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Pern FAQ

Ever come across something in one of the dragon books that made you go "what the hell?"? Well, here are some answers to common questions. If you have a question I haven't answered, email me and I'll do my best to answer it.

1. I'm confused about Moreta. (okay, that isn't a question, but anyway.)
In some of the earlier books, Moreta is referred to as a Ruathan who became Benden Weyrwoman, and could hear all dragons. In Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern, we learn that she was from Keroon, Weyrwoman at Fort and could only hear her own dragon and Leri's Holth. BUT. In Nerilka's Story, we find out Nerilka and Alessan had a daughter named Moreta. This Moreta was a Ruathan, and obviously dragonriding is in her blood since her father was Searched and her aunt is a rider. It's quite possible that the Ruathan Moreta could hear all dragons and became Benden Weyrwoman. And over the years, the two Weyrwomen merged into one legendary figure.

2. Why can only bronzes fly queens?
Well, in theory, any male dragon could fly a queen. In The Second Weyr, it is mentioned that Sean kept records of which bronze or brown flew which queen, which means that browns did sometimes do the honours in the old days. It would have happened once in the Ninth Pass, if the queen hadn't died. But bronze dragons produce bigger, stronger clutches. There's nothing in the rules which says browns (or blues) can't try, but the bronzes are bigger and stronger with more staying power, which is important in a mating flight, and they have a better chance of catching the queen. So browns and blues usually content themselves with randy greens.

3. What is the sexual orientation of green and blue riders?
This is kind of complicated. I'll start from the top: Gold riders are ALWAYS heterosexual females. Bronze riders are always heterosexual men. Brown riders can be gay, but this is very, very rare. Blue riders are often homosexual or bisexual men, and green riders are often effeminate gay men. If the rider of a green or blue is straight, then the rider has a suitable partner around at the mating flight. The rider needs to release the sexual tension of their dragon; usually they do it with the rider of the other dragon but not necessarily. In the old days greens were ridden by hetero females. There are a couple of reasons why this changed.One is that whenever green riders got pregnant, they couldn't fly Thread because pregnant women can't go between. And they got pregnant pretty often because green dragons are perpetually horny, so it made sense to have gay riders who wouldn't get pregnant. And if green riders were gay, then the blues who flew them had to be, too. Another reason is that holders became very reluctant during Intervals to give their daughters up to the Weyr. No, it wasn't because of fatherly love; they wanted the land their daughters and grandchildren were entitled to under the Charter in order to amass as much as possibble. So there were less girls available to Impress greens. In modern times there are a few female green riders (Mirrim). There are no gay women riders. I hope tat all makes sense.

4. Why aren't there more different coloured dragons?
Dragons only come in five colours because fire lizards, who they were created from, do. Anne McCaffrey explains on her webpage that dragons have copper-based blood, which means they can only come in gold, bronze, brown, blue and green. Ruth was the only white dragon because he is a genetic freak (for want of a better word).

5. What's the deal with queens and firestone?
In the sixth and ninth pass books, it is indicated that queens don't chew firestone because it would render them sterile. This is the reason greens don't lay eggs. However, in Dragonsdawn when the original riders teach their dragons to chew firestone, the queens keep regurgitating theirs. Sorka wonders if Kitti Ping, being old fashioned, developed queen dragons to reproduce only and not to fly Thread. So the answer to this question is, I don't really know. It's possible that Kitti engineered dragons so that queens could lay eggs and not chew firestone and greens could chew firestone and not lay eggs. This would make sense since green fire lizards are very irresponsible mothers and also very sexually active, so if they did lay eggs there would be a huge surplus of green, blue and brown dragons. It's also possible that greens could produce eggs if they didn't chew firestone and queens could chew firestone but it would make them sterile. I doubt we'll find out, because who would risk sterilising their queen, and what would be the point of wasting a perfectly good green just to see if she could lay eggs or not?

6. Why do dragonriders have shortened names?
Torene explains this to Sorka in The Second Weyr. During a fall, when dragons spoke to riders other than their own, they were 'talking' so fast that the names got compressed. So, David became D'vid, Nicholas became N'klas, etc. Eventually the names came into everyday use for riders and it became a mark of honour to choose a new name after Impression. This kind of makes sense since you begin a whole new life when you Impress, why not have a whole new name? The practice continued and in the Ninth pass, Fallarnon became F'lar and Famanoran became F'nor. Female riders don't get new names, I don't know why. Jaxom didn't either because he was Lord Holder and dragonrider.

7. Why didn't Robinton become a dragonrider?
He probably would've if circumstance hadn't interfered. He could hear dragons as a child and again after his heart attack. But when Robinton was at an appropriate age for Impression, it was an Interval and not as many eggs were being produced. Rather than go on Search, the riders found plenty of candidates in the Weyrs and didn't need to look in Hold and Hall. Consequently Robinton was overlooked.

8. What happens if a dragon can't find a suitable rider at Hatching?
This is mentioned in Red Star Rising. Though there is usually a compatible personality on the Hatching Ground, or, failing that, in the audience (think Mirrim and T'lion), it can happen that a dragonet doesn't find a satisfactory rider-to-be, so it dies. This is very sad and the Weyrs tend to make sure there is plenty of selection for the dragonets to avoid tragedy.