R.I.P. Anne McCaffrey

I WAS SADDENED last week to learn that science fiction/fantasy icon Anne McCaffrey died of a massive stroke at 85. Anne McCaffrey — or more specifically, her fiction — was a key part of my childhood.

I’ll admit, I haven’t read her work for many years now… in my 20s my reading tastes slowly shifted from SF/F to horror. But there was a time in my life, in my early teens, that I was absolutely enthralled by her Dragon Riders of Pern series. I still own the copies of the original three Dragon Riders of Pern books as well as the slimmer Harper Hall offshoot Pern trilogy that I read when I was 13-14.

Those six books (along with the unconnected Dinosaur Planet and Crystal Singer) are like the signposts of my personal “coming of age.” My parents were in the midst of a divorce when I read some of these novels, and the courage and stamina of  McCaffrey’s young heroines were an inspiration to persevere. These books have traveled with me through dorms and apartments and houses, and their printing notices on the copyright pages suggest that I bought them all between 1979-1982. That was one of the rockiest periods in my life, when I lived in three different houses, transitioned from grade school to high school (two different high schools!) and saw my parents separate in a pretty bitter divorce.

I’ve always said that part of the reason I write fiction is to give other people the “sense of wonder” that I got from reading fantastic fiction while growing up. Those places of escape saved me… or at least, helped me carry on. Pern was an important place for me. I hope in a few years, my son will discover its magic.

Thank you Anne, for giving me some of those places of respite.

For giving all of us Pern.

Rest in Peace.

About John Everson

John Everson is a Bram Stoker Award-winning horror author with more than 100 published short stories and 14 novels of horror and dark fantasy currently in print. His first novel, Covenant, won the Bram Stoker Award for a First Novel in 2005. His sixth novel, NightWhere, was a Bram Stoker Finalist in 2013. Its sequel, The Night Mother, was released in June 2023.

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