The Chronicles of Pern (First Fall) is an interesting overview in short stories of parts of the history of Pern brushed over in other, longer books of the series.
The stories of Pern, which are arguably Anne McCaffrey's centre-piece work, are set on a colony world of the distant future, which is recommended for colonisation on a very quick survey (The P.E.R.N. Survey) owing to the fact that several members of the survey team have fallen to accidents on earlier planets in the tour.
Many years later, when the planet is colonised by a mixed bag of notables wishing to escape the high-tech, post-war civilisation of the inner planets, the briefness of the survey comes back to haunt them. Marooned by lack of fuel, the colonists have no means of escape from the periodic menace brought to fall on their planet by the wanderer planet in the system, the Red Star, a menace which devours anything and everything carbon-based upon which it falls. No big deal? Think again.
To add to the colonists' troubles, they are forced to evacuate their key settlement in the South by a major volcanic eruption, achieving the huge evacuation with massive amounts of help from the colonising dolphins (The Dolphin Bell).
Eventually, the vast majority of the colonists settle in a large cave system on the Northern continent, safe in rock from the Thread, as they have called the invading menace, but reliant on the bio-engineered 'dragons' to defend them. The dragons are expanding and multiplying to fulfill this role, but the colonists, with their waning technological knowledge, are less able to defend themselves against the other consequences of living so crammed together, such as disease, and very soon, other 'holds' as the cave systems are named, must be opened up.
The story of 'The Ford of Red Hanrahan' follows the beginnig of one of them.
These new Holds force the dragonriders to protect ever-expanding landmasses from their central base, and eventually Sean Connell, the original leader and one of the earliest dragonriders, decides that they must expand to keep on fulfilling their duties (The Second Weyr). The story follows the history of the Weyr's expansion from the viewpoint of Torene, one of the newest queenriders.
The final story in the book, 'Rescue Run' is the follow-up on the attempt by one of the colonists, Ted Tubberman, to escape Pern by sending off the emergency homing device, against the wishes of the majority. A good two centuries after the colonisation, a warship in the area sends a team to investigate the unapproved cry for help, but lands on the Southern continent, now long abandoned by the main colony. Ross Benden, a distant relative of Admiral Paul Benden, the charismatic leader of the colony, is in charge of the investigation. Rescue Run follows his journey to Pern and what he discovers there.
All in all, this collection of short stories is worth reading if you have already read the rest of the Pern series. On its own it is not one of her better books as the short story format does not allow you to get to grips with the characters so briefly introduced, but to fill in gaps left by the longer books it is very much worth reading, especially 'The Second Weyr'.