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Old Sep 5 2012, 10:45 PM   #1
Eriflor
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Default Pern -- the grand plan?

Not much happening on this site lately, so I'm throwing out an idea for discussion.

What was the overall intention in starting the PERN colony? The PERN survey spent probably years searching for planets suitable for colonisation by humans, with many lives lost in the process. With a bare minimum of crew left, they found this attractive planet with not a lot of native life-forms, then had to let it sit for a hundred years or so because of the Nathi wars.

In the end it was colonized by private enterprise, not the Earth government, with a balanced group of shareholders, scientists, technical experts, and family members, totalling around 6000 people.

It was situated well away from the other Earth colonies and trade routes, so it couldn't expect help or regular contact, and wasn't revisited for several decades. Were these back-to-the-land types considered undesirable?

It included a selection of nomadic tribes who didn't much want to go (ethnic cleansing?)

Besides the regular farm livestock, ova of large carnivores were included: why? in case they became extinct on Earth? Or did somebody like big-game hunting?

What other unlikely animals might they have brought in case they proved useful (and had to leave them behind when the volcano went off)?

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Old Sep 6 2012, 01:46 AM   #2
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Default Re: Pern -- the grand plan?

The Pern Colony was established by survivors of The Nathi War, their dependents and a small group of Travellers, Tuareg and other such groups that, for varying reasons, no longer fit into the technocratic society that existed on Earth at that time - as well as a small group of Dolphins who travelled with them in order to escape, as they put it, The Sick Ocean World.

They were looking for a world where they could step back a few levels from the urbanised, technocratic world(s) that now existed in the FSP, as well as a world where there were enough natural resourses in order to maintain a certain level of technology, but was sufficiently low in them so that they wouldn't attract the attention of major industry as well as far enough off the beaten path as to be able to live in the rural agrarian style they were originally looking to establish without winding up a 'Tourist Trap' - so to speak.

They took with them the livestock and animals that would suit the type of agrarian society they were hoping to create on Pern. though not all of them survived and/or adapted to the world Pern became - especially after Thread became a factor.
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Old Sep 6 2012, 08:09 PM   #3
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Default Re: Pern -- the grand plan?

That really doesn't explain, for example, bringing big cats. In fact if you're setting up an agrarian colony, only a total moron would bring a means of creating large predators whose main goal in life is to eat your livestock.

Smart animals to bring: Horses and donkeys (good for working plus the ability to create mules, which are better than either for packing and hauling), hardier breeds of mixed-purpose cattle (ie good for both meat and dairy), goats (adapt almost anywhere, good for dairy and meat), sheep (milk, fiber, and meat), pigs (thrive ANYWHERE, including small acreage, and most varieties produce an excellent amount of meat off the carcass), fast-maturing mixed-purpose poultry (meat and eggs), working dog breeds (herding, guarding of both people/property and herd animals, pest-control, and can always be selectively bred to produce other types.) Camels might be good in certain regions. Bivalve shellfish, especially ones like mussels that can be farmed. Salmon, tuna, other large and/or prolific food fish plus species for them to eat.

STUPID animals to bring: Rodents except possibly guinea pigs (good cheap protein, small and easy to raise), reptiles (not efficient for meat, better sources of leather available), even domestic cats are a bit dubious (very long history of turning into overeffective predators and wiping out native wildlife), large predators of any kind, American bison (extremely dangerous to handle and requiring a big range), megafauna like elephants, primates (not useful for much except lab animals and disease vectors), non-domesticated ungulates. Rabbits, possums, raccoons...
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Old Sep 6 2012, 10:15 PM   #4
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Default Re: Pern -- the grand plan?

If dolphins are sentient, elephants should be too. Maybe they didn't make it to the 24th Century, though.

There's a real life group on Earth, the "rewilderers" who believe we should import tigers and cheetahs and elephants to the North American plains to preserve them for future generations and restore the NA ecosystem to a pre-human status. I could see that being a justification for bringing big cats to Pern.

I actually don't think there was a grand plan. From the scant description we get in DD, it sounds like the Pern colony was literally a line-item pork barrel project that got through the FSP budget process because Benden and Boll were great war heroes and knew a Senator (Garben) who had some swing. That someone in the FSP decided to engage in a little forced relocation/ethnic cleansing in a project that probably no one on FSP's Earth knew was happening seems like evidence to that fact.

I do believe that one of Todd's books suggests that the Ping family was sent because the Eridani had unfinished business with the unknown aliens who created Thread. That's always seemed one of the more plausible solutions to the many questions about how a lifeform like Thread even evolved. However, that same book makes it clear that Benden, Boll and etc had no idea what they were walking into when they took up Pern.
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Old Sep 6 2012, 10:39 PM   #5
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Default Re: Pern -- the grand plan?

