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November 23, 2011

Anne McCaffrey (1926 - 2011)
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 07:02 AM * 66 comments

I’m not an expert on McCaffrey or her works; she wasn’t a major part of my adult literary life. So I’m not really qualified to write a coherent obituary for her. There are some good ones already up: io9 and Tor.com have both done a better job than I could.

But she was important to me. Her works were to my adolescent self what Helinlein juveniles were to a lot of people fifteen or twenty years older. They opened up a world of storytelling that I hadn’t encountered before. I saw characters like me—or like I wished to be—going through adventures I wanted to go on, without too much of the saccharine taste of Mary Sue. I’ve been Menolly in my imagination, and Lessa, and Helva, and the Rowan. And although I’ve outgrown a lot of those stories now, some part of me always will want to live in a cave by the sea with my fire lizards.

Comments on Anne McCaffrey (1926 - 2011):
#1 ::: Naomi ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 07:43 AM:

Thanks Abi for posting the sad news. I will never forget her wonderful books, her incredible world of Pern and the characters that inhabited it. I've always had problems rereading books but not Anne McCaffrey's. She will be truly missed but I hope that people will continue to read her works.

#2 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 08:20 AM:

"The Ship Who Sang" is one of the best stories ever written, period. It was a standout in an anthology which changed my life.

#3 ::: Suzanne ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 08:35 AM:

As a kid, I lived and breathed her books, and even though it's probably been decades since I've read anything by her, they were and are a part of who I am now. Very sad to hear of her passing, but also and always very grateful for what she gave me.

#4 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 08:59 AM:

I remember reading "The Ship Who Sang" with her, aloud, to a hushed audience at Swancon 5, concluding with "Taps". If there was a dry eye in the house, I certainly couldn't see it.

I am now holding a glass of McAllen 18 year old. Here's to her.

#5 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 09:16 AM:

I first encountered "Dragonsong" when I was ten years old. If it hadn't been for "Dragonsong," I would probably never have connected with the friend who introduced me to Dungeons and Dragons. If it hadn't been for that, I would probably never have had anything to talk about with the boys who introduced me to Hitchhiker's (one of those boys was Lev Grossman, he played cello in the children's orchestra where I played flute). If it hadn't been for Hitchhiker's, I would never have connected to the friend who brought me to my first science fiction convention, when I was 14. If it hadn't been for that, I would likely never have had a date in high school. And so on.

Looking back, I see a lot of things to criticize in the Dragonriders books, much as I loved them back then. But the Harper Hall trilogy still comforts me and cheers me, and I suspect they always will.

Hail and farewell, and heartfelt thanks.

#6 ::: Kirilaw ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 10:30 AM:

Thank you for this, Abi. You've managed to capture what she meant to me, too. The number of adolescent stories I wrote that were really about McCaffrey's dragons with the serial numbers (barely) filed off...

She will be sorely missed.

#7 ::: Janet Brennan Croft ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 10:33 AM:

I remember thinking it was an excellent omen when I found out my freshman dorm assignment was Harper Hall. I'll pull some weeds out of cracks in the pavement to defend against Thread in remembrance. Thank you, Anne.

#8 ::: Melody ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 10:52 AM:

McCaffrey helped me survive a difficult and awkward adolescence, and I will always be in her debt. To this day when I really need it, "Dragonsinger" is there to remind me what it's like to lose yourself in something magical. It is the go-to book for my SiL when she wakes in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep. Doesn't matter that both of us know it by heart...or maybe that is the point.

#9 ::: pedantic peasant ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 11:03 AM:

I still can't believe it.

McCaffrey's Dragonriders and Harper's Hall pulled me back into reading -- and especially reading science fiction -- in high school. Her Ship who Sang collaborations and the Freedom series were great fun.

She is probably half the reason I am who and how I am today.

#10 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 11:20 AM:

Oh no, oh no, oh no... please not this.

There was supposed to be one more book, about Lessa and F'lar after the Pass was over.

...all is well, safely rest...God is nigh...

