1. Introductory Material

1a. About this newsgroup.

The newsgroup alt.fan.pern is dedicated to discussion of the fictional world of Pern as described in the various novels and short stories by Anne McCaffrey. Related topics include Ms. McCaffrey's other works, and several of the on-line 'virtual realities' depicting Pern (see below).

1b. Introduction to Pern

Pern is the third planet of the Rukbat system in the Sagittarius sector. It is a colony world which has lost contact with 'Mother Earth' due to periodic attacks from an organism called 'thread' which devours all organic material it comes into contact with. To counter Thread, the original Pernese colonists -- back when they still had the skills -- modified an indigenous life-form to create Dragons -- so named for the mythical beasts they resemble.

'Modern day' (as depicted in most of the books) Pern has lost many of the skills originally brought with the colonists and can probably be best described as a 'pre-industrial' society. Toward the end of the series, much of the original colonists' technology is rediscovered.

Alternatively, Pern is the home of Dragons, their riders, and various other people as depicted in Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series and related books.

1c. Appropriate subject matter

As stated above, this group is primarily for the discussion of the world of Pern -- discussion of Ms. McCaffrey's other works is not unwelcome, but the emphasis is on Pern. (See section 1d: "Why 'alt.fan.pern' and not 'alt.fan.mccaffrey'?" for more on this.) A component of this discussion revolves around the various multi-user programs that have been set up attempting to simulate Pern. One of The more frequntly discussed is 'PernMUSH', although there are many others in existence. Articles about PernMUSH or the other Pern-related simulations should have 'PernMUSH' or 'MUSH' or something similar in the subject line so that those who are not interested can filter them out via KILLfile.

Note, however, that questions pertaining to the mechanics of MU*s (clients, code questions, etc.) are better asked in the rec.games.mud.* hierarchy rather than here.

Occasionally, the traffic about PernMUSH seems to dominate this newsgroup. Generally, complaining about it is counterproductive and a good way to spark a flame-war. If you, the reader, wish to discuss something that is not presently being addressed in the group, by all means start the discussion yourself. If others find the topic interesting they'll respond.

A note on announcements: Due to the nature of Usenet, it can take several days for an article to propogate to the various news servers across the net. A lead time of at least 3 days is strongly recommended for time-critical announcements.

Also, posting binary files -- i.e. uuencoded or MIME-encoded .gifs, executables, etc. -- is strongly discouraged. Many people must pay by the byte (or for connect time which translates to the same thing) to download newsgroup articles sight-unseen -- this means that by the time they've determined that the file they just spent 30 minutes downloading is an unwanted binary, they've already paid for it. Therefore, if you have a neat-o image or program you wish to distribute, the preferred method is to place it on a web or FTP site, or post to one of the appropriate *.binaries.* newsgroups, and then post a pointer to this newsgroup telling where to find it.

Finally, inconsiderate fools have, from time to time, taken to posting entirely inappropriate articles to the newsgroup; often cross-posted to many others. PLEASE do not post follow-up complaints to alt.fan.pern. Doing so, particularly with cross-posted articles only serves to increase the overal newsgroup clutter. If you feel you must complain, please do so to the article author in question via email.

1d. Why 'alt.fan.pern' and not 'alt.fan.mccaffrey'?

alt.fan.pern was first proposed (in '91, if memory serves) as a forum for the discussion of PernMUSH (i.e. alt.mud.pernmush). However, it was agreed that this would be too narrow a topic to warrant a newsgroup, so the charter was expanded to general discussion of Pern and Pern fandom, discussion carried out on alt.config and the newgroup message was sent out. (This is based on a history of this newsgroup that Amberyl sent me back in '94; I am not a founding member, I'm just this guy who pulled together the material to create this document, and is now stuck maintaining it.) Since then, the charter has expanded somewhat to acceptance of discussion of Ms. McCaffrey's other works.

If one so wishes, rec.arts.sf.written (see section 1f Other newsgroups of interest) does exist for non-Pern discussion, and overall traffic on alt.fan.pern really isn't high enough to warrant a newsgroup split.

As for renaming the newsgroup, this is effectively impossible: alt.* newsgroups never die. There will be an alt.fan.pern newsgroup for as long as newsservers continue to exist, so any attempt at renaming the newsgroup will, in practice, just end up creating a new, redundant newsgroup with lower propogation -- Based on several factors, alt.* newsgroups created after 1993 or thereabouts have considerably lower propogation (i.e. can be found on fewer sites) than those created earlier.

1e. Spoiler etiquette

Whenever new books or other material are published, it is advisable that any discussion that may give away the story or otherwise 'spoil' the book for others should be 'protected'. The techniques used to do this are known as 'spoiler protection'. (Whodathunkit?)

Placing "Spoiler!" in the subject is a start, but is not enough as many newsreaders display the first 12-20 lines of article text when an article is presented for reading. The following steps are suggested:

  1. Insert 12-20 blank lines before the sensitive material.
  2. Place a ^L (Control-L) character at the *beginning* of one of the lines; this will cause some newsreaders to treat it as a top-of-page marker. (Note: This doesn't always work, and some editors do not allow control characters to be embedded, so the '20 blank lines' measure should be used in all cases; the ^L serving as an additional layer of defense.)

How long should spoiler protection be kept in place? My feeling is that spoilers should be kept in place until one or two months after the release of the paperback edition of a book (assuming it was first released in hardcover). However, practice has shown that 3-6 months after initial publication is usually sufficient.

