Nov 24th, 2011 by Maree Anderson in On Writing
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Anne McCaffrey: Gone Away, Gone Ahead
By Maree Anderson
(Cross-posted from Writers Gone Wild)
I was saddened to hear that one of my all-time favorite authors, Anne McCaffrey, passed away on Monday. She was 85, and passed away at her home that she’d called “Dragonhold” because it’d been “paid for by dragons”.
Anne was probably best known for her Dragonriders of Pern series, which smacked traditional Science Fiction mores into orbit by combining elements of pure science fiction with fantasy. Here be dragons… literally!
I had no idea when I picked up Dragonflight, the first book of the Dragonriders series, that it was written in 1968! I would have been in my early twenties at the time I discovered her books, and to this day, more than two decades later, her books with their fantastical worlds and compelling characters, are beautiful examples of writing that for me, never seems to date. Little wonder I have an entire bookshelf devoted to her books.
Although I love the Dragonrider books, The Crystal Singer trilogy, and series that kicked off with The Rowan
–among many others–my favorite Anne McCaffrey book still remains Restoree
, which is incidentally the first novel she ever published, back in 1967.
I’ve read that Restoree was written as a “jab” at the way women were typically portrayed in science fiction stories. Anne remarked she was always reading about “women cowering in a corner, awaiting rescue by the hero”. She found this objectionable: she would have been in there fighting!
The heroine of Restoree, Sara, is an “introverted, beak-nosed, 24-year-old virgin librarian from New York” who rescues both herself and the hero.
Here’s the blurb for Restoree:
“She was walking in Central Park when it happened…
And afterwards… after it was over… she found she had a new and beautiful body… a new and beautiful face. She was apparently a nurse in a ‘home’ controlled by guards, doctors, drugs and barred windows. And she was taking care of a man who appeared to be an idiot. But Sara knew she was not a nurse, and that the man was not an idiot. In fact he was Harlan, Regent of Lothar…
But what–and where–was Lothar?”
Anne was a prolific writer, with a boundless imagination. You only need to cast your gaze down this list of her books
to understand just how prolific and very talented she was.
As one of the authors on a writing group said, quoting directly from Anne’s Dragonrider books: “She’s gone away, gone ahead”. How very fitting.
Rest in peace, Anne. You will be sorely missed.