Anne McCaffrey at a book signing

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

–Anne McCaffrey

Anne Inez McCaffrey (1 April 1926 — 21 November 2011) was an author of science fiction and fantasy novels, best known for her Dragonriders of Pern series. Born in the United States, she was a long-term resident of Ireland.


Anne McCaffrey was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts to George Herbert McCaffrey and Anne Dorothy McElroy. She had two brothers: Hugh (deceased 1988), a Major in the US Army, and Kevin Richard McCaffrey, still living.

Anne passed away at the age of 85 on 21 November 2011 at her home in Ireland after suffering a stroke.[1]

Anne was educated at Stuart Hall, an all-girl boarding school in Staunton, Virginia. She then went to Montclair High School, Montclair, New Jersey, and graduated cum laude from Radcliffe College majoring in Slavonic Languages and Literature in 1947.

She studied voice for nine years, performed in the first music circus in 1949, once directed a play, and worked for a record label, Liberty Music Shop.

She married H. Wright Johnson in 1950 and has three children: Alec Anthony, born in 1952, Todd McCaffrey, born in 1956, and Georgeanne (Gigi), born in 1959. She was divorced in 1970, after which she emigrated to Ireland with her two younger children. McCaffrey lived in a house of her own design in County Wicklow, Ireland and called her home Dragonhold-Underhill.

Portrait of Anne McCaffrey by Linda Eicher. Original artwork copyright by Linda Eicher.


McCaffrey's most famous works are the Dragonriders of Pern series. These are set on a fictional planet known as Pern, settled by colonists from Earth. The advanced technology of their ancestors has been lost, so the inhabitants of Pern have reverted to a society similar to Earth's medieval times. However, before the loss of this advanced technology, the original colonists produced genetically engineered dragons. These dragons are bound to and flown by elite «dragonriders», who communicate telepathically with their dragons. Together they defend Pern against pernicious «threads» which cross space periodically from a nearby «red star» and threaten to destroy all vegetation on Pern. The short story «Weyr Search» (published in 1967 in Analog Science Fiction and Fact), the initial story in the Dragonriders of Pern series, won a Hugo Award for Best Novella in 1968. McCaffrey thus became the first woman to win a Hugo for fiction. The following year, she won the Nebula Award for Best Novella for Dragonrider.

At the 2005 Nebula Award ceremonies, McCaffrey was named the 22nd Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America organization. In 2006 she was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame.[2]


Federated Sentient Planets universe

While many of McCaffrey's most famous works are set in a universe which is governed by The Federated Sentient Planets or «FSP», these are not set in the same universe. The FSP is a story telling background that the author has found to be a useful tool for this series.

Dragonriders of Pern series

Main article: Dragonriders of Pern

The Brain & Brawn Ship series

The stories of this series deal with the various adventures of 'shell-people' who, as infants, due to illness or birth defects (genetic or developmental), have had to be hard-wired into a life support system. With sensory input and motor nerves tied into a computer, they serve as starship pilots or colony administrators, seeing and feeling the colony or ship as an extension of their own body. They perform this job to pay off their debt for education and hardware, and then in whatever capacity they choose once the debt is paid, as free agents.

It is generally considered impossible for a person to make the necessary adjustments to become a shell unless it is done at a very early age (under 2-3 years old). A notable exception is in The Ship Who Searched where the Shell-person was 7 at the time she became quadriplegic.

It should be noted that the Ship books are set in the same universe as the Crystal Singer books, as Brainship-Brawn pairings were characters in the second and third volumes of that series.

  • The Ship Who Sang (1969) (short story collection with stories from 1961, 1966, and 1969) ISBN 0-345-33431-0
    • The story of Helva and Niall was continued in the short story Honeymoon, reprinted in Get Off the Unicorn.
  • PartnerShip (1992) with Margaret Ball, ISBN 0-671-72109-7
  • The Ship Who Searched (1992) with Mercedes Lackey, ISBN 0-671-72129-1
  • The City Who Fought (1993) with S. M. Stirling, ISBN 0-671-87599-X
  • The Ship Who Won (1994) with Jody Lynn Nye, ISBN 0-671-87657-0
  • This series also includes solo entries by Stirling and Nye:
    • The Ship Errant (1996) by Jody Lynn Nye, ISBN 0-671-87854-9
    • The Ship Avenged (1997) by S. M. Stirling, ISBN 0-671-87861-1
  • Omnibus versions of the above novels:
    • Brain Ships (2003) (includes Partnership and The Ship Who Searched) ISBN 0-7434-7166-0
    • The Ship who Saved the Worlds (2003) (includes The Ship Who Won and The Ship Errant) ISBN 0-7434-7171-7
    • The City and the Ship (2004) (includes The City Who Fought and The Ship Avenged) ISBN 0-7434-7189-X

