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.