Lights Left on Our Path

When a great (wo)man dies, for years the light (s)he leaves behind him her, lies on the paths of men us all.

I mangled that Longfellow quote for a reason. Anne McCaffrey, Myth-maker and one of the direct influence of my childhood fantasy worlds has died.

From NPR:

Her books — particularly the iconic Dragonriders of Pern series, which began with the 1968 publication of Dragonflight — contained any number of extraordinary revelations. Even if the books don’t stand up to modern feminist scrutiny, in the ’60s, they were revolutionary. Women can be protagonists—real protagonists, who really do things! Women who are pregnant can keep right on working and being active! Fantasy and science fiction can coexist in one book! Genre fiction written by a woman can win Hugo and Nebula awards and be a New York Times bestseller! And most seductive of all was the idea, the ideal, of the telepathic animal companion, the one who knows you better than any human could.

The awakening and escapism the books provided were absolutely vital to McCaffrey’s readers. By night they could dream of having dragons of their own. By day they could take courage from McCaffrey’s example and the examples of her heroines. Before there was a Katniss Everdeen — or even a Hermione Granger — there were Menolly and Killashandra Ree. Many fans grew up to write fantasy and science fiction, paving the way for the next generations of female readers and writers.

This is truly a sad day. But I, for one, am thankful that she even allowed us to behold her for so long. And she has achieved humanity’s most coveted goal: immortality.

Happy Thanksgiving.

5 thoughts on “Lights Left on Our Path

  1. What’s your favorite of her works? I read virtually all of her Pern books — until she started writing with her son. My favorite was The White Dragon and Dragonsdawn which described the beginnings of the colonization of Pern.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Joachim!

      To answer your question, I’ve only read the initial trilogy, and of that I’d have to say my favorite was The White Dragon which was also the first of her work that I read. I particularly enjoyed it because (when I went back and re-read it after initially reading it at age 12) I finally understood the time-travel aspects that I didn’t quite get from the other novels.

      Were the ones with Todd particularly bad?

      • Well, they got rid of thread in All the Weyrs of Pern — the series went downhill after that! There’s little reason to have dragons…. no real conflict… no real drive/purpose….

    • Thanks for commenting, Evelyn 🙂

      The thing with the Pern series was that it was kind of chronologically all over the place, so I can’t recommend a book that’ll make jumping on to the story easier. The best thing to do, I’d say, would be to start with the first of the original trilogy, Dragonflight.

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