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“Pern Fandom" refers to the worldwide fans of Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern® series that have formed their own fan clubs or associations named for various organizations from the Pern series. Often they contain "Weyr" in their name in some form or fashion and their fictional territory covers that Weyr's flight territory, one such club however, has opted to be known as 4th Pass Pern, allowing them to play in all of the Weyrs of that timeline. Clubs or associations can also be based at holds or crafthalls. Each Weyr, Hold, or Hall consists of members who receive association fanzines and/or various other publications, usually in exchange for association dues.

Then there are the fanzines. This is usually the main activity of any Pern fan association. Since members are usually spread across the country, it's hard to keep in contact. This is where the fanzine comes in. 4th Pass Pern’s fanzine is comprised of several things. In them, you will find association news, of course, in the form of Weyr Council columns and articles from other members. You will also find membership rosters, upcoming events, book reviews, and anything the members care to contribute. But what you will mostly find is stories.

These stories are written by you, the association membership, and involving your personas, and the characters of other members. If you're worried that you can't write, never fear, 4th Pass Pern encourages members to contribute stories, but they are not mandatory, nor are we highly critical of writing skill and knowledge. The more you participate, the more fun you'll have, but they can't force you to have fun. You don't need to worry too much about the writing. Most members are amateur, beginning writers. The writing is for fun, not for literary awards. Members with ranking personas are expected to contribute in some way, however, with artwork, stories, poems, letters to the editor, book reviews, con reports, columns, cartoons... We'll print almost anything. And the association leaders are always looking for help with the mundane aspects of the association, such as editing, promoting, or even just help with gathers.

While it's not necessary to create a Pernese Persona to join a Pern club, most fans who join Pern clubs decide to "play Pern," which includes participating in the role-playing and writing with personas that they create. It's almost like being on Pern.

TERRITORIES OR WEYRS Most Pern clubs are called Weyrs, and the fiction of the club takes place inside the flight territory of that Weyr. For instance, the club High Reaches would cover High Reaches Weyr, as well as High Reaches Hold, Tillek Hold, and any crafthalls that are attached to those holds or in that territory. You can look in the Atlas of Pern by Karen Wynn Fonstead for a map of 9th Pass Pern that shows flight territories. For fan-created Weyrs, territory boundaries are a bit more difficult. Check with the club leaders to be exactly sure of where they are.

FAN-CREATED WEYRS Everyone knows about the Weyrs created in the Dragonriders books, like Benden, Fort, High Reaches, Telgar, etc. Many of these Weyrs (with the exception of Benden) are in use as fannish Weyrs. Fans have also created Weyrs of their own in which to base their fiction. In the Mainstream 10th Pass (the largest of the cooperative timelines [see below]), you'll find such fan-created Weyrs as Haven, Janus, StarRise, Crescent, Talkon, etc. These Weyrs were created to provide room for fans' creative energies, and often, to take advantage of areas not inhabited in the fiction from Anne McCaffrey. Most of these fan-created Weyrs are located on the Southern Continent or in island chains to the East or West of the Pernese mainland.

First Impressions FanzineFANZINES Most clubs put out some kind of fanzine or newsletter containing submissions from their members. These submissions can take the form of articles about Pern (or their club's slice of Pern), tunings (poetry/song lyrics), persona profiles, wing or hold reports, etc. Mostly though, the 'zines contain fan-written fiction about the members' personas and their interaction with the rest of the club's personas. This fanzine is usually the major activity of the club.

TIMELINES The word "timeline" can mean different things, depending on how it's used. First, there's the club's timeline. This refers to the timeframe the club's fictional activities are set in. Note that most of the Dragonriders of Pern novels took place during the 9th Pass. There are many clubs set during the 10th Pass, 250 years after the events in the book. Some clubs also take place in alternate 9th Passes (though much later than the events in the books). Still others take place in the 11th, 12th, or even 15th Passes. You may have noticed that none of the clubs take place during the Pass depicted in the books. This is because that Pass, as well as the characters within it, belongs exclusively to Anne McCaffrey. Fannish Weyrs are prohibited from taking place during this time. Sometimes, many clubs will form a cooperative timeline, where their club takes place on the same Pern as other clubs. In a cooperative timeline, the events at one Weyr (or in that Weyr's territory) may have an effect on another Weyr in that timeline. Besides the timeline, you'll also want to find out what turn (year) it is, currently, for the club's fictional events. Clubs that share a common timeline will often be set during the same turn for their fictional events. Since most clubs take place in "real time," these turns coincide with Terran years--as one Turn passes fictionally, a year passes here on Earth.

Besides the club timeline, there is also a persona's timeline. The character you create will have events that happened to him or her in the character's past (birthdates, moving, Impressions, etc.). A listing of these events, with the dates, is the persona's timeline, which is often included on the persona sheet.

