Anne McCaffrey is among the most popular writers in the genre. Most of her work is science fiction, though tinged with the tone and instruments of fantasy. She began publishing with "Freedom of the Race" for Hugo Gernsback's Science Fiction Plus in 1953, but became active a decade or so later with her first novel, Restoree (1967). Soon McCaffrey began publishing the linked novels and stories that have made her reputation as a writer of romantic, heightened tales of adventure explicitly designed to appeal-and to make good sense to-a predominantly female adolescent audience.
Her major series is set in a long-lost Earth colony, Pern, a world whose humans, symbiotically pair-bonded with tame, time-travelling, telepathic and telekinetic dragons, engage in high adventures and defend the planet from the poisonous Threads. Three novels comprise the initial series: Dragonflight (1968) (containing the 1968 Hugo Award-winner "Weyr Search" and the 1968 Nebula Award-winner "Dragon Rider"), Dragonquest (1971) and The White Dragon (1978).
Though the tone is that of fantasy, the premises underlying Pern are orthodox science fiction; even the dragons turn out to have been bio-engineered eons previously by humans as a defense against a vacuum-traversing spore. There are many more novels set in Pern, notably Dragonsong (1976), Dragonsinger (1977) and Dragondrums (1979), which are juveniles.
Other series include the Pegasus books: To Ride Pegasus (1973), which deals with a corps of parapsychological investigators in the near future, and Pegasus in Flight (1990); the Ireta books: Dinosaur Planet (1978 UK) and Dinosaur Planet Survivors (1984); the Killashandra tales: The Crystal Singer (1982 UK), Killashandra (1985), and Crystal Line (1992).
Though less popular than the Pern books, many of McCaffrey's stand-alone novels are perhaps more clearly inventive. The Ship who Sang, for instance, intriguingly presents a deformed girl who is grafted into a spaceship and in effect becomes the ship; the emotional difficulties facing a musical spaceship are many.
In 2005 the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America named McCaffrey the 22nd Grand Master. She has also received the Golden Pen, Ditmar, and Gandalf Awards.