3. Frequently Asked Questions

From time to time, the same questions come up as new people discover this newsgroup and pose the questions that have cropped up during their reading of the series.

[I expect this section to grow considerably as time passes. Suggestions -- and more importantly, documented answers -- are welcome. --Quirk]

3a. Pronunciation of various words/names.

[ This pronunciation guide is based on the audiotape of Anne McCaffrey reading an abridged version of All the Weyrs of Pern and the editor's hearing/pronunciation prejudices. ]

First off, let's get the big one out of the way:

     weyr    -   WEER       [This is hinted at in Dragonflight where it
                             is implied that 'Weyr' rhymes with 'adhere'.]
Others of mild interest

     wher    -   (Somewhere between 'where' and 'whir')
     Piemur  -   PIE-mur    [Rhymes with 'timer']
     Sebell  -   SEE-bell
     Groghe  -   GROW-gee   [hard (e.g. Golf) g's in both instances.]
     F'lar   -   FLAHR      [No glottal stop that I could detect.]
     Ruth    -   ROOTH      [As in the 20's baseball player.]
     Menolly -   MEN-oh-lee
     Brekke  -  [There is no authoritative pronunciation available; the name
                 does not appear in McCaffrey's reading to my recollection,
                 and the book-tapes I have (Brilliance Corp: Dragonquest, The
                 White Dragon and The Renegades of Pern) that do mention her
                 are inconsistent at best; alternating between 'BREK-ee'
                 (rhymes with 'trekkie'), 'BREK-eh', and 'BREK-uh'.  That these
                 tapes also tend to mispronounce other words does little to
                 inspire any additional confidence in them as a source.
     Igen    -   IGG-en     [Rhymes with the bell in that big clock in London.]
     Ramoth  -   RAM-oth    [Rhymes with "Clam Broth"]
     AIVAS   -   AYE-vas    [Rhymes with "Fly Past"]

[There are, of course, more names on McCaffrey's tape, I'll add more names on request.]

3b. Rider behavior during Mating Flights.

The behavior of the riders of mating dragons (and to a lesser extent firelizard 'owners') has generated considerable controversy on this newsgroup in the past. During one particularly vehement flamewar sparked by the topic, someone queried the Dragonlady, Anne McCaffrey, herself:

---[begin included text]---
From: slf@netcom.com (Sharon Fisher)
Date: Wed, 23 Sep 92 18:26:59 GMT

Presumably this will settle the issue?

Date:  23-Sep-92 02:07 PDT
From:  Anne McCaffrey 
Subj:  Pern question

Well, now, it's like this...when the dragons mate, their riders are so
consumed with their dragons' passions, that there's really only one way to
vent it:  enjoying the sexual act themselves.  The double whammy is
something incredible.  Since most green riders are male, and most blue,
brown and bronze riders are also male, the obvious need not be stated.
However, it is permissible within the Weyrs for the less-enthusiastic
about this pairing having an alternate of the opposite sex available.  The
green rider will also have someone of his preference available so that the
double charge is not lost...if you don't mind me being a tad bawdy.
Actually, many of the Candidates are weyrbred and accustomed to such
demands and think little of it.  It's the main bone of contention between
the hidebound Halls and Holds and the the Weyrs for the Halls and HOlds
don't really `like' such innovations.  Still, the rider is always
compelled by concern for his dragon and THAT consideration makes the
difference in such a sexual situation.  And it is ALSO an incredible
experience, one to be treasured.
And yes, there could be more female riders of green dragons to relieve
that dilemma but after the early Plagues, women were needed more as
mothers to increase the population (something men still haven't been able
to do on their own ) and flying constantly between is how to abort on
Pern.  (Queen dragons are not always as horny as the greens and as they
are low-level Thread fighters, their pregnant riders could generally
manage without constantly going *between* in the performance of their
duties.)  Anyway, I thought homos deserved a place in the elite social
structure on Pern.
Does that answer the question completely?  Or do you need  diagrams?
---[end included text]---

This policy has subsequently appeared in Red Star Rising/Dragonseye.

3c. Firestone and Queen Dragons

It is stated about 1/3rd through Dragonflight that Queen dragons do not chew firestone because it would render them sterile. (To support this contention, the example of the overly amorous green dragons and their lack of egg-laying activity was brought up.) This idea is reinforced throughout the later books - Except for Dragonsdawn where it is implied that queen dragons had been designed by Kitti Ping Yung to be incapable of chewing firestone. This and other text in this book could also lead one to conclude that green dragons had been engineered to be infertile.

A popular theory (although certainly not the majority opinion) is that the 'firestone --> sterility' theory had formed over the turns to explain green infertility. Since no goldrider in her right mind would risk her queen to test this theory, it is self-consistent.

3d. Where do dragons/firelizards defecate?

In a mostly joking response to this question at a convention in the distant past, Ms. McCaffrey stated that 'Dragons go between.' (i.e. take care of bodily functions while transiting between.) Although this has been perpetuated throughout fandom and has even found its way into the Dragonlovers Guide to Pern, it is still regarded by many as just a joke, since it blatantly violates the laws of Conservation of Mass/Energy -- as does the practice of dragons suiciding between if taken at face value. (Of course, much in the Pern universe doesn't hold up to scientific scrutiny. ;-) )

3e. Who/What does Aramina 'hear' in The Renegades of Pern?