Also, let me say this about the plan for Pern: I don't think the colonists fully planned it out. They had no real plan for a transition to democratic government. (Benden says at one point he assumed it would happen, but who leaves on a one way trip to nowhere without knowing they're going to have a say in how that planet is governed?)

It's pretty clear that it was intended to be a pleasure planet for the relatively wealthy, who having grown up in a horrible intergalactic war, were sugardazed on Jeffersonian 'citizen farmer' ideals. Keroon brought a boat and apparently had significant experience, but I'm betting none of the rest of them had ever been on a farm, much less milked a cow. Even if Pern hadn't been besieged by Thread, they would have had serious problems in a generation or two when their descendants realized their grandparents sent them on a one-way-trip without penicillin and no way to make more.

I suspect that within a couple of generations, Pern would have ended up a failed colony sending away for renewed contact with the FSP. The fundamentals of why humanity civilized itself with mass agriculture and the city is too ingrained in the species to believe they'd last without them.
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Old Sep 7 2012, 07:04 PM   #6
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Default Re: Pern -- the grand plan?

There's a difference between "sentient" and "sapient". However, megafauna like elephants don't serve a purpose on an agrarian colony unless you're talking jungle situations with Asian elephants used in timber harvesting.

And considering that African large cats aren't the right KIND of large cats for North America (never mind elephants, which are not just hairless mammoths) and trying to introduce them into the ecosystem here would be a disaster, importing them to a foreign PLANET is just insanity.

I don't think it's ever stated or implied that the Pernese INTENDED to do without any sort of technology up to and including advanced medicine. They didn't build Landing as if they planned to eliminate all post-industrial devices and knowledge. Not to be dependent on mechanized everything, yes. But the original intent seems to have been more along the lines of the Hutterites--communal focus without automatically eliminating all advanced technology. Not Old Order Amish. (And even THEY don't ignore modern medicine.)
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Old Sep 8 2012, 02:04 PM   #7
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Default Re: Pern -- the grand plan?

This reminds me of the bookConquistador by S. M. Stirling, which I recently read. In it, a couple of young men who just got back from WWII find a portal into an alternate history, in which Europeans never discovered America. Being the 1940s, they're not all that concerned with preserving the ecosystem, and turn it into a big-game preserve. In this version, lions have a niche in the prairie...

Also, not everyone knew farming, but that doesn't mean no one did.
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Old Sep 8 2012, 03:30 PM   #8
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Default Re: Pern -- the grand plan?

Yes, a lot of the colonists came from colony worlds that had been devastated by the Nathi Wars, and would be more likely to have had farming experience there. (Except . . . how long had the wars lasted? Was farming more of a fond childhood memory they wanted to return to?)

Those colonies had been forced to go underground for years and live on hydroponically-grown food because of Nathi bombing and irradiation of the croplands. It might have taken years or decades of re-terraforming to get enough farms operating again to feed the population, with more farmers than available land at first. Some of them just couldn't wait that long.

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Old Sep 9 2012, 07:28 PM   #9
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Default Re: Pern -- the grand plan?

Jim Tillek was a misfit, for his love of the sea and the dolphins.
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Old Sep 10 2012, 04:33 AM   #10
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Default Re: Pern -- the grand plan?

There's no such thing as a misfit. Society just hasn't found their right niche.
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Old Sep 10 2012, 09:03 PM   #11
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Default Re: Pern -- the grand plan?

Quote:
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There's no such thing as a misfit. Society just hasn't found their right niche.
That was what he call himself, but he didn't find his niche till Pern.
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Old Sep 11 2012, 03:06 PM   #12
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Default Re: Pern -- the grand plan?

You might also say that the society they were leaving did not have a niche for them.
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Old Sep 12 2012, 01:35 PM   #13
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Default Re: Pern -- the grand plan?

It's rather surprising they didn't do more with the Northern Continent until they were forced to move to Fort. Some areas were just as good for agriculture as those in the south, yet all they seemed to do in the North for the first 10 years was mining and exploring. What did they do for food during that time?

Could it be that they planned to do most of their agriculture in the south and most of the mining/manufacturing in the north? (They did have that big mineral oil find at Drake's Lake, and some mine shafts further west.) Tarvi Telgar seemed to have plenty of ideas for living space in the Fort caverns when it was needed, so he could have already been planning for a factory (using geothermal energy) and workers' accommodation. There didn't seem to be anything of the sort happening in the south.
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Old Sep 17 2012, 05:32 PM   #14
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Default Re: Pern -- the grand plan?

