Impression is at the heart of Pern’s appeal. Who among us has never wondered what it would be like to Impress a dragon, what colour would be right for us, what his or her name would be? Such is the allure of Hatching day that a hundred online Weyrs have sold themselves with a newly-laid clutch – and many more than a hundred people have been beguiled into club fandom by the thought of a hatchling dragonet and the experience of Impression and weyrlinghood.
But the question of what makes any given dragonet choose his rider is one of the most contentious and controversial issues of Pern fandom. Canon is less than explicit on what goes into draconic choice; fact and myth are confused in the mysticism that surround dragons by the later Passes; and the waters are muddied still further by the various statements and interviews Anne has given over the years in response to questions. The two most widely known of these – the “Renewable Airforce” document and, most infamously (or nefariously) of all, the “Tent Peg” interview – raise as many conflicts, and hackles, as they attempt to settle.
For years, fandom Weyrs have struggled to make sense of all the conflicting evidence, and in the main plumped for whatever system they felt fitted their own vision of Pern. The aforementioned “Renewable Airforce” rattled some cages when the document was taken as gospel and many clubs made blanket changes to their rules in reaction. Only in more recent years has fandom relaxed somewhat, and especially so since the end of 2004 when many of the draconian restrictions on fan fiction and fan art were finally eased.
This, though, is not intended as a history of Pern fandom; rather, it is an attempt to make some sense of the vast body of conflicting evidence that exists to explain the vagaries of dragon choice. The novels themselves generally take precedence over secondary source materials such as interviews and the Dragonlover’s Guide to Pern. Editions of quoted texts are listed in the bibliography.
Continue to What is Impression?