I discovered Anne McCaffrey by a series of interesting chances. By chance, a friend handed me Raymond E Feist’s Magician. By chance, when I devoured it in a day, he recommended the Elenium and Tamuli books by David (and Leigh) Eddings. By chance, I then took a year-long uni course that required me to write a mini-dissertation and I chose to look at the parallels between fantasy novels and the “real” world, which meant I was carting my Eddings books around with me a lot. By chance, I had one in my hand at my local corner shop one afternoon. By chance, the owner was a genre fan too and by chance he said, “If you like that, you might like Anne McCaffrey.” By chance he lived (with his books) right behind the shop and by chance he was nice enough to loan me my first McCaffrey, The White Dragon.
From the moment I read the first chapter I was completely hooked and I spent the next several months haunting secondhand bookshops finding every McCaffrey book I could track down (in the days before Book Depository) and the next several YEARS getting terribly excited whenever a new McCaffrey book was released. Once I had the internet, I started to fill out my McCaffrey collection, tracking down copies of The Atlas of Pern, The Dragonlover’s Guide to Pern and The People of Pern, and I even bought the computer game that came out (never played it), although I failed at ever finding the original boardgame.
I spent many long hours on The Kitchen Table website, my first experience with online fandom (or actually, fandom of any kind!), and I still remember the thrill of one day finding myself alone in a KT chatroom with Anne herself. What a progressive mind she must have had, to have had such an environment for her fans in what was really quite early days of online fandom.
I haven’t really read any McCaffrey for a few years now, but I don’t hesitate to recommend her earlier books (I loved Pern, The Ship Who Sang, and The Tower and the Hive books particularly) to fans of fantasy and science fiction of all ages. I have no doubt that I will revisit my (already many times reread) collection in years to come. She was one of my first spec fic obsessions and holds a special place in my heart.
Dear Anne, you will be missed. I am so grateful for the wonder you brought to my world.