Anne McCaffrey gone.

Well, I just heard that my favourite writer as a schoolchild, Anne McCaffrey, died of a stroke. I’m not sure why we think the writers we love will be immortal, but there it is – I’m rather bowled over.

I lived and breathed Anne McCaffrey for about two years, between the ages of eleven and thirteen. It was just the right time to be reading books with a sweet, bright centre to them, all about finding your way and beating the odds and generally socking it to the world. I grew so obsessed with her dragons that I dreamed of them at night. My school dinners were baked wherry. My bracelet with the snake’s head was a small golden queen… Sure, the faddishness of my love for the books passed, in time. But my respect for McCaffrey has always remained. She was the first to write about girls growing up in fantasy worlds, doing exactly what the boys did – making their mark, finding their voice, riding their dragon. She blazed the trail. 

Vale, Anne. Thank you for the dreams and the reality.

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11 Responses to Anne McCaffrey gone.

  1. Tyson Perna says:

    I was similarly torn when David Eddings died two years ago.

    But I have to disagree about writers not being immortal. 🙂

  2. Kim Falconer says:

    Oh Mary, I didn’t know, until I heard from you. There is something very comforting getting this news from a friend and not some random site or broadcast. Anne was all that to me too. Lesa was the first female character I remember that was so heroic, and so not needing a man to giver her identity.

    And the dragons of Pern . . . what a treasure of a world. Anne was a gift to us as readers and to the spec fic genre as a whole. I knew she was under the weather but . . . yes, Vale. Thank you Mary for letting us know.


    • MaryV says:

      I saw the news on a site on FB, which was a bit of a jolt, yes. Again, I feel stupid for being shocked, as she was older than my own grandmother and ill. But that’s how it goes… part of me is still that eleven year old kid reading her books, so it feels as if she should be thirty years younger. 😉

      Lessa was a good character. I was particularly keen on the Dragonsong/Dragonsinger books, too, and that whole ‘I’m a girl but I can do anything you can’ vibe. It hit home!

  3. Helen Lowe says:

    I first read the news on yesterday and like you have posted a personal tribute (today, in my case.) I think with the passing of writers like Eddings—as mentioned by Tyson—Diana Wynne Jones earlier this year, Madeleine L’Engle and Andrew Norton within the past few years, we are definitely seeing the end of an era in speculative fiction. A great era.

    • MaryV says:

      It’s bittersweet, isn’t it? She encapsulates that moment of self-discovery, age 12 or so, when you really begin to question the way the world works and your place in it… Blind obedience isn’t enough, ‘the way things are’ isn’t enough.

    • MaryV says:

      Anne McCaffrey was the first to articulate so many of those pre-teen/mid teen issues… and from a girl’s perspective, in a fantastical setting. Quite new.

  4. Helen Lowe says:

    And her heroines were all real women/young women, out there and doing stuff. I loved it!

  5. Bahiyyih says:

    Now this IS immortality, for a writer: to have other writers reverberating with the impact of your work decades after it was written. And then to have them enriching your legacy with their own work in order to pass it on to the next generation.

    • MaryV says:

      McCaffrey touched people’s hearts I think – she wasn’t a perfect writer, or even a fashionable one (these things come and go) but she wrote with guts and emotion, and that stays.

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