In the early days they had to keep fairly close to home. They knew the sleds would not last for ever and the potential of the dragons was not yet quite recognised. And the population was not that large at the time.

It would be interesting to speculate how the future would have turned out if it were not for the invasion of thread.
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Old Sep 17 2012, 10:00 PM   #15
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Default Re: Pern -- the grand plan?

By Year 10, the settlers were already scattered across the southern continent in small, largely self-supporting stakeholds, from Landing to Ierne Island.

There were people exploring and mining in the northern continent. Long before 10 years had passed, there should have been people raising food for them nearby --- farms, croplands, fishing collectives --- and incidentally establishing their own stakeholds.

Hydroponically-raised food was a necessity on-board ship, but an emergency measure after landing. They wouldn't waste fuel bringing in all their food and supplies from the farms in the south.
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Old Sep 17 2012, 10:10 PM   #16
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Default Re: Pern -- the grand plan?

Yup, You're quite right. And those people would have needed a good holding for their own living, packing and transportation of goods south. I expect it's one of things that just weren't mentioned.
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Old Sep 17 2012, 11:18 PM   #17
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Default Re: Pern -- the grand plan?

Sounded like Big Island didn't have a lot of contact, I also recall they ate a lot of fish, and wherries at least that was shown in Dragonsdawn

Perhaps they traded what they need for supplies?
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Old Sep 18 2012, 01:10 PM   #18
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Quote:
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Yup, You're quite right. And those people would have needed a good holding for their own living, packing and transportation of goods south. I expect it's one of things that just weren't mentioned.
Yes, Anne was getting on with the main line of the plot and leaving her readers to mentally fill in the background. It's interesting to speculate, though.

Looking at the map of settlements in DragonsDawn, I see under Big Island (the future Ista):
33 Bitkim Camp.
Northern Continent has been lightly explored and ore sites marked for future expansion.


Maybe they did most of that during the first year and went back south to claim their stakeholds where all the support systems were. Except that Avril and Steve at least seem to have stayed around Bitkim Camp till Threadfall started. They might have had a small hydroponic system and someone to run it (their apprentice?), and a joat to fish and gather fruit for them. Can't see Avril tilling the soil.

I've got to read DragonsDawn again! For the umpteenth time.
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Old Sep 18 2012, 01:22 PM   #19
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Sounded like Big Island didn't have a lot of contact, I also recall they ate a lot of fish, and wherries at least that was shown in Dragonsdawn

Perhaps they traded what they need for supplies?
The settlements map shows several little groups of 3 or 4 stakeholds (e.g. Ierne Island, Drake's Lake), and lots of isolated ones, mostly by the sea, so they had fish to add to their crops, plus sea transport. Those with near neighbours could agree to grow complementary crops or meat animals that they could trade within the group. Others might be growing long-term crops like fruit-trees, and enough other crops to feed themselves.

Possibly someone did an official sled-run several times a year to collect surplus food and redistribute it as needed.
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Old Sep 19 2012, 10:16 AM   #20
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Default Re: Pern -- the grand plan?

Eriflor, you know there are different maps of southern, don't you? I mean, maps that show the stakes in different places.

Not Bitkim of course, but still.
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Old Sep 19 2012, 12:14 PM   #21
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I've only seen the one map in DragonsDawn that shows the location of the original settlements in the South (and BitKim). The one in CoP is too artistic to be useful.
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Old Sep 20 2012, 05:20 PM   #22
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I would think that at least some of the people would have gotten training in farming. I think that the plan had always been for a low tec. world. With thread they had to up the low tec time table.
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Old Nov 24 2012, 11:39 AM   #23
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Default Re: Pern -- the grand plan?

My thought was from the p.e.r.n. survey, the colonist knew that this would have to be a low tech world, with small resources. I too wonder about bring some of the larger cats, but they musy have had their reasons.
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Old Nov 24 2012, 01:19 PM   #24
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Default Re: Pern -- the grand plan?

Oh yes, they knew it would be a low tech world, even when they didnt know about thread

And I should imagine it was a "Noah's Arc" kind of thing - save all the animals they could and just see what happened. Not all living things survived, did they?
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Old Nov 26 2012, 07:05 PM   #25
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Default Re: Pern -- the grand plan?

Actually, real quick on the larger cats, isn't it explained that they were the work of that disgruntled guy who went off on his own?
Like, he was engineering them as guard type creatures or summat, then they disappear after killing him. I can't even remember his name, but I THINK it's in First Fall.

