Science Fiction Planets Anne McCaffrey's Pern

About the planet Pern described in the book Dragonflight by science fiction writer Anne McCaffrey.



Location: Pern is the third planet of the golden star Rukbat, in the Sagittarian sector, an indeterminate distance from Earth. Rukbat has four other original planets, plus a stray planet that it has attracted and held in recent millennia. The stray has an erratic orbit that brings it close to Pern about every 200 years.

Discoverer: Unknown. Pern was settled by Earthmen during a period of active colonization some hundreds or thousands of years ago; contact with the mother planet was lost during the first encounter with the Red Star, the rogue planet.

Book: Dragonflight (1969) by Anne McCaffrey, together with its sequels Dragonquest, Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, Dragondrums, and The White Dragon.

Description: Pern is similar to Earth in many respects, with temperate weather, breathable air, a gravity of about Earth intensity, and plants and animals that can be used for food and other purposes. The humans on Pern have settled into an agrarian society on a medieval level, with the technology, social system, and political configuration of the Renaissance period. At the top of the social scale, however, are the dragonriders, whose beasts of burden are large, scaled, telepathic reptiles of high intelligence. The dragons can teleport in both time and space nearly instantaneously, carrying their riders with them; the rider must be able to picture the destination clearly in his or her mind before the creature can reach through time or space and transport the person. The dragons are necessary instruments in the fight to preserve humankind against the inroads of the Thread, spores of searing plant life that filter down through the skies of Pern whenever the Red Star is near, during a 10-year period that occurs every 200 "turns," or years. The huge flying creatures use their fiery breath to sear the Thread before it touches Earth, where it burrows and devours any organic matter with which it comes in contact. The dragons were created by the settlers during the first pass of the Red Star, when they realized they were cut off from the help of Earth; the last few technicians used their skills to breed the small, native flying lizards into an effective fighting force. During the course of McCaffrey's saga, the people of Pern fight off a new attack triggered by the Red Star, discover something of their origins, and begin to change their social and political systems through the development of new technology and new ideas.

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