How Anne McCaffrey Changed My Life (Part 1)

Happy snow day to my fellow Georgians during this Snowpocalypse! While we’re all holed up inside during this rough weather, I figured I’d introduce myself by posting the first half of my tribute to Anne McCaffrey. This is my bio of sorts, at least my bio relating to all things fantasy and science fiction. Do you have a similar story? Let me know!

How Anne McCaffrey Changed My Life OR Why You Should Read The Dragonriders of Pern

Ever since I was first introduced to the Harry Potter series when I was 7, I’ve been an avid reader. When I was young I focused on Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings, Gone with the Wind, and other young adult novels. The more I read, the faster I got, until I tried and failed to tackle Moby Dick at age 11. After the 3 day disaster that was Moby Dick, I came across a book entitled Acorna’s World and figured I’d give it a shot. I enjoyed the book although I had trouble following (I didn’t realize until much later that it was the middle of a series), and it lead to my mom suggesting I read a book by the same author called The Dragonriders of Pern. Unbeknownst to me, this volume contained the first three books of the massive series written about Pern. I checked it out and my journey began.

Beginning Dragonflight, I realized that this style was quite different than my usual picks, but that the story was no less gripping. After reading classics like the Lord of the Rings and children’s books like Harry Potter, Dragonflight was my first introduction into a whole new world of fictional writing, adult Fantasy and Science Fiction.

The first noticeable effect these new books had on me was the sudden, massive, increase in my vocabulary. Despite all my previous reading I still had the vocabulary of a 12 year old and Dragonflight, while easy to read, was riddled with words I didn’t recognize. On every other page there was a new word that I had never heard before, sometimes even more often. At first I would write them down to check the dictionary when I got home, then I began to learn how to use context clues to guess the meaning of a word and when she repeated a word later in the book I found that I could usually remember what it meant. Soon, I found myself using those words in daily conversation without even meaning to and I still find that my vocabulary is larger than non-readers, something I attribute in part to Anne’s books.

I delved ever deeper into Pern. I cried and laughed with the characters. I knew them all individually and daydreamed about their stories. As my collection grew ever larger, I began to put together the pieces of the huge story that is Pern. Each book focused on different characters, but it was all the same story, leading up to the same future, and everyone played their part.

I read every Anne McCaffrey book I could get my hands on. I would enter a bookstore and make a beeline for the Science Fiction/Fantasy section and for many years I almost always left with a new book by her. My bookshelf filled up, not only with Dragonriders books, but with the Crystal Singer trilogy, Brain and Brawn Ships, Dinosaur Planet, Petaybee, the Freedom series, and Acorna’s universe.

All day every day my head was filled with the stories and characters. I typed up the indexes of people, printed out the listings of holds and wrote up songs to paste everywhere and made a binder dedicated to Pern. Soon though, just her characters weren’t enough for me. I wanted to make her worlds my own so I started making my own gold riders, green riders, my own brainships to fly across the endless worlds of my mind at night. My first attempted story about Pern, Beldona, was a childish imitation of the story of F’lessan and Tai but it opened up a whole new way to express my creativity and love of Pern.

Let me know why you love Anne McCaffrey! You can also click here to jump to Part 2!

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2 Comments

  1. Yeah girl! I feel you on the vocabulary aspect. Jesus, I kept a dictionary with me while I read. But seriously, the dragonriders of pern books were important to me as a teenager and still are. Great post.

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