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My romance with science fiction began when I was quite young.  A customer left a bag of books in a booth at the restaurant where I worked.  I put them behind the counter and when he did not come back, I took them home.  I have never been able to throw a book away.  Not going to happen. No way, no how!  Yes, I have an ungodly number of books.  If only I could find that customer today, I would smother him with kisses.

The bag contained Asimov’s Foundation, Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Zelazny’s Nine Princes in Amber, Herbert’s Dune, Niven’s Ringworld, Silverberg’s Tower of Glass, Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness, Anthony’s Macroscope, Harrison’s The Stainless Steel Rat, Norton’s Witch World and McCaffrey’s Restoree.  How do I remember so clearly the authors and titles?  I have them still and have read them all many, many times through the years.  Those of you that are fans of the genre know these are the giants.

I love them all, but there is one I felt a special bond with.  One that I came to love and feel, over time, that I knew.  Her signature quote was:  “My hair is silver, my eyes are green and I freckle; the rest is subject to change without notice.”  She was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts; lived in Ireland; sewed, embroidered and knitted; cooked (well by all reports); was an amateur singer and actor; played bridge; raised three children; was divorced; struggled to support her family; and loved her pets, especially her horses.  She looked like my grandma.  She was an unlikely literary giant.  She was Anne McCaffrey.

Anne wrote prolifically throughout her life.  She was the first woman to win a Hugo or Nebula Award.  She was one of the first science fiction authors to make the New York Times Best Seller List.  She has been inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America.  Most importantly, she won the hearts of readers everywhere.  Mine was one.

Her feminine characters were strong and fought for themselves at a time when it was not “fashionable” for women to stand up or fight.  She is supposed to have said, “I was so tired of all the weak women screaming in the corner while their boyfriends were beating off the aliens. I wouldn’t have been – I’d’ve been in there swinging with something or kicking them as hard as I could.”  I’ll just bet she would have and that’s what her heroines did.  They were role models for a generation of female readers.

She created worlds were dragons fill the sky and dinosaurs still live.  Her ship sings as do her crystal miners.  Telepathic and telekinetic talents hold her universe together and humans learn they are not as technologically advanced at they think.  She wrote of an old soldier protecting a planet from corporate exploitation and human slaves joining with their alien abductors to combat a greater evil.  Her little unicorn girl grew up to be hero and a New York librarian helped defeat a planetary scourge.  I for one loved every word.

Anne was a “real” person through it all and that speaks to the character of the woman.  When unable to attend Dragon*con this year, she apologized by saying, “Sorry that old age came up and bit me on the ass.”  Now that’s a lady I can admire.  She will never truly be gone.  She will still sit on my nightstand and reside on my bookshelves.  She will live on in every word she ever wrote.  Thank you, Annie!

This post was written for The Mindslam Write Wednesday – If you could be friends & hang-out with any actor/celebrity…who would it be?  I learned of Anne’s death when I googled her name to find a picture for this post.  I still would have liked to be her friend and just hang out with her.

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June 2023