Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Dragon Lady Has Left the Building

Beloved young adult author, Anne McCaffrey, passed away on Monday. Many fans, readers, and writers were sad to see "The Dragon Lady" go. She was 85, and one of the most influential female voices in science fiction.

McCaffrey had an amazing following throughout her career. Her first trio of books were intended to be just that, a science fiction trilogy: Dragonflight (1968), Dragonquest (1970), and The White Dragon (1978). But McCaffrey quickly gained attention and a heavy fan base. Her Harper Hall Trilogy appeared almost immediately: Dragonsong (1976), Dragonsinger (1977), and Dragondrums (1979). The public named McCaffrey "The Dragon Lady" around that time.

Besides the overwhelming success of her Dragonriders of Pern series, McCaffrey also wrote many successful works of fiction, including her 1967 novel, Restoree, which the New York Times called "a satirical work of science fiction for adults [which] lampooned the genre's portrayal of women as helpless chattel." Of the novel, the author said that "she wanted to write a female character who wouldn't be the victim and need a hero to save her, but who would be a hero herself and fight for her own survival." In all her books, the author pushes for female heroines and agency for women.

After all, McCaffrey was the first woman to win the top two prizes for science fiction writing: a Hugo, which she won for her 1968 Weyr Search and a Nebula for her 1969 Dragonriders. Both novellas later became a part of the Pern series.

The author once wrote in her 1977 Dragonsinger (to the female protagonist), "There's something wrong in not appreciating one's own special abilities, my girl. Find your own limitations, yes, but don't limit yourself with false modesty."

Readers and writers will miss McCaffrey, a strong female voice and a unique author. The author passed away at her home in Ireland, where she had lived since the 1970s. A home she called "Dragonhold," because she says it had been paid for by dragons.

To read more about the inspirational author, check out Robin Roberts' biography, Anne McCaffrey: A Life With Dragons.

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