I still remember the first time I read one of Anne McCaffrey’s stories. I was in 9th grade, and Dragonsong was assigned reading for English Literature class. I’d always enjoyed reading, but I’d rarely been that interested in the things that we were assigned in school. So much of it seemed out of touch with the modern day, or just boring.
I read the entire book in the space of a few hours.
I had a hard time containing my excitement as the rest of the class caught up. I’d rushed to the bookstore right after I finished Dragonsong, and I purchased the original trilogy – DragonFlight, DragonQuest and The White Dragon.
While the other girls struggled with things like what teleportation was, I smiled smugly, knowing all the ins and outs of between. While they asked just why Thread was so dangerous, I marvelled at the inner strength of Lessa. By the end of the semester, I’d read every book of hers, and created a guide for students in the later classes that explained some of the basics of how Pern worked in easily digestible chunks.
When I was 12 I found my first Dragonriders of Pern roleplaying site, and I lied about my age in order for them to let me in. Over the years, I kept reading the novels as they came out, kept reading about the fandom even though I would quit writing it for years at a time.
I devoured the game for the Dreamcast, despite all of it’s flaws. I read through Todd’s Pern books, even though they were frequently not up to the same standard as his mother’s. I read some of Anne’s other books.
About two years ago, after a long break from fandom, I joined a few clubs. Some of them I stuck with, others I didn’t. As I realized that there was no club that really fit what I desired, I conned a few of my friends into creating our own club. We’ve just recently reached our first year.
I’ve always wanted to meet Anne. To tell her that she’s the one who inspired me to start writing, and moreso to start roleplaying online. It may seem trivial, but it’s been an integral part of my life for many years now. I almost went to DragonCon this year when I heard she might attend, because I know that her health has been fragile for some time now. But in the end, I didn’t go, and neither did she.
It’s hard to descibe how I feel about hearing that she’s passed. It reminds me of finding out that a distant relative who’s always been sick, but who’s always gotten better has passed. It feels wrong. It is some small consolation that hopefully, a whole new generation of people will be inspired once the dragons have made it to the big screen. I fervently hope that the film will be true to her memory.