1f. Other newsgroups of interest

rec.arts.sf.*: The primary hierarchy for discussion of Speculative Fiction (Science Fiction + Fantasy). The subgroups are:

When posting to these newsgroups, please remember to use appropriate subject headers; including the author or title in the subject would be a good idea.

Those interested in the various MUSHes, MOOs, et al. may find

of some interest. Keep in mind that these are general MUD newsgroups, and the latter two carry considerable traffic on many different MUD types that historically have not been used for Pern simulations.

1g. Common abbreviations

For those of you new to the net, there are quite a few abbreviations in use here on Usenet that may be unfamiliar. Here is a short list of the more frequently encountered.

;-), :-), :), etc.
A 'smiley' face -- look at it sideways. Used to indicate humor and/or sarcasm.
"As Far As I Know"
"As I Understand It"
"Been There. Done That."
"By The Way"
"For What It's Worth"
"Have A Nice Day."
"Hope This Helps."/"Happy To Help."
"I Am Not A Lawyer (but)..."
"If I Recall Correctly"
"In My Humble/Honest Opinion"
"In My Opinion"
"In Other Words"
"It Seems To Me"
"I Seem To Recall"
"I Think You Mean"
"On The Other Hand"
"Rolling On The Floor, Laughing". (There are several variants on this.)
"Real Soon, Now" (usually translates to "At some point in the nebulous future".)
"Thanks In Advance"
"To The Best Of My Knowledge"
"With All Due Respect..."
"Your Mileage May Varry" (i.e. others may not have the exact same experience.)
And now some specific to alt.fan.pern:
MU*, M*
Indicative of any of the family of MUD/MUSH/MOO/etc.
PernMUSH (Which covers the Northern Continent during the 10th pass)
SouConMUSH (Which contains the complementary Southern Continent for the same time period as NC)
MU*-speak for 'In Character' - meaning behavior that the MU* characters would engage in.
MU*-speak for 'Out of Character' - Usually applying to information/behavior that the *player* of a MU* character knows/performs that the character would not, logically, be able to take advantage of.
Book references:
The Dragonlover's Guide to Pern; see 'Pern in Print' below. (Also, the 2nd edition of the DLG is often referred to as 'DLG2', 'DLG 2.0', etc.)
D1, D2, D3
The three books comprising the Dragonriders of Pern trilogy. (Dragonflight, Dragonquest, and The White Dragon respectively)
H1, H2, H3
The three books comprising the Harper Hall of Pern trilogy. (Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, and Dragondrums respectively)
[The above two sets are my personal shorthand, but I'm not the only one using them -- Quirk]
The above-mentioned Harper Hall trilogy.
AtWoP, ATWOP, etc.
All the Weyrs of Pern
The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall
The Masterharper of Pern
Discussion of Pern in general:
"Hears All Dragons": Referrs to a character with the ability to hear/understand all dragons (e.g. Lessa, Brekke, Aramina.)
Dragon/firelizard of metalic (bronze or gold) hue.

1h. Fan fiction

NOTE: The following applies to fan fiction posted to the net. I do not have (nor do I desire) the authority to prevent any quasi/illegal acts on this newsgroup. The following is presented for informational purposes. You may heed or ignore as you wish, but I deny all responsibility for any legal problems you may encounter.

(Those MU*s that have verifiable permission to exist are so indicated in section 4c. List of Pern-type MU*s. The other MU*s either did not have such permission listed online, or were not reachable at the time they were last visited.)

Also, since Grolier UK purchased the computer game rights to Pern (which have since been transferred to UbiSoft), no further permission for new Pern-themed MU*s are being granted at this time. This also applies to attempts at resurrecting MU*s that were defunct at the time these rights were transferred.

[Thanks to "Chris Croughton" (chris@keris.demon.co.uk) for relaying the following.]

    08-Oct-92 11:39 BST
Sb: InterNet Pern rules
Fm: Anne McCaffrey

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 penalities - 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.

[Chris' commentary:]
To repeat - it's not Anne who forbids this: it's her publishers - and they are NOT required to tell her of any such actions which they may be undertaking. The first she will probably know of it is when someone tells her, having heard over the net...
[End commentary.]

To expand on this a bit, this prohibition is meant to protect Ms. McCaffrey from legal problems along the lines that have prevented Marion Zimmer Bradley from publishing one of her books. (I'm not completely familiar with the specifics of this case; inquiries to rec.arts.sf.written will probably result in more information than you ever wanted to know. ;-)

1i. Anne McCaffrey on the net

It is the understanding of the author of this document that, due to some of the concerns raised in the previous section, Ms. McCaffrey's lawyers have advised her not to read this newsgroup. Evidence to the contrary has also surfaced, so it is uncertain whether or not she actually reads alt.fan.pern, or has articles of interest forwarded to her by other parties.

The URL of Ms. McCaffrey's "official" webpage is:


An older site may be found at:


The personal email address associated with both pages is:


Another way to get in touch with Ms. McCaffrey is to write an actual (i.e. pen and paper) letter via one of her publishers. If you plan to do this and expect a reply, including a self-addressed envelope with return postage -- Note: Since she lives in Ireland, you will probably have to make use of International Reply Cupons -- would probably be appreciated.

1j. Just who is this Quirk joker anyway?

I am NOT...

I'm just the poor slob who's volunteered to maintain this FAQ -- updating when I find the time and/or inclination -- and keep a cron table entry to post it once a month (and two reminders/pointers to the WWW version). Every once in a blue moon, I'll even post some articles of mild interest or complain about how people don't bother to read this document before asking questions already answered herein.

End Section 1.

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