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R.I.P. Anne McCaffrey

so long and thanks for all the fish

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.)

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