News broke on Tuesday that acclaimed sci-fi and fantasy author Anne McCaffrey had passed away at her home in Ireland on Monday. She was 85 at the time of her death and leaves behind quite a legacy: she wrote or co-wrote over 100 novels, including the hugely popular Dragonriders of Pern series; was the 1999 Margaret A. Edwards Award winner; was a SFWA Grand Master and inducted into the SF Hall of Fame; and was the first woman to win the Hugo and Nebula Awards.
I read fantasy and sci-fi almost exclusively from late elementary school through early high school, and especially in middle school, I think I read (and re-read) more of Anne McCaffrey’s books than any other author’s. Her Pern books got me so hooked on dragons that I started writing my own story about dragons. It stole liberally from other fantasy novels I was reading at the time, had absolutely no plot or character development, and rambled on and on (and on) for pages, but it consumed me for months. It’s embarrassing to read now, but I keep it as a testament to my obsession with dragons and Ms. McCaffrey, and with her ability to build worlds so real I became lost in them.
Jana R. Fine, the chair of the Edwards Committee that selected Anne McCaffrey as a winner, said, “Her books have become science fiction classics and have ‘impressed’ young adult readers for 30 years. Although set in imaginary worlds, McCaffrey’s focus on the personal and emotional need of human beings mirrors the quest of today’s teens to find their own place in society.” In addition to winning the Edwards Award, she contributed to a book that was a 1999 Alex Award winner and had a book appear on the 2005 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults list “The Gateway to Faerie.”
Anne McCaffrey will be missed by all of her readers: those there at the start with Restoree in 1967, those obsessed with her work while she was still writing decades later, and those who have yet to discover her brilliance.
— Gretchen Kolderup
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