#11 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 11:32 AM:

The Pern books meant much the same to me in my adolescence. I think what I had read before in F/SF must have been the Heinlein/Asimov/Bradbury/Clarke golden age of canon that, good as it was, had a particularly traditionally male point of view. With Pern, I was offered the chance, for the first time as a young straight male, to imaginatively identify with a female protagonist.

#12 ::: Jenny Islander ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 11:41 AM:

@Rikibeth no. 5: My successful college application included an essay on Menolly of Half Circle Hold. My one year at that college was a wash academically, but if I hadn't gone that far away from my normal milieu I wouldn't have ventured to contact the first support group and counselor that helped me begin climbing out of the pit that PTSD had made of my life. If I hadn't started getting my head straight, I wouldn't have been able to sustain a relationship with the man to whom I am now married. If he had not been there during one particular afternoon to support me, my relationship with my family, already fraught, would have collapsed entirely. And of course three people who are now living would not have been born--and given our personalities, the two of us, if not together, would probably be in separate slow hells of loneliness right now.

So while I have a lot of problems with McCaffrey's work, she was an indirect cause of a lot of good things in my life. And I still love Menolly.

#13 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 11:45 AM:

One of the things I liked about McCaffrey's work was that even when she wrote about women who appeared to fill traditional roles and appeared to be traditional characters, all you had to do was wait a few pages to be shown that they were more.

Even in the bodice-ripper of Restoree, there's more to the women than meets the eye. (Yes, I love that book, and I am not ashamed to say it. It was and is great fun and hasn't dated as much as you might think.)

For one thing, they all _think_.

I "met" her at just the right time, I think, in my life. I was 10 and reading in the young adult section of the library when The Ship Who Sang appeared on the shelves. We had a great children's librarian who loved SF&F; she packed the children's and young adult sections with the stuff and I steadily read my way through it. There were a lot of women writers on those shelves--Le Guin, Engdahl, Elgin, Reed, McCaffrey, and more--and they all brought something special and different to the table and to my life.

I have some very beat-up McCaffrey paperbacks at home, and though I haven't read them for years, they're permanent parts of my collection.

#14 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 12:07 PM:

Add me to the list of those mourning her passing. But what a legacy of books to leave behind! Yes, some of them were more suited to my adolescence than to me as an adult reader - but there are others I still turn to for comfort reading - I still get tears in my eyes just remembering certain scenes in "The Ship Who Sang" never mind actually re-reading it.

Also, after I'd burbled to her about them in my teenage years, my step-grandmother read some of Anne McCaffrey's books - she wasn't interested in the stuff about dragons or whatever, but she enjoyed the characters and their relationships.

#15 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 12:15 PM:

Anne McCaffrey lost me after about the third or fourth dragon book (too many fire lizards, increasing formulaic writing, and worst of all, not enough Lessa) but I still can't read "Weyr Search" without thinking, wow.

And that's more than enough to one to be remembered for.

#16 ::: Peter ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 12:26 PM:

I met her when I was a teen (back in the 70s), and our family was living in Ireland.

My mother had been thrown from a horse [1], and Anne drove her home [2]. She visited a few times, but I never associated her with some of the books I had read until much later, after we lost contact.

One of the things I remembered was that she said she had based a number of characters in the Pern series on some of the horses at Brennanstown Riding Stables. I loathed horses (at that time) [3], so I never inquired further.

Notes:
1 - A major source of command input for horses are the legs of the rider: their position, motion and squeezing. Leg input will usually countermand bridle input, and when one is as bad/incompetent as my mother was, even the most gentle horse will rebel and get the irritation off. Think of it as a gag reflex for one's back. She always asked for the gentlest, oldest horse, and the horses would almost always go bonkers. With the horse bucking, this time, onlookers are asking "how are you staying on?" Mother replied "just like this" and with that, the horse drops its head and she flies over the head. It turned out she had fractured a vertebra, but we only found that out when the backache didn't go away for several days.
2 - I seem to remember that it was a VW Beetle.
3 - Probably just because my sister loved them.

#17 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 12:28 PM:

I want to say something different about her. Her books never grabbed me -- they were okay, but not something that really went inside.

