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 and Damia.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 at least fifty years later, maybe even a century.
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.
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.
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).
If I Can't Have You/Taking You with Me: Sodan, the psychic entity trying to seduce Damianote in order to find out about the human system's defenses and weaken their most powerful one - her used the last of his strength to try and kill Damia after he'd picked up on Afra's feelings for her. It should be noted that Afra, Damia's parents and Damia's brother Larak were currently trying to destroy him at the time. He ended up killing Larak.
If It's You, It's Okay: Gay Kinkaid 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.
Known Only by Their Nickname: Even after she regains her memories and remembers her real namenote Angharad Gwyn, most people refer to the Rowan as "The Rowan". Reidinger, however, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 T2 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 realises 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 Hiveisn'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).
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).
Your Mind Makes It Real: The Primes' travel sickness was actually Siglen mentally imprinting her own condition on every other Prime of the time (at the time four others). Because it had to be simply "the cost of power" and not something as mundane as an inner-ear condition.