Tuesday, November 22, 2011

In Memoriam: Anne McCaffrey (1926-2011)

Anne McCaffrey passed away on Monday. From MSNBC:

Prolific science fiction and fantasy author Anne McCaffrey died Monday at her home in Ireland shortly after suffering a stroke. She was 85.

McCaffrey published nearly 100 books in her lifetime and was best known for her popular “Dragonriders of Pern” novels. In her bio on her website, McCaffrey shared the following insights about her approach to writing and her first novel, which was published in 1967:

“Her first novel, ‘Restoree,’ was written as a protest against the absurd and unrealistic portrayals of women in s-f novels in the ‘50s and early ‘60s. It is, however, in the handling of broader themes and the worlds of her imagination, particularly the two series ‘The Ship Who Sang’ and the fourteen novels about the ‘Dragonriders of Pern,’ that Ms. McCaffrey’s talents as a story-teller are best displayed.”
McCaffrey played with folklore in many of her novels--I first learned about selkies through her actually--but all the same, foklore or not, I would have to express my gratitude for her life here on the blog this evening. When I was a young adult hungry for science fiction and fantasy titles in which the women weren't stupid, McCaffrey was one of the few options on my mall bookstore shelves. I gobbled her books up, endured ridicule from the boys in my classes for reading such "silly" fantasy (I guess because a "girl" wrote it) and spread my wings to other authors as they appeared and willingly put more than first initials on their covers, not hiding their genders from us. I cut my teeth on Madeleine L'Engle and grew my permanent molars on McCaffrey.

And countless other readers did the same. She pioneered and so many of us followed as readers, authors and more. Without McCaffrey, we'd have no Stephenie Meyer who obviously glommed McCaffrey herself--that was my first thought upon reading The Host and Breaking Dawn. It was obvious to me that Meyer had inhaled the Pegasus and Rowan series especially in her youth. So today's trends and fandom are direct inheritors of McCaffrey's work, sparkling vampires not included.

Thank you for your life and your talent and your perseverance, Anne McCaffrey. You didn't give up and you succeeded despite the naysayers. We'll be forever indebted.

1 comment:

  1. I grew up in the 1970's wriglyville"Barrio" of Chicago a very poor neighborhood at the time we had so much crime that the only safe place to play was my room, Anne McCaffrey's books kept me sane with other worlds that were troubled but the heroines got out or persevered and things changed, Restoree has been my favorite since it first appeared on the store shelf I have a well loved dogeared copy that I read at least once every two years or so. I read everything she did.which lead me to other authors like Andre Norton and Mercedes Lacky and Lois McMaster Boujold. she also lead me to become a librarian.
    so raise a pint for our dear Ann she raised us up to think ourselves more than our beginnings!