I remember the descriptions of moss-covered courtyards and egg-strewn caverns. There was wind that whistled through castles, and scales that slid over stone.
But most of all, there were dragons.
Dragons in many colors soared through the sky, blasting flames from their mouths to take down the vegetation-destroying Threads that fell periodically to decimate a season’s worth of crops.
The young girl in that first book wasn’t much older than me but her life was so much more exciting and magical than the life I was living in suburban Cleveland.
She had adventure.
That adventure lead to a dragon who she bonded with on an emotional level that I could not understand. That’s right, a DRAGON.
Who didn’t want a dragon? Hell, I still do.
I’ve actually flirted with guys on online dating sites over my choice of a pet dragon versus other impossible-dream type pets.
This is the effect, even fifteen years after the fact, of the writing of Anne McCaffrey.
McCaffrey died early this week. She was 85.
To multiple generations of readers and lovers of fantasy storytelling, she sat at the cool table in any metaphoric lunchroom. In fact, when I exclaimed sadly that Anne McCaffrey had died in front of my family this week, after reading it on Twitter of course, and they DIDN’T know who I was talking about, I was downright insulted.
They read a lot.
Apparently though, according to my brother at least, they do not read with the omnivorous appetite that I do. Some have never set foot in the science fiction section of the bookstore.
That right there, made me stop and stare.
In reflecting more on this over the day or so following the news that McCaffrey died, it came to me that I had yet another thing to be thankful for this holiday season: an imagination still ripe with inspiration I skimmed from the surface of more than two decades worth of literary gluttony.
Thanks to writers like McCaffrey, I still walk through the world hoping to round a corner and surprise a dragon. I want an animal friend like Talat, Faithful or Ash.
I never wrote a fan letter to the great McCaffrey, but I wish that I had. I wish I could whip out some story of getting even a generic form letter back in the mail from her because that is the kind of thing I would have framed on my wall.
Writers like her are on a plain by themselves, incomparable to those I read today even when their stories are vibrant and their characters are memorable.
I could never forget reading about the orphan with a royal blood line who became a dragonrider. And I hope I never do.
Image Credit TheenMoy