Thread: Good Bye, Anne
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Old Nov 23 2011, 12:52 AM   #28
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Join Date: May 2009
Location: california
Gender: M
Fan of: Crystal Singer
Now Reading: David Drake - With the Lightning
Default Re: Good Bye, Anne

From my facebook wall, my story of Anne. I think I've posted this before, but I worked a little harder on the telling tonight in memory of her:

I discovered Anne in 2001, when I was 18 years old. Back then I took classes at the DVC extension in San Ramon, and used to walk around in between classes to kill time. One day, I stumbled across a local bookstore called "Paperbacks", which is no longer in business.

A woman there asked me what I liked to read, and I said, "I don't know, sci-fi?"

"I know exactly what you'll like," she replied with a smile, leading me over to the sci-fi/fantasy section of the book store. She thumbed through several titles of used books, and I stood there with a smug grin, the one of an 18 year old who 'knows it all', assuming I wouldn't be impressed with the title some woman in a used book store brought to me.

She plucked a book from the shelves called "The Crystal Singer." The book had a moderately good looking woman, arched back and singing with ecstasy on the cover, drawn by renowned fantasy artist, Michael Whelan. As an 18 year old man, the pinks and purples of the cover didn't really appeal to me, and I was wary.

How foolish I was. As I read the book, I realized it was one of the greatest pieces of art I've ever come across. The sense of character, the total immersion in the relationships, the in depth feelings of Killshandra (the main character) was like nothing I'd ever seen before, and nothing I'd ever read since. It was reading that book that led me to read everything Anne has written.

And then there was my college English course.

One of the first assignments I had in college English was to “write an interview paper”. The professor recommended interviewing someone I admired. At that point, I had read the Crystal Singer trilogy and several of the Pern novels, and I thought, “well heck, I’ll go to Anne McCaffrey’s website, find her email, ask her if she’ll do an iterview.”

I wrote a lengthy email with several questions about the author’s life, her inspiration, her books. They were all “new fan” questions I’m sure she’s heard thousands of times before, yet Anne, a woman in her 70s, took the time to write out a very detailed email answering all of my questions.

Needless to say, I was flabbergasted. This famous, New York Times bestselling author several times over, had bothered to write me back and answer a freshman college student’s questions? If her books had impressed me, her sheer humility, her care and devotion to those who supported her works impressed me far more. At that point, I became her devoted fan, and have since made sure to own every work she has ever published. She is truly a wonderful woman, with a talent (and those who are her fans reading this will understand what I mean by talent!).

Anne McCaffrey became one of an extremely few authors who I would read their books more than once. I very rarely revisit books, so it is definitely something huge to say that I have re-read the Crystal Singer three times, Dragonflight twice.

This September 2011, I met her son, Todd McCaffrey. I’ve read several of his collaborations with his mother, and was pleased to find that Todd is a wonderful person who inherited her big heart. I shared with him the story of my experience with his mother, and he nodded sagely as he walked with me.

“She’s that way because of me, you know,” Todd said.

“What do you mean?” I asked him.

“When I was a kid, I was really into [a science fiction series which name eludes me]. I stood in line to meet the author, get his signature, and he blew me off,” Todd said with a hint of long remorse. “Ever since then, mum vowed she would always take care of her fans.”

The McCaffrey family is one class act. They’re wonderful people, and Anne McCaffrey had an ability to touch the human soul like no other.

It’s coming up on Thanksgiving, and I want to give thanks for Anne, her family, and her work. May they be remembered forever.

For those who haven’t read her, I recommend either starting with The Crystal Singer or Dragonflight. I envy you to be able to read those for the first time.
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