Dragonriders of Pern

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Name: Dragonriders of Pern (book series)
Abbreviation(s): DRoP
Creator: Anne McCaffrey
Date(s): 1967 - current
Medium: Books
Country of Origin:
External Links: Official Website, Archived version
Anne & Todd McCaffrey on Amazon.com
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.
cover of the zine Pern Portfolio

Dragonriders of Pern is a book series by Anne McCaffrey, one that is set in a lost colony on the planet Pern.

The series began as a novella called 'Weyr Search' published in the October 1967 issue of Analog, a professionally published science fiction magazine of considerable prestige, edited by John W. Campbell. A second novella, 'Dragonflight', was published in the December issue that same year. 'Weyr Search' won the Hugo for Best Novella, and 'Dragonflight' the Nebula in the same category.

Notably, Anne McCaffrey is the first woman to win either award, breaking a science fiction glass ceiling.

The two novellas were collected for publication as one novel, Dragonflight. The Pern series continues to this day, with new novels being published by her son, Todd McCaffrey. Fandom is widely derisive of these new novels as being 'non-canonical' and full of unrealistic Mary Sue characters.

Having an organized existence since the late 1960s, Pern fandom is contemporaneous with many older First Fandoms, including Star Trek and remains active. The lure of dragons which cause mindless sex, canonical implied slash, and powerful female characters with archetypal roles help to explain this series' enduring lure to some fans.

Like many science fiction authors of her time, McCaffrey was uncomfortable with fanworks, and the battle over fanwork has shaped fannish practices. Due to pressure from Anne McCaffrey and her heirs, most fannish expression in this fandom involves the creation of original characters using the setting.

Canon Background Summary

Pern was colonized by Earth people who then lost touch with the home planet. A deadly space rain called 'Thread' falls from the sky every two hundred years, devouring what it touches. In response, a race of genetically engineered, telepathic dragons were uplifted from native animals. These dragons soulbond to young humans and together they train to protect Pern by flaming Thread out of the sky. The dragons not only fly, but can also teleport (called "going between") to any place that their rider can clearly visualize.

A Weyr (rhymes with 'here') is a colony of dragons, riders and their support staff organized around the raising and training of dragons to fight Thread. Leadership is decided by mating flight of the senior gold dragon and the bronze dragon fast enough to catch her. The rider of the gold dragon is always a woman and gains the title of Weyrwoman, and the rider of the bronze becomes the Weyrleader. Weyrwomen are responsible for the domestic leadership of the Weyr - keeping tithes coming in, the health and welfare of dragons and riders, and some diplomacy.

Hatching dragons require a human to bond to; otherwise they die. From time to time, the Weyr rides out on 'Search' - a hunt led by experienced dragonriders for teenagers and young adults around Pern with the mental abilities to 'Impress' a dragon.

See Wikipedia for the list of novels in the series.

Dragons, Sexuality, and Gender

In the original Dragonriders stories, published as Dragonflight in 1968 after having run in Analog, dragons chose their riders based on telepathic affinity. When baby dragons hatch, young candidates are standing by, and the babies "Impress" upon whichever child they are able to connect with mentally.

There was no indication that women were allowed to Impress fighting dragons of any color. The only women on the hatchery floor were there to Impress with a newly hatched queen. All the green and blue riders in those stories were men. It is possible that McCaffery had intended to establish that they were gay, but the mores of the times (the late 1960s) would not yet permit this, particularly considering the fact that Analog was edited by John W. Campbell Jr., a political and social conservative.[1]

There was nothing about sexual orientation added to these stories when they were published in the book Dragonflight. However, Dragonquest, the second volume (published in 1971), includes a subplot involving male riders whose dragons, a brown and a green, are described as "together". Readers could draw their own conclusions as to why these men were "in no condition" to attend a meeting after their dragons got back from a mating flight.

Nonetheless, the same book described considerable controversy over the suggestion that Mirrim, a young woman, could Impress a fighting dragon, clearly stating that women did not usually do this. In fact, Mirrim only Impresses (in the later book Dragondrums) because a green hatchling rejects all the male candidates and attempts to climb up into the witnesses' area to reach her.