The Crystal Singer series

The Crystal Singer series revolves around the planet Ballybran. Under a permanent biohazard travel restriction, Ballybran is home to one of the FSP's wealthiest, yet most reclusive organizations—the Heptite Guild. Source of invaluable crystals vital to various industries, the Heptite Guild is known to require absolute, perfect pitch in hearing and voice for all applicants, especially those seeking to mine crystal by song…

  • Crystal Singer (1982) ISBN 0-345-32786-1 (first published in four parts in Continuum 1, 2, 3, & 4, edited by Roger Elwood)
  • Killashandra (1986) ISBN 0-345-31600-2 (includes a Brainship from the Ship series above, in a minor role. This was not a main character in any novel.)
  • Crystal Line (1992) ISBN 0-345-38491-1 (includes a Brainship from the Ship series above, although not a main character in any novel, and, furthermore, is not the same Brainship from 'Killashandra')

The Dinosaur Planet series

When the Exploration and Evaluation Corps team reached the planet Ireta, dinosaurs were not what they expected to find.

  • Dinosaur Planet (1978) ISBN 0-345-31995-8
  • Dinosaur Planet Survivors (1984) ISBN 0-345-27246-3
Mystery of Ireta (2003)—omnibus edition of Dinosaur Planet and Dinosaur Planet Survivors, ISBN 0-345-46721-3

The Planet Pirates trilogy

All is not well in the FSP: pirates attack the spacelanes. In this series, survivors on Ireta and survivors of space pirate attacks join forces.

  • Sassinak (1990-03-01) with Elizabeth Moon, ISBN 0-671-69863-X
  • The Death of Sleep (1990-06-01) with Jody Lynn Nye, ISBN 0-671-69884-2
  • Generation Warriors (1991-02-01) with Elizabeth Moon, ISBN 0-671-72041-4
The Planet Pirates (1993-10-01)—omnibus trade paperback collection of the above trilogy, ISBN 0-671-72187-9
Note: The Planet Pirates and Dinosaur Planet books share the same universe and certain characters. The events of Dinosaur Planet overlap with the final chapters of The Death of Sleep, as does Dinosaur Planet Survivors with Sassinak; Generation Warriors continues and concludes the storylines of both series.

Standalone novels

  • Restoree (1967) ISBN 0-552-08344-5
  • The Coelura (1983) ISBN 0-312-93042-9
  • A Diversity of Dragons (1997) with Richard Woods, illustrated by John Howe
  • Nimisha's Ship (1998) ISBN 0-345-43425-0

The Coelura is a short novel in the same universe as Nimisha's Ship.

The Coelura is usually printed together with Nerilka's Story.

The Talents universe

The Talents universe involves a society built around the Talents of telepathic, telekinetic individuals who become integral to the connectivity of interstellar society.

The Talent series

  • To Ride Pegasus (1973) (short stories) ISBN 0-345-33603-8
    • Lady in the Tower and A Meeting of Minds, reprinted in Get Off the Unicorn, were originally intended to be a part of this novel, but as the novel developed, they were not included.
  • Pegasus in Flight (1990) ISBN 0-345-36897-5
  • Pegasus in Space (2000) ISBN 0-345-43467-6

The Tower and Hive series

  • The Rowan (1990) (partly based on the short «Lady in the Tower» 1959) ISBN 0-441-73576-2
  • Damia (1991) (partly based on the short «A Meeting of Minds» 1969) ISBN 0-441-13556-0
  • Damia's Children (1993) ISBN 0-441-00007-X
  • Lyon's Pride (1994) ISBN 0-441-00141-6
  • The Tower and the Hive (1999) ISBN 0-441-00720-1

For more information, see The Talents Universe Wiki.

The Doona series

Two civilizations in near-identical circumstances — an overlarge, lethargic population and a tragic history with sentient aliens — end up attempting to colonize the same planet by accident. What the humans don't know is that the people they've misidentified as nomadic natives are actually more technically advanced than themselves — and under no such illusions regarding 'them'.

  • Decision at Doona (1969) ISBN 0-345-35377-3
  • Crisis on Doona (1992) with Jody Lynn Nye, ISBN 0-441-23194-2
  • Treaty at Doona (1994) with Jody Lynn Nye, ISBN 0-441-00089-4 (Originally Treaty Planet)
  • Doona (2004) an omnibus edition of the latter two books of the trilogy, ISBN 0-441-01131-4

The Petaybee Series

Powers trilogy

  • Powers That Be (1993) with Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, ISBN 0-345-38173-4
  • Power Lines (1994) with Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, ISBN 0-345-38780-5
  • Power Play (1995) with Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, ISBN 0-345-38781-3

