Experimenting With Stories: The Worlds of Anne McCaffrey


Angelique Toschi smallA couple days after San Diego Comic Con, Deadline Hollywood made me go ape shit with this tweet. Which lead to this article. And much squeeing was had. What was the big fuss? Deadline broke the news that Warner Brothers has optioned The Dragonriders of Pern world from Anne McCaffrey’s estate.

Anne McCaffrey is one of the most well known female science fiction writers of the last century. For female science-fiction* readers, her books show that there is room for strong, smart, powerful women. She was the first woman to win a Hugo award for fiction, a Nebula award, and her novel The White Dragon was one of the first science fiction novels on the New York Times Bestseller list. Her first novel Restoree, which featured a strong, intelligent, female protagonist was supposedly written to contradict the trend of weak science-fiction women in need of saving.

So why is this important? For many science fiction fans, we have been waiting years, decades even, for these worlds to be brought to the big (or small) screen. This is a property that has been optioned a number of times, however the world has never made it to a wider audience. The hope is that time it will stick, since (as Deadline reminds us) Warner Brothers is currently looking for a new franchise. And with 22 books, and a number of short stories, this is a storyworld that is ripe with history, adventures, and excitement.

What does this have to do with cross-platform storytelling? It’s the potential that I’m interested in. The storyworld of Pern is as intricate (in my opinion) as that of Star Wars. Anne McCaffrey’s son, Todd is still expanding the Pern universe with additional installments to the series. There is more then enough material already written that could be encompassed in movies, a television series, graphic novels, and even shorter online series. So much could be done to flesh out and create a fully realized world of Pern for an already established and enthusiastic fanbase. My hope would be that Warner Brothers (and the estate of Anne McCaffrey) think outside the box when it comes to retelling these stories.

Anne’s worlds are many, varied, and immense. My hope is that more of her worlds will be considered for projects as well. Many of them even live within a shared massive storyworld (if only slightly connected by the Federation of Sentient Planets).

More of my articles on transmedia storytelling can be found here.

* Note: Don’t let the “Dragon” in the title fool you. This series has been classified by the author as science-fiction. The dragons mentioned are genetically engineered creatures.