Friday, 24 April 2009

Anne McCaffrey: Creator of the Pern books

The beginning of a series of articles in which we appreciate the true greats of the science fiction and fantasy genres.

If anyone has earned their status as a legend in the fields of science fiction and fantasy, then it is Anne McCaffrey. As creator of the Dragonriders of Pern and the hugely popular series of science fiction and fantasy novels that followed the first book ('Dragonflight', which was made up of two novellas originally published in Analog magazine), Anne has secured her place in the history books as a writer of monumental power and talent.

The Pern novels now number well over twenty, and many of them have become essential titles in the science fiction genre.

But there is more to Anne McCaffrey's career than just creating the Pern novels and the world that they take place on. She is also author (and co-author on several books) of several science fiction novels dealing with sentient spacecraft.

Some of the most influential of these books are probably the anthology The Ship Who Sang and the novel The Ship Who Fought. These showed a different side to her writing, allowing her to deal with a more SF style universe than the science-fantasy worlds of the Pern novels.

She is also the author and co-author of many other books in the science fiction and fantasy genres, and while her output has slowed in recent years, she remains one of the finest exponents of the genre around.

What is it that makes her work so special though? Dragons? Crystal Singers? Children hardwired into starship computers? maybe all of these, but she is also an incredibly talented writer when it comes to characterization and social issues within the fictional universes she has created.

Her books aren't just action extravaganzas or character studies, they are both and much more. Each book of hers boasts many layers that a lot of other writers wouldn’t even contemplate, and thus she achieved her status as one of the greatest science fiction writers of all time, as well as creating one of the most loved science fiction series ever conceived- Pern.

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