In later tales, McCaffery did establish that part of the connection depends on the candidates' gender and sexual orientation. Green dragons (the most numerous) choose gay men and, later, women; blues choose gay men; browns and bronzes choose exclusively heterosexual men. A gold dragon can only impress a heterosexual woman. This was changed by 2009 to include Lesbians, in Todd McCaffrey's "Dragongirl". Previously, McCaffrey had attempted to establish that there were no lesbians or bisexuals at all on Pern.

Due to the telepathic bond between rider and dragon, when dragons rise for a mating flight their soulbonded partners are compelled to have sex. Allowing for gays and Lesbians among the dragonriders was a bold step for McCaffery to take. It canonically established positions of importance for gays (and possible slash pairings in fan fiction) on Pern.

As gay civil rights have taken hold, Pern's gender policy has been increasingly seen by fans as a relic of outdated 1960s gender and sexual orientation theories, because the way things are set up, gays cannot obtain positions of power within the Weyr structure. The Weyrleader and Weyrwoman are always a heterosexual couple. McCaffrey has also made controversial statements about gay men.

Some clubs and games allow women to Impress greens, blues, browns and gold. Others are more strict with their interpretation of gender and canon policies. Although Anne McCaffrey has allowed rules that bend the canon for women to become blue and brown riders for many years, a canonical lesbian blue rider only first appeared in "Dragongirl" (2009).

In addition to the five colors, Ruth, a white dragon, appears within the books. Ruth identifies as male, but is apparently asexual. He is also extremely intelligent and has special time travel powers.[2] However, he is a sport, a mutation produced by chance from an otherwise normal clutch of eggs, and was meant by the author to be one of a kind. For many years, clubs were not allowed to create their own white dragons and this has been upheld by the more canon strict groups.

Many clubs and games run by younger fans will have white dragons and also create their own colors with different 'powers' - though this is much derided as immature teenage behavior by fandom oldbies.

From a fan's comment in 2010:
I'm pretty sure you're perfectly allowed to ignore Anne if common sense dictates that, realistically, there are most certainly lesbians on Pern and a few have Impressed over the course of a few thousand years. On top of that, some had to be dykes, and on blues (or perhaps even browns, if you want to go that far). Not that big of a deal.

My personal feelings are that if guys can be on all but gold, girls can be on all but bronze; but, of course, not everyone has to agree with me. My version of canon is a bit strange. I think the sexuality thing is blown out of proportion anyway -- it's probably just feminine folk vs. masculine folk, with sexuality thrown in as a side effect. Obviously, when you're a straight, but relatively feminine, guy, you've opened up the door to Impress a green. I don't quite understand Anne's hormonal thing, but I chalk it up more to the inner mind workings of humans.

When Anne's rules fail, it's up to the fans to fill in the holes -- but logically. [3]

McCaffrey's Fanwork Policies

McCaffrey had adopted several positions regarding fan fiction which have softened over time.

Initially, McCaffrey set out the following guidelines:

  • Fanworks are strongly discouraged outside the approved "fan Weyr" clubs.
  • McCaffrey's characters are off-limits without prior approval, as main characters, minor characters, or even as background.
  • McCaffrey's primary setting, Benden Weyr, is also off-limits, as a story location, or even as a point of origin for original characters.

A good outline regarding her earlier policies can be found at the the Writers University . [4] Among some of these early rules were: "no crossovers, no canon characters and no white dragons may appear in fan fiction based on the Dragons of Pern." In addition, fan fiction and fanzines had to be approved by Anne McCaffrey: "The 'zines cannot be published on the Internet on publicly accessible sites. Distributing a limited number of copies of the 'zine to a special group via regular -snail- mail is the norm." (ca 1992). In 2001, Anne McCaffrey's son went after Yahoo Geocities websites in an effort to eliminate fan fiction based on Anne's novels. (Ibid).

