The Dragonriders of Pern® is a trademark, Registered U.S. Patent & Trademark Office,
and is used with the permission of its owner, Anne McCaffrey.

Subject: An Interview with Anne

Questions and answers on Dragonriders of Pern (TM), Copyright Anne McCaffrey

Q: Can I ask silly techie questions about Pern, like can a brown rider with
a really good brown, win a Sr. mating flight AND be the Weyrleader?  Or
would you prefer not to answer such things?

ANNE: Yes, you can refer knotty questions to me.  Ista Weyr took the break-off
from MY timeline of Pern as the moment Canth, F'nor's brown, rescues
Brekke's queen and successfully mates her.  So yes, a brown rider can
become Weyrleader if his brown is clever enough to `fly' a queen.  In
fact, I make that a very strong point in the latest story I'm writing.  Of
course, it's in the initial stages of the dragons' development when the
size differential is not as great BUT it does work.

What I don't like are questions which sufficient thought and common sense
would answer.  Remember common sense in dealing with all matters Pernese.
Those colonists weren't flakes!

Q: Can shipfish hear dragons?  Or visa versa?  ie. A shipfish is calling
franicly to other shipfish for help, could a passing dragon hear it?  And

ANNE: Dolphins would only hear dragons if the dragon was just over water or in this case, the sea.  Remember dolphins move in pods so that one in
danger would have podmates near enough to help in most cases.

Q: How were the fans that circulated air in Harper Hall powered?  (No

ANNE: Well, when the Harper Hall was designed and built by Fulmar Stone, he put
in a device, wayfar down, in the bowels of both Fort and the Harper Hall,
that activated the fans...water power...and the perpetua mobile pump.

Q: Do watch whers have the ability to go between..Such as if their
'impressed partner' dies?   (Very little is said about whers)

ANNE: Watchwhers can't go between and are generally photosensitive.  They do get
to know the scent of family and friends but will attack strangers in the
night.  Better than geese.

Q: I know that gold dragons can't chew firestone or flame because they
lack the ability, but can gold firelizards chew firestone and flame?  Do
they become sterile, like green dragons chewing firestone or does firestone
effect firelizard fertility at all?

ANNE: Gold fire-lizards did/do chew firestone and flame.  Kitti Ping made it
gender inhibitive for the queens, and the greens are kept infertile
because they chew firestone.

Q: When dragons mate, their riders are affected soo strongly that they also
are driven to mate/make love/you get the idea.....How much are dragons who are
not in heat affected by their riders making love?  ie. Green and blue
rider weyrmates in love and having sex, do the dragons just sit and
mentaly 'watch'?  Or do they do anything with each other? (Rub against
each other affectionatly? Mate outside of heat?)  What about two blue riders
in love or a gold rider who falls for a green rider?..(same sex dragons)

ANNE: When people mate, the dragons are interested and may respond, depending on
whether or not the association is long standing.  Casual encounters
because a green is proddy do not cause too much reaction.  But everyone in
a Weyr will feel a tad smarmy when the gold flies to mate.   Two blue
riders - no problem - the dragon is the important half in such encounters.
No gold queen rider would fall for a green rider!  Besides which , no
green could catch a queen rider to mate.  Let's be sensible about this.
Green riders are generally gay males.  Gold riders are fully female women.
The two do not attract sexually but they can be good friends.

Q: You said that Green riders are generally gay males...Is this always the case?
Is it posible to have bisexual green riders? For that manner, is it
posible for a bronze rider to be bisexual, even though they generaly arn't?

ANNE: Green riders in my Pern world are ALWAYS gay males: blue riders are
usually bi-sexual and browns not averse to a little of what pleases them
with greens.  "The dragon decides!"  But as such sexual tendencies are not
at all unremarkable in a Weyr (where they would be abhorred in Hold or
Hall), the matter is not at issue.  Bronze riders in my books are as
masculine as gold riders are feminine...but occasionally a bronze will
take a green - and it's up to the riders to decide if they want a like
match or will take each other.  One can arrange for extra partners of the
right persuasion.

