Waking up to the sad news that Anne McCaffrey, the lady who taught dragons to fly and spaceships to sing, has passed away at the age of 85. She was the first woman to win either a Hugo, or a Nebula award, for short stories “Weyr Search” and “Dragonrider” in 1968 and 1969, and it is for her Dragonriders of Pern stories that she is best loved and will be best remembered.
I never met Anne McCaffrey, but a friend of mine at school pressed a copy of Dragonflight into my hand when I was twelve and told me I would like it. I have to confess I never gave it back, it’s still sitting on my shelf along with a dozen other Pern books, and non-Pern books. It opened my eyes to the fact that yes, girls could be heroes in fantasy, that they had a greater role to play than screaming in the corner while the hero rescued them. I wanted that. And if I couldn’t be a fantasy heroine, I would do the next best thing, and write about them. My Lydia, and I should think a great many contemporary fantasy heroines, owes a great debt to Lessa, Menolly and Moreta.
Thank you, Anne McCaffrey, for taking us riding with dragons, and opening our minds to wider possibilities. The dragons have bowed their heads today.