But in 1969, she was the president of SFWA, and I was a young fan. Quinn Yarbro was one of the people who got me into fandom, and was the secretary of SFWA, and got me to go to St. Louiscon (the Worldcon that year). I volunteered to work for SFWA, going and finding authors for interviews and the like. After the convention, Annie sent me (and Guy Lillian, the other person who did this) wonderful certificates making us members of the Fellowship of the Foot, with a strange bird-like claw drawn on them and her signature and thumbprint.

She knew a great deal about how to motivate young geeky volunteers (as did, and does, Quinn). Both Guy and I are still very active in fandom. I learned a lot about encouraging volunteers from her, and I continue to try to live up to her standards. She was a class act, and I wish her all the very best in her next stage of existence. We won't forget.

#18 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 12:30 PM:

I've said this elsewhere, but I can't help repeating: Dragonflight was the first book I ever bought with my own money. I was about 12, and it was the 75-cent paperback edition; I remember fretting over whether or not I had enough pennies for the tax (75 cents was a lot of money to twelve-year-old me). I've since gone on to buy more sf and fantasy novels--more novels--than I can easily count, and it all started with McCaffrey's Dragons.

I still think it was a pretty good place to start.

#19 ::: Neil in Chicago ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 12:54 PM:

Perhaps my very first great fannish memory is of Anne leaning on Randall Garrett the night she celebrated her Hugo for the first dragon story.
(For calibration, some years later, I saw her put away over a bottle of champagne in two hours in front of an audience, with no one even noticing. (Except Gordy Dickson, who was pouring.))

#20 ::: Lylassandra ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 01:08 PM:

I still remember the day when I decided I was old enough to read "grown-up" books. I walked into the SF/F section, grabbed the first book I spotted with a dragon on it, and took it to my mom to make sure I was allowed to read it. She took one look at it and said "I think your dad used to read those. Go ask him." He gave the ok, and it sparked a lifelong love of the genre and filled the three miserable years of middle school, possibly keeping me from suicide. The book was Dragonflight.

#21 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 01:33 PM:

McCaffrey's tied in to a whole lot of my early fannish memories. Not only did I read a bunch of her novels as a teen (the six Pern novels that exists in 1979, To Ride Pegasus, Decision at Doona), but I got to (briefly) meet her just before the first fannish convention I ever attended, the Lunacon where she was GoH (1983).

A few years later I perpetrated my first act of fanfic, writing a Pern story (or sorts) with my friends Lisa Padol and Harold Feld for the Pern ficzine Lisa had dragooned us into. (Either "dragooned" or "impressed"; there are no better verbs for getting someone into a Pern zine.) "Writing" may be overstating things; as I recall, it was mostly Harold and me improvising comedic dialog at each other (in the manner of Cerebus and Elrod), while Lisa begged us to slow down so she could get it on paper.

#22 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 01:33 PM:

I'm afraid I'm going to have to repost verbatim what I wrote in John Scalzi's tribute thread, because this has been getting harder and more raggedy every time I find a new breath for it: -

I was twelve, and in various ways less than happy, when I first encountered Dragonflight: the start of a long literary affection, and an eye-opener in a lot of ways. Lessa was my first bookcrush, and what a crush she was: it wasn’t until much later that I stood far enough back to notice that she just happened to be the first female protagonist I’d ever met who simply pulled me straight into her viewpoint and kept me there to the last gasp of the race. What this particular character identification says about me, who knows?

This was only the start. Anne McCaffrey also introduced me to, among other things: science fantasy; dragons as I’d desired them to be since I was knee-high to a grasshopper and heart-hungry for dinosaurs; the concept and necessity of fanfiction; the powerful domestic (esp. Harper Hall) and romantic (everywhere) strains in a genre I’d always seen overwhelmingly in terms of the heroic, epic, scientific, and high-political... I can’t even go on. Today she has far less direct influence on my style and tastes than almost any of the other writers who captivated me in my personal Golden Age – but her characters still show strongly among my friendly ghosts, and there are images from those books that have scarcely dimmed on me in thirty years remembered.

Oh, aye: there goes one I shall be missing. Wind to her wings.

