Anne McCaffrey’s World of Pern

Our fourth session in year two of the series focuses on Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern trilogy, her early novels published in 1968, 1970, and 1978.  These would lead into dozens of other Pern-situated novels, written at first by Anne McCaffery, and then collaboratively by her and her son, Todd McCaffery.  We will be discussing the narrative world she constructed, and five of the key philosophical themes featured in her works.

The talk took place Thursday, April 13 at the Brookfield Public Library.  Here is the videorecording of the talk:

Pern is a world explored and colonized by human beings, who early on engineerer diminutive fire-lizards into the giant dragons used to fight the Thread.  These are mycorrhizoid spores, originally from the Red Star (a wandering planet), that fall upon Pern, and devour and destroy whatever life they encounter.  Over time, they abandon or forget much of their advanced technology, and develop into a hierarchical, agrarian society, divided into the Dragonriders of the Weyrs, the craftspeople of the Halls, and the bulk of the population, who reside in the Holds.

The philosophical themes I plan to focus upon during the talk are:

  • the bond between dragon and human
  • stratified society and the classes
  • tensions produced by technology
  • paradoxes of time travel
  • facing danger, honor, and the common good

The Dragonriders of Pern Trilogy


For those who would like to purchase or otherwise acquire the books, here are some Amazon links to them.

Links and Resources of Interest

The discussion will be drawn primarily from the novels, but there are a number of online resources that may be of interest for those reading McCaffrey’s works.  Here are some that I think particularly worth taking a look at – and after the session, there may be more to post, since participants often bring up those they found worthwhile as well.

Essays on and Interviews with McCaffrey

Sites and Entries on McCaffrey

  • The Worlds of Anne McCaffrey – Anne McCaffery’s website with a number of entries by her, up to her death in 2011.  Also includes answers to FAQ, her biography, and other resources.

  • Pern Wiki – a full wiki devoted to Pern and the Dragonriders series, with entries on characters, places, books, and other matters.
  • Sariel’s Guide To Pern – site devoted to the world of Pern.  Hasn’t been updated for quite some time, but some interesting resources
  • Anne McCaffrey Papers the online catalogue of McCaffrey’s papers, correspondence, and other materials, archived at the University of California Riverside
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