Anne McCaffrey

1926 - 2011

American writer

Among the most popular writers in the science fiction genre, much of Anne McCaffrey’s work is tinged with the tone and instruments of fantasy. She began publishing with Freedom of the Race for Hugo Gernsback's Science Fiction Plus in 1953, and became active approximately a decade later with her first novel, Restoree in1967. Soon after, McCaffrey began publishing the linked novels and stories that cemented her reputation as a writer of romantic, tales of adventure, explicitly designed to appeal to—and resonate with— a predominantly female adolescent audience.

The White Dragon

Her major series is set in a long-lost Earth colony, Pern, a world whose humans, symbiotically pair-bonded with tame, time-travelling, telepathic dragons, engage in high adventures and defend the planet from the poisonous Threads. Three novels comprise the initial series: Dragonflight (1968), which contains the 1968 Hugo Award-winner Weyr Search, and the 1968 Nebula Award winner Dragon Rider; Dragonquest (1971); and The White Dragon (1978).

Though the tone is that of fantasy, the premises underlying Pern are orthodox science fiction; even the dragons turn out to have been bio-engineered by humans to help defend against a vacuum-traversing spore. There are many more novels set in Pern, notably Dragonsong (1976), Dragonsinger (1977), and Dragondrums (1979), which are juveniles.

Other series include the Pegasus books: To Ride Pegasus (1973), which deals with a corps of parapsychological investigators in the near future, and Pegasus in Flight (1990); the Ireta books: Dinosaur Planet (1978 UK), and Dinosaur Planet Survivors (1984); the Killashandra tales: The Crystal Singer (1982 UK), Killashandra (1985), and Crystal Line (1992).

Though less popular than the Pern books, many of McCaffrey's stand-alone novels are highly innovative. The Ship Who Sang, for instance, introduces a deformed girl who is grafted into a spaceship, eventually becoming one with the starship. The emotional difficulties facing a musical spaceship are many.

In 2005 the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America named McCaffrey the 22nd Grand Master. She has also received the Golden Pen, Ditmar, and Gandalf Awards.

Selected Bibliography:
Dragonflight (1968)
Decision at Doona (1969)
The Ship who Sang (1969)
Dragonquest (1971)
To Ride Pegasus (1973)
The White Dragon (1978)
Dinosaur Planet (1978)
The Crystal Singer (1982)
The Rowan (1990)

Courtesy of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Copyright © John Clute and Peter Nicholls 1993, 1999, published by Orbit, an imprint of the Time Warner Book Group UK.