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Anne McCaffrey

Anne McCaffrey has died, aged 85.

This isn't so much the case of an author going on to the Summerlands for me as it is a seismic event. I haven't read Ms. McCaffrey's recent books in years, and a number of her books were not my favorites, but that's nothing compared to the impact that DRAGONFLIGHT left on me in the mid-seventies, when the available female heroes in fantasy, though wonderful, were gay or celibate (I was neither), and the available female heroes in science fiction were few and far between, and so often possessed of a dignity I could never aspire to. Lessa of Pern was one of the very few female heroes I understood at a heart-and-soul level.

DRAGONFLIGHT, THE SHIP WHO SANG, THE MARK OF MERLIN (romance), DRAGONSONG, DRAGONSINGER--these are books that are stamped on my heart, like tattoos. I know there are feminists out there who think they are flawed; I think there are some interesting things about SHIP myself. But these books left their mark. They showed me women who took their lives in their own hands as well as the kinds of women who weren't threatened by such women. The kinds of men who didn't walk ahead or behind but beside. The kinds of women who soared and climbed and ran and rescued animals, who had tempers and stumbled ahead, getting into and out of trouble. They were powerful in a way that spoke to me as only a handful of female characters did speak to me across three decades.

At Dragon*Con a couple of years ago I was told she was one of the other authors in the group signing that I was in. I forgot about it until nearly everyone else between us was gone and I looked over to see that famous head of silver poufy hair, bent over a book. I didn't dare get up to say hello, of course. Her fans were waiting and so were mine. And I'm kinda incapable of introducing myself to an author I look up to that much.

But I'm glad I saw her, just that once.

I know they're waiting for you in the Summerlands, Ms. McCaffrey. I know they have plenty of stories they want you to tell.



Comments

( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
sirriamnis
Nov. 22nd, 2011 11:20 pm (UTC)
I got to meet her at that same DragonCon, I suspect. And I remember, she looked at me hard and said, "Don't you cry on me! Damn it!" I pulled myself together and told her she'd saved my life as a teenager, and thanked her for it.

Then we told redneck jokes about Georgia and Idaho.
yennafrost
Nov. 22nd, 2011 11:32 pm (UTC)
I remember that her book jacket bio used to talk about how she'd written her first book in Latin class, and maybe if she'd written it in Latin she'd have gotten a better grade. I don't know why that part always stuck out to me.
RIP.
gehayi
Nov. 22nd, 2011 11:35 pm (UTC)
I can't help but hope that wherever she's gone, there's a dragon waiting for her, and a Harper to sing her home.
tammy212
Dec. 3rd, 2011 04:18 pm (UTC)
I can't help but hope that wherever she's gone, there's a dragon waiting for her, and a Harper to sing her home.

You made me cry, like I would at the Singing.
gillo
Nov. 22nd, 2011 11:39 pm (UTC)
She has gone Between and we are left to mourn. Too soon.
kadymae
Nov. 22nd, 2011 11:40 pm (UTC)
She will be missed.

She made me want to have a dragon when I grew up.
dragonmyst
Nov. 22nd, 2011 11:41 pm (UTC)
I started writing because of her books.

**weeps**
jelazakazone
Nov. 22nd, 2011 11:43 pm (UTC)
Thanks for sharing your beautiful thoughts on the passing of such a bright star.
dragontail
Nov. 22nd, 2011 11:44 pm (UTC)
"Seismic" is a good word for it. Though I've read but a handful of her books, her importance to literature (not just genre writing) is so intrinsic that her loss is staggering. Whether or not her work was an individual's cup of tea, her impact and importance cannot be understated.
phdelicious
Nov. 22nd, 2011 11:46 pm (UTC)
I was one of the people waiting on that line in that room at Dragon*Con. And hearing this news part of me is sad that I had Anne sign a book for a friend and not myself, but I am more glad I had the chance to meet her even for that brief moment.

Anne wrote so many amazing stories, some of which I love, but what I will always be most grateful for is the roads she paved and the people she inspired because she allowed me to grow up surrounded by characters I recognized and related to.
mac_arthur_park
Nov. 22nd, 2011 11:47 pm (UTC)
Her books left a mark on me, as well. I remember diving through piles of paperbacks at the annual Friends of the Library sale when I was younger, snatching up all that I could find. She was on the short list (along with you, btw) of authors whose work I was willing to let go of my good girl training to elbow people out of the way to get to them first. ;)

She shall be missed. :(
dark_puck
Nov. 22nd, 2011 11:50 pm (UTC)
Much as you, Tammy, formed the core of my preadolescence, so too did Anne, who I discovered later, form the core of my adolescence.

