“I have a shelf of comfort books, which I read when the world closes in on me or something untoward happens.”
Spotlight: Anne McCaffrey
In 1976 a friend came over to the house and gave me a book called Dragonrider. He said, “I think you will like this”. My mom picked up the book and read it. I’m guessing that many in my family did too.
The Dragonriders of Pern series is the best known series by Anne McCaffrey but let us not discount any of her other great books. For example, my mom liked The Ship Who Sang and many of Ms. McCaffrey’s books.
The Dragonriders of Pern is a series of 23 books and the story is a long arc. Dragonrider was published in 1967 and (one can argue) that it completes with All the Weyrs of Pern published in 1991. And, what I’m trying to say, is that these stories were part of my life. I read them as they came out over almost 20 years.
The 1960s was when Fantasy and Science Fiction books really picked up. Some of the more popular books of that time by Asimov or Clarke or Heinlein were collections of short stories that had been published in magazines in the 50s or even the 40s.
Anne McCaffrey was the first woman to win the Hugo and Nebula prizes for her writing. What I cherish about her writing is that she has strong female characters who can kick ass and lead a team. It was unusual in the 60s and must have paved the way for books like The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.
Reading up about her today, there are several mentions of her audience being young. I think that is great but having read them as an adult, they never felt “less” if that makes any sense. Ms. McCaffrey said, “There are no demographics on my books which indicate the readers are predominantly of an age or sex group. Dragons have a universal appeal“.
While her work is often listed as fantasy, she considered herself a science fiction writer. The dragons were altered genetically! Standing her ground, she felt that to be labeled as only fantasy was selling her work short.
I’ve read them all and I think that my two favorite are Dragonsinger and Dragonsong about a gifted girl of about fourteen years old. They are like comfort books for a long dreary winter.