The woman who made riding dragons possible
November 23rd, 2011
09:28 AM ET

The woman who made riding dragons possible

Many of us have dreamed about riding on the backs of dragons, exploring exotic lands and vanquishing foes. But author Anne McCaffrey brought those mere dreams to vivid life when she created the fictional world of Pern back in 1967.

Anne McCaffrey died Monday from a stroke at her house in Ireland. She was 85.

McCaffrey wrote over 100 books in her illustrious career, many with her son, Todd. The 23rd installment of the Pern series is set to arrive next year.

Her fanbase spanned all ages and nationalities, and up until earlier this month, she remained active on her blog, responding to fans’ questions and letters.

But now, it is the blogosphere’s turn to pay homage to the woman who influenced science-fiction and fantasy and the way we view our bodies, our minds, and our world. Here’s what some have had to say:

Charlie Jane Anders, Editor for, posted:
One of my fondest convention memories is of going to Dragon*Con one year and attending a panel about "Emergency Medicine on Pern." There, a group of extremely earnest — but good-humored — people were hashing out exactly what you would do if someone happened to be on Pern and fell of his/her dragon. How would you make a stretcher out of items that were readily available on Pern? How would you keep the fallen rider's dragon from freaking out? And so on. The world of Pern was as real to these people as Atlanta — maybe more so. (Full post here)

LOCUS Online posted:
She was the first woman to win both the Hugo and the Nebula Awards, with “Weyr Search” (1968) and “Dragonrider” (1969) respectively. Pern novel “The White Dragon” (1978) was the first hardcover SF novel to make the New York Times bestseller list. (Full post here) posted:
Her influence on other writers, both male and female, and of both fantasy and science fiction, can scarcely be measured. (Full post here)

Author Neil Gaiman Tweeted:
She was a wonderful goodhearted funny lady. Goodbye Annie. I'm glad I knew you.

Sci-fi/fantasy and horror author Laura Anne Gilman posted:
She wrote huge books, filled with incredible things, and short stories that could make you cry and think (at the same time), and if I didn't always agree with her on everything, I admired the hell out of her. (Read full post here)

Shawn Speakman, Suvudu blogger, posted:
I first became aware of her work due to Michael Whelan, whose wonderful cover on Dragonflight sucked me in and ensured I read Pern. I’m happy it did. At the early age of thirteen, it broadened my notions of what science fiction and fantasy could be, from women and their place in science fiction to how cultures repress others. (Full post here)

Back in April of this year, Suvudu, a branch of Random House Publishing, announced that “Dragonflight,” the first book in the epic “Dragonriders of Pern” series would be made into movie, penned by “X2” and “Watchmen” screenwriter David Hayter and produced by Don Murphy (“Transformers”).

Production was slated to begin next year.

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soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Matt

    ♥*~$h@Rp!E~*♥ Posted on umm maybe like jazzy or J.J as the names and + vampires are real ppleoe with health disorders and they kinda don't drink blood but they do use donations and stuff to keep living ok well i hope that helped.

    March 5, 2012 at 1:53 am |
  2. Trisha

    I was lucky enough to meet her at a book signing in the New Orleans area in the 1990s. I had read all of her books and she recommended Lois McMasters Bujold to me and opened the world of Miles Vorkosigan to me. She was a very great lady and an inspiration.I think Master Robinton was my favorite character, and, I suspect, hers.

    November 30, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  3. Mickimause

    I've been reading & enjoying Mrs. McCarffrey's work for years – it's a wonderful escape from reality. Talented author, and from all accounts a wonderful human being. May your journey between reunite you with your loved ones that have gone before. Condolences to the family. She will be missed.

    November 24, 2011 at 9:41 am |
  4. Mickimause

    Godspeed Anne, and my sincerest condolences to the family.

    November 24, 2011 at 9:39 am |
  5. 5 Part Form

    I'm so sad this gifted storyteller has left us. She was a talented author and a great lady. Thank you, Ms. McCaffrey for creating the Pern universe and sharing it with us.

