Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Anne McCaffrey

My heart is heavy. The sad news of Anne McCaffrey's passing was one of those moments you wish never to come. While I can't profess to have read all her work, my mum has and is an enormous fan. So much so that we went along to one of her book signing many moons ago - the kind of thing that is not my mum at all. I've never seen my mum be a fan girl, except for that one time. Mrs McCaffrey was a gracious lady and seemed to take a shine to Mum. She sought us out after the signing and they chatted for ages. It was one of those lovely moments that you don't forget. Mum was so chuffed.

Dragonquest was my favourite Pern book (I had a real thing for F'nor and Brekke) but I think the Crystal Singer books were my favourites. Anne McCaffrey wrote cracking female characters that defied traditional stereotypes. They always felt like real women in extraordinary circumstances rather than weak-wristed bosom-heaving heroines or strident harpies. They could be either or both, or something else entirely. She, amongst others, worked to take Sf/f into new territory in this respect. She was an enormous influence on me as a teenager and was one of the writers that made me want to explore the fantastic and the alien. She was one of those writers that made me believe I could write the things that excited me too, that being a girl did not have to exclude me from the male-dominated world of Sf/f.

 "... we build the worlds we wouldn't mind living in. They contain scary things, problems, but also a sense of rightness that makes them alive and makes us want to live there." 

Anne McCaffrey wrote worlds that stretched my imagination and that could make my heart pound. She left us a rich legacy and the world is a better place for her having been in it.

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