When a great (wo)man dies, for years the light (s)he leaves behind
him her, lies on the paths of men us all.
Her books — particularly the iconic Dragonriders of Pern series, which began with the 1968 publication of Dragonflight — contained any number of extraordinary revelations. Even if the books don’t stand up to modern feminist scrutiny, in the ’60s, they were revolutionary. Women can be protagonists—real protagonists, who really do things! Women who are pregnant can keep right on working and being active! Fantasy and science fiction can coexist in one book! Genre fiction written by a woman can win Hugo and Nebula awards and be a New York Times bestseller! And most seductive of all was the idea, the ideal, of the telepathic animal companion, the one who knows you better than any human could.
The awakening and escapism the books provided were absolutely vital to McCaffrey’s readers. By night they could dream of having dragons of their own. By day they could take courage from McCaffrey’s example and the examples of her heroines. Before there was a Katniss Everdeen — or even a Hermione Granger — there were Menolly and Killashandra Ree. Many fans grew up to write fantasy and science fiction, paving the way for the next generations of female readers and writers.
This is truly a sad day. But I, for one, am thankful that she even allowed us to behold her for so long. And she has achieved humanity’s most coveted goal: immortality.