Until 2007, [5]) that final rule was phrased "Pornographic or slasher" sites"[6]

Another historical look is posted at FanWorks.org: FanWorks.org : Fan Works Inc. - Help & Tools Index : Anne McCaffrey, Archived version

From Southern Enclave in 1990:
[McCaffrey] has her guidelines (no sport dragons; no using her characters in our fiction; no men on golden dragons or women on bronze dragons), and a couple of Weyrs that violated her tenets were closed down because of that (and those Weyrs that allowed silver dragons were told to get rid of them-- except for Ista 9)" [7]
In the FAQ list of the newsgroup alt.fan.pern is the following statement by Anne McCaffrey herself (dated October 8, 1992):
The rules are that my characters may be referred to but not used. BUT there can be no adventure/stories set on Pern at all!!!!! That's infringing on my copyright and can bear heavy penalties - particularly right now when there's a film deal (yet another) which has bought and paid for the right to use the material - which, I fear, e-mail users have not. On CIS, I have asked people to limit Pern material to a discussion of their persona and dragons, fire-lizards, etc., in a diarist form. Fanzines have slightly more latitude as the zine is usually mailed only to members so that's limited publication, and a due copyright notice is included. As there is no such protection on electronic mail, we authors have to be insistent on these safeguards. I know this can be confusing since Paramount and Star Trek are handled differently, but that's the point: they are, and have been. Individual themes and characters of s-f/fantasy novels are not. And such indiscriminate usage of our characters, worlds, and concepts on a 'public' media like electronic mail constitute copyright infringement AND, which many fans disregard, is ACTIONABLE! Both the e-mail company AND the person. My publishers are most insistent on that point! So it's to safeguard the interested e-mail user that I make these very strong, and perhaps unpalatable points. [8]

Eventually, however, she relaxed some restrictions, and, as of November 10, 2004 [9], had this statement:

Dear All,

I know that many of you have enjoyed my works so much that you have written your own fan fiction, created your own fan art, and built your own online role-playing games.

I worked very hard to create my worlds and I am so glad that you like them so much that you have followed the old adage, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

But I have to be concerned that none of this “imitation” could expose me to the loss of control of those same much-adored works. Along with many of you, I would dearly love to see DRAGONFLIGHT, or any of my books on Pern, turned into a movie. To realize that dream requires that I handle all fan-related material very carefully – sometimes more carefully than I would like.

Now, I believe that – with your help – I can relax some of those restrictions, by establishing some guidelines/rules which I believe will both protect me (and you) and allow you to engage in “fannish” activities. [10]

Her new rules:


1. Fan Fiction, Fan Art, and online RPGs based on any of my literary works will now be permitted so long as it occurs on a non-commercial basis.

2. With respect to Fan Fiction, Fan Art and transcripts of online RPG activity, care must be taken to ensure that such material displayed on these sites can only be downloaded or accessed for personal, non-commercial purposes. Owners of websites supporting Fan Fiction, Fan Art, and RPGs must take every step possible, including, but not limited to, posting appropriate and prominent notices to ensure compliance with these restrictions. Any reference to the mark “Dragonriders of Pern ®” must be accompanied with a trademark notice indicating registration and my ownership of the mark. You may wish to consult your own attorney about online and Internet law and the rules governing copyright and trademark notices.

3. Mindful that many fans take advantage of “free” web space requiring operators to display banner ads, I will not consider such sites as engaging in “commercial activity,” even if the ads contain “click-through” sales features, so long as displaying the ads are a condition of securing the web space and the website creators do not use sites to sell, or assist others in selling, McCaffrey related derivative merchandise. Fan operated sites are not ‘licensed’ by Anne McCaffrey, are not approved by Anne McCaffrey and do not create an agency or joint venture relationship with Anne McCaffrey, even though they may be maintained with Anne McCaffrey’s permission.

4. Participation in any site promoting such Fan Fiction, Fan Art, or online RPGs must be entirely free to participants. No membership fees or other charges may be levied in connection with these sites.

5. Pornographic sites, based on any of my literary works, are expressly forbidden. But I’m sure you know that. I’m a grandmother, after all.


