First of all, I apologize for not updating in nearly a month. This semester has been extremely difficult for me. Hopefully I’ll be able to make a few more posts before classes end.
When I heard that Anne McCaffrey, author of the Dragonriders of Pern series as well as countless other fantasy and science fiction novels, had passed away November 21, I knew I had to write something about her, no matter how brief. I already mentioned her in my post about Tamora Pierce back in September as one of the first fantasy/sci-fi authors to have a main female protagonist, but her contributions to the speculative fiction community were far more than that.
McCaffrey was the first woman to win a Hugo or a Nebula award, both extremely distinguished awards for science fiction and fantasy. Her books were some of the first science fiction novels to make it to the New York Times Best Seller List. She also paved the way for other female sci-fi and fantasy writers, such as Marion Zimmer Bradley (Darkover series) and Ursula K. Le Guin (Earthsea series). These were all somewhat before my time, but my parents read them avidly.
I’m not a huge Pern fan, though I started reading my dad’s collection at an early age, and I know I’ve said before that I don’t consider those books pure fantasy. In fact, they’re mostly science fiction with a few fantasy elements. However, her portrayal of dragons was hugely influential for fantasy. I loved Anne McCaffrey’s dragons, even though I didn’t like the much more science-fictiony direction the later books took.
I didn’t always agree with McCaffrey’s opinions, or love everything that happened in her books. But I was quite saddened to find out about her death, as were my parents. It was just one more thing to mark the passing of a generation of creators of speculative fiction. They’ve made me want to create fascinating and memorable worlds from an early age, just like these authors and more. My inspirations are the ones who came before me, and for that, I thank them.
Rest in peace, Ms. McCaffrey.