PernWorld FAQ

WHAT IS THE TECHNOLOGY LIKE?

TECHNOLOGY

This is my favorite subject! Pern is a planet with only about 40 million people, and about 10,000 dragons. These wonderful creatures and their partners, freed from the dangerous task of fighting thread, are capable of doing wonderful things. Together with their little cousins, dragons and their riders can provide transportation and communication tasks
that rival current Earth technology.
Traveling on dragonback was once reserved for harpers, important craft masters, lord holders and their families. I believe one of the future services that the weyrs will provide transportation services for everyone, at some reasonable fee, similar to airline services on our world. Dragons and smarter firelizards would become fast couriers, with the service available to everyone.
As we know, a dragon can lift and teleport any amount of freight that the dragon thinks he or she can. The implications of this are obvious. Just as the interstate and local truck freight service replaced the railroads in our modern world, dragons could become the important cargo carriers on Pern. Entire wings and weyrs may become specialized in the tasks of freight handling and transport.

Electricity was re-discovered before AIVAS was found, and the far-speak device was born (telegraph). The next logical step in communication technology was voice transmission over wires, then withoutwires via electromagnetic means (radio). (In Dolphins of Pern) The crude Laden-jar type batteries would be replaced by recovered solar batteries, and the technology exists to begin to produce such devices. Other uses of electricity might include electric light and environmental systems, such as heaters and fans.
The discovery and excavation of Landing brought Pern back into the computer age. Following the recommendations of Aivas, a computer craft was founded. Some crafters test and repair hardware found at the excavation site, while others become programmers. In this timeline, computers would be found in many Harperhalls, in the Weyrs, and in some crafthalls and Lord Holder's offices. They are used for data storage and retrieval, accounting, and some scientific research. The Harperhall library would maintain the extensive historical database , which would be updated by computercraft apprentices.

Examples of Pern Tech:

Things used on Pern: Radios, cell phones/pagers, computers (desk and laptop sizes..posible palmtops in development as the Techcraft grows more apt at building computers from scratch rather then depending on the old stuff found stored in the caves), electric engines, natural gas stoves, etc. Power looms, reliable clocks, refrigerators, irrigation systems, weather reports, ink pens, pads of paper, portable stoves and orchard heaters, new surgical techniques. Powered printing presses, electric sewing machines, etc.The only use of laser tech is in medical tech and fiber optics, but not for
weapons.
Electricity provided by solar, hydroelectric and wind turbine power mostly.

Things not used in this timeline: Cars, Petroleum burning engines, planes, poluting technology, laser or 'beam' weapons, partical beams or blasters,phasers (ie. Star Trek tech), guns of any kind (crossbows are used for hunting), large construction equipment (dragons are able to do many of the things a crane or bulldozer can do), trains (except mining cars in mines are used) or anything that logicaly would not have a use on Pern.. Pern does not use nuclear power,
not because of safety reasons, but due to lack of the proper resources to build such a power plant. Pern is very limited in some areas due to the fact that Pern is VERY poor in ferrous metals such as iron. This means steel is very rare, much like gold on earth..non-ferrous metals are plentiful, but you can't build a ship or a skyscraper out of gold..Its too heavy and too soft. It doesn't hold an edge for knives, so its use is mostly in jewelry or small eletronic items in place of copper..

TECH SUMMARY

Traditionally, Pern has always been a world of low technology. This has always been, and still is, an integral part of the world's appeal. However, with the introduction of the Tech and Computer crafthalls, many things are changing. Pern now has harnessed the power of electricity once again, and the remnants of the original settlers are being put to use once more. The AIVAS system had left a great deal of information behind, stating ''The machines now harbor all the information this world will need to build a better future.'' in it's last minutes. The massive stores of information AIVAS left behind, on everything from gardening to the secrets of computers, were left waiting to be found and put to use again.

The Technician's Craft, and the Computerer's Craft are the two leading utilizers of all that vast knowledge, slowly but surely redeveloping some aspects of the Ancient's abilities. Much has been left behind as useless, and much has been degraded in power and strength, but what remains is information aplenty.

The technology of the Ancients was much advanced of our own, at least four hundred turns of technical enhancement. Given the trend of computer power alone, increasing manyfold in a single decade, it is not difficult to expect that even when development plateaus are reached, the resulting technology must be very great indeed. Pern however has little resources with which to take advantage of that knowledge. Recycling of every little scrap the
Ancients left behind is the norm, with some equipment able to be reproduced, but at vastly lower technological levels than the Ancients themselves had acquired.

Modern Pernese technology in many computer related aspects resembles the computers of today. The speed, storage space, and display and sound qualities found in current electronics are a close approximation to what Pern can now accomplish. However, to fabricate an individual desktop computer, many parts need to be made from scratch, and with mass-production on the scale known to us unavailable, things tend to grow in price substantially, whenever complexity is involved. Remember, to us what is complex, very well may have been very simple to the Ancients, so our technology is a large step backwards from theirs.

Examples of some items Pern can reproduce relatively inexpensively are as follows.

Irons, blenders, vacuum Cleaners, two way radios, electric Ovens, electric heat, Fans and flashlights. (Using a lot of plastics since Pern is iron poor)

Items that are more expensive, but also possible include:

Shortwave Radios, Air Conditioning, Pagers, Cellular Phones, Computers (Desktop and Portable), Power Generators (Solar, Thermal, Hydro-Electric), Cameras and Videocameras.

Some items that will not be created, for various ecological, social, or resource management reasons include:

Nuclear power, microwave ovens, combustion engines of any kind, lethal projectile or energy weapons of any kind, and polluting chemical compounds (CFC's, etc..).

When it comes to development and adaptation of the knowledge currently had by Pernese, it is very likely that the first solution will be the most advanced, with later generations being markedly lower in technical difficulty. For example, what can be accomplished both by using a vacuum tube, will be accomplished by a transistor. If only a few transistors are needed for a task, it is likely the later versions will use tubes instead. This lends Pernese technology a very different feel.

Some things are being re-developed all the time. The priority in the Tech and Computer halls, as with most, is safety. Such items are usually sold at cost to those who would benefit, with the conveniences sold at a profit. A lighting system to warn of dangerous rocks, will be developed faster and more cheaply, than a lighting system to beautify someone's garden.

BACK

HOME