McCaffrey’s Fan Letter To John Schoenherr

Analog_1967_10_webAnne McCaffrey’s novella Weyr Search was published in the October 1967 issue of Analog and around the time it was hitting the newsstands she had an opportunity to visit John W. Campbell in his office and see the original Schoenherr illustrations.  She was so captivated by his interpretation of her dragons that she wrote the artist a fan letter, which his son Ian has reproduced on his blog, accompanied by scans of the images.

But man, those are mighty appealing dragons. Particularly, especially, and triumphantly, the one in which Lessa is enclosed in Mnementh’s talons. Oh, that, I die a little over. How HOW did you manage to convey that foolish bronze’s tender regard and lack of menace in black and white, no less. Superb. Honest, I nearly cried in front of John and Miss Tarrant…which at my age would be a little the other side of enough. But the sketch was so much, so very much what I had imagined in my mind for the scene, I’d swear you were a telepath yourself.

The following year Weyr Search became the first story written by a woman to win the Hugo Award.

7 thoughts on “McCaffrey’s Fan Letter To John Schoenherr

  1. Thanks for this. I think we too often forget or ignore how excellent McCaffrey was at writing fiction, and even at writing in general. (Litrachoor, maybe not so hot, but I’m growing to think that might be less important.) At her best, she helped return the s-f genre to the ancient traditions of Oral Literature/Story-Telling, and I think that, in the end, that will be considered a major Virtue.

  2. Were the neck not somewhat bent that “dragon” would almost look like an artist’s conception of a Lockheed SR-71 blackbird, a mach 3+ reconnaissance airplane.

  3. McCafrey’s Weyr series was very good. Schoenherr just produced so many memorable covers, not to mention his interior b&w illustrations. Campbell clearly got it right when he matched these two for that cover.

  4. The 68 Worldcon was my first, but I had been in fandom a year and knew that the writers always gathered in the bar, so I went in. I sat down next to this woman who was softly crying, and asked her what was wrong. It was her first convention and she just had a story published, but no one knew who she was. As I had read and liked the story I was able to reassure her that everything would be all right. I like to think that I helped her to enjoy the convention but I think winning the Hugo probably helped too . . .

  5. She must have been at NyCon III in 1967 as well, because in her letter she says she had hoped to meet Schoenherr there.

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