Wed
Nov 23 2011 6:05pm

The Inspiration of Anne McCaffrey

I just heard the news about Anne McCaffrey’s passing and I’m at a loss for words. I can’t overstate her importance to the SF field, the influence she had on scores of writers and thousands upon thousands of readers, and the role she played in the shaping of my career. Her writing never failed to inspire me to try my best to capture the intriguing characterizations and sweeping vision of her stories. And to top it off, she was unfailingly gracious to me and generous with her time and support.

The first cover of mine to make the New York Times Bestseller list was her novel, The White Dragon... a major benchmark for her and me. I’ve been immeasurably fortunate to have been able to name her as a friend and inspiration. She’ll be sadly missed, but her worlds will live on always.


Michael Whelan is a Hugo, Society of Illustrators, and Chesley award-winning artist. His work can be seen in galleries, book stores, and within many art and illustration annuals.

26 comments
Chris Palmer
1. cmpalmer
Thanks for this post. Your art and McCaffrey's stories are kind of
inseparable in my mind. I have a print of The White Dragon cover that you signed back in the 80's at ChattaCon hanging in my study.
Phil Frederick
2. flosofl
Your cover art on The White Dragon is the reason I bought it, the first of many Anne McCaffrey novels in my collection.
Matt Wright
3. matty42
Amazing stories and amazing art. One of the reasons the books were so great was the evocative art that graced the covers. Thanks for the post with the art! I know my Thanksgiving holiday will include some rereads of my favorite Pern novels.
akajill
4. akajill
I can match each cover above with the book. I read each so many times and stared at the covers endlessly...The Harper Hall series were my gateway to the wonderful world of fantasy. I have so many wonderful Anne McCaffrey memories.
Cait Glasson
5. CaitieCat
Thank you to you both, to Ms. McCaffrey for her writing, and you for so beautifully bringing it to visual life. Seriously iconic covers, ones I've never tired of gazing at, perfectly evoking my own mental images of the series. Ruth's stark difference always made me near tears.
Oscar Nelson
6. oscar.nelson
I never thought of myself as a huge Anne McCaffrey fan, but looking at the artwork in this post, I realize that I own copies of each book that used those covers.
Chuk Goodin
7. Chuk
Loved the covers, loved the books -- a friend of my parents' loaned me her copy of The White Dragon in second grade and it has always been one of my favourite book covers.
akajill
8. John Powell
I've always been a fan of Michael Whelan cover art, and it's drawn me to several book series: Asimov's Foundation, Anthony's Incarnations, and McCaffrey's Pern among them. As a long-time bookseller, I have witnessed dozens of people encounter her work, and have indeed recommended it often to people who wanted good stories with strong meaning and high entertainment value. I realize Ms. McCaffrey was advanced in age, but that doesn't diminish the impact of the loss in the field of science fiction and fantasy writing, and I hope that her family and peers know that we all keep memories of her work in our hearts.
akajill
9. Sigdrifa
Wow, you have caught Killashandra! I'd recognise her anywhere!
Anne McCaffrey kept me sane through my own personal "Ruathan Occupation" as I hid and plotted my escape. She has left behind such an echo....
akajill
10. Eugene R.
While The White Dragon was not my introduction to either its author (I had read "Weyr Search" a few years before) or its artist (I bought every DAW Elric book for the covers as much as for the texts), the sight of its cover always stops me and sends me hurtling back to 1978 and my first glimpse of it on the shelf of my local public library. Beauty, on both counts. Ave atque vale, Ms. McCaffrey. Live long and prosper, Mr. Whelan.
Amy Zittlow
11. AnonAMauze
I too was shocked when I heard of Anne McCaffrey's death. I still cannot wrap my head around the idea that there will be no more books from her. I have loved her works since the first time I picked up Dragonflight and have followed her faithfully ever since. It has been her and Mercedes Lackey who inspire me to write my best, and there are times I think No One could ever fill either one's shoes in the literary world. We will be feeling her loss for a long time.
akajill
12. Storyteller
Thank you Michael Whelan for your art work related to Anne McCaffrey. I am really inspired by her writting and your companion art. The fact that she is dead still hasn't registered, but the volume of work she left for us to enjoy is truly amazing.
Your article was a great memorial to a great woman and the art that really introduces it. After all, we see your paintings before we open the book!
akajill
13. SquidooGeek
I was sorry to hear that she'd passed away. She's one of my favorite authors.
akajill
14. Sankat
The artwork and written words have been my inspiration as I struggle to become the writer I have always dreamed of being. Anne McCaffrey and my mother were the reasons I began writing in the first place. I have now lost both of them on the physical plane, but keep them in my heart. Thank you for your article and including the artwork. She was an extraordinary writer and she will be sadly missed.
akajill
15. Rose In RoseBear
In 1978, I was a college student whose tastes in SF ran from hard to harder to hardest --- if the author didn't have an engineering degree (or write like they did), I wasn't interested. And then I saw The White Dragon at the checkout counter in the college bookstore.

The cover of the book entranced me. I kept picking up the book, and finally bought it, fell in love with Pern, and had my SF preferences expanded. Thank you for your beautiful covers, that widened my eyes and helped me broaden my tastes!
akajill
16. Kim W.
I just found out from an email from tor.com that Anne McCaffrey had passed. She will be missed. She was one of the first novels I read and the art you made from her stories were always wonderful. Thank you for sharing them here.
akajill
17. CD
Sad news to hear. :(
I met my wife playing an online game based on the world of Pern, and I ended up moving halfway around this world to spend our lives togather. We're still married over a decade later :) Obviously, my wife and I will always have cause to be grateful to Ann McCaffrey beyond the great stories she told.
Henk Langeveld
18. hla
Michael's art was a major factor in me picking up the Dragonriders series. A couple of years later I picked up the girl who would later be my wife. A couple of years later she translated the series for the Dutch market.
Lynn Kucera
19. LV426
I just read about Anne's parting. I remember my first book by her was The White Dragon, and Ruth and lived with me ever since then. She will be missed.
Melissa Spray
20. meowwl
Thank you Mr. Whelan. Your covers vastly improved my relationship with my mother when I was a teenager. She didn't like me reading sci-fi at that time, because she thought it was nothing more than "escapist drivel", and thought that mysteries or biographies were more suitable reading. She changed her mind after picking up my copy of "The White Dragon"...she said it was "because it had a pretty cover", and started reading it.

She never opposed my sci-fi reading habit again, and we often exchanged books to read in her later years.
akajill
21. Julie O'Rafferty
I cried when I found out Anne had died. Reading was one way for me to escape a terrible childhood, just for a little while each day. Annes beautiful storytelling and your wonderful illustrations helped my mind escape to a better place where my imagination could set me free. I consider all of my favourite Anne McCaffrey characters friends, and your illustrations help me imagine all those wonderful dragons. Thank you, to both you and Anne
akajill
22. silver
added to stumbleupon. neil gaiman was the one to let me know she was dead, and to see this honour from my absolute favourite artist has me in tears. I cannot believe she's dead, and am so thankful she left so much for us, for generations to come.
akajill
23. perngeek
I was so sad to hear about Ms. McCaffery's passing. She has been one of my alltime favorite writers, and I own all of her Pern-related series, as well as the Crystal Singer and many others. Her presence in the literary world, as well as here on Earth, will be sorely missed. Blessings to her family and friends.
Rich Bennett
24. Neuralnet
Wow, I distincntly remember your cover of The White Dragon grabbing me and pulling me to that book in the library in about 5th or 6th grade... it was one of the first sci/fi-fantasy books I had ever read and started me down a long road of loving all things dragon.. Thanks!
akajill
25. Mekkomoon
Both my son and I are avid readers. Back in the late 70's on a trip he was reading a book called Get Off The Unicorn. I asked him to read me a story as I drove. Ofcourse it turned out to be The White Dragon and I was hooked not only on the Pern books but on her as an author. In fact my favorite book that has been read many many times is Ring of Fear copywrited in 1971. She will be greatly missed.
akajill
26. Cristin H
I have always loved your covers. Before Anne herself & Pern hooked me with her writing, your images hooked me, and your cover for Crystal Singer helped me believe that even outside of Pern, I could trust Anne's writing.

Thank you.

(I don't care how old this is)

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