Like most of the rest of the net, I’m seeing the news today that Anne McCaffrey has passed away. The initial link I was given is here, and another early report link is here. They’re saying she had a massive stroke.
This one hurts, people.
I remember the Pern books being among the very first SF/F books I read as an adolescent. In turn, they influenced other books I went in search of–notably, Sharon Shinn’s Samaria series, which always struck me as Pern-like in flavor. And as I’ve mentioned in the past, I get huge echoes back to Pern through the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik, as well.
PernMUSH is one of the three MUSHes that formed the bulk of my online roleplaying history, and almost at the same time I joined PernMUSH, I also joined the offline group Telgar Weyr. Like many in Pern fandom, I had my share of issues with many details of Anne’s world, and eventually I actually enjoyed Pern fandom in many ways more than I did the original canon material. But I cannot deny that she created a world that had a massive, massive influence on me. To this day I have friendships that were forged because of Pern fandom.
PernMUSH established my ability to roleplay–and by extension, to write–from a male point of view, since F’hlan was the first significant male character I ever played. F’hlan taught me a great deal about the kinds of male characters I liked to play, and how to keep a long-running romantic relationship lively. (Melora, I am looking at you.)
I must also give mad props to the Crystal Singer books, since a significant bit of my roleplay history was on CrystalMUSH as well. Killashandra Ree, I loved you. You led me to roleplaying Kevlan Sharr, Tance Vokrim, Jerrik Rawn Deegan, and Tamber al-Acorrin (who had the distinction of being the first gay character I ever played on a MUSH).
Because of all the writing I’ve done for Pern fandom, McCaffrey’s influence on me as a writer has certainly also been profound. I have characters that still vividly live in my head, and make sad faces at me that I haven’t ever properly finished their stories, or otherwise adapted them into characters I can put into my own work. McCaffrey’s been a template for me on how to do strong female characters–and, since I always took issue with her penchant for setting up strong female characters only to have them eventually play second fiddle to their men, she contributed to my resolve to never do that with my own heroines. Similarly, as I was always unhappy that she gave queer males a presence on Pern but never queer women, that has set a goal for me to achieve in my own work.
I even met Ms. McCaffrey once, way back in the day when
The sound you hear, O Internets, is every single dragon I have ever written or roleplayed for keening. Gold Timbrith. Bronze Tzornth. Bronze Valreth. Brown Trollith. Blue With. Green Yfandeth. Likewise, all of my characters at Far Cry Hold must mourn.
RIP, DragonLady, and thank you so much for your works and how you have molded my life. You will be missed.
Also, io9 now has a post up.