Follow TV Tropes


Creator / Anne McCaffrey

Go To
A good story is a good story no matter who wrote it.

Anne Inez McCaffrey (1st April 1926 - 21st November 2011) was a prolific sci-fi/fantasy writer of over one hundred novels, short stories and compilations. Best known for the Dragonriders of Pern series, she also authored several other popular, long-running series. Those include:

McCaffrey's best known compilation of short stories is probably The Girl Who Heard Dragons; notable not only for the title story (which was eventually expanded into The Renegades of Pern), but for a 1956 speculative fiction story that predicted surrogate pregnancy more than two decades before the first successful such birth.

Her writing—starting with the short novel Restoree—was lauded for its groundbreaking feminist attitudes. These may seem extremely subtle to young readers, but simply having a female protagonist in a science fiction story was novel at the time. Throughout her writing since, her female characters have become even more powerful and independent, proportional to the expectations of her audience.

As is common with many of the writers who arrived early to the science fiction genre, quite a lot of the tropes she explored for the first time in her writing have since been used ad naseaum by subsequent writing. For instance, telepathically bonded animals and Cat Folk were very new ideas when she began those series.

McCaffrey became almost as well known for her odd ideas regarding gay people as for her writing. In particular, she has stated a belief that any gay activity, particularly anal penetration, will make a man instantly and irretrievably gay (an idea first put forth in the infamous, but still unverified, "Tent Peg" interview and implied in her on-the-record "Renewable Air Force" interview). Ironically, in the last book of the Talent series she turns a previously exclusively gay character totally and apparently permanently straight for a Last Minute Hook Up with a female main character — can't leave anyone single, after all. Despite this, she has written at least two short stories involving men becoming pregnant, though both involve alien/fantastical females doing the impregnation: "Babes In The Woods" from her Get Off the Unicorn collection and "A Horse From A Different Sea". She also was a rather adamant defender of copyright and had a tendency to sic lawyers after any gathering of fanworks published, especially once the internet started taking off. This policy was relaxed later on.

In her later years, McCaffrey herself wrote mostly collaborations and largely turned over the continuation of the Pern series to her son, Todd. Pern, while originally being a high-fantasy story with some (very loose) science-fiction aspects, has recently undergone a metamorphosis, in which the original Pern colonists' landing site is discovered. While 'modern' Pern society has neither the capability nor the desire to return to the stars, they have embraced the technological aspects of the original 'Landing' settlement, becoming computer-literate fairly quickly and re-discovering much of the technology that was lost centuries before.

Works by Anne McCaffrey with their own pages include:

Other works by Anne McCaffrey provide examples of:

  • Absolute Xenophobe: Inverted in Decision at Doona, where mankind's "no contact with intelligent aliens ever" policy came about when, upon the first-ever such contact in history, the alien species in question promptly committed mass suicide.
  • Canon Welding:
    • The incidental details of Crystal Singer series include BB Ships, the main plot device of McCaffrey's earlier The Ship Who...... stories.
    • The short story "Duty Calls" includes both a BB Ship and a Hrruban (the alien race from Decision at Doona), tying those two series together.
  • Cat Folk: The Hrrubans in the Doona series.
  • Death World: Ireta, the setting of Dinosaur Planet, has an extremely active ecology, complete with a mix of toxic alien life and adapted prehistoric Earth life. There are even insect swarms that eat dinosaurs bones and all.
  • Demythification: Black Horses for the King is a demythification of Arthurian Legend, told from the viewpoint of a stable boy.
  • Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: In the short story "Horse From A Different Sea", a small town doctor notices that a large number of his male patients are having odd symptoms like nausea, weight gain and unusual cravings. The men have nothing in common but visiting a "house of ill-repute". After running every test he could think of the doctor finds out the men are pregnant and that the "ladies" have vanished along with the house they were in.
  • First Contact: The first contact that accidentally happens in Decision at Doona isn't technically mankind's first first contact, but the fact that that first-ever alien culture encountered committed mass suicide in response drives much of the novel's plot by informing the human policies established afterwards to prevent anything like that from ever happening again. One of these is "non-coinhabitation"; humans aren't allowed to live on the same planets as intelligent alien lifeforms, period. Which creates a problem when the first human settlers on the new colony world of Doona run smack into just such an intelligent alien lifeform that the initial surveyors somehow managed to miss... Because the "natives" are actually new colonists from another planet, who find themselves in the same boat!
  • Highly-Conspicuous Uniform: In the short story "Duty Calls", the Hrruban officer first appears wearing shades and dyes that would seem to make her stand out a mile away. It is explained that the camouflage was chosen specifically to hide her from the alien race occupying the planet she's infiltrating, since they do not see the same way.
  • Master of Your Domain: The Dinosaur Planet books feature "Discipline": a full-featured body-control/pain-control/emotion-control/adrenal-control technique that many of the characters practice.
  • Mister Seahorse: A short story in which an alien prostitute impregnates half the male population of a small town. The title, "A Horse From A Different Sea", references the seahorse analogy.
  • Naming Your Colony World: Nimisha's Ship has a planet named Erewhon, which is perfectly descriptive.
  • Rescue Sex: In "The Thorns of Barevi", which McCaffrey wrote as a ... profit-seeking experiment with fantasy softcore, a young woman and a male Human Alien evade pursuers with the help of the eponymous plants, then have sex.
  • Tools of Sapience: In Decision at Doona, human settlers on a new world encounter a village of intelligent cats. Both species assume the other is pre-sentient due to the primitive living conditions in each other's colonies. The aliens decide the humans are intelligent based on a child's ability to play games.