1. I ask that anyone creating a site for Fan Fiction, Fan Art, or online RPGs endeavour to use good taste. I will not interfere with the internal affairs of fan sites, nor intervene in disputes, or manage them in any way, other than to enforce the rules above.

2. Fans who have read my books know fully well what can and cannot take place on my various worlds and need no reminder. While I would prefer that my well known rules be followed, I will not insist that you conform to such “implicit rules” so long as my explicit rules are observed.


1. I will be creating an online database that will allow fans to register their Fan Fiction, Fan Art, and RPG sites with The Worlds of Anne McCaffrey, Ltd. This database will, in turn, be used to create web pages on the Worlds of Anne McCaffrey website to allow fans the opportunity to share or discover these online resources.

2. In the event rights to any of my literary works are granted or sold for film, television, or other media exploitation, licensees may, at their option, choose to restrict Fan Fiction, Fan Art or RPGs. While I cannot protect fan websites from restrictions my licensees may impose, I will notify my licensees of the registered sites in our database, described in (1) above, that have complied with our reasonable restrictions, and encourage licensees to permit the continued existence of those sites. I wish we could offer more “protection,” but quite honestly this is all I can reasonably do.

3. Fans operating sites must understand that they are solely liable for their content and that The Worlds of Anne McCaffrey, Ltd., assumes no responsibility for them, for their administration, operating policies, or activities.

4. I reserve the right to change these rules, guidelines, and caveats at any time without prior notice.

Finally, I hope you continue to enjoy the time you spend in my worlds. Please, as I have told my grandchildren, “play nice.”

Yours very sincerely,

Anne McCaffrey [11]

Gaming Policies

From a 2000 interview, in which McCaffrey appears to tolerate gaming based on her books:
Wes Platt asks: The MUD Connector shows at least 11 online games based on the Pern universe. How does it feel to see your work brought to life by fans this way? Anne McCaffrey answers: Well, it's certainly an indication of how many people would LOVE to be on Pern. Actually, I don't go into the games - at the insistence of my publishers so that they are certain that any new novels will not inadvertently reflect something I saw or heard from another source. As long as folks enjoy the ambience, I'm happy that my books provide the Pern canon by which they play. [12]
From a 2002 post by a fan that illustrates the opposite:
I got this [13] today from Alec Johnson, Anne McCaffrey's eldest son and webmaster of her website This was directed at the PernMangband website, but I'm sure PernAngband is just around the corner.

I maintain the PernAngband & PernMangband web sites.

I would think they'd be more interested in going after the game itself if they really cared about copyright infringement rather than the website. In any case, if anyone knows anything regarding licensing/copyright issues for Angband in general please contact me. For example, has the copyright owners for the Tolkien works threatened the Angband community?

I can't believe Anne McCaffrey would alienate such a loyal and dedicated group of fans. We don't cause her any lost revenue - if anything what DarkGod has done with PernAngband & PernMangband has increased awareness and fandom in the McCaffrey works. I was even going to post links to all of McCaffrey's books and recommendation reading order with forum for comments, but oh well....

I haven't decided what to do, but I was going to write a letter directly to Anne. Perhaps if we all did she would understand what the whole Angband/open source community is all about? Think of all the hours we've put into developing and/or playing this game, at risk to our own family/social lives, and in my case I got carpel tunnel syndrome from playing so many hours in the day (which is why I haven't posted much to either web site recently). [14]

McCaffrey's estate currently has a set of fan fiction rules which state "Fan Fiction, Fan Art, and online RPGs based on any of my literary works will now be permitted so long as they occur on a non-commercial basis."[15] The final rule is "Pornographic sites, based on any of my literary works, are expressly forbidden."[15]

Relaxation of Rules Also Meant a Forum Closure

From a letter by Todd McCaffrey, Anne's son:
What’s KT? KT is the abbreviation to Kitchen Table also known as Kitchen Table Live, or Kitchen Table Bulletin Board. The Kitchen Table was part of Mum’s website when it seemed a requirement to keep strict control on anything related to Pern — or lose any chance of possibly seeing a Pern film. Fortunately, particularly when looking at Harry Potter fandom, it’s become clear that such strict policing isn’t necessary and we’ve relaxed such tight controls. Nowadays there are several websites devoted to discussing Mum’s various works. [16]

Fans' 2011 Comments and Speculation Regarding Fanworks, Permissions, and Legacy

Anne McCaffrey and I had a history, though she wouldn't have been able to pick me out of a lineup. And Anne McCaffrey had a history with fandom, of which my own history is but a small part.