Q: Are female riders of fighting dragons (greens, blues and browns) generaly
of any particular sexual preferance?  (Yes, I know that there was only one
case in the book, but you know how fan clubs are about female riders)

ANNE: In My Pern, there are still very few female green riders...only Mirrim, in
fact.  In the beginning, most green rides were females but they kept
getting pregnant and not wanting to abort.  There are NO blue, brown or
bronze females riders.  However, I do know female fans - another reason
why I do not read fanzines.

Q: Do dragons ever mate for pleasure like humans? Outside of being proddy (in
mating heat)....(This is sorta what I was trying to ask before, but wasn't
sure how to ask.)

ANNE: Dragons don't do it for anything but procreation.  That's the way they are
built sexually - as mares, coming into season while the stallion is almost
always ready!  They can get quite smarmy with each other if they are long
term weyrmates, like Mnementh and Ramoth, having good neck wraps and
nibbling itchy places on each other but once the fires are out, they're

Q: If a green dragon stops chewing firestone, can she produce a clutch
of fertile eggs?

ANNE: No, greens have been infertile genetically for a long time, due to
continued use of firestone.  It's just as well, considering how active
greens are sexually...we'd be up to our eyeballs in little green dragons
for even the green fire-lizards never got more than an occasional blue in
their clutches.  `Neutering' them solves a lot of problems and there can
be no exceptions to this rule.

Q: If male green riders are always gay, what are female green riders?
Would a lesbian or bisexual female impress a blue or brown?  (Though I
do realize that women don't impress blues or browns in your Pern, it sorta
seems logical in a way)

ANNE: Female green riders - and there is only one in My Pern - aren't lesbians,
but more assertive women.  Once, as you will discover in CHRONICLES OF
PERN, women did ride greens, when blues and browns were definitely male -
but they kept getting pregnant and being unable to fly except in the
queens wing.   Then one or two gays were presented as candidates and the
emphasis changed...blues went for male gays, greens for the female ones.
Or blues could be AC/DC...likewise browns - and occasionally bronze riders
would indulge.  When the dragons decides, the rider complies.
Of course, in modern day weyrs, where there might not be sufficient gays,
greens could impress women.  Certainly they do in fan Weyrs.  Somehow,
though, I had a dislike of the guy who wanted to be a Weyrwoman and ride a
gold.  That turned me off like nothing else ever has.  He wasn't even very
personably - I met him at a signing - so I think he was on a power trip
and that annoyed me even more.  Yet he swore that he and his Weyr would
stick to the traditions as outlined in my books.  HOWWWWW?
I suppose a bisexual woman could ride any of the three lower orders, as it
were, but not bronze and certainly not gold.  There is a match of
personalities between rider and dragon, and sensualities.  You can't
mismatch and not expect REAL BIG TRouble in Weyr City.

Q: There are some wierd looking critters on the cover of Renegades of Pern,
painted by M. Whelan, pulling wagons.  Are these the decendants of draft
horses or some creature not brought from Earth?  Or just a case of an
artist who doesn't read the books?  or ?...There is also a furry critter
on the back (Far left side) that looks like a squirrel?

ANNE: The burden beasts that Michael depicted (and he couldn't have read the
book since I hadn't written it when he had time to do the cover but we
discussed what I saw as the cover illo) are more or less what would have
been bred - huge, bulky, tireless.  The squirrel was his idea.  The
skybroom trees, too, but they were so great that there was no way I'd veto
them.  The burden beasts are a cross between a rhino and a musk ox.  I
bought the original from Michael and it hangs in my dining room!

Q:  ( is currently arguing dragon genetics (again) and its
boring me to tears..and I was a Biology Major at CSUS.  You would swear
these people were trying to build their own dragons in the lab classes.)

