Today the news came out that SF author Anne McCaffrey passed away yesterday of a stroke, at the age of 85. There can be no argument that McCaffrey was one of the greatest SF writers of the 20th century. As Tor.com points out, writing career is a history of firsts: first woman to win a Hugo Award for fiction, first woman to win a Nebula award, first author to hit the NY Times bestseller list with an SF title.
Her books were amazing, and I have little doubt they influenced me in many ways. One of my fanfic characters, a human brain implanted into a fighter plane mecha, was almost a direct steal from concepts she introduced in The Ship Who Sang (albeit by way of another Robotech fanfic that did something similar). And her Pern series was absolutely amazing—a transposition of fantasy tropes to, of all things, a SF setting. Even if, toward the end of the Pern books, it seemed more like she was writing fanfic of herself, the early books were marvelously inventive.
And she also had a care toward nurturing the careers of up-and-coming writers. I first discovered a couple of my other favorite writers, Elizabeth Moon and Mercedes Lackey, through collaborations she did with them in her own universes. She had a profound influence on writers she didn’t co-write with, as well; in the podcast interview I did with Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Lee recounted how McCaffrey noticed a missing chapter in their manuscript by its absence and told them in no uncertain terms to put it back.
Many of McCaffrey’s books are available electronically for Kindle (and, undoubtedly, Nook, etc. as well), though I think the prices for the backlist titles are rather high ($7.99 per book in the original Dragonriders trilogy? Really?).
At any rate, another one of the Great Ones has passed, and with her a piece of my childhood. My sincerest condolences go out to her family and friends.