Adventures in (Post) Gradland

Thoughts on life after the PhD

Anne McCaffrey, 1926-2011

I wanted to be Menolly. Or at least I longed for a few pet fire lizards to call my own.

Menolly was braver than I ever felt as a teenager–after being told “no” time and time again, she kept going anyway.

In the case of Killashandra Ree, I just wanted her job. Who wouldn’t want to make a fortune singing to rocks on a hostile planet? Re-reading Crystal Singer recently, I was surprised to discover that Killashandra was a lot less likeable than I remembered–she kept whining about how everyone was invading her privacy and seemed to have a very, very high opinion of her talents. But she was nobody’s sidekick, she never needed rescuing, and she flew spaceships in mach storms. And when she had casual sex it was no big deal.

I only ever read three of Anne McCaffrey’s books–Dragonsong, Dragonsinger, and Crystal Singer–but they were enough to impact my life and reading habits for years to come. Like a lot of other confused teenage girls, I found solace in the struggles of McCaffrey’s mostly female protagonists. They might be battling monsters on distant planets, but they were fully-fleshed human beings, and they felt like kindred spirits.

“Harper, your song has a sorrowful sound,
Though the tune was written as gay.
Your voice is sad and your hands are slow
And your eye meeting mine turns away.”



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This entry was posted on November 24, 2011 by in Books and tagged .
Anne McKnight

writing•translation•scholarship on Japan (and a few other things)

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