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Chroniclesofpern
"The P.E.R.N. Survey" is a short story that was first published in Amazing Stories, September 1993. It was later included in "The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall", the 1993 collection of short fiction by Anne McCaffrey.

Plot Summary

Taking place many years before the First Pass, "The P.E.R.N. Survey" opens with an Exploration and Evaluation team arriving to investigate the third planet in the Rukbat System; their numbers halved by accidents on the four planets investigated prior. After sending probes to assess the planet - and noting an odd pattern of circles on the planet's surface - three of the four surviving team members; Shavva, Ben and Liu - leaving behind Castor; who has a broken leg - travel to the surface to conduct a ten day survey.

Landing in a great plain on the Southern Continent of the planet, the team spends their first day taking ecological and geological samples; noting the planet's strong winds have the capability to spread seeds and soil - and capturing an insect that they note is probably a pollinator - before setting up camp at a large cove. Over time, Shavva - the Biologist/Nexialist; doubling as Botanist - finds the planet reminds her of Earth as it appears on historical tapes.

The next day, they travel to the southern ice-caps, where they take samples, before travelling north. As they do so, Liu - the Nexialist - worries about a lack of larger life-forms; having only seen smaller reptiloids, strange flying creatures that resemble barges - which they dub "Wherries"; naming them after a type of earth ferry - and a large number of insects. Further exploration unearths a number of egg-shells on beaches - although the team doesn't find the egg-layers - and a tar pit which contains the fossilised remnants of a ruminant. The team also finds a diamond pipe, and take several diamonds as souvenirs. During the third night, they discuss what might have caused a lack of larger animals on the planet, which they note is almost a parallel to Earth.

On their way north, they stop on a large island, where they discover more odd reptiles - one of which is hit by barbs from a spiny plant - and discover a luminescent fungus growing in a cave. In the evening, they witness a fair of flying creatures, which they conclude are the layers of the eggs they discovered previously - although they note they aren't sentient. The next day, they travel to an eastern peninsula, where they discover a coral-like system with fossils of the flying creatures going back five million years, which proves to Ben - the Geologist/Chemist - that the planet has a viable ecological system. During exploration of the Northern Continent, the team detects a number of metals - but not enough to interest a mining consortium - and Shavva finds a tree on the eastern peninsula from which she is able to make a drink similar to coffee.

When the team returns to their ship, all slightly sad to leave, Castor labels the planet "P.E.R.N. - C." - Parallel Earth, Resources Negligible; fit for Colonisation.

Appearances

Main article: List of characters in The P.E.R.N. Survey

Notes

  • I.L.F. (Intelligent Life Forms) - (Presumably) named “Terbo” after the death of their zoologist-chemist in a landslide.
  • L.A. (Lethal, Avoid) - Not visited; merely scanned with probes. Subsequently reported to the F.S.P..
  • G.O.L.D.I. (Good Only for Large Diversified Interests) - Named “Beldona” after the death of their second pilot and archaeologist. Castor was also injured during the survey; breaking his leg.
  • D.E. (Dead End) - Named "Flora Asturias" after the deaths of Sevvie Asturias; their palaeontologist-medic, and Flora Neveshan; their zoologist-botanist. Subsequently reported to the F.S.P..
  • P.E.R.N. (Parallel Earth; Resources Negligible) -
Preceded By:All the Weyrs of Pern Pern Stories (In Publication Order) Followed By:The Dolphins of Pern
Preceded By:N/A Pern Stories (In Chronological Order) Followed By:Dragonsdawn

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