Monday, December 5, 2011

In Which I Remember Anne McCaffrey

I've been a long time fan of Anne McCaffrey. I can honestly say she's one of the main authors who steered me towards my love of fantasy. I probably would've gotten there without her, but certainly not as quickly. It would have been a different path, and one not as happy, or exciting.

I knew she was old. Even as a kid I knew one day she would die, and there would be no more Pern books written by her. And though, yes, Todd McCaffrey has taken on the mantle, he's just not as good of a writer as his mom.

If you asked me if I'd rather be a jedi, go to school at Hogwarts and become a witch, or impress a dragon on Pern and be a dragonrider, I would pick dragonrider every time. There's seriously no competition.

my favorite picture of Ruth and Jaxom

When I'd heard that she died, it was extra sad because I had, quite literally, just finished a re-read of most the Pern series, something I used to do every winter, but had taken a long break from. I read 12 books in less than two months. That's how much I love the Pern series. I could not put them down, even though I had read them all countless times before. Even though I knew what would happen. That, to me, is firm evidence of her skill as a writer.

Lessa, bringing the oldtimers 400 years into the future

Anne McCaffrey offered this nugget of wisdom to inspiring writers:

“First — keep reading. Writers are readers. Writers are also people who can’t not write. Second, follow Heinlein’s rules for getting published: 1. Write it. 2. Finish it. 3. Send it out. 4. Keep sending it out until someone sends you a check. There are variations on that, but that’s basically what works.”

Wednesday I'll have a quick list of my favorite Pern books and why. Though it will be hard to choose.
I've read many of her other series, as well, but Pern's the only one I come back to, over and over again.

I know there was one final book planned for the ninth pass story arc, tentatively titled "After the Pass is Over". I wait for it eagerly, because I never felt like their story was done, even though the main plot had closed. I didn't care about that. I wanted more of Jaxom and Ruth, and F'nor and F'lar and Lessa. I could read about Menolly writing songs at the Harper Hall for the rest of my life and never be bored of it. I laugh out loud at the adorableness of the Pern dolphins and their intentional puns. Every time I read a dragon impression story I want to be there.

But now, that's all done.

Dear Anne McCaffrey. You changed my life for the better. Though the Red Star has passed and thread has gone, Pern seems emptier without you in it.

Thank you for the books you leave behind. I will always dream of dragons in the sky.


Kimberlee Turley said...

There's no other legacy that can touch so many people quite like a book can.

I look forward to checking out the series and your favorites from it.

Maria Zannini said...

Amen to that.

Her first Pern book, Dragonflight is still my very favorite.

I loved how the female character (Lessa) didn't wait around for some man to save her.

It might not seem like a big deal today but McCaffrey wrote this in 1968--and it was a BIG deal then.

Anne Ahiers said...

i remember i used to see her books in the school library all the time. This was back when i was reading walter Farley and Jim Kjelgaard. but then i finished all their books and needed to try something new, so i figured i'd try one of those Harper Hall books.
Life. Changed. Forever.
I didn't always understand what she was talking about, but i knew i needed to read more.
And i've never put down Fantasy and Sci-Fi since

Slamdunk said...

Glad you found Anne's work and it had such an impact on you.

I was selfishly disappointed when author Tony Hillerman passed away--I had read all of his Navajo reservation mysteries, really identified with his characters, and was sad knowing that the world he had created ended as well.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

She really impacted the writing world with her science fiction and fantasy books.

Lola Sharp said...

I loved her Pern series, too. I hope she's resting with a margarita in some fantastical heavenly place.

TL Conway said...

I can't believe I haven't read one of the Pern books. I look forward to your post on Wed where you share some of your faves. Maybe that will be a good launching point for me to read my first one.

Ninja Girl said...

Hey Falen,
Being a dragonrider sounds magnificent, and so does Anne! I'm more an urban fantasy fan than straight fantasy, but I'm always open--especially to the greats!! I started reading pretty late in the game, but I'd love to discover a new author to love. I'll be waiting to see what your favorites books are!
Ninja Girl
P.S. Although I don't read much epic fantasy, I love me some dragons, so...;)

Anne Ahiers said...

One thing i forgot about the awesomeness that is Pern is the fact that it's a Fantasy Series based on Science Fiction. Like if you just start the series where you're supposed to with Lessa then it's very much a Fantasy Series. But if you start with DragonsDawn (like i mistakenly did after the HarperHall Trilogy), then you realize that it's a Science Fiction series hidden as Fantasy

Mary Aalgaard said...

Lovely tribute.

LisaAnn said...

Dragon rider as well. For sure. NO competition.

Beautiful post!

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

I too loved Anne McCafferey. I want to point out though that the book covers that you posted were hand drawn by my favorite cover artist of all time. His name is Michael Whelan. He's a multiple Hugo and Nebula award winner and is in his sixties now I think. I will weep buckets when Mr. Whelan leaves our world. I just want to meet with him once before he dies. I'm going to have to try and make that dream come true.

Southpaw said...

Beautifully said.

Allison said...

This was a beautiful lament. I never got into Anne McCaffrey because she had so many books I didn't know where to start, but I've been meaning to try some of the Pern series. I look forward to your list of favourites.

Geek Banter

Unknown said...

It's sad when an icon passes away. Almost feels like a family member. I agree with Clutzattack -- leaving the legacy of books behind equals a life well-lived.

Matthew MacNish said...

This was beautifully written. Thank you, Sarah.

And wasn't she the first writer to think of the idea that a dragon could be ridden? I could be wrong, but I think she was, and I will always love her for that.

Austin Gorton said...

Well said.

It was a very depressing day when I realized many of the writers/artists/actors/directors I love would likely pass on in my lifetime, leaving me in a world without new work by them.

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