James Minz was the moderator for this panel Sunday morning at 11:30AM in the Hyatt. Todd McCaffery, the son of Ann McCaffery, and Jody Lynn Nye, the “Pernographer,” reminisced on Anne, her works, and her viewpoints on Pern.
Anne McCaffery always considered Pern to be a Science Fiction genre, not Fantasy. Todd told the story that since there were dragons, many publishers and fans considered it Fantasy. “Mom wrote it as science fiction. It was on another world. There was the science on how the dragons existed. There was so much more to it. Over time, she let the Fantasy label be.” There are other of Anne’s works, like The Tower And The Hive and Pegasus series, that are more scientifically described, putting the books more firmly in science fiction.
John W. Campbell was the first person to help Anne make sure the science was right with the dragons. Eating phosphorous was one of the items. Yes, it may seem like a small detail, but it’s what made the fire the dragon’s produced be a real possibility.
Nye remembers collaborating with Anne, especially with the ‘choose your own adventure’ series. At first, Anne was not on board with anything that was not part of the series. Anne had all of her characters set. She didn’t like deviation from the story. However, she eventually opened to the idea. Nye wrote four of these adventures, making sure to write just like Anne wanted. “I have a talent for being able to copy the writer. I knew what Anne wanted and respected the story. I would write it, send it to Anne, she would mark it up, I would make corrections, send it back, and it would go to print.”
Todd remembers a story when he was nine. “I gave my mom a short story I wrote. I wanted her feedback. At first, she tried not to, telling me she wasn’t a good editor. I insisted. Remember how your teacher would grade your papers in red? I got my story back. It bled.” He eventually made the corrections, but lost track of it. It was about a year after his mother gave it to him. She had sent it to her publisher.
And so it begins.
It was so endearing to watch Todd as he relived moments with his mother. You could see the memories, the feelings of that close connection reanimate on Todd’s face and body language. Even when Nye told her stories, the warm memories she had of such a grand lady was evident.
The audience relived these moments with the panel. There were a few members in the audience that had never read the Pern series. Now they are intrigued to read the series for themselves.
Pern will always live on.