ANNE: Ak-shually, Greg Benford had his students do that once - build a dragon
and rationalize the fire-breathing aspects thereof.  So did Peter
Dickenson in his FLIGHT OF THE DRAGON.   He and his wife, Robin McKinley,
visited here last year - she rode my horse a treat and he insisted on
being allowed to weed the garden.  Marvelous people!  I had the senior
lecturer on Reproductive Biology of Birmingham University (UK) working on
the biology of my firelizards, thence to the dragons themselves.  He had
lots of fun, and did charts and things, with a whole biological
background.  I didn't use as much as I should have, since he went to so
much trouble, but the fact that I KNEW did come across, or so I'm told.

Q: If a posted Journeyman happens to impress at the Weyr he/she is posted
at..i.e. A WeyrHerder, Weyrharper, WeyrHealer, etc...Does that posted
jouneyman lose all position and they find a replacment or do they maintain
the post and do double-duty as both Weyrling and posted journeyman/master?

ANNE: depends on the Weyr and the Crafthall, but mostly any
crafthall would be delighted to know that their journeywo/man was so
talented and they would keep their rank even as a rider.  The rider rank
being more important though than the Craft rank.

Q: What exactly is a Weyrsinger?  Just a entertainer? Or a full Harper or
Weyrharper like C'gan was?

ANNE: A Weyrsinger is a trained singer, but not necessary a Harper.  Not
necessarily also a rider.  Just someone who is talented and not `just' an
entertainer because you remember that Traditional Ballads are taught every
child - including weyrfolk children.  C'gan was both.

Q: How much work does a Weyrling do?  Or rather, how many hours a day do they
train?  Is it sorta like being in boot camp?  (marching around the bowl with
60lb packs?  Aiie!) :)

ANNE: Weyrlings are taught the care (which takes up a lot of their time) of
dragons, learn the basics of flying formation, learn to get along with
their weyrmates, memorize a lot of locations, learn balance a-dragonback,
and as they are old enough, teach their dragons to chew firestone, and how
to regurgitate the residue, take care of their harness, etc.  They also
have drills, passing fire-stone sacks midair, teaching their dragons
flexibility (like polo ponies midair) and also how to act while being
rescued during a fall.  I cover that one in THE SECOND WEYR story in the

Q: Do firelizards speak telepathicly, in words like a dragon or just empathic
images?  There were some points in the books where I wasn't sure.

ANNE: fire-lizards don't have words - they express stronger emotions and can
pick up the mood of the people they are beholden to.  They can
occasionally - the queens and the bronzes - project images or scenes to
their people.

Q: Other than Harpers, what forms of entertainment exist on Pern?  Are the
Traders much like the Gypsies of Earth and sometimes dance, tell fortunes,
etc.?  Does Pern have anything like a circus?  Maybe a preforming troupe
that travels with the Traders from Hold to Hold?  Perhaps a magician or
trained animals?

ANNE: I think singing, dancing are the main entertainments on Pern, plus card
games and the usual that follow any human civilization.  But as there are
no trained bears/cats/dogs,  except spit dogs, I think things would be
relatively innocent pleasures... TV has certainly reduced the art of
conversation to minimal exchanges.  Sleight of hand, possibly.  They
wouldn't subjugate fire-lizards to the role of tricksters...that's
demeaning.  I suppose there are always folk who need to have the future
told - palmistry - but the traders are not gypsies so much as they are
honest traders...Lilcamp is, after all, a corruption of Lilienkamp, Joel,
the commissary chief.  Racing, too, as Ruatha breeds speedy runners.

