On Anne McCaffrey and the Dragonriders of Pern series
Modeling the Writer’s Life
The first Anne McCaffrey tale I ever read was also one of the most memorable works of its era. Sometime in the mid to late ’60s, which was my mid to late teens, I encountered the short story “The Ship Who Sang” quite by chance in my random SF reading, in a battered paperback Judith Merril anthology that Wikipedia (but not my fuzzy memory) tells me must have been the Dell 7th Annual Edition The Year’s Best S-F (1963). I remember absolutely nothing else from that anthology.
To become a starship! To live for centuries! What a geek dream that was. (The tragic romance, not to mention the galaxy-famous singing career, was icing on the cake.) To be an SF girl geek in the 1960s, before the term had been repurposed or the concept even invented, was every bit as uncomfortable as one might imagine. But that story spoke to me.
My next encounter with this writer–I did not think of her as “a woman writer” at the time–was via my subscription to Analog magazine, which my dad had bought for me starting in 1964 and kept up for some years thereafter. This fell in the heart of editor John W. Campbell Jr.’s classic era. The story, of course, was “Weyr Search,” which (thank you again, Wikipedia) was published there in the year I graduated from high school, 1967. I still remember the wonderful, sinister, moody black-and-white illustrations by John Schoenherr. Not yet being plugged into SF fandom, I was unaware that …