So, maybe through crossing various genetics, he was able to create the large felines.
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Old Nov 26 2012, 08:06 PM   #26
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They apparently had embryos or something, just not actual frozen lions and cheetahs.
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Old Nov 27 2012, 04:41 AM   #27
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Default Re: Pern -- the grand plan?

Perhaps there was just a generic embryo bank that included a number of species such as cats and dogs alongside cows and the like?

I seem to recall the DLG suggesting that the embryos were plain old cat embryos that got tampered with...would they need to be actual lion or cheetah embryos? Couldn't Ted Tubberman have taken a regular cat embryo and messed with the DNA to make it more primal - such as how the goats and cows were modified to become more hardy - and by a coincidence ended up with a creature looking like a cheetah?
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Old Nov 27 2012, 10:44 AM   #28
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Default Re: Pern -- the grand plan?

It would make sense to keep a selection of efficient predator embryos in reserve in case they became needed to help manage prey populations in the future. They couldn't be sure how the native animals would react to imports, and vice versa, so having a backup plan is logical.
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Old Jan 10 2018, 11:01 PM   #29
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Quote:
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That really doesn't explain, for example, bringing big cats. In fact if you're setting up an agrarian colony, only a total moron would bring a means of creating large predators whose main goal in life is to eat your livestock.
They didn't bring large cats. Ted Tubberman re-engineered domestic cat genetics to make a larger cat. The original suggestion was he bread them to protect his livestock from pern based predators such as the larger snakes. It was later suggested in one of Todd's books that he might have had another reason (but it wasn't really clarified)

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Smart animals to bring: Horses and donkeys [..] hardier breeds of mixed-purpose cattle (ie good for both meat and dairy), goats (adapt almost anywhere, good for dairy and meat), sheep (milk, fiber, and meat), pigs
Some of the supplemental books such as the Dragon Lover's Guide to Pern and some of the other almanac type books touch on many of these. Horses and donkeys are essentially the runner beasts and work beasts. Cattle and sheep are the herd beasts. Goats are also mentioned in some context and there was some mention on pigs, but I'm not recalling it now.
But I wouldn't classify pigs in the 'smart' list. Feral pigs are quite nasty and vicious!
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Old Jan 13 2018, 07:12 AM   #30
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I beg to differ. Pigs are very smart indeed. Their intelligence level is somewhere near that of dogs. However, pigs, goats, horses and even cattle can destroy indigenous ecosystems when they go feral, which the animals left at Landing and in the abandoned stakes all over the southern continent would have to do to survive after the human population went north.
Elephants might make sense as the greater burden-beasts, but there's the problem of feeding them, they need to spend vast amounts of time eating related to the amount of time they can work. They'd also have to transport at least one adult female to act as a surrogate too.
Also, have you noticed that all the domestic animals on Pern are European? There is no mention of llamas, which might be useful as burden-beasts, or alpaca or vicuna for fibre, or camels, or yaks or water buffalo or hunting birds, yet all of these have been at the basis of various cultures on earth. Neither has Anne invented anything that might have been domesticated on an earlier colony planet.
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Old Jan 23 2018, 02:42 PM   #31
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The geneticists were unable to determine what ova Tubberman had started with, though he designated one of the resulting large cats as a cheetah. The DNA/RNA that was retrieved from his lab was apparently some kind of feline, but supposedly more like the domestic cats running loose at Landing.

If he did find cheetah ova in the Stores, that would be the most likely species of big cat to have brought to Pern (probably the only useful one), as it was trainable and about the size of a large dog (I think). If he also collected domestic cat DNA, used the Eridani equations to increase their size, and then interbred them with the cheetahs, there's no telling what might have resulted. And he only had a year or so to do all this, on his own --- while also developing the Thread-eating grubs.
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Old Feb 22 2018, 12:20 AM   #32
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Default Re: Pern -- the grand plan?

With them being able to genetically modifiy traits could they of needed samples of al of earths wildlife in case they needed some trait tweeking? I am under the impression that they could take some desirable traits from one animal and cross with anpther? Crossing a horse and a cheetah eventually could of made for a much faster tame running beast if they could take the desirable traits of both.
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Old Feb 22 2018, 06:28 AM   #33
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Remember that genetic engineering was just some crazy science fiction idea when Anne was actually writing this - when science outruns science fiction things can get confused. I might carry something that looks like a Star-Trek communicator, but that's because I prefer to have a really out-of-date fliptop cellphone, not something that can probably out-run the Star-ship Enterprise's guidance system AND fit in somebody's pocket.
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