Whenever I am asked which authors influenced me the most, I usually have to pause and think about it for a moment. Not because one name didn’t instantly come to mind, but rather because I often feel inadequate listing Anne McCaffrey as my only influence. But truth be told, I was so wrapped up in the world of computers when I was younger, that writing stories wasn’t even an after thought. I read a lot of science fiction and fantasy in those days, trying to escape the often mind-numbing advance of computer science in the 70s and 80s. Nothing touched the storyteller within me though, until I discovered The Dragonriders of Pern. The series, about futuristic humans who had a psychic bond with telepathic dragons, not only offered me a fantastic escape from the world of semiconductors and structured programming, It also showed me what a masterful storyteller could do with a simple concept and a vivid imagination. Therein lies my inspiration to write.
With every new book, Ms. McCaffrey impressed me with her ability to tell a great story. Every detail of that world, those noble people, and the amazing dragons, was clear and crisp and jumped off the page. I yearned to fly on the back of a warm blooded dragon. Yearned to help it fight the plague of thread that threatened all life on Pern. And eventually I yearned to tell a story as well as Anne McCaffrey could. I’m not there yet, and her passing at the age of 85 just serves to remind me that I haven’t got all the time in the world.
The light of science fiction and fantasy is a little dimmer tonight. Pern is not gone, the books will live on, and her legacy has been passed to Anne’s son Todd, who writes a mean Pern story himself. I still contend that Hollywood is finally ready to make a Pern movie, and I’m sorry Anne won’t get to see that. I don’t want to cry tonight, because I am just so happy that she lived, that she wrote her stories down, that she shared them with all of us, and that she could tell such good ones. Tonight I shall raise a cup of Klah in honor of Anne McCaffrey, the best storyteller I know.