News came of the death of American science fiction and fantasy writer Anne McCaffrey on Monday following a massive stroke at her home in Ireland.
Anne Inez McCaffrey (photo ©Anna Creech) was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA on April 1, 1926. In 1947 she graduated in Slavonic languages and literature at Radcliffe College. In 1950 she married Horace Wright Johnson, with whom she had three children.
Anne McCaffrey began her career as a writer in the ’50s but devoted herself full time to this activity only from the second half of the ’60s. In 1967 she published the novella “Weyr Search”, which won the Hugo Award and was the first story of the cycle of the Dragonriders of Pern for which the writer is particularly famous. The second novella of the cycle, “Dragonrider”, won the Nebula Award in 1969.
Only after a few years Anne McCaffrey wrote other stories of the Dragonriders of Pern series but over time she wrote many of them, in recent years with the help of her son Todd. This series has distinct fantasy elements with a feudal society in which fire-breathing dragons have a great importance. However planet Pern is a lost colony where technology has been forgotten because of a catastrophe and dragons have been created through genetic engineering. Therefore there’s disagreement concerning the classification of this saga.
The first novel written by Anne McCaffrey however was “Restoree” in 1967. The author was tired of screaming female characters you could find in science fiction at the time and depicted a heroine who was strong, intelligent and able to take care of herself.
In 1970, after her divorce from her husband, Anne McCaffrey moved to Ireland.
Anne McCaffrey wrote several series of novels and short stories: “The Brain & Brawn Ship series”, “The Crystal universe” series, the “Ireta” series with Elizabeth Moon and Jody Lynn Nye, “The Talents universe” series, the “Petaybee Universe” series with Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, the “Freedom” series and the “Acorna” series with Margaret Ball and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough. Most of her novels can be included in a single universe governed by the Federated Sentient Planets.
Anne McCaffrey was the first woman to win the Hugo and Nebula Awards and in 2005 she was named Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America. With her great prolificity she leaves a great legacy.