So many people will remember her for Pern, but I remember her for being one of the few SF/F authors to treat the military not as a conglomerate, but as the sum of its people -- some good, some bad, some neutral. For a second-generation military brat, it's an amazing thing.

I will never not love her books, and I'm sad that she's gone.
pingback_bot
Nov. 23rd, 2011 01:04 am (UTC)
Anne McCaffrey
User invisible_fool referenced to your post from Anne McCaffrey saying: [...] Originally posted by at Anne McCaffrey [...]
drummerwench
Nov. 23rd, 2011 01:25 am (UTC)
May she rest in peace. Peace to her family, friends, and loved ones.

I am another who read her Ship and Dragon books with enthusiasm and remembers them fondly.
candidia
Nov. 23rd, 2011 05:52 am (UTC)
Dragonsong/Dragonsinger definitely stand out to me too.. Menolly was a role model for me
thisdaydreamer
Nov. 23rd, 2011 07:16 am (UTC)
I just found out a few minutes ago and I'm in tears. There are things in both Dragonflight and Dragonquest that I fond troubling as a sexual assault survivor, but I always went back to Pern and was glad I did. And I still have a crush on Robinton.
elialshadowpine
Nov. 23rd, 2011 08:49 am (UTC)
I woke up and this was some of the first news I saw today. :(

Anne's books were some of my first introduction to fantasy. I somehow managed to miss the Pern books (I really wasn't terribly into dragons at that age; my husband and I have been taking turns reading them aloud together, because he loves them, and I've never read), but I loved her Talents, the Ship books, Killashandra, Peytabee, Acorna, and I'm sure I'm forgetting others. Oh! SASSINAK. I loved those books.

My mom and I didn't have much of a close relationship at that point, but I remember squeeing together when we found out Anne had a new book out and then talking about it when we finished reading them.

I remember seeing Anne was going to be at Dragoncon one of these past few years and thinking I should try to get there, because I really wanted to meet her, but health and finances did not allow. I really wish I had tried harder to get there. :(

Blessed be, Anne. You will be missed.
nocturnallady
Nov. 23rd, 2011 04:59 pm (UTC)
Anne McCaffrey was truely a magnificent writer.. actually though it was YOUR books that lead me to read hers. I'd ended up reading the Immortals series that you have which up till then i as a rule avoided all books with dragons in them since MOST books with dragons cast them as the horrible aweful moster of the book... and well even as a kid i firmly believed that no animal is ever truely BAD. Well after i'd read YOUR books well then i ended up agreeing to try Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey and well i've been hooked on books by both of you ever since. Yes she wrote some books that i also wasnt as fond of as others but well she really did have women in her books that a person can relate to. I'm sure she will be greatly mourned...
nocturnallady
Dec. 3rd, 2011 05:12 pm (UTC)
oh and Tammy? i soooo (in the most reverent way of course) forbid you to follow her until you've finished all the books you've hinted about ... and especially the book about Numair .
ryalth
Nov. 23rd, 2011 06:38 pm (UTC)
Tribute
Here here! I took found the Dragon Singer triology (particularly the first two) to be some of the most influential books I've read (Along with Robin McKinley's Hero and The Crown when I was 13). They resonated deeply with my 7 year old self back in the early 90s. Recently, I have found myself rereading Crystal Singer, and have started going back to the early Pern books. As an adult I could see where feminist critiques could be applied to the novels, but what I picked up reading them the first time has stuck with me... To be a strong woman who knows her own mind, to be someone who can go and follow her dreams. Anne McCaffery will always have a special place in my heart. I sorrow that she has left this world, but know that she has left it enriched with a wonderful legacy.
dustingpages
Nov. 24th, 2011 10:46 am (UTC)
Oh, god, no, she's dead now too? So many wonderful authors are passing on. DRAGONSONG and DRAGONSINGER were books that struck me in the most beautiful ways and my heart cries to know she's passed on.
Cibil A. Sesco
May. 7th, 2012 05:55 am (UTC)
Hail and Farewell
I had missed this, probably because financial problems had prevented me from having Internet for a long time and the ancient computer I had searched at the speed of Mabel. (read The Ireta Adventure) I sit here now with tears in my eyes. Though I never got to meet Ms. McCaffrey, she was one of my dearest friends through most of my life. Hail, Dragonlady, and the fondest of Farewells.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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