Tuesday, November 22, 2011

RIP Anne McCaffrey

Today marks the death of one of the greatest sci-fi/fantasy authors I've ever read, Anne McCaffrey. She started me on the path of wanting to read and write fantasy.

I just thought I'd write some of the memories I have of her books and how they impacted my life. We'll see how much of this I can actually write without sniffling into the keyboard.

I first remember Anne McCaffrey books by Dragonflight, the first of the Dragonriders of Pern series that I read. Dad first recommended the book when I was 10 or so. I was too young to really understand it. Unfamiliar words and the fantasy ideas were not known to me. I couldn't keep all the people straight, but I loved the idea of being on a dragon. I'm pretty sure her books are what really started me on my obsession with dragons when I was a teen. In any case, after I read Dragonflight I found I really liked fantasy books, even if I lost a lot in that first reading from sheer confusion.

Her writing convinced me to go to the local library and get out of the teen section for real and look at adult fiction. I read as much as I could until I felt confident to re-read Dragonflight and understand it. I was nervous with that second reading. I wanted to understand the book so much I read it carefully. I normally speed through books, but I know I read this one slowly.

After that, I read the rest of the Dragonflight trilogy and loved The White Dragon. I quickly found her teen series, the Harper Hall series. By that time I was hooked.

(To be honest, the only Dragonriders of Pern book I have never finished was Moreta. Someday I really need to sit down and read it.)

The next really clear memory I have of her books is for her sci-fi book, The Rowan. I remember being over at a friend's house and her dad had the book laying out. I picked it up and started reading it, which looking back on it was probably pretty rude. I asked if I could borrow the book, but my friend's father wouldn't let me, the material was too mature, he said. I was in 6th grade. So I reserved the book at the library and got it when it came in next. I read that book incredibly quickly and read Damia, the second in the series. I never finished that series, I wasn't into sci-fi when I learned about the rest of the series, but I know my sister liked them.

Over the years I've read almost every Dragonriders of Pern book out there. Masterharper of Pern is by far my favorite, followed closely by Dolphins of Pern. Of course the Harper Hall trilogy is close to my heart, I always wanted to have my own fire-lizards, I even made a painting of it in high school. I loved that painting, of a small dragon curled around my fingers, but sadly I haven't been able to find it. No one in my family has it. I'm missing a whole slew of high school art projects but I don't know where any of them are, but it's the fire lizard painting I miss the most.

I thank Anne McCaffrey for giving me a love of the fantasy book, the quintessential novels that defined me as a teenager, her books helped me get through the worst of the teenage years when I just felt like I should do like Menolly and run away to my own secluded beach. My husband quickly realized how much I love her work, and over the past few years I have collected her Dragonriders books and a lot of her other books.

I even made her recipe for bubbly pies and tried to make klah (the Pern equivalent to coffee). The bubbly pies were tasty, but I will have to try the klah again, only use actual milk and sugar to sweeten it. I didn't know how bitter coffee was the time I made it. Heh. The recipes are in Dragonlovers Guide to Pern.

I want to thank her for being such a humble and amazing person. Her interviews always made me respect her. When asked about religion on Pern once, I remember she was told there had to be religion on Pern. No society could grow without one, she was told. Anne McCaffrey replied that it was her story and she could do with it what she wanted. This made me realize that books are whatever the author wants them to be, and I think that helped me want to be a writer. To make a world of your own design, how awesome is that?

I always loved reading her bio: "My hair is silver, my eyes are green and I still freckle: the rest is subject to change without notice."

Thank you Anne McCaffrey, you will be missed. I hope you're riding your own golden queen dragon in heaven.

1 comment:

  1. It's amazing to see how she's effected so many different writers. I've gotten a lot of surprising feedback from different people.