Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Dragons Sleep

Pern-inspired ASCII Dragon Photo source: Benzendream

Advice for aspiring writers:

  1. Keep reading. Writers are readers. Writers are also people who can’t not write.
  2. Second, follow Heinlein’s rules for getting published:
    1. Write it.
    2. Finish it.
    3. Send it out.
    4. Keep sending it out until someone sends you a check.

There are variations on that, but that’s basically what works.

Anne McCaffrey

The dragons of Pern fly missing man formation today. I learned this morning that their creator, Anne McCaffrey, died of a stroke. She was 85.

The Ship Who Sang explores themes of humanity through human-cyborg interactions.Photo source: calibre2opds

I never met McCaffery, but she was the coolest grandmother figure an adolescent male could hope for. Her imagination took us places we could never have gone without her. Librarything credits 60 books to her pen. Each one had a lesson—maybe not the lesson my parents would have wanted, McCaffery had a strong ethical bent. I read one time that she approached each of her books with a child in mind.

She had a way of making you believe. If a severely disabled girl could control a starship, how could I not try to do whatever mundane thing was bothering me at the time? If the misfit could bond to the coolest dragon ever, maybe this misfit had something to offer. I guess that was her main lesson—believe in yourself. Believe in something.

McCaffery’s earlier works are often overlooked, but they are among her best. Some of her later titles had the subtlety of a sledgehammer, but that comes from following Heinlein’s rule. (Heinlein would also let the story devolve into random preachiness sometimes.) Even so, it was difficult to put her books down.

Somewhere, the ship continues to sing.

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