Which surprised me. Although Anne McCaffrey has long been one of my favorite authors, I was very conscious that she was getting to be an age (85) where, well, people die.
Oddnesses: A few weeks ago, I was inspired to post something on her GoodReads author page. Which I have never done before, for any author. Then a week ago, although I have a long list of books in my To Be Read queue, I felt like I needed to re-read her "Ship" series.
Only I couldn't actually pick up The Ship Who Sang. I adore Helva, but for some reason, I knew the emotional punch of the story would rip my guts out and leave them lying on the floor. In R.I.P. Anne McCaffrey (io9), she's quoted as saying how she still felt The Ship Who Who Sang was her best story, and how she would have her son (and co-author) Todd read the end, because she couldn't get through it without weeping.
I felt like she was my beloved sister/aunt/grandmother. She was certainly the mother of some of my favorite female characters. I learned from them and with them. Passionate, bold, sometimes delightfully snarky, they controlled their own destinies. They might be beautiful - or decidedly not - but besides maintaining personal hygiene, they aren't much fussing about their appearance. They partnered with men who were also smart and interesting, strong enough to be unthreatened by women as equal partners.
As is expected of characters, terrible things happen to them. They are beaten, raped, injured, plague-stricken; face mutiny, death, and planet-wide catastrophe. It was rare that any McCaffrey female sat in the back of the room and made pot roast (though Pat Reeve in Decision on Doona was pretty much a 50's throwback). They took action, they made mistakes. Sometimes their actions even got them killed - and even then, I cheered, because however a story turned out, it always fit and made sense.
So, who was your favorite?
Lessa - dainty and imperious rider of Ramoth, from Ruatha Hold. When Lessa entered a room, there were no other women in it, really. We also see more of her timeline, from little girl to mature woman, than most of the others.
Sorka, rider of Faranth, the first queen. An impetuous redheaded lass, curious and inquisitive, and also powerful and determined.
Brekke, rider of Wirenth - a lovely and loving, but tragic character.
Menolly, the gutsy harper girl going against tradition that harpers are only boys.
Moreta, rider of Orlith, in the prime of her life, seizing the opportunity for an out-of-the-Weyr affair with a younger man.
Leri, rider of Holth - the wise crone, brave, resourceful, self-sacrificing.
Cover of The Ship Who SanNerilka - independent thinking Holder's daughter, willing to risk her standing and security for love.
Helva, the Ship Who Sang - as far as I know, the first totally paralyzed action heroine. Brains and guts, plus killer vocals.
Kristin Bjornsen, from the Freedom series - tall, physically strong and sturdy, assertive without being aggressive, choosing a Catteni lover despite community backlash.
The Rowan, powerful, temperamental and lonely telekinetic, and her precocious daughter Damia. And how about ancestors Rhyssa Owen and Tirla, barrio survivor bar none? I always wanted to see what happened with Tirla when she grew up.
Sara, from Anne's first published novel, Restoree, literally reborn after a horrific experience that should have sent her out of her mind, yet resilient enough to find love again.
Yanaba Maddock, in the Petaybee series, an injured military veteran, finding healing, family and love with a shapeshifting partner on an icebound, sentient planet .
Acorna, the Unicorn Girl, adopted daughter of space miners, rescuer of abused children, the key to the preservation of her entire race.
Killashandra Ree, Crystal Singer, disappointed vocal artist, bold thrill seeker.
Varian and Lunzie, from Dinosaur Planet, both strong, smart and resourceful. Sassinak, Lunzie's descendant, a pirate slave turned Fleet Captain and pirate hunter.
The one McCaffery female impossible to hook into in my recent re-read of Decision on Doona, was Pat Reeve. If she came fluttering up to somebody, helpless and wanting to cook something one more time, I was ready to bitch-slap her. Mrrva, the Hrruban mommy-scientist, was a much more interesting character, as were the male characters. I found the character of six year old Todd charming and a super-handful, and wondered how much of that was based on Real Life with the Real Todd. Somehow I doubt Anne McCaffrey was as passive with her actual children as fictional Todd's mother.
I always imagined Anne as Lessa.
The character I most relate to is confident, sexy Moreta, with Kristin B coming in a close second. I loved the partnership Kristin forged with Zainal, after she kidnapped him. I could easily picture myself in their skins, and though I loved Lessa to pieces, I wouldn't have wanted to be Lessa.
Which McCaffrey heroines did you love?
Which ones did you want to be, and why?
Which female characters did you love that I haven't included?