Anne McCaffrey, author of the Dragonriders of Pern series and many other SF/F novels, died this past Friday at the age of 85. She had survived a stroke and a heart attack, only to succumb to a killing stroke that, according to the statement by her children, took her swiftly and with no pain, thank God.
I started reading Anne McCaffrey when I was 9 or 10 years old, and reading "Restoree" as a pre-teen was a lifesaver for me, because it gave me hope that one day I could, perhaps, trade in my old fat skin for someone lovely who would win the admiration and adoration of my classmates, particularly Karl McVey and Steve Manion, whom I had crushes on in Junior High.
When I met McCaffrey in 2001, she was wheelchair-bound, but fiesty as anything, swearing like a sailor and laughing with Elizabeth Scarborough, with whom she was on tour for one of their mutual efforts. When I revealed to her that I had just been diagnosed with Crohns Disease, she sputtered and swore about how horribly the disease had been treating her daughter, who had suffered through many intestinal operations. "G-damned Crohn's!" she said, and then, when I told her how much "Restoree" had meant to me as a pre-teen, she said "It meant a lot to me, too, it was my first book!" When I asked to take a photo with her myself, and then with my husband, she insisted that instead of saying "cheese" we say "SEX!" and smile broadly, which of course made everyone laugh. She was ferocious and determined not to let a stroke get her down. She talked about new books on the horizon, especially her collaborations with Scarborough and others. She asked if Jim and I would like to go to supper with her at a local fancy restaurant, but we had to decline, due to our lack of funds to buy dinner, and I was too embarrassed to tell her that, and to explain that we couldn't leave our son at home with a sitter for too long. She seemed somewhat peeved at us for not accepting her invitation, but I felt that otherwise, the meeting was a success, and that I'd met one of my author/heroes.
So when I heard she'd died, I found myself saddened, but I realize that McCaffrey's work leaves behind a huge legacy of great entertainment for young minds who dream of flying with dragons.
This gal's blog expresses what I felt about McCaffrey and her work perfectly.
Fly free, Anne!