Q: Would there be people who do acts at gathers?  Like jugglers,
contortionists, acrobats (ground or mounted on runners), tightrope, comedy
or clowns, or others who put on a thrilling show to amaze the masses? I
wonder what a rider would say to someone who wanted to do an airial
act..Maybe a stunt involving hanging from a trapeze like thing or rope
hanging from the claws or harness of a flying dragon?  (grin)

ANNE: However, travelling entertainers did not go with the colony group...and
all the `acts' you mention would take professional guidance and expertise
to perfect.  Let's say that very energetic dances stand in for the other.
NO aerial acts either: enough are seen on a-dragonback to satisfy that
craving for danger.  Youmight have stand up comedians, sleight of hand,
but no much more.  Singing and playing instruments would give the
performer considerable cache.  I don't see the other forms of circus
entertainment being brought with them.  I certainly don't mention them in
D'Dawn.  And the tinkers/travellers/gypsies were too `civilized' by that
time of history.  Lord, even the tinkers in Ireland (who are NOT gypsies)
are leaving the road and settling down.

Q: I did sorta hope that Brekke could impress again, but
could see the problems a second dragon would have living with the memories
of the first.  I wonder what would happen in the case of a young weyrling
who had lost his/her dragon soon after impressing due to an accident?
Anne: Same thing applies - one impression is works: a second  doesn't. However,
the weyrling could probably 'make do' with fire-lizards as friends. Not
the same, but something to fill the void.
Q: Errr....One thing I've never been able to figure...Just what IS a
meatroll?  I thought it might be sliced meat and cheese, wrapped in a
crust and baked..Sorta like a cornish meat pie?
Anne: Meat rolls are what are known this side of the Atlantic as sausage rolls -
a pasty, not necessarily tough but the sort which holds in juices, filled
with meat - usually the scrap ends...could be hamburger(mince) or pork
stuffing.  They can be cooked ahead, eaten cold and keep well for several
days as travel food.  OR they could be similar to the Indian pemmican
which was a variety of healthy foods/herbs/pulses.
Q: I sorta was wondering about dragon colors, as far as detailed
descrptions of a dragon.  I know they come in differant shades of blue,
brown, green, etc.., but do they ever have markings of any kind?  ie. A
light blue with darker blue neck, legs and tail or maybe a dark green with
a lighter green patches..(sorta like a green on green pinto).  I had
decribed a brown once as having a small cream mark between his eyes,
shaped like a diamond, though it was sort of a birthmark.  I once wondered
wiether creatures born from eggs could have birthmarks, but once saw a red
chicken with an odd white patch of feathers on its neck once and figured
it might be a posibility.
Anne: Dragon colors can actually mottle, but all overish - like a roan or an
appie...but the same color, different shade.  You geta wing of dragons
together and you would see considerable variation in color but nothing
like with an underbelly a different shade...sort of like mixing
watercolors and blurring them. Most fighting dragons would have thread
scores/scars - even lumps of keloidal - like flesh where they didn't quite
get *between* fast enough. NO stripes, no tortoise shell markings.
Q: I was wondering if firelizards go between when their 'people' die?
Anne: Fire-lizards merely return to the wild if their friend
dies. They're not on a self-destruct sequence.  They usually
return to the place of birth - like a salmon.
Q: How intelligent are firelizards? Does the color of the firelizard
  affect this? How intelligent are firelizards?   Are they as smart as a cat?  A
non-pern dolphin?  An IQ rating or range would give me an idea.
Anne: Color affects intelligence - the golds & bronzes being smarter and
the greens really bubbleheaded. Fire-lizards are as intelligent as the most
intelligent cat you've ever encountered.  Dragon's intelligence is on a
differant scale - more like dolphins...certainly NOT horses who are pretty
dumb animals, though you have very smart ones within the parameters.
As thee should know better than I.  The problem, or rather the boon, for
dragons is that they don't remember events - or how would you get them to go
through Fall after Fall.  They DO have very fine instinctive response to
situations, however.
Q: What is the IQ range of dragons for that matter?
Anne: IQ ranges are for psychiatrists. Too many people I know who are very very
successful have far lower IQ scores than PhD's. What they have they USE!
Q: Hmmm..A story that got sent to me made me wonder. Would a dragon
impress to a blind person?  and perhaps be their eyes?  Even if the blind
person is quite able to live and function as well as any sighted person?
  I never meant a blind rider in a threadfighting situation, but in an
interval or such..One who maybe lost his/her sight due to accident.  Not
realy handicaped, but having learned to live indepenantly.  Would a young,
silly green be bright enough not to impress a blind person who fell out of
the stands in front of her?  Even if she couldn't look into her eyes,
perhaps she could see into a brave heart?  No Weyrleader in their right
mind would allow such a person to fight thread, even if it was during a
pass.  I was thinking of a case where a person who is very empathic, but
lost his/her sight due to an accident while young.
Anne: No blind riders...could have fire-lizards act as eyes, but how in Hell
could a fighter KNOW when, how, Thread is falling.  The pair are a team
and not even a dragon can see everywhere at once, even with faceted eyes.
NO deaf riders, and few with any physical impairment because fighting
adragonback is hard work, and keeping them clean is harder. You've
groomed horses - multiply that by three times and you've got the size of a
dragon to keep clean.
Remember, too, that the gene pool of the original colonists had been very
carefully analysed and all genetic faults rejected. By then, of course, a
lot of medication was gene-alteration to improve overall health so you'd
have few genetically transmitted faults.  Of course, in the later years
the medics have lost the art of genetic repair but they don't NEED that
much because the gene stock was healthy and self-repairing.  A point to
remember.  There can be enough bad falls, accidents, etc. to take the
place of birth defects, thank you.

