Anne McCaffrey has gone between

Anne McCaffrey died on November 22, 2011 at her home in Ireland. The first book I ever read of hers was the first in the Harper Hall series, Dragonsong. I fell in love with the book and went out and bought everything of hers that I could find. I didn’t discover her until 1976 but I made up for lost time. I’m a fast reader and was so happy to have several books available in order to catch up. I’ve read just about everything she has written and my bookcases will attest to that claim. I got the first Dragonriders books (Dragonflight, Dragonquest, and The White Dragon) in an omnibus from the Science Fiction Book Club sometime in 1978 (I think.) It finally fell apart a year ago, 2010 and I bought a new copy. I’ve read all her books, especially any relating to Pern so many times that, well, the books fell apart. I cried when Robinton died (All the Weyrs of Pern, 1991) and was happy when Menolly walked the tables in Dragonsinger (1977) and wished I could be a Dolphineer along with either the first settlers (The Chronicles of Pern: First Fall, 1993 and The Dolphins of Pern, 1994)
McCaffrey also wrote about a future world where those with psychic ability were integrated in various ways into the fabric of society and in The Ship who Sang created a future where those born with quick minds but bodies unable to sustain them found life as “brains”, attached to cities, space stations, and best of all, space ships, that could travel to the Horsehead Nebula and back. She wrote the first brainship story herself and co-authored or authorized several more. In my dreams I partnered a brainship and became what I truly wanted to be, the first archaeologist on Mars.
One of McCaffrey’s books stumped me at first. Restoree featured a young woman who had been gleaned from New York by roving harvesters, the “Mil”. She managed to avoid become dinner and was instead “restored” to a beauty she had not previously possessed. (She had been flayed preparatory to becoming dinner.) She saves “the guy”, defeats the Mil, and helps solve the problems of the planet on which she has landed. She was not your usual SciFi heroine. The book was subversive and a lot of fun and the fact that it seemed to follow the old “formula” flipping it on its head. McCaffrey followed it up much later with a series that followed the premise, the Catteni series, but I didn’t enjoy that series quite as much.
McCaffrey’s Crystal Singer series is one of my favorites as well. It illustrated the choices we make and why we make them, and the events that transpire thereafter.
McCaffrey also dealt with the problems of time travel, the Generation Warriors and Ireta series) and of intergalactic politics (Doona) I told my son the story of the Decision at Doona. He was taken by Todd’s wearing a fake tale and decided to start wearing a belt as a tail so he could be a dinosaur.
McCaffrey paired up with another of my favorite authors (Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, Healer’s War) to create the PeeTay Bee and the Barque Cats series. The PeeTayBee series feature selkies. What more is there to say.
Anne McCaffrey’s son Todd is continuing her work in Pern. He is taking a time between the beginning and the end and making it his own. He is true to his mother’s vision but is infusing his own sight into the series. I enjoy his work, it isn’t exactly the same but it is different/good.
Books about human/seals and cats, dragons, unicorns, ships who sing and excavate alien sites, psychics who save the galaxy, pirates and crystal singers…Anne McCaffrey gave me worlds away, places to play. She knew people, she knew how we are and she saw how we could be. I’ll miss her and I’m not alone.


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