#23 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 01:45 PM:

I didn't realize that Anne McCaffery was writing romance novels until I was about twenty, which was fifteen years after I started reading them. And if romance novels can be as amazing as Dragonflight or The Ship Who Sang, well, maybe I didn't get to hate the entire genre after all, and doesn't that just make sense? Aren't people going to fall in love even when they've got spaceships and Strange Mental Powers and dragons, and isn't that worth talking about? It was a very mind-stretching notion for a twenty-year-old geek who'd grown up thinking "romance" meant "bad series romance."

#24 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 02:11 PM:

There are a lot of things that present-day-me wouldn't like about the Pern novels, none of which matter now; what matter now are the many things that young me did love in them, first the Harper Hall books and then the Dragonriders. There should be a word for books you loved and read to pieces and will never reread again, to honor that love and let your memories remain fond ones, to keep them safe always from the ravages of the Suck Fairy.

#25 ::: Gray Woodland ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 02:28 PM:

mjfgates @ 23: One of the many good things Anne McCaffrey did for me, too, was to open up one small but completely unobstructed channel to the otherwise obviously girly and uninteresting genre of romance. She wasn't the only such sapper - there was sterling work going on in classic crime fiction too, all unbeknownst to me - but she was certainly the one working closest to the centre of my interests.

Any quarrels I now have with her treatment, are more than counterbalanced not only by the good I got at the time, but also by the distinct suspicion that I owe her at least part of the sheer delight I get from - for instance - the best of Lois Bujold.

#26 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 03:02 PM:

Lori, #10: Todd's been doing most of the writing for at least the last 5 years. I'm sure he'll finish it.

My reaction is here.

#27 ::: Benjamin Wolfe ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 03:42 PM:

Arguably, reading Anne McCaffery's work is what got me in to reading science fiction as a preteen - I haven't read any of it since high school, but it certainly got me started, and I read and reread most of her books for years. I wound up with a nearly complete set of her published work, all of which is sitting on a shelf in my parents' basement. Her work isn't what I'd read now, but I'm grateful that she wrote it, since it's what got me started.

#28 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 04:13 PM:

Sadly, I'm one of those to whom the Suck Fairy was merciless when it came to rereading Anne McCaffrey's novels and shorts. But there was a series of years in my teens when I read everything of hers I could get my hands on, and, when I couldn't get my hands on anything new, reread anything of hers on my shelf.

And there was one summer when I watched for dragonflies and mentally classified them in Pernish terms. They came so conveniently in blue, green, bronze, and gold. (The black ones with the spots on their wings were hitherto undocumented species, sort of mental fanfic for The White Dragon.)

Someone gave me a copy of that great big coffee-table book of artwork and recipes and other worldbuilding touches to do with Pern. There is a baklava recipe in there I've been meaning to try. Maybe now's as good a time as any.

#29 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 05:42 PM:

I never got to really talk with her, but she was the first author I actually met and got a book (Moreta) signed by - for which event I risked being late back to high school after lunch time (I'd never previously been late for afternoon registration), because she was signing at Odyssey 7, down Oxford Road, just a bus ride from school, and there was no way she was going to be holding a signing that close and I wasn't going to be there. I must have been about 17.

#30 ::: Alan Yee ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 05:46 PM:

Sad news. I know she's an SF legend who has influenced many writers.

So far I've only read the first three books of the main Dragonriders of Pern series and three Harper Hall books. There were certain writing tics (she loved to use certain words over and over again, such as "consternation") and other things I was a little disturbed by (the part about dragonriders having sex with each other while the dragons are mating is problematic because of all the issues it brings up about consent). Nonetheless, those six books were enjoyable enough that I intend to read the rest of the Pern books eventually.

#31 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 06:19 PM:

Anne McCaffrey was one of my first introductions to Grown Up Fantasy. I liked Lessa, but she actually irritated me somewhat. It was Menolly who cemented my love for Pern. And the Freedom series and Pegasus and... Damia was the only book of hers I truly didn't like, and that's because of the character. I don't know if I see issues when I reread - possibly some thickness on my part, but as it means I get to still love them, I don't mind.

#32 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 06:38 PM:

Lessa irritates pretty much everyone. :) (In the books, that is.)