CALENDARS Since most Pern clubs take place in "real time," and we know Pern has a year of 13 months, often clubs will provide a conversion calendar, so you can find out what "today" is on Pern. Pernese dates are listed as TT.MM.DD (that's: Turn.Month.Day). For instance, January 10th of this year (2013) would be 02.01.10 for our 4th Pass Pern timeline. For those creating/editing timelines prior to the beginning of the 4th Pass of the Red Star, during the 3rd Interval, use the following formula: TT..MM.DD, please notice the “..” that lets us know it was during the Interval. Alternatively you may also use the “After Landing” date, which we will have listed for you in our fiction writer’s guide, “The Sky Is The Limit”.

Each Pern fan club is autonomous of every other Pern fan club. That means that each club can run things their own way and other clubs cannot interfere to tell them what to do. Just because one club has women riding brown and blue dragons, this does not mean every other club has to. Nor can one club tell another club what to do, how to run, or who to accept for members. Each club is completely independent and self-contained.

4PP LogoIn 4th Pass Pern however, they have a defined and structured form of governance, they have three bodies that work in a cohesive manner to operate their association. Article 3 of the current 4th Pass Pern Bylaws defines the governing body of 4th Pass Pern as the Council of Charter Stakeholders, whose membership is a self-electing/appointed body, created by the original founders of the association. Article 5 defines the Weyr Council as the corporate Administrative Officers of 4th Pass Pern.

In order to assure an effective governance of 4th Pass Pern, all matters of policy are decided and approved by the Council of Charter Stakeholders. Procedure to implement that policy is determined by the Weyr Council. Further, the Weyr Conclave supports the Weyr Council be assisting in the operation of the fiction of 4th Pass Pern.

Since 1982, the term "Dragonriders of Pern" has been a registered trademark of Anne McCaffrey. Since 1967, the concepts created for the Dragonriders series has been copyrighted by Anne McCaffrey. This means that Pern belongs to Anne, lock, stock and firelizard. Any games called "The Dragonriders of Pern" will be prosecuted as a trademark violation, any publications may be termed a copyright violation. The fannish Weyrs exist by clearly marking themselves as fan-created and returning all copyrights for their publications to Anne.

This also means that we are playing in Anne's world. Anne is not required to allow us to do this. She allows it under the conditions that we play in an alternate Pern with our own characters rather than hers. She has set out certain guidelines and rules for us and has asked that we not send her our Pern fan fiction. We comply because to not comply would mean losing the playground altogether. Please keep that in mind while "playing Pern."

While Pern fandom is, to a certain extent, "role playing," it is not your standard RPG. There is no game master, no dice and no turns. RPGs based on the Dragonriders of Pern are frowned on, or, in extreme cases, prosecuted according to law (see above). There are a few MUSHs or MUDs on the Internet which, after careful investigation, are allowed to exist and they come as close as possible to a Pern RPG. A real Pern RPG would have a license granted from Anne McCaffrey and her publishers. If you come across an RPG calling itself "Dragonriders of Pern," you're seeing a genuine, bona fide Trademark Violation. I guarantee Anne will sue.

There have been occasions where feuding Pern fans have gone directly to Anne to solve their fannish problems. Like any fond parent (who wants quiet, not fair), she solves the problem by taking the toys away. Many valued aspects of the fandom have been lost this way. This is why those oldtimers in the fandom recommend that we solve fannish disputes within fandom rather than going to Anne for a solution. If you have a problem with another fan, please try to settle it in a rational, adult manner. If this isn't possible and outside intervention is necessary, please contact another fan you respect, rather than pestering Anne with our problems. If we work together, we can solve anything.

StarRise WeyrI have actively participated in three different Pern fan associations. Crystal Weyr, now long since closed but still fun nonetheless. The second Pern Club I joined was StarRise Weyr, which is still operational after nearly 25 years of service to Pern fans! You can find them here They publish a fanzine and have an active forum, but the main problem with any Pern fan club has been the active involvement from the fans themselves and the club leadership. Fanzines sometimes take a long, long time to get published which leads to discouraged members.

Another Pern fan association that I have been involved with is now called 4th Pass Pern, but at the time it was founded it was known as Igen Weyr 14, set in the 14th Pass of the Red Star and only based out of Igen Weyr. 4PP is set in the 4th Pass of the Red Star and encompasses three active Weyrs, Fort, High Reaches, and Telgar and includes all of their Major and Minor Holds and Crafthalls for members to role-play as well! They’ve currently gone completely offline so there is no website available.

S Adam Day

This page was last updated: April 26, 2015 by Red Earth, PLP