Since I’m currently in the middle of NaNo and time is at a premium, I’m choosing to dedicate this post to the entire body of work from one of the greatest cross-genre writers ever (at least in my opinion), Anne McCaffrey, rather than write a detailed “book report”. Unfortunately, she passed away not that long ago, so this is a tribute made with some sadness. She was one of those writers who managed to reach me as I was transitioning from fairy tales to fantasy, and therefore was a big influence on what I choose to write as well as what I read.
I was introduced to Anne McCaffrey with the second in her Dragonsinger trilogy, the novel Dragonsinger. It didn’t matter that I had missed out on reading the first book – I was spellbound by Menolly and her horde of colourful fire lizards. It was a good YA way of launching me into the world of Pern, and giving me a glimpse at thread, the dragonriders and the weyrs where the dragons and their riders were stationed to protect the populace. I also loved the way she described them going Between. It was like nothing I had ever read before. I followed by finding and reading Dragonsong, the first book, and Dragon Drums, the third.
But that just wasn’t enough. I was delighted by the blend of fantasy and science fiction in these books, and went on to read Dragonflight, Dragonquest, the White Dragon (my favourite Pern novel). Morleta: Dragonlady of Pern, Nerlika’s story, Dragon’s Dawn and the Renegades of Pern. I have every intention of reading the rest of the Pern books someday – but life being what it is, mine got very busy and complicated, and I wanted to read other writers work.
I would have been amiss had I only read Anne’s Pern novels. I had read a few of them by my mid-teens, when I stumbled upon an old beaten up copy of The Crystal Singer in amongst my mother’s science fiction books. I spotted the McCaffrey name on the cover, and that was enough to snare my fancy. Killashandra and her resonating crystals brought me as much pleasure as the dragons did and I hungrily digested The Crystal Singer and the two others in the trilogy.
The Pern and Crystal Singer books were my favourites, but I read others: The Ship Who Sang, To Ride Pegasus, The Rowan, Damia, Damia’s Children, and her short story collection, Get off the Unicorn. Her writing brought me many hours of bliss, happily lost in her wonderful and highly imaginative worlds. She seeded my fascination in telepathy and spoiled me completely when it came to any fiction. I find it hard, after experiencing her books, to read anything where the characters don’t feel alive for me.
I don’t think I can say enough to do her work proper justice. All I can do is encourage those who haven’t read these incredible books to do just that – you won’t regret it. And I’ll end my tribute with a little poem I wrote, dedicated to Anne:
She Helped Me Dream of Dragons
She helped me dream of dragons
She brought colour to my skies
With worlds where rock would resonate,
Or fire lizard flies.
She made me think more of my dreams
Not feel quite so alone
She brought escape when needed most
With thread and song of stone
I hope she’s somewhere there between
Where all her dreams come true
Or flying with her dragons now
In skies of azure blue.