Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dragons Weep: Anne McCaffrey Dies At 85

Anne McCaffrey is best known for her series of books chronicling the lives of the Dragon Riders of Pern.
I read all her books. I loved them. Before McCaffrey came along I had always thought of dragons as fire-breathing monsters that burned villages and ate virginal maidens. But McCaffrey found a way to bring them into the future, mix the fantasy legend of dragons with the wonder and splendor of science fiction and turn out something totally new and different.

McCaffrey wrote more than 100 novels during her prolific career. She was the first woman to win any Hugo or any Nebula awards. Her books inspired an unknown number of new writers (myself included), but perhaps especially women who found their sex represented equally for the first time in her stories.

McCaffrey had a career which spanned four decades, saw her books on the New York Times Bestseller list and attracted legions of fans.

Her contributions to science fiction and fantasy were groundbreaking and her voice in the world of modern literature will be missed.

Born in Cambridge, Mass., McCaffrey was raised in New Jersey, where she graduated from Montclair High School.

In a biography posted on her website, she talked about her attempts at writing a first novel in Latin class, which "might have brought her instant fame, as well as an A, if she had written it in that ancient language."

Chastened, she said, by her teacher and father, she turned to the stage and became a character actress, appearing in a summer music circus in Lambertsville. She later graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College, majoring in Slavonic Languages and Literatures.

But it was the worlds she created on other planets that brought her fame, in a genre then dominated by men. Her first story was published in Science Fiction Plus Magazine. She said her first novel, Restoree, was written as a protest against the "absurd and unrealistic portrayals of women in s-f novels in the 50s and early 60s."

Emigrating to Ireland in 1970 with her three children following a divorce, McCaffrey ultimately published nearly 100 books, including The Ship Who Sang and the fourteen novels about the Dragonriders of Pern.

Click here to read more about McCaffrey.

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