Gone away, gone ahead,
Echoes away, gone unansweréd.
Empty, open, dusty, dead.
Why have all the Weyrfolk fled?
Where have dragons gone together?
Leaving Weyrs to wind and weather?
Setting heardbeasts free of tether?
Gone, our safeguards, gone, but whither?
Have they flown to some new Weyr
Where cruel Thread some others fear?
Are they worlds away from here?
Why, oh, why, the empty Weyr?
-"The Question Song", Dragonflight
Anne McCaffrey passed away yesterday. My childhood is sad.
I started this paragraph four times, but I can't quite come up with the words to describe just how influential Anne McCaffrey was in my early reading of speculative fiction. The Dragonriders of Pern was a seminal series in my life. McCaffrey's blending of what initially seemed to be a fantasy series with a growing amount of science fiction was fascinating. But, just as much, I loved the three Crystal Singer novels and wished she would write more - even though the story there was complete. I just wanted more. So often, that's what McCaffrey left her readers: wanting more of a damn good story.
Anne McCaffrey was 85 when she died.
Others will write about Anne McCaffrey with greater eloquence than what I am able to do. There will be tributes and memorials and remembrances. There should be. McCaffrey was one of the legends of the genre. Her fiction was what introduced so many readers to science fiction and instilled a lifelong love of the genre.
Anne McCaffrey wasn't just the inventor of Pern, the world where a whole society is based on dragon-riding. She was also an incredibly influential author who helped transform the way science fiction and fantasy authors wrote about women, and the way all of us thought about bodies and selfhood. She was the first woman to win a Hugo Award and a Nebula Award, as well as a Grand Master of science fiction.
I don't know if it is really possible to overstate McCaffrey's importance in science fiction, to the readers, to the writers, to the genre as a whole. To me.
These last few hours I have been filled with a profound sadness at the world's loss of Anne McCaffrey. While there is no taking away the experience of reading McCaffrey for the first time and for the adventures I had with her stories, I mourn the loss of the one who introduced me to Pern and Ballybran, to Lessa, Menolly, and Killashandra Ree.
Goodnight, Anne McCaffrey. Thank you for the stories and for enriching my childhood.