I just don’t know what to say. I am utterly bereft. One of my heroes, my major influence, Anne McCaffrey, has passed away.In high school my friends and I read her Pern series over and over. We read The Ship Who books, the short stories (there’s a wonderful collection called Get Off The Unicorn that I still have somewhere). She wrote mainstream books too, about horses no less! I read everything I could get my hands on. And she lived in Ireland on a horse farm! I didn’t want to just be a writer like her — I wanted to be her.

Her science fiction was the first I read that was about women, strong capable women running the show. Even though they had traditional gender roles, her female characters were recognizable. They were like me. I could aspire to be like them. In the 1970s, most women in science fiction were caricatures. McCaffrey wrote characters.

After high school I left Pern behind. The later books no longer had the same allure; maybe I just outgrew the series, but I think to my shame I let other opinions convince me that the lurid covers and the high emotional content were cheesy and not to be taken seriously. Too romance-y I guess. Why do we always think there is something wrong with romance? Everything about Pern was over the top and thunderous and emotional, like a telenovela. With dragons. On a dangerous planet.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with that.

Thank you, Anne McCaffrey, for the greatest gift a writer can give to a reader — a magnificent world.






dave · December 18, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Oh man, that is sad news. I remember Pern fondly and spent many a pleasant hour reading McCaffrey’s books when I was a teen.

Patrice Sarath · December 18, 2011 at 6:41 pm

I know. They were part of my teenhood too.

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