Anne Inez McCaffrey was the first woman in science fiction/fantasy to win the Hugo and the Nebula Awards in the same year, cementing her place in fannish and feminist history. The works she won them for would eventually be joined together as a novel, Dragonflight - the first book in the beloved Pern series. With the exception of Verity Lambert, McCaffrey is one of the few women who can claim to have created an enduring media fandom - even today there are young children who dream of impressing one of Pern's magnificent dragons and hop online to write their story, just as many young authors began with the magic blue box. For children of a certain age, Pern is a window into a better world, where they are loved. It's this power among others that make it one of SF's enduring series and fandoms.

Indeed, there was a time when Pern was almost as big a fandom as Star Trek or Doctor Who. Fanlore has dozens of Weyr zines archived and partially digitized [17] , there are hours of filk and you couldn't type 'dragon' on Usenet without hitting a Pern discussion. People used to log in by the hundreds every night to PernMUSH in the late 80s and early 90s for a chance at impressing their very own dragon. There were tie-in books and board games and little mini figures for tabletop RPGs.

And now here we are, in 2011, after two solid decades of mismanagement of the world she created. Half a dozen companies have owned the rights to make a movie, or a TV show - the most notable failure being Ron Moore, post-DS9 and pre-Battlestar Galactica. As in so many of the great SF book franchises, a son took over the writing of the novels and ran them into the ground. The active parts of Pern fandom are tiny compared to what they once were in large part through the hounding of its fandom to give up the fanfiction and fanart and RPG. Yet the memory of Pern lingers in the media conscience, on the tips of people's tongues. "Don't Daenerys' baby dragons remind you a little of..." and "Those soul-bonded pterodactyls in Avatar were almost like..."

I've been in Pern fandom almost fifteen years, and I've seen the best and worst of it. Her legal team sent me a C&D for running a Pern RPG when I was thirteen. I'll never forget it - I came home from my Bat Mitzvah in Paris to find the email sitting in my inbox. And I was lucky, because I took down the site right away and they stopped pursuing me. People who had sold Pern art or Pern crafts at cons often weren't so lucky. I've seen fans sell out other fans to her legal team in exchange for positions of 'power' as online enforcers. I've seen people backstab each other for bits of code, or one of the all-special 'permission letters' which would allow you to run an online game. It was an era when that sort of fandom micromanagement wasn't uncommon, but she earned a deserved reputation for it. Time made her sexual politics seem creaky at best and creepy at its worst and soon the magic window to Pern wasn't a doorway but a tiny prison.

I've also seen the women who became artists because they started drawing dragons, and the ones who went on to careers in game design and software, the ones who said 'to hell with it' and made their own worlds in their own novels. Perhaps her strangest, most enduring and necessary legacy to fandom is the Organization for Transformative Works. I have no doubt that when naominovak gave the seed money to start the group, the former PernMUSH wizard thought of McCaffrey's campaigns against fandom amongst others.

In the end, all of Ramoth's golden daughters flew away and founded Weyrs of their Own. Allowing people to write Pern fanfic and play on Pern RPGs and books aimed for children hasn't brought them back. They win Hugos and Nebulas, they work for Blizzard and Ubisoft and they've all left Pern far behind them. [18]
Another fan wrote:
When I was 11 years old, I created a new account on Yahoo! and joined a role-playing group for the Dragonriders of Pern. These groups were mostly made up of teenagers writing participatory fanfiction. Someone, usually the host of the group, would be the head of the “weyr,” and everyone else would write characters for the hatchings. The host would decide who wrote the most compelling characters, and assign the dragon colors according to McCaffrey’s hierarchy: the best female character would be matched with the gold and the male with the bronze, and so on down the line. (Imagine my delight when my character won the first gold dragon..!)

