I woke up this morning to the news that Anne McCaffrey, one of sci-fi/fantasy’s great legends, had passed away. And while I always find it sad when we lose one of our greats, as the day has gone on, this one has settled heavily on me.
I don’t remember how old I was when I first read one of her books. I’m pretty sure it was Dragonsdawn, the prequel to the Pern series. I know that after that, I devoured anything I could get my hands on. I fell in love with Pern and all its inhabitants, from the beautiful gold dragons all the way down to the lowliest watch-wher. Oh, how I wanted my very own fire-lizard. A bronze one. He’d have been awesome.
It wasn’t just her dragons, though. The Rowan and her descendents found a special place in my heart as well. I think those books were the first time I actually remember feeling fear and joy and anguish right alongside the characters. I bled with them, because of the power of the words on the page.
And I think that’s what I learned from Anne McCaffrey. I learned about the kind of stories I wanted to tell, and the kind of writer I wanted to be. Some of the first lengthy things I ever wrote were essentially fanfic, either in the Pern world or in the Rowan’s world. Always for my own entertainment, of course. I don’t think I ever showed anyone those stories. They were just because I didn’t want those worlds to end when I was done reading, I wanted to live in them a little while longer.
I’m pretty sure she knew the kind of mark she left on the world. Her fans are legion, and very vocal. They have conventions, and role-playing games, and forums and all kinds of things. She didn’t, of course, know what influence she had on little old me, or on a lot of other writers I know who are all thinking over what her death means right now. Maybe we don’t even know for sure how her writing shaped who and what we are today. All we know is that it did.
A great lady has gone Between. She will be missed, and never forgotten.