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In the Chronicles of Pern series, the people of Pern were threatened for centuries by periodic attacks from Thread, a devastating alien organism that consumed all organic material. The dragonriders were able to combat Thread by searing it midair with their dragons' fiery breath. However, records show that early in the colonization of Pern, before the dragons were genetically engineered, the settlers were unable to stop the predations of Thread.

What abilities, resources, or knowledge did the original colonists lack that prevented them from effectively fighting Thread? Was it simply the lack of flying dragons, or were there other factors involved? Surely with all their high technology, ingenuity and will to survive, the settlers must have attempted some means to counter the Thread attacks using the resources available to them at that time. What held them back until the dragons came?

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The answer to this is the subject of the entire novel Dragonsdawn, but, to summarize: Pern was a new colony far away from the other worlds. Part of the colony charter meant that Pern was meant to be a world with little or no heavy industry, and so the colonists brought a very limited amount of technology with them. Before dragons they DID use some mechanized aircraft to fight Thread, but soon realized that that their would soon run out of spare parts for the craft they did have.

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    Feel obliged to mention the Thread-eating grubs that were developed for the Southern Continent. Again a genetically engineered solution rather than a technology-based one, but one that took many years to spread.
    – Pam
    Jul 21, 2023 at 9:31
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    @Pam genetic engineering requires high technology. And heavy industry: someone's got to make and form the glass, metal, plastic. etc.
    – RonJohn
    Jul 21, 2023 at 19:08
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    @RonJohn - They'd brought the tech for genetic engineering with them (the original use was tweaking farm animals). The original plan was a limited tech/industry base - they anticipated running out the power packs for their aircars within 50 years or so, and that would be the end of it. Thread just caused what little they did bring to crash hard. Jul 23, 2023 at 3:38
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Surely with all their high technology, ingenuity and will to survive, the settlers must have attempted some means to counter the Thread attacks using the resources available to them at that time.

They did. Initially they used flying vehicles with flamethrower, but when they colonized Pern they had planned for a low-tech agrarian society. They had planned to phase out the vehicles, and thus hadn't established industrial production of the fuel, and the heavy use was blowing through their limited stores - it wasn't a sustainable solution.

Even if they wanted to, Pern didn't have the metal resources needed for industrialization, so instead they turned to bioengineering to counter the Thread threat, to create a sustainable population of creatures to defend themselves with, based on a local species already evolved to combat Thread, but much larger than they had been.

You ask why the settlers couldn't develop a way to combat Thread without dragons, but dragons were their solution to combating Thread.

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    Just to add the source: this answer is essentially summarising one of the main plot lines of Dragonsdawn.
    – PLL
    Jul 24, 2023 at 6:04

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