Fans of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series are drinking Benden wine in celebration; Warner Brothers has optioned the massive book series from the estate of Anne McCaffrey with the potential to create movies. With the Lord of the Rings franchise set to end this year after the final movie of The Hobbit trilogy, this could become the next big movie series in the fantasy genre. While I have always loved dragons, that love is returning to the public eye, especially after Dreamworks’ success with How to Train Your Dragon.
While I admit that I have not read the entire series, I have been in love with McCaffrey’s stories of dragonriders ever since I was young. I was gifted Dragonflight – the first of the trilogy that was written before the additional books of the series – solely because I loved dragons. Pernese dragons quickly became my favorite versions of the beasts. There is more to just hopping on and flying around on the dragons of Pern. There are wings commanded by Wingleaders, Threadfall drills, and the ever-exciting hatchings. Dragons are essential to the people of Pern’s very existence.
People on Pern don’t choose which dragons they want to own and train. Candidates are scouted by dragonriders whose dragons can sense an aptitude for bonding to a dragon. The hatching dragons bond to candidates through Impression, melding their mind with the candidate’s for their entirety of their lives. The bond between rider and dragon is so strong that, should the rider die unexpectedly, the dragon throws itself between, a dark dimension encountered when dragons warp from one location to another. A rider who loses a dragon faces immense depression, and sometimes commits suicide when faced with the emptiness left in their mind.
Personally, I would love to see a Dragonriders of Pern franchise. However, I would love to see it done right. There are many fantasy book series that have been portrayed poorly on screen. One popular flop was the T.V. miniseries Legend of Earthsea, based on Ursula K. Le Guin’s books A Wizard of Earthsea and The Tombs of Atuan. It has been a while since I read the books, and I saw the miniseries long after it aired in 2004, but I do remember the disappointment that followed. I loved Telar’s storyline from The Tombs of Atuan. I even dressed as her to a literary Halloween party in college. The miniseries botched both her storyline and her character.
Recently, a coworker gave me the entire Sword of Truth book series by Terry Goodkind. This has been my current reading project (after finally finishing the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan) and it is fantastic. However, the Legend of the Seeker television series based on the books did not fare so well. My boyfriend used to watch the show when I was around, and I remember bits and pieces of the plot. This was another production that botched the storyline of the original novels. Maybe it would have been better if the show were on a similar rating to Game of Thrones to include (and account for) the darker side of the books. The lone two seasons are a far cry from the books, and not nearly as dark or dangerous.
Considering these, being concerned about the end result of my favorite book series feels pretty rational to me. I want to see my favorite characters portrayed with the right amount of personality and spunk. I’d be upset if Lessa wasn’t as strong-willed as she is in the books, or if Masterharper Robinton isn’t as exciting and delightful. The bond between dragons and people is also important to me; riders can communicate telepathically with their dragons, which would be really interesting to see onscreen. I’d love to hear the many inner voices of my favorite Pernese dragons. I want filmmakers to properly portray the abilities, appearances, colors and sizes of Pernese dragons. The dragons make the series, and deserve to be recreated properly. Also, because dragons.
Dedicated Fans have been dreaming of a Dragonriders of Pern movie for years!
Of course, there are some aspects of Pern life that fans agree might be best left off of the big screen. The nature of mating flights in the books are especially criticized; when male dragons mate with a female gold or green, their riders imitate their dragon’s lust, often resulting in sexual encounters eerily similar to rape of the female rider. This is a common theme with gold dragonriders, who face the possibility of their dragon mating with a new bronze each flight due to competition for weyr leadership. It is also implied that only heterosexual men Impress to bronze dragons, and only heterosexual women to golds.
I have roleplayed on several Dragonriders of Pern forums over the years, and most approach these problems with a semi-canon or non-canon attitude; for example, a character’s sexual orientation does not determine their eligibility for dragon Impression. Instead of exclusively bonding to greens and golds, females are sometimes able to Impress blues and browns. Some forums even allow men to Impress golds, or have invented new dragon colors to Impress to both sexes. In canon, golds are the only clutching females; on our semi-canon forum, we have “hematite” females that are rumored to be capable of clutching like golds.
Our forum is PG-13 and doesn’t play out mating flights beyond which male dragon catches the female. However, it is made clear that the riders involved do not have to have relations. The rider of the rising female dragon can place a lantern above their quarters in invitation to the participating riders, or have a preselected stand-in to see to their flight-driven “needs”. It would be great if this could become a more canon concept in potential portrayals of Pern on the big screen. It would help get past the whole “it’s her first mating flight and she is going to have to have sex with a rider against her will” thing.
In the end, I want producers and directors to make smart changes to the series. The same characters and storylines with a more modern take on relationships, sexuality, and whatnot would be a good balance of old and new. But those dragons need to be perfect. I will not settle for anything less when it comes to the dragons. I really want to see a huge gold dragon like Ramoth on a big screen, guys. She was 45 meters long, the size of a jet plane. Imagine flying around on a sparkling gold dragon the size of a jet plane, and you will know why this needs to be a movie!
Check out my hub about how to roleplay in the Dragonriders of Pern universe – no previous knowledge required!