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In Memory of Pern: A Tribute to Anne McCaffrey

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.

Michael Whelan. Moreta.

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.

Stant Litore

Stant Litore is a novelist. He writes about gladiators on tyrannosaurback, Old Testament prophets battling the hungry dead, geneticists growing biological starships, time-traveling hijabi bisexual defenders of humanity from the future. Explore his fiction here. And here is one of his toolkits for writers, and here’s another book where he nerds out about ancient languages and biblical (mis)translation. Enjoy!

4 thoughts on “In Memory of Pern: A Tribute to Anne McCaffrey

  1. Excellent tribute. I enjoyed it immensely. I didn’t think at all to post anything about Anne McCaffrey or what I learned, reading her books, mostly because I was in major shock due to the serious illness, then the sudden passing of my best friend Jeff at the time. But I like to think I’d have come up with a few of the same sorts of things . . . all I know is, I praise Ms. McCaffrey’s invention and writing skill and enjoyed nearly everything she wrote.

    I like to think that wherever she is now in eternity, she’s still enjoying herself and telling her stories.

  2. […] In Memory of Pern: A Tribute to Anne McCaffrey ( […]

  3. […] Dragonflight to films like 12 Monkeys. (You can read what Dragonflight meant to me here.) More recently, I loved the “Blink” and “Pandorica Opens” episodes of […]

  4. […] I got to meet Jody Lynn Nye, whom I’ve wanted to meet forever. When I was a kid, I used to stare longingly at the two-page Science Fiction Book Club ads in my mother’s magazines, and I’d take a pen and circle the covers of the books I wanted to read but that we didn’t have money for. One of the books was Jody Lynn Nye and Anne McCaffrey’s The Dragonlovers’ Guide to Pern. Long before I read Dragonflight, I fell in love with the dragonet on that cover, and the name “Jody Lynn Nye” appearing beneath it was a sort of magic phrase that meant (to me) “adventure, alien places, dragonets, and wonder, wonder, wonder.” Years later, I read Dragonflight and Dragonsong and Anne McCaffrey’s work had a huge impact on me as a young writer (and as a young human being). You can read what kind of impact in my Anne McCaffery eulogy, “In Memory of Pern.” […]

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