Dragons never seem to get their due on screen. It worked brilliantly in How to Train Your Dragon, maybe it would work more often if Hollywood had good material. Here’s some, Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series. David Hayter has been hired to adapt the popular book series into a feature film.

Here’s what makes McCaffrey’s dragons different from anything else you’ve ever seen or read on the subject: It’s not fantasy. It’s not even set on Earth. Her Dragonrider books are science fiction, set on a distant alien planet colonized by humans so long ago that they’ve forgotten they’re colonists. Their dragons are genetically engineered creatures, bred out of desperate need, to help the original colonists deal with the unexpectedly deadly circumstances they’ve found themselves in. The dragons exist only to flame “thread”, a sort of writhing, viscous acid which falls from the sky and destroys anything living it touches. Thread is also pretty flammable which makes it ideally suited to be blasted out of the sky by dragons.

They’ll start with the first book in the series, Dragonflight, which even though it’s the first isn’t actually the start of the story. Dragonriders takes place centuries after man’s original landing on the planet Pern and follows a civilization which has fallen back to a primitive state and no longer remembers its origins. There’s a prequel, called Dragonsdawn, which covers the original landing of the colonists. It’s also probably the best book in the series and, well, I can’t help but wish they’d started there, even if McCaffrey didn’t. Dragonsdawn is kind of like an Avatar without the preachy environmentalist message and with an actual story.

Anne McCaffrey first started publishing her Pern series in 1968. It contains 22 books in total, and most of them are actually really good. There’s plenty of material here to build a franchise, assuming people buy into the first one. Hayter wrote the best of the X-Men movies in X2 and did a pretty solid job of adapting the all but un-adaptable Watchmen. He can pull this off. If the heavy hitting partners involved in this (including the likes of Transformers’ producer Don Murphy) can get them a budget and a decent director, Pern could be the next Pandora.

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