Anne McCaffrey, author of best-selling “Dragonriders of Pern” series, has passed away. She was 85 years old. The news of her death was announced by her publisher, Random House, in a statement that said the novelist died at her home in Ireland shortly after suffering a massive stroke. No other details were provided.
Anne McCaffrey was famous for her books that combined mythic inspiration, sci-fi and adventure. Born in 1926 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, McCaffrey published “Dragonflight”, the first volume in her beloved “Dragonriders of Pern” series, in 1968. Her 1978 book “The White Dragon” was a breakthrough in the series, and made the New York Times bestseller lists. The series earned her a huge fan base that waited eagerly for each installment and on her website, McCaffrey also replied to letters from dedicated fans.
However, McCaffrey’s career had already begun in 1967 with “Restoree”. Her first novel was written as a “protest against the absurd and unrealistic portrayals of women in sci-fi novels in the 50s and early 60s.”
Besides the famous Pern books, McCaffrey also wrote the classic space-faring novel “The Ship Who Sang”. The story of the novel revolves around a severely disabled girl who becomes the core of a starship, or Brainship, with her mind controlling all its major functions. McCaffrey said in 2004, “I think the best story I ever wrote was ‘The Ship Who Sang'. It still causes people to cry, including me.”
McCaffrey further explained the inception of “The Ship Who Sang” saying, “I remember reading a story…about a woman searching for her son's brain, it had been used for an autopilot on an ore ship and she wanted to find it and give it surcease. And I thought what if severely disabled people were given a chance to become starships? So that's how 'The Ship Who Sang' was born.”
Anne McCaffrey also offered advice to new writers on her blog. She said, “First - keep reading. Writers are readers. Writers are also people who can not write. Second, follow Heinlein’s rules for getting published: 1. Write it. 2. Finish it. 3. Send it out. 4. Keep sending it out until someone sends you a check. There are variations on that, but that’s basically what works.”
She earned the honor of being the first sci-fi writer to hit the top of the New York Times Bestsellers list. Over the course of her 46-year career, McCaffrey won a Hugo Award and a Nebula Award. The Science Fiction Writers of America in 2005 named her the 22nd Grand Master, a now-annual award to living writers of fantasy and science fiction. She was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2006.
McCaffrey was married to Horace Wright Johnson, who shared her interests in music, opera, and ballet. They had three children - Alec Anthony, Todd and Georgeanne.