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Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

Dragonsinger

I wondered what it would take to kick me in the ass enough to bring me back here again.

When I was thirteen, Mom gave Sis & I to a nice couple from church named Ken and Virginia Savage for the duration of a summer or so. They lived in Soap Lake, WA and made annual road-trip pilgrimages back to Kansas City and to Omaha for the purpose of visiting relatives and important church sites. It was right around the time of that year’s trip when, while we were at the grocery store, I spotted a book cover near the checkout counters and decided that I really wanted that book.

Perhaps you’ve heard of it.

That little story, read out-of-sequence from the rest of its series, helped ruin me for lesser books. If it doesn’t involve friendship, wonder, perseverance against the odds and the bad opinion of people who shouldn’t matter, risk, reward, at least one proper brawl, and considerable doses of humor… then what’s the point of your book, I ask. I read the hell out of that book, and it survived up until just a few years ago… so I replaced it with another from the same printing.

I love quite a few books, but Anne McCaffrey’s “Dragonsinger” will always hold a peculiar and special place in my heart. Only a few others share a similar prominence: Raymond E. Feist’s “Magician” volume, for instance, and Julian May’s “Intervention.”

Folks might look at a guy funny for listing McCaffrey as one of his favorite writers, but I can live with that. And, true, there are things about some of her books (parts of the Pern series in particular) that it doesn’t pay to examine too closely. In later years, I think she lost a bit of her storytelling verve and took to treating bad guys and good guys alike a bit too much with kid gloves; consequences became gentler than one might expect. That was her choice to make, of course, and it’s my choice to leave off the reading of certain novels.

Today’s a sad one, for today we all learned that Anne McCaffrey is no longer with us. This avid reader, at least, is largely so because of her talent and because of a very nice couple who indulged a spoiled little boy all those years ago in Soap Lake.

3 Comments

  1. As much as I love her Dragons of Pern novels and re-read them often (Dragonflight was my first book of hers), I like the Crystal Singer series and the Rowan series even a bit more. I’m very thankful that she shared her storytelling skills and imagination with the rest of us, and took me to so many wondrous worlds.

    And you were so not spoiled.

  2. She wrote some wonderful tales.

  3. I really loved Dragonsong when I was a kid. It was tailor-made to appeal to the persecution complex of geeky, socially challenged preteens, sort of like Ender’s Game, but somehow less manipulative and… sweeter-tempered than that latter book. The rest of her Pern books varied from good to glorified fanfic, but Dragonsong really is a great YA book, worth an entire shelf of Newberry Medal winners, and more.

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