The Renegades of Pern

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The intrepid individuals who landed on Pern (DRAGONSDAWN) paid little attention to a distant planet in the same system. They had a planet to tame and more than few problems in deciding which task took priority and who should exercise authority. In the midst of these problems, however, the new inhabitants of Pern learned that the Red Planet swept close to Pern and deposited thereupon an organism called Threads which destroyed all living organisms it touched. In self-defense the colonists used sophisticated techniques of genetic engineering to develop flying “dragons” who could teleport themselves and their human riders in an instant from one part of the planet to another. Moreover, when provided with “firestone” the dragons could emit a flaming breath which destroyed Thread in midair.

Thus, in emulation of European medieval history, Pern developed men and women who were capable of telepathic communication with the dragons and countless others who, in the manner of serfs, provided the dragonriders with food and equipment. In this manner, the descendants of the original colonists survived, but without access to sophisticated technology which brought their forbearers from Earth.

As is normally the case with historians, Anne McCaffrey has concentrated on the Pernese aristocracy (the dragonriders) and those who inhabited their strongholds in the caves of northern Pern. THE RENEGADES OF PERN, on the other hand, focuses on those who live...

(The entire section is 403 words.)