On Dragon’s Wings


This morning I learned that Anne McCaffrey just died.

I can’t tell you the countless hours I’ve spent lost in worlds she created. The Dragonrider’s of Pern was among the first of the science fiction series that truly captured my imagination and mind. I grew up devouring tales of Pern, weyrs, threadfall and dragon’s flight. Through awkward preteen and teenage years I’d escape to Pern, dreaming of bonding with a dragon and sailing through the skies.

As I look back on those years, it’s difficult to put into words just how profoundly her books influenced my life. Short and chubby, with coke-bottle glasses, uncoordinated and clumsy, the “gifted” label placed on me at the tender age of 8 simply cemented the bully’s target onto my forehead. I was awkward, I cried easily and frequently and I honestly had no idea how to relate to most of the kids in my class.

McCaffrey’s heroines were always dealing with much larger adversities, with much more at stake than the simple emotions of one little girl. They were also flawed and made mistakes, they had hopes and disappointments, but they always stood up for themselves and did the right thing. Lessa, Rowan, Acorna, Menolly, Killashandra – they were all remarkable role models that rose above the challenges life threw at them and they did so with grace, humor and style.

Lunch hour after lunch hour, I hid from the cafeteria bullies in my Language Arts teacher’s classroom absorbed in Lessa’s quests, Killashandra’s struggles and the power of the Brainships. These women always looked at the world with a positive view and I desperately wanted to be them. I think I can attribute a good number of my personal values today to their influences while I was growing up.

What I didn’t realize then was that Anne McCaffrey was the first female writer to earn both the Hugo and Nebula awards and that she was reshaping how women were portrayed in science fiction. All I knew, was that these were women I could look up to and aspire to be. To this day, I would take it as a compliment to be compared to any of her heroines.

Soon I’ll introduce these wonderful worlds to my sons, but in the mean time I have some old friends to catch up with. Excuse me, I have some re-reading to do….

    • Anonymous
    • November 23rd, 2011

    Well said. Dragon Riders was my first exposure to Anne’s work, I think she was the first to place Dragons in a science fiction setting (and making it work) and I think a very good start in every young geeks road along the sci-fi/fantasy highway.

    • David
    • November 23rd, 2011

    David Sarachman – Well said. Dragon Riders was my first exposure to Anne’s work, I think she was the first to place Dragons in a science fiction setting (and making it work) and I think a very good start in every young geeks road along the sci-fi/fantasy highway.

  1. I didn’t know Anne’s work, or read Dragon Riders but I now know her a lot better today by reading your blog read your including the fact she was the first female writer to earn both the Hugo and Nebula awards, Thanks Stephanie Van Pelt

    • David P.
    • November 23rd, 2011

    Issac Asimov and the Foundation trilogy was my introduction to ccience fiction. I must admit I’m a bit hard core with my Sci Fi, and never really got into the fantasy side of the genre. But it certainly sounds like she was an inspirational writer…

    • Anonymous
    • November 24th, 2011

    Good job! I like how you put your thoughts into words. Very nice! 🙂

  2. Wow, I’m out of the loop – this is the first I’d heard of her passing. I grew up reading the To Ride Pegasus, as well as the Pern series, and loved the knack she had for amalgamating science fiction and fantasy.

    She will most certainly be missed. ):

    • Debbie
    • December 23rd, 2011

    I’m really sad now, I didn’t realise that Anne had died until I just read your post here.

    Like you, I have devoured just about every single book Anne wrote, along with a whole host of other sci-fi books. I can’t say how many hours I’ve spent day dreaming about riding on a dragon, or being able to sing, or having some kind of ‘talent’. All inspired by Anne’s amazing gift.

    I think it’s time to revisit these much loved places again.

  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: