Today marks what would have been the 89th birthday of the incomparable author Anne Inez McCaffrey. Not only one of the most prolific science fiction and fantasy writers of all time, McCaffrey’s lasting contributions changed the way the way we regard the most beloved of magical creatures of all; dragons. And thankfully, the world has forever been enriched by the unique imagination of McCaffrey, an author who gave us new places we wanted to escape into.
Spanning twenty-two novels, Anne McCaffrey will most certainly be remembered for her dazzlingly intricate Dragonriders of Pern series. Set in the distant future, the series concerns the planet Pern and its Earth-descended inhabitants. Though the world of Pern is deliciously medieval, the telepathically enhanced dragons are a wonderful remnant left over from a previously more technically advanced time. Treating dragons as serious characters complete with dimension, background and motivation is no small feat and McCaffrey’s ability to explore mythical creatures in complex and intelligent ways is impressive. It is here where McCaffrey accomplishes the merging of both solid science fiction and epic fantasy at once.
Anne McCaffrey is also an amazing trailblazer, being the first female writer to receive the Nebula Award in 1969 for her novella “Dragonrider.” And in addition to that Nebula, this 2005 SFWA Grand Master also racked up Hugo, British Fantasy, and Ditmar awards, along with two Balrogs, one Gandalf, and one Homer.
An American-born author who later emigrated to Ireland, McCaffrey’s ferocity and bold writing choices have made her an inspiration for countless science fiction and fantasy writers. She was a conjurer of worlds, who realized exactly how her writing appealed to readers. In her words:
“That’s what writing is all about, after all, making others see what you have put down on the page and believing that it does, or could, exist and you want to go there.”
We’re still reveling in the wonderful worlds Anne McCaffrey created to this day. We salute her as we dream of having our own dragons to ride into the places we want to go.
This post originally appeared April 1, 2013 on Tor.com