Thursday, 24 November 2011

GC, Day 24 - Anne McCaffrey

Again, my planned entry has been put on hold due to a current event - which seems to be the way of things at the moment.

Just in the last few minutes, I have heard of the death of one of the first (still a favourite) fantasy authors I ever read: Anne McCaffrey. And a part of my childhood - well, adolescence - died with her.

I remember the first time I picked up one of her books - The White Dragon, third in her Dragonriders of Pern series. I was in the Middle School library on a Friday, and my eye was caught by a...white dragon. I checked it out and took it home, planning to start it as soon as I'd done my homework.

One of the things that you need to know is that I wasn't allowed to read for pleasure: I was only allowed to read textbooks and books on our summer reading lists. The rationale was that reading for pleasure would 'distract' me from 'real' work, and thus lower my grades. To a child who had loved to read for as long as she can remember, this was torture...

...but a brilliant way of developing resourcefulness: I hid books in drawers under clothes, under my bed, in my bookbag, under my MATTRESS, behind things on closet shelves, under things in desk drawers, in the basement - I cannot even TELL you how many ways I found to hide books or how many I had hidden at once.

The White Dragon was no exception.

Well, except that I couldn't put it down, and nearly got caught with it in my Geography book (sorry, Mr Caussin!) more than once that weekend. I was immediately drawn to Jaxom, accidentally Impressing a runt albino dragon; trying to come into his own through a rocky adolescence; wanting to fight danger on his own; falling critically ill when he is so close to proving himself.

And Ruth. Well. LOVE!!!! And he couldn't just travel where, he could travel WHEN! (This was novelty, as it was before I met Dr Who.) It was the first time I was introduced to an intense telepathic, unconditionally loving bond between two characters, and the fact that one of them was a dragon (a mythical animal I'd sneakily loved for ages) just rocked my world. I was desperate to Impress one.

I was hooked - fascinated by this world which had moved backwards technologically. I vividly imagined my self in Jaxom's world, with F'lar and Lessa; Piemur struggling after his voice broke; Menolly and Sebell; Robinton and Lytol. I picked up all the books in the series I could find and wrapped myself in this world so different from, yet so like, our own; imagined what it would be like to have a bond like the one Riders shared with their dragons; lived their joys and sorrows.

Pern felt like home in a way the world I lived in never had.

And to this day, Brekke's heart-wrenching, soul-ripping cry to F'nor, 'Don't! DON'T LEAVE ME ALONE!' haunts the occasional dream - and if I'm honest, waking moment.

This world, which led me to others I also love dearly - the Deryni and Valdemar - brought me sanctuary and gave me space to begin to explore who I was through the characters I identified most closely with; those I wanted as friends and family; having imaginary chats about my problems with a dragon; allowing their emotions to channel my own.

Though I left when I grew older, Pern has always been in my blood; Robinton's song in my heart.

I think it may be time to return, even as its creator has left us:
Anne McCaffrey, requiescat in pace.

For Pern's creator - and the creator of so many wonderful worlds (I came to the Rowan's world much later) and sanctuary of my adolescence - I give thanks.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What you wrote about hiding books and finding many places to hide them in resounds on many levels...and ties up, I suspect with your developing feelings as a teenager or young lady; you felt the need not just to hide books, but also to hide a large part of your personality and inner more important feelings, I think.

But now you have found an outlet for many of those feelings, and share them with us. We are indeed blessed for that; and from what seemed to be a less than ideal situation for you in your youth, you have certainly made good for others.

Once again: we are indeed blessed for you and your sharing of your life experiences.