Unfortunately, Anne McCaffrey herself got wind of these role-playing games, and decided that they were in violation of her copyright.[*] She and her lawyers began sending cease and desist letters and reporting the groups to their various hosting sites (Yahoo!/Geocities and Angelfire were the big ones). Nearly every single group got shut down, and there were more than a few terrified kids left wondering if they were about to get slapped with lawsuits.

I am not a lawyer, but I know that we were not reproducing any of McCaffrey’s writing; no money was being exchanged; and, as far as I can remember, nobody was using her characters. If what we were doing was illegal — and the law is unclear — I fail to see how it could have hurt Anne McCaffrey in any way.

All of us were hurt and disappointed. Perhaps she didn’t realize this, but in a sense, we looked up to her. She was doing what we wanted to be doing — writing powerful, intriguing stories. But instead of giving us encouragement, or even leaving us alone to play our harmless games, she threatened legal action against some of her biggest fans and turned us off her writing forever. I will probably always remember her as someone who expended a lot of time and effort bullying kids who found her work inspiring. [19]

A Fan's 2015 Comments About McCaffrey's Fanwork Rules

Ancient Fandoms

I’m not sure if people today realize how deeply weird some of the older fandoms were in the pre- and early-internet days.

Take, for example, the Pern fandom. There were rules for writing fanfic in this fandom, very strict rules, laid down by The Great Anne Herself, and woe be unto you if you dared break any of them. I’m not sure I remember all of them, but these are the ones I do remember:

Thou Shalt Not Use Anne’s Characters, Ever. OCs only. Which…fanfic, I know. Like I said, the weird was strong in this one.
Thou Shalt Not Use Certain Specific Locations on the planet. Ever. Those were Anne’s Exclusive Playgrounds.
Stories taking place during the same time periods as any of the books? Right Out. A hundred years before or after is totally fine.
Pern dragons come in different colors. There were strict rules about what gender/sexuality combos could be pair with which colors of dragon. The dragons knew what people’s sexualities were, because gay pheromones.
Seriously gay pheromones I will never be over this
Thou Shalt Not Get Creative with The Colors of One’s Dragons. Book colors ONLY. Except that one book color, that’s right out too.
Do Not With The Porn, despite rapey mating flights being canon

There were more, relating to how characters could be named and other such things. And this was SERIOUS BUSINESS, I knew dozens of people who were hit with C&Ds from her lawyers because they made fanart or broke the Sacred Fanfic (??) Rules. I have no idea how many lawyers she had, but they were extremely busy people.

(And THANK ALL THE DEITIES that my terrible Pern fanfic was restricted to paper ‘zines and unlikely to ever again see the light of day…) [20]

Pern Fan Art C&D Letters

McCaffrey has had a extensive history of periods of her relative leniency with fanworks and then C&Ding her fans.

In the late 1990s, Anne McCaffrey attempted to license her Pern series movie and TV rights. One result of this was that her attorney/s sent many C&D letters against fan artists. [21]


Fannish Names

In the novels, Pernese children are given names which combine the mother and father's name. Dragonriding men are given an 'honorific' upon impression. The rider's original name is elided with an apostrophe. For example, Fallarnon (son of F'lor and Larna) becomes F'lar. Famanoran (son of F'lor and Manora) became F'nor.[22] Dragons always have names that end in -th.

Some weyr members take fannish names. These could be the names of their favorite self-created character, or in some cases, a Pernese version of their own names.

See some examples of this in the zines Harper Beat and Fortfolio, and on Pern forums.

A related practice is Star Trek fans using Vulcan-related names, usually female, and adding a "T'." These names echo T'Pring and T'Pau, two canon Trek characters.

Newsgroups and Forums

See alt.fan.pern.

See Kitchen Table Bulletin Board.