#33 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 06:40 PM:

Restoree was the book that got me to consider the possibility that romance wasn't a genre I should write off entirely as Aimed At Girls, Therefore Worthless. (And isn't it sad that a girl would think that was true, too? But another girl all grown up could show me otherwise.) Girls could indeed be heroes, and not always by taking up swords and being better at violence than the boys. By the time I realized there was going to be all sorts of romance in it, I was too caught up in the story to stop reading.

All of her dragon stories were the gateway drug for the whole devoted companion animal genre, which later led me to Mercedes Lackey (who got me to Tamora Pierce) and Steven Brust (hey, I read the first book for the shoulder dragon it promised) and eventually, in weird twists and turns, to A Companion to Wolves and its beautiful deconstruction of the genre, which I never would have appreciated as well if I hadn't read the books that started that subgenre...

Her books are still sitting on a shelf here, in eyeshot of my computer. The spouse reads them more than I do, and yet, we both consider her dearly missed.

#34 ::: Larry ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 07:19 PM:

This makes me sad. Her books were for me, like many, staples of my youth. It helped introduce me to SF as well. I still have the dragonriders books laying around somewhere too.

#35 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 07:37 PM:

Alan Yee #30: the part about dragonriders having sex with each other while the dragons are mating is problematic because of all the issues it brings up about consent

It's also an obvious consequence of the telempathic link.

I don't want to get too far afield here, but our liberal segment of Western culture has tried to set up a taboo about rape -- which is all very well, but we've been trying to extend it well beyond actual rape, not just to any sex where consent isn't nailed down beforehand, but to any vaguely sex-related activity, where one or both parties don't meet strict rules for being allowed to consent. (inter alia, I'm thinking of those dual "statutory rape" prosecutions for 16- and 17-year-olds who presumed to fool around with each other. There have been worse cases.)

That degree of prohibition is not even universal within American culture, much less our world. Applying it to a different world, much less with a major difference in "how people can relate to each other" in play, is pretty dubious.

#36 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 08:00 PM:

P.S. to me at #35: My reason for including the third case above is not to straw-man Alan Yee, but because in the telempathy case, it's not actually clear whether "modern" rules would place it in the second or third case.

#37 ::: geekosaur ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 08:07 PM:

With respect to consent: while I don't recall it ever being followed up, IIRC there are hints that it's part of why there is tension between dragonriders and commoners.

#38 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 09:28 PM:

geekosaur, #37: Not just hints -- it's stated pretty explicitly in Dragonriders as being a source of friction. Dragonriders are considered fast and licentious, especially by contrast with the relatively straitlaced Hold culture.

Also, the dragonriders Search, and they take young, pretty women, and whether those women Impress or not, they generally don't come back. IIRC, it's mentioned that the women generally find life in a Weyr to be less confining (both sexually and in terms of having more options) than life in a Hold or Crafthall.

The bit I didn't get, and still feel a little dumb for missing, was the logical implication of "Riders whose dragons are mating have sex, and most Riders are male". It went right past me until McCaffrey hit everyone over the head with it in The White Dragon.

#39 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 09:55 PM:

Lee #38: Hmm. it's not clear to me why telempathic ability (which is pretty clearly what they're looking for) would correlate with beauty. It's been too long since I read them (and I'm not sure I'd have noticed), but if there are no homely queen riders, I'd count that as a fault for the author.

#40 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 10:00 PM:

Also, something I just thought of: If telempathic talent is heritable, then Search has certain implications for the semi-distinct populations of Weyr versus Hold and Crafthall. On the other hand, the fire-lizards seem to indicate that the talent isn't too segregated....

#41 ::: Megpie71 ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 10:13 PM:

I fell for Pern as a teenager, and it stayed at the level of being a mad-keen crush for years. The bloom started to wear off when what I think of as the "second mortgage" writing started to come out (the stuff where she basically took the short stories from "Get Off The Unicorn" and expanded them into full novels), and somewhere along the line I had to recognise I'd grown past her stuff. But "Dragonflight" was the door into a whole wonderful world of new things and new people (and something I'd never really expected when I grabbed the copy of the book from the shelves in the lounge-room of my parents house at around the age of twelve).

