Wednesday, November 23, 2011

RIP Anne McCaffrey

She died last night, from a stroke, aged 85.  I am really sad about this.  I adore the Pern books.  I first picked them up as a teenager just when I was starting to read again.  For a few years the only books I really read, with iinsatiable joy, were the Discworld ones.  That's what being depressed does for you.  I must have read other books too, but I don't recall getting enthralled and diving into any ones other than the Discworld ones.

Coming out of my fug, I picked up the first pern book, was delighted, and then raced as fast as I could throught he rest of the series.  I was borrowing them from the library, several at a time, and I remember going talking to the assistant, trying to work out with her which one was next in the series and glowing about the stories.  My face was lit up.  That almost never happened to me.

I never wanted a dragon, I wanted a fire lizard.  I wanted to be there when they found AIVAS, I wanted to learn with them, I wanted to see threadfall and I wanted to go to a school where they taught crafts, and real skills, not just academic knowledge.

As I've got more life experience my understanding of the gender politics of Pern has changed and I've got more out of the stories with each re-read.  Every time I read the Masterharper's death scene I'm at risk of crying (I don't cry).

Anne McCaffrey and her worlds will be missed.  I realise she hasn't taken full authorship of the recent books, that's been done by her son Todd, but her influence will be missed.  I am ever so grateful (and lucky) to have been giving the opportunity to discover and read her worlds.


CraftyReader said...

So, the Dragonrider books were the first ones that I stole from my mom. I still have those copies--taped together with duct tape, masking tape, medical tape and gaff tape (you can tell where I was in my life by the tape). I have new copies of them, but I still reread the old ones at least once a year; usually more.

I didn't really know what sci-fi/fantasy was until these books; I'd read other stuff but didn't identify with them like I did the Pern books.

When I first read them, it was the romance that I loved (F'nor + Brekke forever). In college, it was the language development, and the world building--the 'science' of doing that.

Now, when I read them, it's the gender issues, still the world building. The romance part, meh. I see the faults, but I have so many discussions with friends about them.

Basically-this makes me really sad.

inkdestroyedmybrush said...

good that you mentioned the gender politics, because that is something that i always think about those books: lots of strong female characters interacting in the world of Pern. For all the manly men doing stuff, Lessa and Moreta and Menolly do a huge amount of stuff and we get to live in their heads for quite some time. She built an amazing world, one that i've never left behind given how many times i've read those books!