Anne McCaffrey’s Sprawling ‘Dragonriders of Pern’ Series Is Coming to The Big Screen

By July 30, 2014
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It’s probably a bit too simplistic to say something like, “oh, dragons are so hot right now,” because author Anne McCaffrey’s beloved “Dragonriders of Pern” series was a desirous property before George R.R. Martin ever conceived of his queen of the dragons or J.K. Rowling imagined that the elder Weasley boys would have a skill for charming them. McCaffrey is not the first author to pen fantasy novels about dragons, but she is one of the best.

She’s also one of the most prolific, and while the idea of a 22-book series might sound daunting to other film studios when it comes to adaptation, Warner Bros. does not appear to be cowed by it. Deadline reports that the studio has now optioned the entirety of McCaffrey’s series — yup, 22 books in all — and will now turn the best-selling sci-fi series into a feature film (with an obvious eye to building out a franchise).

McCaffrey’s first “Pern” book — “Dragonflight” — was published in 1968, though she previously dabbled in the world of Pern via novellas and short stories before really diving into the series. The series is McCaffrey’s most popular and well-known, and is part of her large “Federated Sentient Planets” universe, which also includes the “Crystal universe” series and the “Dinosaur Planet series.”

dragonriders-of-pern

Wait, have you never read McCaffrey? Then this might sound a little weird. Unlike Martin’s series, McCaffrey’s works are rooted in the real world and not a parallel one. Well, kind of. McCaffrey’s FSP universe imagines a world where humans (regular old humans!) have colonized other planets and found eye-popping things living on these various planets (like dragons and dinosaurs). In the “Dragonriders” series, Pern the planet has been previously colonized by humans who, over the course of long stretches of time (the series covers entire millennia), have lost their advanced human technology. The result is a world that looks an awful lot medieval Earth (hey, Game of Thrones!), but one that still has a hold on a single piece of advancement. What’s that? Oh, just genetically engineered dragons. Nothing crazy! The dragons are commanded by and bonded with, what else, dragonriders (um, hi, How to Train Your Dragon?).

It may sound like all fun and games, but life on Pern is tough, and the dragons and their riders are constantly dispatched to protect the planet from “Thread,” a kind of spore that will rain down on them from “the red star” and try to kill all life. And you thought you could just have a dragon for fun.

The first book in the series picks up during a time of relative peace and calm on Pern, as Thread hasn’t appeared for many years. The result is a complacent society, and yes, an inevitable Thread threat. It gets complicated then, with characters going back in time to try to get Pern back in shape for another attack, but rest assured, McCaffrey’s books are very good and very engaging.

There’s no word yet on how Warner Bros. intends to adapt so many books for one franchise — it also doesn’t help that McCaffrey’s books didn’t hit shelves in neat chronological order, though the ones that take place during the “Ninth Pass” (about 2,500 years after Pern is settled) comprise the meatiest section and could potentially be their own franchise — but it’s no surprise that the studio could use the books to launch a giant-scale phenomena to replace both Harry Potter and The Hobbit. 

Have you read the “Dragonriders” books? How would you like to see them translasted to the big screen?

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Kate Erbland
Kate Erbland is a staff writer for movie news and reviews at GeekNation. Her work can also be found at Film School Rejects, ScreenCrush, Vanity Fair, The Dissolve, Cosmopolitan, Bustle, amNewYork, New York Daily News, Dame Magazine, Mental Floss, Film.com, MSN Movies, and Boxoffice Magazine. She lives in New York City with two cats, two turtles, one boyfriend, and a frightening number of sensible canvas totes.
  • Lil Dragon

    Its hard for me to say I would like to see them on the big screen because the world is so complex I would always feel like it wasn’t enough. If they could do a series I think that would be better, but then it begs the question of which books to follow if any. I would love to see Ruth take flight but Dragonsong was always my favorite book.