My world needs a new Southern Weyr. I looked and looked and couldn’t find anything definitive amongst her Dragonriders of Pern books. Because I’m the particular person I am when it comes to Anne McCaffrey‘s writing, I have attempted to do justice to what I think Anne would have done had she taken the time to write more about Southern Weyr.
I started writing my fanfiction, Free to Fly, about the time I started releasing chapters for Sweetwater (Aug/Sept 2019). Years, and years,…and years ago, I was writing for a PBeM (play by eMail) club called the Dragonriders of Pern club. It was an alternate 9th Pass timeline club where they strictly adhered to Anne McCaffrey‘s canon except for the club locations because Anne didn’t allow play in the locations in her books at the time. It has literally taken me this long to realize two things:
I had been writing about Southern Weyr as if it had never moved from its original site – which it did, shortly after K’van took over as weyrleader. Which also means that all my references to the layout and design elements of the weyr and surrounding areas in the stories were wrong.
Since Anne didn’t need Southern Weyr except as an occasional mention in All the Weyrs of Pern and The Skies of Pern, she didn’t really care where Southern Weyr ended up because it was background noise. The end of Thread would be in approximately 20ish years into Pern’s future. So she never put it on any maps or make any more specific reference to it by name. So it could have been anywhere in the Southern Continent.
There were a few very important clues she left that could give the enterprising and somewhat obsessive fan (like me) clues to where it could be. With the help of my favorite people on Facebook’s Dragonriders of Pern Fans UNITE! group, I could do a little justice to the weyr’s location.
Based on this:
So going back to the book, Atlas of Pern, it was merely a matter of choosing a likely location based on the information here and in the books.
Notice the tributary north of Island river? That’s the area I figured it would be for a few reasons.
First, the river – since time immemorial, humans used rivers as a mean of transport from one place to the next. This makes the following assumptions – that the river is a fairly broad, deep, and calm river, like the Mississippi, meaning no rapids or shallow areas. This would allow people to sail from the Northern Continent down to the Island River delta and make headway into the heart of this area without a dragon. It also makes the assumption that the tributary is a slow-flowing river or flowing with plenty of wind power to use for sails.
Second, the jungles and hilly areas surrounding the headland of the tributary would be a prime location for extinct volcanos, which dot the Southern Continent with relative frequency, or deeply cut river canyons similar to the ones you find along the Snake, Green or Colorado rivers. The problem with the river-cut canyons is they also make for lots of rapids, which is why people like to go there. These types of river-cut canyons tend to be made of softer rock, like sandstone, which may not be optimal for weyr creation.
Third, it’s in the right area for the weyr to still be in a sub-tropical area of the Southern Continent, which is one of the clues you get from Anne’s text.
For my purposes, the location was excellent for everything else but not for the story I had already written, which had included a lot of beach-time for Missa and Apeth. Not to the mention the fact that it also is in an area almost nearly around the corner from her father’s already established cothold, having come down with Toric as one of the first settlers in the area. In the original story, her father getting to the original Southern Weyr would have been a hard journey. Now it’s only a couple of days spent on the road. They’re minor things, but annoying anyway.
So since this is fan fiction, and that makes me be able to do whatever I want, I decided I’d make my own new Southern Weyr. Call me an Oldtimer if you must, but I always found beach weyrs a little weird. So I made this new Southern Weyr a traditional volcano weyr.
And speaking of cotholders, that was another thing I gave some thought to. Based on the maps I could find, there would be two major considerations when constructing and digging out roadways – speed and ease. Sometimes one over the other, as in the case with the road I named Eastern Weyr Road that leads out to the Island River delta and the possibility of a hold called Island River Hold. You wouldn’t follow the river in this case because why bother when you could just take a boat. But sometimes you can’t take a boat so you’d need a road. And they’d be willing to dig out a road if the road could get them to the weyr as fast or maybe even a little faster from the delta as a boat. Eastern follows the mountain range 100ish miles in and then it cuts straight through the jungle to the weyr, barring any natural barriers like ravines or boggy areas.
I sort of stole an idea from the group Arolos Weyr PBeM club with the idea of a waterfall running through the middle of the volcano as the idea that when it erupted anciently it probably blew out its side rather than its top (see Mt. St. Helens). The Skogfoss Waterfall in Iceland also inspired me. The waterfall itself is fairly contained and falls beautifully into a relatively small pool of water at the base. That second picture gives you an idea that if you were to widen it a little on the sides, it’d give you a nice small weyr.
Getting in and out of the weyr was important not for the dragonriders, because they can pretty much go where they please, but for the staff at the weyr and for a new set of crafthalls.
The idea behind the complex is that when Thread stops falling at the end of the 9th Pass, people will still need experts, veterinarian clinics, research centers and training facilities for the occupations that keep Pern running. And what better way to facilitate that than having a centralized location for the crafts that would be the most advantageous to have in a frontier type environment – animal husbandry, farmers, engineers and blacksmiths and mining operations.
I forgot a Healercrafthall so for now let’s just say it’s up at Southern Hold.
Now that I’ve present my case for the new Southern Weyr, I also announce that in the future when you are reading either Free to Fly or Forged in Flames the locations, distances, etc will all be based on the information above.
It also means that I will need to rewrite some chapters that have already been released for both books. If you haven’t followed me on my Wattpad profile, make sure you do so you can get notifications of future chapter updates!
And if you haven’t checked out my author Pinterest account, you need to go have a peek! I have face claims for just about any or all of my characters and if you disagree with me on one, let me know! We’ll get your pick added to the board!