Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Remembrance of Anne McCaffrey

“Harper, your song has a sorrowful sound,
Though the tune was written as gay.
Your voice is sad and your hands are slow
And your eye meeting mine turns away.”
Anne McCaffrey, Dragonsong

Perhaps it's appropriate to write this today, on Thanksgiving, as it is my thanks I wish to convey to Anne McCaffrey for all she did as an author. 
I was handed the Dragonriders of Pern trilogy as a 10 yr. old by a friend at school.  I read it backwards--starting with The White Dragon.  While I adored Ruth, it wasn't until I met Lessa again for the first time in Dragonflight, that I truly fell in love with Ms. McCaffrey's writing. 
Yes, Jaxom overcame the challenges of not only being born as the Lord of Ruatha, but also answered the calling of dragonrider as well.  He and his dragon saved Pern. 
But Lessa...she was something altogether different that a headstrong girl growing up in the 70's connected with.  Tiny and powerful.  Arrogant. Smart.  Able to love, be loved and be more than what you might expect when you first meet her.  It would not be this woman's great beauty or connections that turned her into one of the great political powers on her planet, but the sheer force of being "Lessa." 
It was McCaffrey's ability to script characters who defied convention and expectations that had me plunking down my allowance for each new release, and into my adulthood, for first editions. And hunting back piles of bookstores for forgotten titles.  I was first a Pern fan, but as time permitted my library to expand, I realized I was just plain an Anne fan.   
As readers, we often select a favorite tale.  But I can't.  A favorite character?  Still not possible.   
While lost in the worlds of McCaffrey, I rode horses, met war veterans with PTSD, flew with the dragons, became a ship, sang arias to crystal laden valleys--heard and saw the universe in both the best and worst lights.  I came to understand what a gifted storyteller could do. 
It truly will always be one of my regrets that I never got to a convention to shake Anne's hand in person.  There were a couple letters exchanged, internet forum discussions, some bookplates autographed....but it's not the signature I cherish.  It was the generous nature, the insight into humankind and willingness to share that view with us that shall always be the greatest gift I could ever receive from an author. 
Ms. McCaffrey--thank you.  For being you and having the strength to follow your own dreams, such that many more could find theirs.  I shall ever be in your debt.
Anne McCaffrey  April 1, 1926--November 21, 2011