Dec. 6th, 2011

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Train station bookstores generally come with very low expectations. Pick up a cheap paperback, stay vaguely entertained during your two hour ride, forget about it almost right afterward. So though the back cover blurb was somewhat intriguing, it wasn't with great expectations that I picked up this novel, 'Dragonsdawn', while waiting for a train a good decade and a half ago.

Hoo boy.

I did not forget about it right afterward, nor a decade and a half later. Instead, I started acquiring more books by the same author, one Anne McCaffrey, and devouring them with relish and a big cup of fruit tea. Distant pastoral world! Kindly telepathic dragons! What's not to love.

So when I first got the Internet in the late 90's, quite naturally I tracked down whatever Pern-related stuff I could. I found PernMUSH, an online Pern-themed textual roleplaying game. That's basically where I learned English. (Seriously. Before PernMUSH, I barely even knew the proper wording for a casual greeting like 'Hi, how goes?') Incidentally, PernMUSH is also where I discovered how much I enjoyed roleplaying a dragon.

At the time, I also looked for a French-speaking Pern fan community. There was none. So I founded one.

This was possibly the best thing I ever did.

Within months there were several dozens of us. I soon arranged that we should meet IRL regularly, because for social bonding the Internet only goes so far. At first it was just an evening out at a restaurant. Then it was whole weekends. Some of my fondest memories of that part of my life are those gatherings. Good thing there was no Facebook back then, because the pictures, my friends, the pictures. :)

A tight group of friends soon emerged from that community. I met my best friend there. I met my girl there. In fact, many of my RL friends to this day come from that group. Heck, the people I'll have over for New Year's Eve are from that group.

Rapidly there was demand for an outlet to produce our own fanwork. We sought and obtained the authorization to found a small paper fanzine. My first serious writing dates from back then. I still, ah, hear good things about it.

Over the next decade, Pern itself has slowly sunk into the background. Fewer books came out, and then none at all, not by the original author. A TV series was briefly planned, and then canceled. PernMUSH itself, little by little, has gone dormant.

But all that we got out of it back then, the friends, the love, the dragon dreams, the writing, everything endures to this day, stronger and brighter than ever.

Fare thee well, Anne McCaffrey. To say you were a considerable influence in my life would be a tremendous understatement.

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