No, no blind riders.  ONly absolutely healthy people can be
presented. There are dogs, on Pern, and there are fire-lizards
and they could be good seeing eye substitutes, but not dragon
Impressing a blind person no matter how empathic.
Q: I was under the impression that 'mercy draughts' were for use with terminaly
ill patients by healers and not a means for dragonless riders to suicide.
Anne: Mercy draughts are generally reserved for the terminally ill.  Every
attempt IS made to help the unfortunate dragonless rider to adjust, as
Lytol, Brekke etc.  Some may suicide but not with healer help...unless
they know a healer well enough to coerce them into giving them the fatal
drink.  Drowning in the WEyr lake is usually the easiest.
Q: At what age are dragons taught to go between? What are the chances of a
rather bright weyrling learning to go between on their own, if they know
that they had to visualize first because someone had told them in casual
Anne: Weyrlings are taught to go between anywhere from six months onward but
generally at the year mark when both rider and dragon are considered
mature enough.  The chances of a rather bright weyrling doing it on his
own are high - but the penalties from Weyrleaders severe and all too many
end up dead from not knowing HOW.  Weyrlingmaster impress on the young
under their care that they are NOT to do this, no matter how tempted.  It
isn't a question of being `dared' by their peer group either.  The
weyrlings spend hours from the beginning of their training memorizing the
fireheights of holds which are the identifying landmarks butr equally so
they are cautioned again and again about making solo jumps without
Q: Are weyrlings allowed to transfer to another Weyr if they are having
trouble fitting in or getting along at the weyr they impressed at? How often do
riders ever transfer to another Weyr?  Other then bronze riders who won sr
mating flights?
Anne: Weyrlings are transferred to another Weyr...and often bronzes and browns
are sent as mature riders to `help' out if the incumbents are injured and
the Weyrleader asks another Weyr to send replacements for a limited time.
Sometimes the time expands to unlimited.  In the case of friendships
growing up between blue/green/brown riders, transfers occur frequently to
keep the friends together...if the transfer is agreeable to both
Weyrleaders in question.  This occurred more in the beginning of Dragon
history - then Weyrs got paranoid, especially before a Fall, keeping all
their good men and trying to shift the less able.  The Oldtimers were
firmly against such inter-weyr cooperation until F'lar bested T'ton and
the dissedent Oldtimers were exiled to the Southern Continent.

I do refer to this practice but probably such sentences, because that's
all they'd be, were lost in the complexities of various plot lines.

Forwarded from Jazmyn to Yarra, (Presumably from PernWorld) who added comments
and sent it on.

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