The Twins of Petaybee series

  • Changelings (2005) with Elizabeth Ann Scarborough ISBN 0-345-47002-8
  • Maelstrom (2006) with Elizabeth Ann Scarborough ISBN 0-345-47004-4
  • Deluge (2008) with Elizabeth Ann Scarborough ISBN 0-345-47006-0

The Freedom series

  • Freedom's Landing (1995) (based on the 1970 short story «The Thorns of Barevi»)
  • Freedom's Choice (1996) ISBN 0-441-00531-4
  • Freedom's Challenge (1998) ISBN 0-441-00625-6
  • Freedom's Ransom (2002) ISBN 0-441-01020-2

The Barque Cat Series

The Barque Cat Series tells the tale of Jubal and his Intelligent cat Chester among other Space-Faring Felines.

  • Catalyst (2010) with Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
  • Catacombs (December 2010) with Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

The Acorna series

  • Acorna: The Unicorn Girl (1997) with Margaret Ball, ISBN 0-06-105789-4
  • Anne McCaffrey's The Unicorn Girl (1997) with stories by Mickey Zucker Reichert, Jody Lynn Nye and Roman A. Ranieri, ISBN 0-06-105540-9.
    Also known as Anne McCaffrey's The Unicorn Girl: The Illustrated Adventures and Anne McCaffrey's The Unicorn Girl: An Illustrated Novel.
  • Acorna's Quest (1998) with Margaret Ball, ISBN 0-06-105790-8
  • Acorna's People (1999) with Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, ISBN 0-06-105983-8
  • Acorna's World (2000) with Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, ISBN 0-06-105984-6
  • Acorna's Search (2001) with Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, ISBN 0-380-81846-9
  • Acorna's Rebels (2003) with Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, ISBN 0-380-81847-7
  • Acorna's Triumph (2004) with Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, ISBN 0-380-81848-5

Acorna's Children series

  • First Warning (2005) with Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, ISBN 0-06-052539-8
  • Second Wave (2006) with Elizabeth Ann Scarborough ISBN 0-06-052540-1
  • Third Watch (2007) with Elizabeth Ann Scarborough ISBN 0-06-052541-X

Short Story Collections

  • Get Off the Unicorn (1977) ISBN 0-441-00338-9
  • The Girl Who Heard Dragons (1994) (contains one Pern story by the same name) ISBN 0-8125-1099-2


  • The Mark of Merlin (1971) ISBN 1-58715-493-5
  • Ring of Fear (1971) ISBN 1-58715-016-6
  • The Kilternan Legacy (1975) ISBN 1-58715-793-4
  • Stitch in Snow (1985) ISBN 0-8125-8562-3
  • The Year of the Lucy (1986) ISBN 0-8125-8565-8
  • The Lady (1987) ISBN 0-345-35674-8

Three Women contains the first three listed in an omnibus edition.

Young Adult Fantasy

  • An Exchange of Gifts (1995) ISBN 1-880448-48-3
  • No One Noticed the Cat (1996) ISBN 0-843959-03-7
  • If Wishes Were Horses (1998) ISBN 0-843959-12-6
  • Black Horses for the King (1998) ISBN 0-152063-78-1


  • Serve it Forth: Cooking with Anne McCaffrey ISBN 0-809500-94-9
  • Cooking out of this World; Edited by Anne McCaffrey, a collection of cookable SF-Recipes ISBN 1-880448-13-0


Time out of Mind

The fourth episode of Time Out of Mind, the 1979 BBC2 series on science fiction featured author Anne McCaffrey.


Time Out of Mind - Episode 4 Anne McCaffrey

Topics Covered

  • Dragonhold-Underhill
  • Restoree (1967) ISBN 0-552-08344-5
  • Pern, too many but you do see some of her awards

Plymouth Arts Centre

10th of November 1990 at the Plymouth Arts Centre.[5]


Armadacon 02 Anne McCaffery Panel

Topics Covered


Further Reading

  • Brizzi, Mary (Mary A. Turzillo). Reader's Guide to Anne McCaffery, Starmont Press (Reader's Guide Series) 1986.
  • Lennard, John, '«Of Modern Dragons: Antiquity, Modernity, and the Descendants of Smaug», in Of Modern Dragons and other essays on Genre Fiction, Tirril: Humanities-Ebooks, 2007. ISBN 978-1-84760-038-7
  • McCaffrey, Anne, «Retrospection», in Denise DuPont, ed., Women of Vision, New York: St Martin’s Press, 1988. ISBN 0-312-02321-9
  • McCaffrey, Todd, Dragonholder: The Life and Dreams (So Far) of Anne McCaffrey by her son, New York: Ballantine, 1999. ISBN 0-345-42217-1
  • Roberts, Robin. Anne McCaffrey: A Critical Companion, Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1996. ISBN 0-313-29450-X


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