Anne McCaffrey passed away in November, two years ago. I have been thinking a lot about ‘Dragonflight’ lately, and I am reposting this tribute, which I originally posted on my old blog on November 22, 2011.
Things I learned as a teen from Anne McCaffrey:
- Talent and beauty can be found anywhere, in even the poorest of fish-holds; in the meanest and most abusive of environments, something can still blossom. All that is needed is the courage to believe in one’s own worth. Menolly taught me that.
- Compassion must always triumph over tradition. Lessa taught me that.
- When you and your spouse are irritating each other, the proper answer is not to plead, argue, or ignore, but simply to draw her close and kiss her. F’lar taught me that.
- Sometimes, there is no evil in being a follower rather than a leader, if the cause is one that touches your heart and the leader is one you believe in. F’nor taught me that.
When I was a young writer, McCaffrey was one of those novelists who taught me that genre is an artifice, and that the only thing that might keep musicians’ schools, flights of dragons, and derelict spacecraft from co-existing in the same pages is our own lack of imagination. Just as the only thing that might keep fishermen’s daughters and nobles from eating dinner together is our lack of imagination when it comes to people and our unwillingness to look into each other’s eyes.
I did not love every book Anne wrote, and I did not read further than the first nine or ten Pern books. But I can think of only a handful of writers who opened up my imagination as a young reader as deeply and poignantly and captivatingly as Anne McCaffrey did.
She is no longer here. She is now off the map — in the white spaces, the unknown, “where there be dragons.” But I would still wish her well and thank her for her fiction.