In my world-building A to Z we’ve reached P, for which I’ve selected Pern, the world created by Anne McCaffrey for her Dragonriders series.
In a nutshell, the stories are adventures, often featuring strong, powerless young women (and men) with special talents (see B for Ballybran) and featuring human interaction through telepathy with dragons (and their smaller cousins, firelizards).
The number of websites I found dedicated to Pern when I started looking for data online both surprised me and not. I knew the series was hugely popular, but not that it had such an ardent following. I don’t know why I didn’t think it might – but I didn’t, despite having been a fan myself, working through the first eleven books, with a couple more on the list familiar enough to me to think I might have read them. I think I stopped after the collaboration that Anne McCaffrey made with her son Todd, to continue the series.
One look at the wikipedia entry (linked below) tells you all you need to know about the degree of world-building that derived Pern – and snippets you might not realise or remember, such as Pern itself originating as an acronym for Parallel Earth, Resources Negligable, ascribed by those original settlers whom we discover more about in the ‘later’ books; many of Todd’s works written later are set earlier in Pern’s history.
As might be expected for a world that runs to over twenty books now, it is thoroughly well-built – even if there is criticism that some stories may not entirely fit with one written earlier. I would describe it as a feudal world with a symbiotic relationship with an indigenous species (the dragons) by descendants of settlers, and remnants of their advanced technology. And then I wonder how much influence I took from Pern when I developed my own world of the Princelings! Or maybe both of us separately were influenced by mediaeval networks of castles, strongholds, fortresses and the excitement of fairs and markets to bring people together, with an independent guild network to share essential skills and knowledge across the ties to land and liege. Maybe it’s just a sensible arrangement.
Whatever the similarities, Pern has a rich and throughly formed social, cultural and geographical base. I love the maps. I love the structure provided by the Harper Halls and the Weyrs, and of course, I love the dragons. The science-base for threadfall is extremely good although I’ve never been sure of thread itself. Although in space, anything is possible.
I really, really wanted to be a dragon rider like Lessa. Or maybe a harper like Menolly. And when it got to dolphins, I was ecstatic. But it was soon after that I stopped reading them, moving on to other things. I’ve got some catching up to do.
What about you – have you read the Pern books, starting with Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey?
If you’d like a thorough overview, try this article, or go to the wikipedia article, which is more a summary of canon.
Pern Worldmap from “Renegades of Pern”, copyright Anne McCaffrey, et al, via dailykos.com