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5 December 2011

A Tribute to Anne McCaffrey

ANNE McCAFFREY, the Irish/American Science Fiction writer, died on 21st November. This incredibly talented writer was my idol. I was enchanted by her 'Dragons of Pern' stories, and cried over 'The Ship Who Sang'. Many years ago. I wrote to her and was surprised and delighted to received a hand written postcard back, with the advice 'Write what you would like to read.' I've never forgotten it.

She wrote so many wonderful books  - the first one I read was 'The Ship Who Sang', which I originally read as a short story and was delighted to find it had become a full length novel.

The story is about Helva,  a severely disabled girl becomes the core of a starship, or Brainship, with her mind controlling all its major functions. Her brain had been saved and implanted into the titanium body of an intergalactic scout ship. The blurb says 'She had to choose a human partner, to soar with her through the daring adventures and exhilarating escapades in space.' This is actually a very moving love story but I won't say any more in case I spoil it for you if you have yet to read it.

She told Locus Magazine in 2004:
"I think the best story I ever wrote was 'The Ship Who Sang'. It still causes people to cry, including me. When Todd (her son) and I were reading it at Brighton, they had a BBC crew filming it. So there were these BBC cameramen hunkered down filming us, and comes the end of the story (which Todd always reads, because I can't go through it without weeping), I saw that these cameramen had tears rolling down their faces. That's such a thrill — a story I wrote at the beginning of my career, and it's still packin' the house." 

Anne McCaffrey is probably best known for her 'dragons of Pern' stories. Pern was a distant planet settled by humans but threatened from time to time by life-destroying "Threads", which fell from a neighbouring planet. To combat these, the humans genetically modified a species of winged reptile, native to Pern, each one of which was bonded symbiotically with a human rider from the moment  the 'dragon' hatched. These dragons and their riders fought the dreaded thread and a unique telepathic relationship formed between dragon and rider.  Anne  said she hoped to redress the balance because she felt dragons had previously had a 'bad press'.  'Dragonflight' is the first of the dragon books and chronicles the 'impressing' of Lessa with her Queen dragon and her romance with bronze dragon rider, F'lar.

Not all her readers realise that she was also very fond of horses and had her own stables at her home in Ireland. One of her few non Science Fiction novels is 'Ring Of Fear,' a thriller romance, set in the world of horse shows.

She had an amazing imagination, and created a variety of different and unique worlds.

She will be sorely missed by her many friends and fans.  Rest in peace, Ann, may your journey 'between' be smooth and your stories enthral the angels.

NB Most if not all of Anne's books are available on Amazon and you can find out more about this wonderful writer at http://pernhome.com/aim/

  'STARQUEST'    'CHILDREN OF THE MIST'  (The sequel to Starquest)  Dancing With Fate      'Freeread':'A BARGAIN WITH DEATH 'STARQUEST'    'CHILDREN OF THE MIST'  (The sequel to Starquest)  Dancing With Fate      'Freeread':'A BARGAIN WITH DEATH'

                  Also available on Kindle