She had a good innings. She wrote stuff which affected a lot of people, including me. She will be missed.

#42 ::: CathiBea ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 10:28 PM:

Sadness
She wrote the first books that I bought with money that I earned myself, working for someone that was not family. (the 75 cent versions of Dragonflight & Dragonquest. Still in the collection, helt together with rubber bands) I have not stopped spending on books before other things since. The first idea that what you are told is not always the best thing still sticks in the brain & gets checked often.

#43 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 11:10 PM:

Friend Abi speaks my mind in this matter.

#44 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 11:36 PM:

I'm still crying occasionally (I'm REAL sentimental and prone to tears sometimes) about this.

She introduced me to dragons as not evil. she introduced me to stories where girls/women got ahead and DID STUFF. And I admired her deeply even though I'm sure our paths never crossed more than an autograph line (if that, I'm not a big autograph person).

My Kayli stories, sold to MZB for several anthologies, were inspired and fostered by her views of dragons -- not evil, but great friends of humankind.

I loved her works and am going to miss her presence.

#45 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 23, 2011, 11:49 PM:

Anne McCaffrey's work is something I have to be careful about because I cannot turn off the me I am now when I read it, and as many have mentioned, there are big problems.

But it's not the me I am now who's sad, it's the fourteen-year-old inside me.

#46 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 07:53 AM:

I also encountered Anne McCaffrey and Pern in the local library when I was roughly 15 years old and I absolutely loved them. I've not re-read them for a long time now, mostly on purpose but to the teenaged me they were a lifeline and hugely important.

#47 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 24, 2011, 11:56 AM:

She was a true trailblazer, and a gracious and generous person, AND she could sing. May the road rise to meet you, Anne, and may music be your companion on this journey.

#48 ::: arwel ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 08:05 AM:

dcb @29, I suspect we were at the same signing! About 1984, I think. Moreta's one of the few books I've bothered to get signed. I must have discovered her books in my local library around 1974 - I can certainly remember buying one of the Menolly books at WH Smiths at Norwich station to read on the train home from uni, one vacation in 1977 or 78.

#49 ::: Mycroft W ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 11:12 AM:

Mrs. McCaffrey was the #1 name writer at a library/children's writing conference held annually in Calgary one year. The trick was that the local librarians would host the writers at their house for the 3 days of the conference, and get them to their talks, and show them around the city.

I was invited to the notary dinner, as Mrs. McCaffrey was speaking. I remember three things:
- the speech was riveting (which wasn't easy to do to an 11 year old who couldn't sit still)
- I was at the seat that won the door prize for the table
- which was a boxed set of the Harper Hall trilogy, which I then made a fool of myself asking for autographs for.

Absolutely no problem, it turned out; even though it wasn't a signing time, and she'd just done with her work for the day.

My story seems to be "that's just the way she was." That, with nothing else, is a memory worth respecting. And there was so much else.

And I do love the "ships who..."

#50 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 02:26 PM:

I never met her, but it sure sounds like I would have liked her. My condolences to all who knew her (which sounds like it's also the set of people who loved her).

#51 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 03:29 PM:

It must have been 1985, at the Glasgow Albacon that year. What I remember was a breakfast, and through some fannish connection being at the same table as Anne McCaffrey. I think we exchanged anecdotes about farming and the EU.

#52 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 09:24 PM:

McCaffrey grabbed me with the Pern novels Also with the character of Menolly. Not an easy thing to do when your reader was what I was at the time, a cynical young man in his mid-twenties.

#53 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 25, 2011, 11:44 PM:

I was introduced to Anne McCaffrey's books by my mother, who basically said, "You'll like these." I am young enough that I didn't know how groundbreaking they were, because of course women in books were like that. (I was also introduced to James Schmitz around the same time—again, no clue how groundbreaking he'd been.)

I think there's worse legacies to leave behind than a spate of women who are unselfconsciously strong, because that's just the way women are.

