My Anne McCaffrey Story


mccaffrey-dragonflightI am deeply saddened by the passing of Anne McCaffrey.

I know I’m not the only one. She was one of the founding members of Del Rey Books and before that already had an extensive award-winning list of novellas and novels. I first became aware of her work due to Michael Whelan, whose wonderful cover on Dragonflight sucked me in and ensured I read Pern. I’m happy it did. At the early age of thirteen, it broadened my notions of what science fiction and fantasy could be, from women and their place in science fiction to how cultures repress others.

Many years later in 2003 or 2004, as I helped manage the Barnes & Noble in Downtown Seattle, I was in the music department when one of my fellow coworkers notified me Anne McCaffrey was in the store and she would like to speak with me. I was dumbfounded. I had never met her but my coworker had shared with Anne that I maintained the website for Terry Brooks, another founding member of Del Rey Books. It took me a few moments to comprehend it. I straightened my tie, a light sweat of nervousness breaking out all over my suddenly chilly skin, and I went in search of Anne.

I found her in the fiction department, of course. She had a friend with her, pushing Anne around in a wheel chair after she had hurt her hip, but that didn’t stop her from having a book basket on her lap already filled with books.

I introduced myself as Terry’s webmaster. She gave me a mischievous, shrewd look up and down, appraising me, and after talking about Del Rey, the people we commonly knew, who we loved to read and how her own writing was going, she promptly told me to get another book basket.

“I need more books today,” she said, as I looked at her almost filled basket. “And I’m putting you to work.”

I’ll never forget those words.

I grabbed another basket and after another hour we had filled both baskets. She bought mystery; she bought romance. She had an amount of science fiction and fantasy novels that would have taken me a month to read.

“Oh, these are just what I need for this trip out to Seattle,” she said. “Long flights to and from Ireland and time to only do one thing—read.”

I had a delightful time with her that afternoon. Most authors are kind but she possessed a smart sweetness I have yet to meet in another writer. She genuinely cared for my history, my work, and my own writing endeavors. After she had purchased her two baskets of books, she invited me to the Science Fiction Hall of Fame that evening where she would be speaking.

“Bring your books,” she said. “I’ll sign them there.”

I brought my books that night. With dozens of people around her before the event, she waved me over when I walked in and signed my books.

“Thank you for your help today,” she said, the two of us surrounded by her fans.

I didn’t know her well. We just met for those several hours. I’ll never forget them though and I feel like I have to share them today. There was a magic about Anne McCaffrey that transcended her writing, a personal magic few people have within. I am lucky to have seen it. We still have her work to read and enjoy, but it is a sad, sad day for many.

We all will miss you, Anne.

Ride your new dragon into the beauty of the sky.

  • My jaw dropped when I heard this. Just devastated! She is my favorite writer and I own, love, and share all the Pern books as well as her other series. The world has truly lost one of its brightest lights.

    Between will no longer be dark, cold or a place of sensory deprivation. Anne is there now with her Queen dragon for company.

    We will miss you Anne.

  • “The Dragonriders of Pern” was the first book I read that was about Dragons. Now I write my own series about Dragons, my desires inspired by those early reading experiences.

  • Rina Kagel

    Anne McCaffrey, was the favorite author of not just myself, but my daughters and my husband. We will miss her beyond what words can express. Fly high, fly strong, fly free!

    We will miss you so! Love!

  • I still can’t believe it. This feels like the passing of the torch from the first generation of writers to the next.
    Ann, you were my second fantasy read and the catalyst to all future reading and writing at an age quite probably too young for me at the time. You’re the reason I didn’t pick something boring to do with my life.
    Enjoy the next life until we join you.

  • A moving tribute to an important and beloved writer.

  • John

    I was once one of Anne’s webmasters and got to know her and her sons through there and through going to Dragon*Con. A lot of us at the Pernese Friends website knew Anne personally, either working for her, or helping her out when she came to D*C.
    I’m glad you got to know her as well. She was not only a great writer, but a very kind woman.

  • Michele Sellers

    Anne McCaffrey has been a favorite author of mine for many years. I have read most of her books and own many. She will be truely missed.
    I have to concur with Eric Bourland that you, Shawn, wrote a truely moving tribute and I am thankful for that since this is the first I had heard of her passing.

  • Gunnar

    I was so lucky to meet her in Glasgow during the Worldcon. We were told before we left for the con that she could not attend, so I left my book at home. I wanted to have my Crystalsinger omnibus signed. When we got to the con, the news was then that she had decided to attend after all, and that she was signing books. I then had to run around to all the bookdealers to find a new copy of my belowed Crystalsinger. She was so kind and nice. she took the time to talk a bit with us and even pose for a photo. The book is signed to me, and I will NEVER give it away. I still have tears in my eyes when reading it. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to tell her what her work meant to me. She is flying with her dragons now. Goodspeed You will be missed.

  • AMiracle

    How sad! My entire family loves her books and she was my first introduction into fantasy fiction. She will be greatly missed.

  • Richard Glanville

    She illuminated my teenage years, RIP Anne

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