On Anne McCaffrey and the Dragonriders of Pern series

The McCaffrey Effect

By Bill Fawcett, Jody Lynn Nye

Science fiction fans are a passionate group. They come together, either at conventions or online, for the love of a shared vision of the future. The books or movies they love are, for them, a momentary escape from mundane life. While most fans restrict their involvement to reading or viewing their favorites, some devote themselves more deeply, perhaps wearing costumes, learning invented languages, and forming hierarchies as depicted in their favorite stories. Few, though, have formed a community as cohesive, widespread, or ongoing as those who have read Anne McCaffrey, and particularly those who love the Dragonriders of Pern series. As not only devotees of Anne’s body of work but also creators therein,1 we have had the rare chance to experience this phenomenon firsthand, to sit down and get to know those who are deeply affected by it: Anne’s fans. We asked a number of longtime fans for the reasons they are so devoted to Anne’s work. They shared their thoughts and feelings about being part of the community that has grown up in the last few decades, which we’ve pulled together with our own, in hopes of sharing a sense of that community with you.

Welcome to Pern

One of the reasons for this phenomenon is the way Anne’s stories give the ordinary person a chance to become great. Most fiction focuses only on heroes with extraordinary talents. Among the legion of science fiction readers are scientists, computer programmers, test pilots and astronauts, environmentalists and biologists, yet the great majority are  …

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