Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Anne McCaffrey April 1, 1926 - November 21, 2011

Anne McCaffrey
April 1st, 1926 - November 21, 2011

Anne McCaffrey, one of the authors that has been very influential in my life passed away yesterday in her home in Ireland...she was 85 years old. She has not been in good health for a number of years, so her death does not come entirely as a shock...and yet it does. She was one of those persons that just should not be mortal like the rest of us, as foolish as it is to think that way. Her impact and influence in the world of Science Fiction writing has been huge.

In 1968, McCaffrey became the first woman to win a Hugo Award for a work of fiction, and in 1969 became the first woman to win a Nebula Award. She became the first with a science fiction title on The New York Times Best Seller list in 1978, with her book The White Dragon.The Science Fiction Writers of America in 2005 named her the 22nd Grand Master, a now-annual award to living writers of fantasy and science fiction. The Science Fiction Hall of Fame inducted her 17 June 2006.

She is best known for her "Dragon Rider" fiction - a universe she created where dragons and humans instead of being natural enemies became allies and lived in relationship with one another. The first story of hers that I ever read was set in this series, "The Smallest Dragonboy", published in 1973. I was only 12 years old at the time,  nearing the end of 6th grade, and I did not realize I was reading it the year it was published, or that she had already begun to publish books in that universe, or that she would become so influential in my life. But I really enjoyed the story and it stuck with me. Two years later, in the eighth grade, a friend handed me "DragonFlight", the first book of the Dragon Riders of Pern series (please follow the link - particularly if you are not familiar with the books - synopsis and discussions are there), and I abruptly realized that this was the universe and series that The Smallest Dragonboy had come from. I flat out devoured them, as fast as I could get my hands on them, the next one being DragonQuest.

Micheal Whelan's cover to Anne McCaffery's "DragonFlight" 

In 1978, the third book of the trilogy, The White Dragon came out, firmly settling the debate of whether or not the books belonged in the Fantasy or Science Fiction Genres...it became clear that they were meant to be SciFi from the beginning, though that irritated many fans.

Micheal Whelan's cover to "All the Weyrs of Pern" - the sequel to the White Dragon. 

Some of my other favorite books by her in the Pern series are the Harper Hall Trilogy, containing the books "DragonSong", "Dragonsinger" and "DragonDrums", "Moreta", "Nerilka's Story", and the semi-stand alone book, "The People of Pern." 

Cover art by Elisabeth Malczynsk for DragonSinger

Micheal Whelan's cover to "The People of Pern" 

It is worth noting, that the movie rights to the Dragon Riders of Pern have been purchased, a Director has been hired, and there are rumors that shooting might start in 2012. We can only hope...and hope that the filmmakers have the vision to remain true to her universe and her words. 

She wrote other books and series too - "The Year of the Lucy", The Brain Ships series, The Ireta adventure series, and The Crystal Singer series to only name a few And I highly recommend searching them all out, if you have not read them. With her passing we have lost one of the pioneers in the field of Science Fiction, and in women's writing. I had the good fortune to see her at Dragon Con some years ago, and she was a gracious and humorous lady, with snow white hair, a rich glorious deep speaking voice, and a keen intelligence. 

She will be sorely missed...may she fly high, on dragon wings to
 "halls we have no name for" 
("All the Weyrs of Pern") 

Micheal Whelan - concept sketch for "DragonsDawn"

1 comment:

  1. The world of SciFi weeps at her loss...may the grandest story-teller of all welcome her home and make her welcome until the wheel turns again. Blessed be, my lady Anne.