Anne McCaffrey tricked me into reading science fiction.
I was twelve and combing through the school library. I had just been teased by two boys and I was upset. I wanted to read a good, fun fantasy about dragons to distract myself from my troubles.
I walked out of the library with this edition of Dragonsong, which looked very fantastical. A red-head in old-fashioned dress, lots of little dragons, and it mentioned magic and music on the back cover. Sounded great. And during my history class, instead of paying attention, I read the book under my desk (Sorry, 7th grade history teacher whose name I forget).
I was slow on the uptake. It took me a few books until I realized I was reading science fiction–it was set on another world, people had come to settle it via spaceship, and the dragons were native aliens and the Thread a danger from the stars. I was shocked. Before that point, I had refused to read science fiction. I thought it was lame and boring, though I couldn’t tell you why. I just didn’t like it, mainly because I’d never read it.
But once I discovered that you could have science fiction with a more fantasy feel, I grew into it. I read all of the Pern books and several of her more obvious science fiction titles, such as the Acorna series, although they still had a rather fantastic feel.
For about two years I read mainly Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey, and Tamora Pierce, with the very slight deviation now and again. They were all so prolific and told the stories I wanted to read at the time, so I always knew what I was going to get. But out of McCaffrey, I found a love for science fiction and was more willing to take risks with my reading, enough so that by age 16 I was reading hard science fiction every now and again.
I was saddened to hear of her passing yesterday.
So thank you for tricking me, Anne McCaffrey. I haven’t read your books in years, but they were utterly formative for me. I think a re-read of Dragonsong and the rest of the Harper Hall trilogy is in order.