Toward the end of Renegades Aramina tells Lessa that asside from dragons and firelizards, she also hears something else; a 'sad' presence.

This question is addressed in The Dolphins of Pern.

3f. What's this I hear about a Pern Movie/TV Show?

As some may have noticed, "Casting Pern" is a frequent discussion topic. While nearly all of the discussion is just wishful thinking (there's *no* way to get all the big name stars being bandied about together at the same time for some little-known Sci-Fi project), there are some vague noises about a Dragonriders of Pern movie.

May '06 Update:
In , it is reported that canadian production company Copperheart Entertainment has optioned the Dragonriders series (all 19 books) for a possible film. No additional details are available.

There was also a project for an animated movie in the late 70s/early 80s that fell through for various reasons. Apperantly one clip of trial footage was circulated at the time and has subsequently disappeared between...

3g. Is Rukbat (Pern's sun) a real star?

In the introduction to the Dragonriders of Pern books, Pern's Sun is identified as 'Rukbat'; a star in the constellation Saggitarius. Therein, it is described as a G-type (i.e. similar to Sol) star. In a number of interviews, Ms. McCaffrey has explained that she saw the star name in a copy of National Geographic and decided to use it.

Rick Hewett (rick@chocky.demon.co.uk) did a little research and came up with the following:

>From Sky Catalogue 2000.0 Vol. 1 (ed: Alan Hirshfeld & Roger W. Sinnot
>Pub: Cambridge University Press $ Sky Publishing Corporation
>ISBN 0-521-28913-0 pbk, 0-521-24710-1 hbd)
>Rukbat (alpha Sagittarius) HD 181869  SAO 229659 
> R.A. 19 23 53.0
> Dec -40 36 58
> Visual magnitude         3.97
> Colour index (B-V)      -0.10  Somewhat on the blue side ...
> Absolute magnitude (Mv) -0.2
> Spectral class           B8 V  (Yes I do mean bee eight)
> distance in parsecs      36    (maximum estimated)
To which, Peter Stewart (stewart@nutcake.bae.bellcore.com) adds the following commentary:
>And this, of course, is evidence of Yet Another McCaffrey Scientific
>Inaccuracy :)
>It is virtually impossible for a viable life-bearing world to evolve about
>a class B star. Such stars generally use up their supply of hydrogen very
>fast, usually within a billion years or so. If Earth could be used as a
>model of a typical world with carbon-based life, it would take far longer than
>that just to reach the point of single-celled organisms.
Ted Ollier (tedo@kiowa.natinst.com) added:
>Not to nit-pick, but B-types only last about 300 million years. :)
>And they also put out a hellacious amount of UV radiation, so any 
>single-celled organisms that manage to last that long probably live 
>underground. *Far* underground. :)
Sometimes, it just doesn't pay to dig too deeply into such things...;-)

3h. Robinton, Silvina, and Camo

In The People of Pern, Ms. McCaffrey states that Camo is the result of a liason between Robinton and Silvina. Any question as to the Canon status of this claim is set to rest as it was also stated in The Masterharper of Pern.

3i. Where did Menolly's 10th firelizard come from?

In chapter 11 of The White Dragon, Menolly mentions in passing the circumstances where she inadvertantly impressed her 10th firelizard (bronze Poll). This is the only instance where this event is discussed.

3j. Will the real Moreta please stand up?

In Dragonflight, it is mentioned in passing that there was once a Benden Weyrwoman of Ruathan ancestry who had the ability to "hear all dragons." There is also a teaching song about her.

In Dragonsinger, the narrative of said teaching song is revealed, but she is mysteriously transplanted to Fort Weyrwoman.

Finally, in Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern, it is revealed that Moreta was actually born in a small hold in Keroon, Impressed at Ista, eventually became Fort Weyrwoman, and couldn't hear more dragons than the typical rider.

So how did the notion that she was a Ruathan-born Benden Weyrwoman able to "hear all dragons" come about? Was it just an oversight on McCaffrey's part?

Not necessarily.

In Nerilka's Story, it is revealed that Lord Alessan of Ruatha and Nerilka had a daughter named after the famed Fort Weyrwoman. It isn't beyond the realm of possibilty that this Ruathan-born female was able to "hear all dragons", eventualy impressed a queen, and eventually rose to the position of Benden Weyrwoman. Throw in several hundred years of intervening time and the two Moretas (Moretae?) may very well have become the single mythical figure Lessa learned about from R'gul and S'lel in Dragonflight.

3l. Lyrics to The Ballad of Moreta's Ride

Speaking of Moreta, it probably deserves mentioning that in no place are the actual lyrics to the oft-mentioned Ballad of Moreta's Ride given. The overall narrative of the piece is described in Chapter 6 of Dragonsinger, and in Dragonflight Lessa suggests that the verse fragment

Crack dust, blackdust
Turn in freezing air
Waste dust, spacedust
From Red Star bare

appears in it at some point.

Beyond these vague hints, there are no further details in any of the books.

End Section 3.

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