    November 24, 2011 at 1:28 am |
  6. Ginger M

    May the dragons of Pern fly high for Anne!

    November 24, 2011 at 1:11 am |
  7. renjenn

    She has gone between. RIP

    November 23, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  8. David

    Thank you Anne for helping me travel to fantastic far away worlds and inspiring creativity and compassion in so many!!! Thank you thank you for the gift of Dragons!

    November 23, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  9. roseanna martin

    How do you say Good-Bye to a legend "Anne may you soar the skys of Pern on your gold dragon forever.

    November 23, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
  10. Alex

    It is a true sad day for all Sci Fi fans, I am looking forward to the movie, just was hoping she would be around to help develop the movie.

    November 23, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  11. Lea Jones

    Anne's books saw me through a difficult adolescence. I will be forever grateful to her for not only providing me with many exciting refuges to hide in, but for providing my mother and I a way to further our bond as adults. Thank you Anne. You will be sorely missed. The dragons are keening their deathsong for you.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
  12. Javadude54

    Some of my favorite books were written by Anne McCaffrey. She's one of the very few authors who could play my emotions like a violin. One day, when there are movies made from her books to spread the word to the masses, her genius will finally be recognized outside of the genre audience. I hope her passing was easy and my condolences to her family and other loved ones. She may be gone but she, or the worlds she created, will never be forgotten.

    November 23, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  13. Diana Cleaveland

    Anne McCaffrey was my favorite fantasy author- she will be sorely missed, along also my best friend, Marisa Merewood, puppeteer, singer, actress from the UK, who died the day before. Marisa and I both thoroughly enjoyed all the Dragon/Crystal Singer novels; Marisa had even fashioned for me a beautiful little Bronze Fire Lizard, my constant companion and everlasting protector. May all your travels Between, Anne and Marisa, be filled with delight, peace, and light.

    November 23, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  14. Deb

    When I first discovered Anne's Pern series, I was entranced and slipped seamlessly into her dragonriding world. I was so upset when I had to come back to reality. I went on to read and buy every book she wrote, loving many of the other worlds she created. A great writer and a wonderful human being has left us and I only hope she flew to heaven on dragonwings.

    November 23, 2011 at 11:11 am |
  15. ctb67

    She was brilliant. She wrote books other than Pern. She had a collection of stories that was way ahead of her time, even taking on IVF before it was a reality, before even the first test tube baby. Madame Anne is one of those people I would really would have liked to see irl. See you in the Sommerlands lassie.

    November 23, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  16. Nancy

    I was privileged to meet Anne at Worldcon in Winnipeg in 1994. She was the main reason I went. She was funny and fun, smart, articulate, and understood her fans. She pointed me out of the audience and asked me to help her up a set of stairs that was given her trouble. She didn't even know me! But she knew everyone there loved her and she loved us in return. May the dragons watch over you, dear Dragonlady. You will be missed.

    November 23, 2011 at 10:50 am |
  17. menolly

    So sad, she was truly a gifted author. When my wife was pregnant with our first child we both read one of her early books. When it came time to name her, we chose the name of our favorite Pern character, Menolly. While, in hindsight, we probably didn't do our daughter a favor ("how do you spell/pronounce that?"), but that's the passion we had for Anne's novels.

    November 23, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Nancy

      Menolly is my favorite character, too. I pronounce it like Melanie only with the "L" and "N" reversed.

      November 23, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Deb

      How wonderful that you named your daughter after one of Anne's very best characters. If I had discovered Dragonsong before I had children, I have a feeling my daughter's name would also be Menolly. What a tribute to an extraordinary writer. I hope Menolly loves the Pern series, too.

      November 23, 2011 at 11:14 am |
      • Menolly

        I am his daughter, Menolly and I do absolutely love the series and am glad to be given her name.

        November 23, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  18. Renee

    I...I can't believe it...she was one of those figures that I imagined would never go away...I'm now crying at work. We shall miss you Anne, and may your spirit fly freely with the dragons.

    November 23, 2011 at 9:47 am |