Dragonriders of Pern movie

If I had to name one fantasy or sci-fi book series that I can’t believe hasn’t been turned into a film or TV series yet, it would be Anne McCaffrey‘s Dragonriders of Pern. Actually, I did say this, and not even that long ago. The Pern books are a strange blend of fantasy and sci-fi, filled with great, well-defined characters, politics and scheming, and giant telepathic dragons. It’s stuff that might have been a hard sell ten years ago. In the wake of Game of Thrones and so many other sci-fi and fantasy successes on TV and in film, the time is right. And Warner Bros. has just optioned all of it. 

Deadline reports the Pern deal, saying that new WB exec Drew Crevello, who worked on the X-Men series at Fox, is behind the deal. This option covers 22 novels.

There’s a lot about Pern that is pretty neat, but I won’t spoil the scope of all of it here. In short, the right creative team could build a Game of Thrones-style series out of these books. And because the novels are older, there is more room to take liberties in the adaptation, and push things only implied by the material into explicit reality.

The first books tell of a world that has fallen into an unusual conflict, in which an essentially feudal society supports a dwindling but still powerful class of warriors. The warriors’ power comes from the fact that they ride giant fire-breathing dragons, with which each rider has direct telepathic communication. Stories say the dragons once protected the planet from a periodic rain of all-consuming spores, but those rains haven’t taken place for decades. The dragons say most people, are no longer needed, their appetites unwelcome.

And then the spores return. Their renewed attacks coincide with the rise of a fiery young woman, Lessa, who becomes rider of the planet’s last young queen dragon. She rallies a tiny force of beasts to protect her charges from the spores, but faces exhaustion and impossible odds. And then she learns of another dragon ability, and a plan forms.

I rather wish that we’d already seen that ambitious one-time plan for a TV + film adaptation of The Dark Tower borne out already, because Pern is a series that could benefit from a combined effort on film and television. But even a big film series would be great — there are absolutely thrilling moments in McCaffrey’s books, and I’d absolutely love to see them on screen.

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