possibly implied with Dorotea Horvath; both she and her grandson use her maiden name.
- May-December Romance: Damia and Afra. Afra is literally old enough to be Damia's father, and quite possibly would have been if Jeff Raven hadn't entered the picture. He was best man at her parent's wedding.
- Sascha and Tirla in Pegasus in Space. Peter/Amariyah is also teased, but Peter eventually picks someone closer to his own age.
- Mind Over Manners: An essential part of the Talents' culture, though in To Ride Pegasus, the rules haven't been fully worked out yet and the protagonists sometimes play fast and loose with "suggestions." The Mrdini aren't as careful about it.
- Mutant Draft Board: The Center and FT&T don't generally force anyone to join them, but they do apply a significant amount of pressure, bribery, and in rare cases coercion to attract and keep Talents, and both have legal jurisdiction over all Talented individuals. The first time a law requiring Talents to register with a Center was suggested, the Center actually said it was a stupid idea: The Center barely had the resources to process the people who came to be tested voluntarily, they'd never be able to handle mandatory testing of entire cities in a reasonable amount of time, and without that they'd never be able to enforce a Talent Registration Act (This takes place in the first book, when they only have one small Center. In the later books, there are more and far better funded Centers, with considerably more influence).
- My Greatest Failure: For Damia it was accidentally burning out the mind of her first lover, partially from inexperience, and partially because she ignored Afra's advice to "be careful" out of spite (she assumed he meant "birth control"; he meant "keep your mental shields up or you'll fry the boy.")
- Never Say "Die": Dorotea is suspiciously absent for the epilogue of Pegasus In Space, and while there's no confirmation, the wording and Peter sadly remembering her congratulating him once strongly implies that she died of old age.
- No Conservation of Energy: Averted - the Talents explicitly tap external power sources for anything more than floating things across the room.
- The Nose Knows: In the final book, Pierre Laney uses his unique Talent to identify individual Hiver queens. As a sideline, he also creates new perfumes and colognes for the crew of the fleet from alien plants.
- Omniglot: Tirla's psychic powers make her this.
- One World Order: Develops through a layer of international institutions during the Pegasus trilogy. Individual nations still exist, and the United World functions as a federal government.
- Parents as People: Asia's parents had a huge number of children, and as a result, as the shy, quiet one she got very used to being ignored and overlooked.
- Population Control: Used in Pegasus in Flight, and it's an issue since Tirla was illegally born.
- Power Levels: The Talents are ranked in power from T12 (just enough power to register) to Prime (T1). To have a T1 designation requires both telepathy and telekinesis with potentially unlimited power; a superpowerful telepath or telekinetic is rated at T2. It isn't a fixed designation, though: it's perfectly possible to increase one's Talent rating over time, especially if you're working closely with very powerful Talents. Afra is rated T4 as a child, but by the time of the end of the series is T2, with some believing that he's borderline-Prime level (though still nowhere near his wife or children).
- Prophecy Twist: In Pegasus in Space, there's a twist involving a lack of a prophecy. There's no precog of anything going wrong at the inauguration of the Padrugoi Space Station, but this doesn't reassure Johnny Greene, who takes some precautions anyway. Manager Ludmilla Barchenka does try to take over the Station, but is foiled by Greene and Reidinger. When quizzed about her failure to pick anything up, the duty precog pointed out that because Greene prevented it by taking initiative, the takeover didn't happen, and so there was nothing to pick up.
- Romantic Runner-Up: Afra and the Rowan are shipped. He's the first second-in-command to last longer than a few months, the Rowan genuinely likes him and they become good friends… and then Jeff Raven turns up, and Afra immediately realizes that he's lost.
- Single Issue Psychosis: Subverted: Even as Prime Travel Sickness was found to have a single, psychosomatic cause, none of the older Primes could travel off-planet and The Rowan is explicitly shown as trying to work past it. In later books, The Rowan is explicitly stated as never leaving Callisto outside of emergencies.
- Skunk Stripe: Most of Raven and Rowan's children and grandchildren have them.
- Spin-Offspring: Damia and Afra's kids are the focus of the series's last three books.
- Suddenly Sexuality: The previously, explicitly gay Kincaid becoming a couple with his female best friend, Laria.
- Super Registration Act: In the Pegasus series, one of the first things the Psychics did was draft their own version, to preempt a more hostile version.
- Superpowerful Genetics: As Talents began producing offspring together, more and more-powerful Talents came forth.
- This becomes a case of controversy in the final books, as it's pointed out that this means the Raven-Lyon clan essentially owns the FT&T organization because 90% of all Prime Talents are related to that family. It's treated as a big deal that one of the neophyte Primes from The Tower And The Hive isn't part of that family (She's David of Betelgeuse's granddaughter). However, it's also evident that, prior to Jeff Raven's and the Rowan's rise to prominence, many Prime talents, such as Siglen and Capella, deliberately isolated themselves from social interaction to a great degree, and the comparative lack of Prime-level talent at the beginning of The Rowan was due to the fact that high-level talents simply weren't having children (with the Reidenger family as the notable exception). It should also be pointed out that while it's controversial, the lack of Primes means that it's not like the Raven-Lyon clan beat out the competition- there just isn't any, and the need for Primes far outstrips the numbers.
- Telepathic Spacemen: The Rowan series has psychics as not only the means of communication between colonized star systems, but also the means of transportation (via psychokinetic teleport) that makes such colonies possible to begin with. From the point of view of the Mrdini, who have no psychics of their own, humans are the telepathic spacemen.
- Time Skip: Between To Ride Pegasus and Pegasus In Flight. Dorotea Horvath, who was about five years old at the end of the former, is now at least eighty years old and a grandmother, and we also meet the children of other characters, like Daffyd's granddaughter Rhyssa, Bruce and Amalda's (probably) grand-daughter, who's named after her grand-mother, and Boris and Sascha Roznine, who are the (probably) grandsons of Vsevolod Roznine (the book never says exactly what the twins' relationship to Vsevolod is, nor Amalda junior's relationship to Bruce and Amalda senior). Also, there's a generational time skip between Damia and Damia's Children: Damia just finds out she's pregnant at the end of the former, the latter starts with that child about to take a posting as a Tower Prime.
- Twenty Minutes into the Future: The setting of To Ride Pegasus.
- Weaksauce Weakness: For all the power of a Prime, they're unable to travel through space without suffering Travel Sickness - vertigo so bad it requires hospitalization. Or so they thought.
- Wife Husbandry: Afra and Damia.
- You Can't Fight Fate: The first Pegasus story has coincidence and destiny completely override Henry Darrow's brain when he tries to avoid his fated car crash, because everything rides on him being critically injured, sent to the one hospital in the area with an EEG sensitive enough to detect psychic powers, meeting Molly, and finding scientific proof of the existence of Talent. Afterwards, however, this is averted; having knowledge of a precog allows you to change the event. Double Subverted by Henry's later heart attack; he could have chosen to have a heart transplant before his expiration date, but he figured that by that time, he'd have lived a full life and be glad to pass his legacy on to the next generation.
- Your Mind Makes It Real: The Primes' travel sickness was actually Siglen mentally imprinting her own condition (an inner-ear condition that gave her vertigo on long teleports) on every other Prime of the timenote . It didn't occur to them that this wasn't "just the way things were" until Jeff Raven showed up - a completely untrained Prime-level Talent who could teleport at will with no ill effects. Subsequent books showed The Rowan as able to teleport long distances if needed, but preferring not to.