And Melissa Singer, I love Restoree too. Aside from a couple of dated twitches ("Jewish nose", yearrgh), it's held up well. In fact, I could see it made into a miniseries adaptation with almost no changes, if it didn't have such strong echoes of V.

#54 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 09:12 AM:

B. Durbin: as one with a Jewish nose, that just doesn't jump out at me as it might at others. In "the tribe," there is much discussion of noses and how a great beaky nose adds character and distinction to a face.

#55 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: November 26, 2011, 04:01 PM:

Melissa Singer @54: I am a great connoisseur of noses. Currently, this one is my favorite.

#56 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 11:07 AM:

David Harmon @39:

Plain queen riders: Brekke, rider of Wirenth; IIRC, Torene is described as having "strong features;" and even Moreta is striking not beautiful.

The only GORGEOUS queen rider, Kylara Prideth's rider, turns out to be flat out evil IMO.
And look at the clue in her dragon's name...

Lee @26: -- thanks...

#57 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 11:54 AM:

Lori Coulson #56: OK, looks like McCaffree dodged that one.

On a more advanced level, I recall that Kylara was also (IIRC, the only queen rider) noted as liking very rough sex -- at one point she shows up with bruises and reminiscences about how her lover "knows how she likes it". Tagging that on the "evil" QR with that is a little iffy, but like I said, that's the Advanced Course in PC.

#58 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 12:20 PM:

Melissa Singer @ 54... as one with a Jewish nose...

My wife says that French-Canadians have prominent conks. Yes, she's married to a French-Canadian.

#59 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 01:52 PM:

Lori Coulson (56): Prideth's rider ... look at the clue in her dragon's name

Oh, man, I never caught that. Doh!

#60 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 03:00 PM:

David, #57: OTOH, McCaffrey also wrote non-SF romances, in one of which the heroine is clearly indicated to enjoy spanking and other forms of (mild) pain. So it could just as easily be argued that she was ahead of her time in tolerance for kink. And IIRC, Kylara liked it rough with her non-dragonrider lover because that intensified the sensation to almost the level of sex-during-mating; she wants both of them to have fire lizards because she thinks that might be the extra boost she needs.

Mary Aileen, #59: I didn't either, but that's because I mentally pronounced "Prideth" with a short "i". I'd want to know how McCaffrey pronounced it before I would consider it to be a hidden clue.

#61 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 03:10 PM:

Lee @60: The fault may be in my reading -- I can't see "Prideth" without thinking
"...pride goeth before a fall and a haughty spirit before destruction..."

If that isn't Kylara in one soundbite then I've misjudged her.

#62 ::: Nicole Fitzhugh ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 03:52 PM:

@B. Durbin,
I saw your comment on one of the other obituaries-- about the Nora stories, and just wanted to agree wholeheartedly. They've stuck in my mind for many years.

Her works were some of the first I encountered with very sympathetic openly gay characters and with physical disabilities that were just that-- physical. It was also the first place where I saw a character with Down's syndrome treated as part of the story.

#63 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2011, 04:02 PM:

Lee (60): I pronounce(d) it pry-death, with the 'd' part of the second syllable not the first.

#64 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2011, 04:30 PM:

Melissa Singer: my problem with the phrase in that context is that the protagonist, pre-abduction, wants to save up her money for a nose job and her mother says "only Jewish girls get nose jobs" and her reply is that her nose looks Jewish. Very much a marker of its time and not particularly nice, either.

P.S. I have a distinctive nose. I also have the strong features to go with it. ;)

#65 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2011, 04:46 PM:

B. Durbin: Very much of its time indeed. Both of my female first cousins (7 and 9 years younger than me) got nose jobs around their 16th birthdays . . . that would have been the early-to-mid 1980s. To this day, I am not sure whether they pushed for the surgery or their parents decided for them.

Most of the Jewish female teenagers I've known in the last decade have left their noses alone.

#66 ::: edward oleander ::: (view all by) ::: December 02, 2011, 10:41 PM:

The 1970s. Moorcock at 9. Murphy at 10. Herbert at 11. Heinlein and Burroughs at 12. Asimov at 13... Dang, this is all great stuff. Too bad women can't wri.... Whoooooooooa... Pern.

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