Here There Be Dragons

By the time I'd reached high school I'd ripped through most of my dad's fantasy collection. I'd read Terry Brooks' Magic Kingdom series, tried his Shanarra series until I was bored to tears by Flick walking down the road. From there I moved into Feist's Riftwar and Aspirin's Myth books. I laughed with Craig Shaw Gardener's Wuntvor and delved into The Crystal Cave. After the Belgariad and the Mallorean I was looking for something else to read. By that time too I had met a few people in high school who had read the same books!

Clare and Michelle and I would chatter about our books. Clare showed me the wonders of Earthsea and Michelle introduced me to Herald Vanyel. About twenty or so books later I'm not sure if I should thank her or smack her for the addictions. Clare then mentioned a writer I had never heard of before Anne McCaffrey. She was a science fiction writer. I didn't like science fiction. I liked to read fantasy and whoever heard of dragons in a science fiction book!

Clare insisted they were really good. For the record, she was talking about The Harper Hall trilogy at the time. I said I'd look for her. At that time I was definitely on a "used book" budget. So, Dad and I went hunting at the local dying mall's used book sale. I was up to about my waist in a barrel of books when I found this hardcover of The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey. That name sounded familiar . . . That's right! Clare had mentioned her. Well, Clare only talked about books if they were really good or really bad. For a buck fifty I could risk it.

I spent the next three days on Pern.

That sentence pretty much says it all, doesn't it. It became one of my favorite series of all times. I'm talking about the original books by the lady of Dragonhold herself, not her son's books. While I respect her right to dispense with her world as she wishes, I'm not pleased with the way he's messed with the canon.

Anne McCaffrey died on Thanksgiving Day. We knew this day was coming. We knew it was coming closer as she turned more and more of her worlds over to her son, but she will be missed by millions. We who loved her books, who loved the characters and the worlds she created. I think that's the lifelong dream of an author, of any artist really--to have their work take someone out of their own lives into something of the writer's creation. She did that.

So, I think I'll sit back tonight and curl up with that battered old buck fifty copy of The Dragonrider's of Pern. I do still have it despite having another copy when the first one started to literally fall apart and a digital copy on my Kindle. It's been a while since I've visited Pern. I want to fly one more time with Mnementh and Ramoth and thank Anne McCaffrey for all the hours I've spent in one of my favorite places with some of my favorite characters.


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