Introduction

Anne McCaffrey 1926–

American novelist for adults and young adults, short story writer, and editor.

McCaffrey is best known for her adventure stories about the world of Pern which combine the technical attributes of science fiction with elements of fantasy. Pern is a lost colony of the future whose inhabitants possess medieval names and characteristics. They survive repeated invasions from the menacing Threads through the use of fire-breathing, telepathic dragons. McCaffrey's characterizations of the brave Dragonriders, equally strong men and women, are realistic and contemporary in scope.

The recurrent themes throughout McCaffrey's works are trust and the importance of companionship, especially between the Dragonriders and their dragons. Her young adult protagonists, such as the rascally, appealing Piemur and the apprentice harpist Menolly, go through personal rites of self-discovery as they are confronted with situations which cause them to have to make career decisions or to expand their resourcefulness and self-sufficiency.

When McCaffrey began writing, she hired a graduate student to teach her the physics she needed to write credible science fiction and her books have been recognized as consistently accurate. The loose, episodic nature of her plots and the repetition of characters and situations in the Pern series have been cited as weak points in McCaffrey's writing. However, her imaginative interweaving of the strange and the familiar has delighted many readers, and McCaffrey is considered among the most successful of recent science fiction authors. Dragonflight won both the Nebula and Hugo awards in 1969, and McCaffrey was awarded the E. E. Smith Memorial Award for Imaginative Fiction in 1976. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 25-28, rev. ed.)

In this well-written and carefully plotted story [Restoree, Anne McCaffrey] has constructed a fascinating world that is technologically sophisticated, but culturally quaint and archaic, and her heroine, Sara, snatched out of Central Park by a low-hovering space craft, observes it closely and describes it intelligently…. She is a "restoree" and for what that means we refer you to this top-notch science fiction tale.

"Paperbacks: 'Restoree'," in Publishers Weekly (reprinted from the August 21, 1967, issue of Publishers Weekly by permission of the critic, published by R. R. Bowker Company, a Xerox company; copyright © 1967 by Xerox Corporation), Vol. 192, No. 8, August 21, 1967, p. 76.

[Dragonflight is] a science-fantasy that readers surfeited with gadget-ridden supermodernistic space epics will welcome. A Terran-colonized planet is threatened every 200 years when it draws near to the orbit of a wandering planet that sends out life-destroying Threads…. How [the battle is waged] against the Threads makes for an ingenious story.

"Paperbacks: 'Dragonflight'," in Publishers Weekly (reprinted from the July 8, 1968, issue of Publishers Weekly by permission of the critic, published by R. R. Bowker Company, a Xerox company; copyright © 1968 by Xerox Corporation), Vol. 194, No. 2, July 8, 1968, p. 166.

[In Decision at Doona] Earth is so overcrowded that citizens must wait years for their turn to visit a Square Mile, an open area of trees and grass. Other planets are being colonized, but very slowly because of a sacred law against cohabitation with other species and the foot-dragging of an inert bureaucracy. Ken Reeve is exultant when he gets the chance to go on a colonizing trip to Doona with his family. But on Doona they discover that another race of biped catlike creatures has also sent a colonizing party…. [This] is a skillfully blended package of story elements—frontier scenes in a new land, sociology, botany, biology, politics, linguistics and plenty of action.

"Paperbacks: 'Decision at Doona'," in Publishers Weekly (reprinted from the March 17, 1969, issue of Publishers Weekly by permission of the critic, published by R. R. Bowker Company, a Xerox company; copyright © 1969 by Xerox Corporation), Vol. 195, No. 11, March 17, 1969, p. 58.

Helva [in The Ship Who Sang], hopelessly deformed at birth, becomes one of the "shell people" whose brains will eventually be used to monitor space ships…. [Anne McCaffrey] manages the tricky balance of keeping Helva's physical and psychological cogs in gear as she passes from sorrowing adolescence to sensible womanhood on equally traumatic journeys. Helva should transport a young feminine audience.

"Fiction: 'The Ship Who Sang'," in Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1969 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), Vol. XXXVII, No. 18, September 15, 1969, p. 1033.