Rest In Peace, Anne McCaffrey

    Posted by Word Taster, 4 years ago

    It is with incredible sadness that I learned today of the passing of a great dame of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Anne McCaffrey. She passed away yesterday, November 21st, 2011, at her home, Dragonhold–Underhill, in Ireland, of a stroke.

    She was one of the first science fiction writers whose work I discovered independently, having been raised on classic SF by my Dad. However, her Pern books were not something that were part of his 'canon' which tended toward more "hardcore" science fiction, and Annie's books, particularly her early Pern and "Talents" books (which began with the collection of short stories, "Get Off the Unicorn" - misnamed by a junior editor who mistook the word "of" for "off", a mistake she decided not to correct) were more appealing to a girl of 11, than to her dad. Throughout her life, she published close to 100 books, and co-authored over 30, with authors such as S. M. Stirling, Misty Lackie, Jody Lynn Nye, Margaret Ball, Elizabeth Moon, and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, and her own son, Todd McCaffrey.

    Many of these women were also favourite authors of mine, and about 10 years ago, I was surprised to make the acquaintance of Annie Scarborough through her work as a fellow bead artist. Shortly after, by a strange coincidence, I became good friends with two of Annie McCaffrey's long-time first readers, and through an even stranger series of events, became acquainted with Annie McCaffrey herself. She was a most incredible woman; surprisingly warm and accessible, a dry wit and great intellect, and a lovely person. Though she did not suffer fools gladly, she could be both patient and giving, and was incredibly loyal. It was these qualities, as well as her wonderful writing, that helped draw so many of her fans to the conventions she so often participated in as her health permitted, particularly Atlanta's DragonCon, which she tried to get to as often as possible (her Pern books made her a favourite for obvious reasons), and she often sat as a judge for science fiction awards.

    She, herself, was the first woman to win a Hugo, and then a Nebula award, and with her book "The White Dragon" she became the first with a science fiction title on the New York Times Bestseller List. In 2005, the Science Fiction Writers of America named her their 22nd Grand Master, and she was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2006.

    I can't imagine what the too-often sterile, frustrating and sometimes painful years I spent during my teens in Regina would have been like without her writing, and the writing of other authors her generous praise introduced me to. I can't count the times I've reread her books, and they are to me, what she herself called, "comfort books" - those we go to when we need an old friend to relax and renew ourselves with. Whether her Pern books, the books in the Talents/Tower & Hive/Barque Cat series', the Ship and City (Brain and Brawn) books, Petaybee, the Crystal universe books, or her other series, the worlds of her books encompass something for almost everyone.

    She was 85 years old.

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