Pern fandom has for many years had its own dedicated track at DragonCon known as WeyrFest. This dates back to McCaffrey's appearance as Guest of Honor in 1989 and continues to this date. Cavatica, a well-known persona in the Pern MU*ing community, helps to run this. The track usually features special guests - such as artists for the series, or the author herself. Zines and other fancrafted material can be purchased. There are panels dedicated to topics of concern within the fandom. Many fans dress up in Pernese garb with stuffed firelizards, and there are opportunities to LARP Pern hatchings and gathers.

More info: Weyrfest LJ


Roleplaying clubs have featured heavily in Pern fandom. Originally published in printed fanzines, they moved to online/e-mail format.

Pern fandom has a long and storied history in the text-based MUD/MU* roleplaying community. The first Pern Weyr built on a text-based game was TinyTIM, a social game which opened circa 1990 and is still up and running. As the community developed a stricter RP policy than was considered acceptable for TinyTIM, it branched out into its own game: PernMUSH, also known as NorCon. Famously, a second game called SouCon (representing Pern's other continent) opened up and joined in-game canon with PernMUSH to run concurrent timelines until a split in August of 2004.

PernMUSH has two historical importance: as the first 'real' Pern MU*, and because Ambyrl was one of the wizards. (A wizard being a gamemaster with the power to change the code that the game is running on.) For many years, PernMUSH was the testbed of a fork of TinyMUSH mushcode known as PernMUSH. When PernMUSH switched over to TinyMUSH, Ambyrl renamed the codebase PennMUSH, which remains in active development to this day.

By 1999 or so, there were roughly a dozen games that could be considered active.

Throughout much of the late 90s and early 2000s, the McCaffrey family had placed a ban on the opening of new games due to the development of a Pern video game. (This ultimately came out for Dreamcast in 2001.) It should be noted that Anne McCaffrey and her family had a long history of meddling with the fandom - see the infamous tentpeg statement and Pern's Renewable Resources documents, which can still be found with a quick google as well as the ban on fanfiction. Previously opened games were grandfathered through the ban by use of a 'permissions letter' from McCaffrey. Much fudging of the truth, splitting and fighting over the letters became involved.

The ban on new games was finally lifted along with the ban on fanfiction. There was a brief explosion of new games, many of which quickly faded away. Although the community of PernMU*ers no longer numbers in the hundreds of logins each night, development and activity continues. PernMU* maintains a forum for wank, rants and discussion at pernmu.com, and also the historical database of dragon genealogy which also serves as a history for the fandom. Previously run for many years by Neva, it is now maintained by Aya.

  • On-line Simulations of Pern ("Some people have gone to the extent of attempting to duplicate Pern with a multi-user program designed to allow people to assume the roles of dragonriders, harpers, holders, etc." [23]


cover of the zine, Legends of the Lost Weyr
cover of the zine, Harper Beat #50


Due to the power of Harper Hall in Pernese society, the inclusion of Harper lyrics in the books, and the many beloved Harper characters, Pern filk has always been a popular fan activity.


Print Fanzines/Letterzines/Clubzines

Online Fanfiction

Following Anne McCaffrey's lift of her fan fiction ban in 2004 several fan fiction communities sprang up:


Fanfiction activity in Pern fandom remains low, and it is best considered a Yuletide fandom. A old trend seeing resurgence on AO3 is to write fusion fic with Pern setting from other fandoms, often as younger versions of themselves so that the characters can go through the process of Impressing and raising young dragons.

Other Licensed Material

With 40 years of history and a small, but devoted fanbase, there have been various products and merchandise created for the series over the years. Often these licensed products were the creations of BNFs or other notable fandom people.

Books: Three Pern reference books have been written over the years. The most important of these is the Dragonlover's Guide to Pern, written by Jody Lyn Nye. Summarizing Pern's history, it also contains an essay on Threadfighting tactics, a short story, and much background information about the cultures and history of various Holds and Weyrs in the series. In lieu of an actual Pern RPG manual, the DLG as it is known, is frequently consulted by roleplayers. There are two editions, with the second edition containing expanded material from the later novels.

