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The bottom line

“Men and women with high empathy ratings and some innate telepathic ability were trained to use and preserve the unusual animals” (Moreta: Dragonlady of Pern, p 13)

The prologue of Moreta states plainly a trend that continues throughout the books. What was science to the original colonists and superstition to the people of later Passes amounts to the same thing: not everyone is capable of Impressing a dragon.

In Dragonsdawn we are told that Kitti Ping left instructions as to who should be presented to the first dragons. “Sixty young people between the ages of eighteen and thirty, who had already shown a sympathy for the dragonets, had the privilege of standing around the circle of eggs” (Dragonsdawn, p 349). The base telepathic potential implied by close bonding with the native fire-lizards is a prerequisite for the vastly deeper and more fundamental connection of Impression to a dragon. Without this basic ability a candidate would be incapable of either sending or receiving the telepathic communications used by dragons. A hatchling dragon, seeking a connection, would pass such a candidate over entirely, unable either to hear that person’s mind or to make himself heard.

Imagine Impression as a handshake. Both parties must have a basic component – a hand – for the handshake to be possible. The ‘hand’ is that innate capacity for telepathy. Impression of a dragon, therefore, is only possible where a candidate with the requisite telepathy is available. This is the dragonet’s absolute minimum requirement: without it, the handshake can not occur; a candidate cannot Impress.

This non-negotiable requirement could arguably be considered part of Kitti’s failsafe to guard against rogue dragons. It was critical in her design brief that the dragon-rider bond be deep. Fire-lizard bonds were demonstrably erratic even in the earliest days of Landing, with Impressed lizards frequently wandering from their owners to do their own thing and later even abandoning the settlers entirely. A candidate incapable of the strong telepathy required to communicate in complex terms with a dragon could result in a similarly loose Impression bond, with the dragon free to do as it pleased: the rogue super-predator Kitti feared.

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