Today’s guest is Anya from the science fiction/fantasy blog On Starships and Dragonwings! She posts a lot of reviews with a clear analysis of each book’s strengths and weaknesses, plus her Sci-Fi and Fantasy Fridays are a great way to find other reviews, giveaways, and discussions related to SFF around the blogosphere. I’m happy she is here today to discuss her discovery of a special book series that played a major role in her enthusiasm for science fiction and fantasy—especially dragons!
How it all started for me: Anne McCaffrey’s Pern
I remember seeing an audiobook with a dragon on the cover in my parents’ car. They had lots of audiobooks so I always liked to look at whatever was laying around most recently. This time, though, I was especially intrigued since there was a dragon! While my love for dragons hadn’t fully developed at that point, I was a kid and fantasy critters are pretty much a win at that age ;-). I recall asking what it was about and if I could read it and my parents saying that it was a bit too old for me (which I discovered later was 100% true since there were sex scenes and I was about 11 at the time…).
It was pretty inevitable that I would end up reading Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern books, however, since we own at least one copy of every single book set in Pern, often two, and a whole lot of other McCaffrey books. I can probably be blamed for a lot of the duplicates since I wanted copies of my own when I was a teen; you know how that goes I’m sure ;-). I managed to pick up the first three books before stumbling upon any others, which I credit to my parents. I had a habit of randomly choosing books from the shelf on weekends without any regard to if they belonged to a series or who they were by. Therefore, really the only way that I could have actually started with the first book is with intervention.
I adored that strange purple paperback with small pictures of dragons on it, to the point that I think it is completely unusable at this point. I ran into a problem when going to the bookstore to find the next book in the series though: there wasn’t a definitive next book. There were so many to choose from since McCaffrey wrote her books in a world, not really a series, but I was one of those kids who made lists and stuck to them. There had to be a “proper order,” hadn’t there?? The Internet was a recent discovery for me at the time, so I was only too excited to go to the official website where there actually conveniently was a recommended reading order :D. I was a kid in a
candy shop bookstore >.>. As far as I can remember, I religiously followed that reading order as I worked through every single book set in Pern. I took breaks from Pern now and again (the Harry Potter books were coming out around then), but I am fairly certain I’ve read every single Pern book that Anne wrote. I have even read a couple of Todd’s, though it just wasn’t the same and I didn’t stick with his :-/.
My love of dragons 100% stems from Pern, and that’s saying a lot as most of you know, hehe. I started choosing books from the bookstore by a very simple criteria: Is the word dragon in the title? Yes? Awesome! For the record, not all books with “dragon” in the title actually have dragons in them >.>. However, between my parents’ collection of other fantasy and sci-fi books and their strong encouragement of me purchasing any and all books I wanted from the bookstore, I quickly discovered that there were lots of other cool worlds to visit besides Pern.
Pern always has had a special place in my heart, however, to the point where I daydreamed of a family trip to Ireland to visit Mrs. McCaffrey back when it was still an option. She had horses too, what more could a geeky kid want?? I remember reading on her website that as long as fans scheduled a visit in advance, she was happy to have tea with them, oh how a kid could dream. I also emailed Mrs. McCaffrey once to suggest actors for the film that simply had to be upcoming, right?? I’m still waiting for that film by the way *ahem*.
I even discovered the world of fan fiction because of Pern through text-based roleplaying games. I was so desperate to visit Pern and be a dragonrider that I was quite happy to spend hours writing out stories with other fans about my character going to a Hatching and impressing any sort of dragon that she could. I didn’t really care if I got a Gold or a Green, I just wanted a dragon! Fun fact: those roleplaying sites were actually against McCaffrey’s fan policies and would routinely be ordered to shut down D:. We kind of kept going though >.>.
In the end, I’m sure that I would have discovered fantasy and sci-fi even if I hadn’t seen a book about dragons sitting in my parents’ car, but who knows if I would be quite the fan that I am or quite as obsessed with dragons ;-). Between my mother’s love of the genre and my first introduction to true fanatic obsession with it myself, I never even realized that I wasn’t supposed to like speculative fiction since I was a girl. To me, women read and wrote science fiction and fantasy right from the start. I fully realize how incredibly lucky I am to have had such a great experience with the genre. Even though Anne McCaffrey is no longer with us (and therefore I can’t have tea with her at her horse ranch!), I am so grateful that she imagined a world filled with dragons and Harpers and alien organisms that fall from the sky and eat all organic material they touch!