The Atlas of Pern, by Karen Wynn Fostad, is also consulted for maps and locations. People of Pern, by Robyn Wood, is a collection of biographical portraits of various Pernese characters from the book series.

Television/Film: Several different people have tried to adapt Pern for either film or television. The most notable attempt was by Ronald D. Moore of Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica. Attempting to create a series for the WB, it famously got as far as shooting before Moore walked from the project due to network meddling. The pilot script and some production art circulate in the fandom.

CDs: With several important characters in the series being musicians and several songs written in the books, Pern has a long history of filk. Two licensed CDs of music, called 'The Masterharper of Pern' and 'Sunset's Gold', both by Tania Opland and Mike Freeman are available.

Games: A board game was made in 1983 by Mayfair Games. It's notable for having portrait cards by Robyn Wood, and can fetch a high price on eBay or at con booths. The first Pern video game was made for the C64 - called Dragonriders of Pern, it was primarily a strategy game in which the player takes on the role of Benden Weyrleader and must maintain alliances with the rest of Pern. Brief sequences of fighting Thread are interspersed between rounds.

A second Pern video game, called Dragon Riders: Chronicles of Pern was released in 2001 for the Dreamcast.

Wikipedia's PernMUSH page


Meta/Further Reading


  1. Putting it mildly.
  2. All dragons can go "between times", but Ruth always knows exactly where and "when" he is without help from his rider.
  3. comment by Zei at The New Kitchen Table: Old Fashion Pern Fandom= DragonsDream - The New Kitchen Table, Archived version
  4. Writers University Anne McCaffrey - Fan Fiction Rules. Accessed May 15, 2010.
  5. Internet Archive snapshot of http://annemccaffrey.net/fan-fiction-rules.html [1] taken December 5, 2006
  6. http://lostweyrs.proboards76.com/index.cgi?board=therules&action=display&thread=856 Accessed October 1, 2008.
  7. Southern Enclave, #30 (Autumn 1991); WebCite
  8. The Pern Encyclopedia - I, Archived version
  9. Welcome to the Worlds of Anne McCaffrey!, Archived version
  10. The Worlds of Anne McCaffrey » Fan Fiction Rules, Archived version
  11. The Worlds of Anne McCaffrey » Fan Fiction Rules, Archived version
  12. from August 2000 OtherSpace Interview
  13. "Your website is promoting an online role playing game that explicitly draws from the copyrighted intellectual property of Anne McCaffrey. This is an illegal infringement of her copyright, moreover it is an illegal use of rights currently licensed to Ubisoft. Make no mistake, this is very serious indeed. I strongly urge you to reply to me at your earliest convenience. If I do not hear from you shortly, I will have no choice but to turn this information over to Ubisoft's legal department. They are a huge multi-national corporation with a vast legal department. Unless you have similar resources at your disposal, I recommend you get in touch with us straightaway. I am Anne McCaffrey's official representative in this matter. If you wish to verify my credentials, please go to the front page of her official website where you will find a link (lower right hand corner) which I think will satisfy you regarding my legitimacy. All the best, Alec Johnson, Webmaster, The Worlds of Anne McCaffrey"
  14. comment by Zz at rec.games.roguelike.angband: copyright violation threats, February 24, 2002
  15. 15.0 15.1 The Worlds of Anne McCaffrey - Fan Fiction Rules. Accessed October 1, 2008.
  16. Letter from Dee, Archived version, February 9, 2005
  17. There are no Weyr zines "archived" or "partially digitized" on Fanlore. Some small resolution scans of zine covers and sample interior pages are used for description purposes only.
  18. skywaterblue. The Long, Strange Legacy of Anne McCaffrey; WebCite, posted to Dreamwidth November 22, 2011. (Accessed November 28, 2011)
  19. Anne McCaffrey, Fanfiction, and Copyright, November 25, 2011
  20. That's Not Punk (Ancient Fandoms), Archived version
  21. That's Not Punk (Ancient Fandoms), Archived version
  22. In the first Pern books, F'lor was called F'lon. There is no reason given for the change.
  23. alt.fan.pern newsgroup FAQs (early 1990s)