Anne McCaffrey (Dragonriders of Pern)

Best known for the Dragonriders of Pern science fiction series the American Born Irish Novellist Anne Inez McCaffrey was Born 1 April 1926 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.She attended Stuart Hall (a girls’ boarding school in Staunton, Virginia), and graduated from Montclair High School in New Jersey. In 1947 she graduated cum laude from Radcliffe Collegewith a degree in Slavonic Languages and Literature.In 1950 she married Horace Wright Johnson who shared her interests in music, opera and ballet. They had three children: Alec Anthony, born 1952; Todd, born 1956 and Georgeanne (“Gigi”, Georgeanne Kennedy), born 1959.Except for a short time in Düsseldorf, the family lived for most of a decade in Wilmington, Delaware. They moved to Sea Cliff, Long Island in 1965, and McCaffrey became a full-time writer.McCaffrey served a term as secretary-treasurer of the Science Fiction Writers of America from 1968 to 1970. In addition to handcrafting the Nebula Award trophies, her responsibilities included production of two monthly newsletters and their distriution by mail to the membership.McCaffrey emigrated to Ireland with her two younger children in 1970, weeks after filing for divorce. Ireland had recently exempted resident artists from income taxes, an opportunity that fellow science-fiction author Harry Harrison had promptly taken and helped to promote. McCaffrey’s mother soon joined the family in Dublin. the following spring, McCaffrey was guest of honor at her first British science-fiction convention. There she met British reproductive biologist Jack Cohen, who would be a consultant on the science of Pern.

McCaffrey had had two short stories published during the 1950s. “Freedom of the Race”, about women impregnated by aliens) was written in 1952 and the second story, “The Lady in the Tower”, was published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She was also lnvited to the Milford Writer’s Workshop, where participants each brought a story to be critiqued. In 1959 she wrote “The Ship Who Sang”, the story which began the Brain & Brawn Ship series, which she considered her best story and her favorite. McCaffrey then wrote two more “Ship” stories and began her first novel , Restoree (1967), which featured an intelligent, survivor-type woman as the protagonist”. Her next novel Decision at Doona opens on “an overcrowded planet where just talking too loud made you a social outcast”. McCaffrey also competed for the 1971 publication Dragonquest and two Gothic novels for Dell, The Mark of Merlin and The Ring of Fear.With a contract for The White Dragon (which would complete the “original trilogy” with Ballantine), The young-adult book market provided a crucial opportunity. and McCaffrey started the Pern story of Menolly. Starting with “The Smallest Dragonboy” , the Crystal Singer and Dragonsong and The tales of Menolly are continued in Dragonsinger: Harper of Pern, and Dragondrums as the “Harper Hall Trilogy”.

Whilst brainstorming about dragons she devised a “technologically regressed survival planet” whose people were united against a threat from space .The dragons became the biologically renewable air force, and their riders ‘the few’ who, like the RAF pilots in World War Two, fought against incredible odds day in, day out—and won.”The first Pern story, “Weyr Search”, was published in 1967 It won the 1968 Hugo Award for best novella, voted by participants in the annual World Science Fiction Convention The second Pern story, “Dragonrider”, won the 1969 Nebula Award for best novella, voted annually by the Science Fiction Writers of America. McCaffrey was the first woman to win a Hugo for fiction and the first to win a Nebula.”Weyr Search” covers the recruitment of a young woman, Lessa, to establish a telepathic bond with a queen dragon at its hatching, thus becoming a dragonrider and the leader of a Weyr community. “Dragonrider” explores the growth of the queen dragon Ramoth, and the training of Lessa and Ramoth. . The third story, “Crack Dust, Black Dust”, was not published until 1974–1975. She wrote A Time When, which would become the first part of The White Dragon which was released with new editions of the first two Pern books, with cover art illustrated by Michael Whelan. It was the first science-fiction book by a woman on the New York Times bestseller list.in 2005 the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America named McCaffrey its 22nd Grand Master, an annual award to living writers of fantasy and science fiction. She was inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame on 17 June 2006. Sadly though McCaffrey died at age 85 on 21 November 2011 at her home in Ireland, following a stroke, however her novels remain popular and i think Michael Whelan’s illustrations are fantastic too.

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