News surfaced last night, first on twitter and then as confirmed by Random House, that Anne McCaffrey died this Monday at the age of eighty-five. The award winning author of the Dragonriders of Pern series (most famously) and the Acorna books (most personally to this writer), is survived by two sons, a daughter, and legions of fans and fan-authors who were touched by her writing and her personality. Says Neil Gaiman, to pick but one example:
I met her as a person in the late 80s, when I was a young writer, at a convention, where she was the Guest of Honour. It was a small convention, and she decided that I needed to be taken under her wing and given advice I would need in later life, which she proceeded to do. It was all good advice: how to survive American signing tours was the bit that stuck the most (she wanted me to move to Ireland, and I came close). I liked her as a writer, and by the end of that convention I adored her as a person. Over the years I’d get occasional emails or messages from her, and they were always things where she was looking out for me — letting me know about a foreign publisher who had money for me but no address to send it to, that kind of thing.
The last time I saw her was in 2005, when I was toastmaster at the Nebula Awards. I was as happy to see her as she was to see me. It made me foolishly happy when I heard that she had passed away to realize that there are some photos of us together. So many times, it’s not until people are gone I realise that there weren’t any photos…
Regardless of how you feel about her books, Anne McCaffrey has done a number of inarguably impressive things: she was the first person to hit the New York Times Bestseller list with a science fiction title, and was the first woman to win the Hugo for fiction, as well as the first woman to win a Nebula for anything. Her first published novel, Restoree, “written as a protest against the absurd and unrealistic portrayals of women in s-f novels in the 50s and early 60s,” to quote from the biography on her own website.
So long, Ms. McCaffrey, and thanks for all the dragons.
(via many tipsters.)