Anne McCaffrey Dead at 85

Well, heck.

Author Anne McCaffrey is no longer among us.

The creator of the Dragonriders of Pern series, and Helva, the Ship Who Sang, and so much else in an almost 60-year career, she died of a massive stroke on Monday, Nov. 21, at the age of 85.

McCaffrey blazed trails for female writers in winning first-ever Hugo and Nebula awards for a woman. Her first Pern story, Weyr Search, won a Hugo in 1968 for best novella; her second Pern story, Dragonrider, took the 1969 Nebula award in the same category.

Much as I suppose myself to be somebody who lives in the real world, throughout my life I have dearly loved fantasy and science fiction.

I missed some of her later books, the Acorna series, for instance, and the dragon collaborations with her son Todd, but her earlier works were dearly loved.

For me, they were something of a guilty pleasure. I sometimes turned the books face down when I checked them out of the library, or put them at the bottom of the stack when I turned up at the counter in the used book store — all so other men waiting in line wouldn’t see what I was reading and recoil in horror.

Some part of me always insisted her stories, populated as they were by female heroes, was “chick lit,” and that I would probably better spend my time reading Conan stories, or maybe Argosy Magazine’s tales of enraged grizzlies and the mortal perils of swinging-testicled he-men.

But I loved her stories of otherworldly adventure, and telepathic communion with beasts. I remember the excitement when each new book came out. I’ll miss McCaffrey for all those years of pleasurable reading.

One aspect of her career that has always tickled me is that she moved to Ireland in 1970 because the country made original creative artists exempt from taxes. The idea itself was delightful — I admired Ireland all the more for having done it — and I loved the fact that an American author just pulled up stakes and took advantage of it.

  • Julie

    That’s sad news. I read “The White Dragon” every couple of years or so – it was the first Pern book I ever read and has stayed my favourite ever since.

    One piece of advice – don’t bother reading any of the books written with or by Todd McCaffrey – they are bad beyond belief.


  • Didaktylos

    One of the things that strikes me about her stories is that her protagonists are very often people who find themselves having to face their world alone, sometimes due to the vagaries of fate, others because they refuse to compromise on their personal integrity. In the end, they triumph, because their integrity gives them the inner strength to outlast their opponents.

  • Old One-Eye

    “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven, Master Robinton”.

    Sad news. I know what I’ll be reading this weekend.

  • Lou Doench

    It has literally been a lifetime since I read any Mccafrey, luckily there has been plenty added to the library since then. Makes me sad. Next thing you’ll tell me that Katherine Kurtz has died.

  • rwahrens

    Anne was one of the greats. Definitely one of my favorites. I have enjoyed her books for literally decades.

    May she be remembered as one of America’s great literary greats.

  • rwahrens

    D’oh. brain fart – “one of America’s top literary greats.”

  • Chakolate

    I don’t think I’ve read any of the Pern books for years. But you know, I don’t have to. I loved them so well I lived in that universe for a while.

    I haven’t read any of her recent stuff, either, but I find I miss her.

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