McCaffrey, Todd 1956- (Todd J. McCaffrey)
McCaffrey, Todd 1956- (Todd J. McCaffrey)
Born April 27, 1956, in Montclair, NJ; original surname, Johnson; son of Anne McCaffrey (an author). Education: Attended Lehigh University for one year; College of Technology, Dublin, Ireland, graduated (with honors); Trinity College, Dublin, graduated (with honors), 1985. Hobbies and other interests: Piloting airplanes.
Home—Los Angeles, CA.
Computer programmer, 1986-90; full-time writer, 1990—; former quality assurance engineer for Countrywide Home Loans. Military service: U.S. Army, 1978-82; served in 1st Infantry Division in Stuttgart, Germany; awarded Good Conduct Medal, Commendation Medal, other commendations.
(With mother, Anne McCaffrey) Dragonholder: The Life and Dreams (So Far) of Anne McCaffrey (autobiography), Del Rey (New York, NY), 1999.
Also author of screenplays, including animated film I Got Them Ol' Reptilon Blues Again Mommasaur and Slammers Down!
"DRAGONRIDERS OF PERN" SERIES; SCIENCE FICTION
(With Anne McCaffrey) Dragon's Kin, Del Rey/Ballantine (New York, NY), 2003.
Dragonsblood, Ballantine (New York, NY), 2005.
(With Anne McCaffrey) Dragon's Fire, Del Rey (New York, NY), 2006.
Dragon's Kin was adapted to audio, Brilliance Audio, 2003; Dragonsblood was adapted to audio and CD, 2005.
The son of famous science fiction author Anne McCaffrey, Todd McCaffrey has taken it upon himself to help his mother expand and continue her most famous series, "The Dragonriders of Pern." Before he became a full-time author, however, McCaffrey explored other options. He attended college for a year, but then dropped out and enlisted in the U.S. Army. He served for five years in Germany, and then left to continue his education. McCaffrey studied engineering and politics in Dublin, Ireland, his mother's adopted country, and then returned to America, where he worked as a quality assurance engineer and computer programmer. He had hoped to eventually get a job in the aerospace engineering business, but by the late 1980s the industry was taking a downturn at its southern California base. Indulging his interest in flight, McCaffrey obtained his pilot's license while also exploring his options as an author. "The first thing I got paid for was an animated screenplay, ‘I Got Them Ol' Reptilon Blues Again Mommasaur …,’" he related in an interview published on the author's home page. "I also wrote ‘Slammers Down!,’ a sort of choose your own adventure based on David Drake's Hammer's Slammers series for Ace. Both were in 1988. I got a lot of flying done that year."
McCaffrey did not publish a book, however, until 1999's Dragonholder: The Life and Dreams (So Far) of Anne McCaffrey, in which he helped his mother write her autobiography. A desultory work that combines anecdotes about Anne McCaffrey's life and writings, it also interjects a number of Todd's boyhood memories of his mother. Several science fiction luminaries, such as Isaac Asimov and Harlan Ellison, also make appearances. While some critics noted that the book does not reveal much new about Anne McCaffrey, Booklist contributor Patricia Monaghan complimented it for being "engagingly written."
With Dragon's Kin, McCaffrey enjoyed his initiation into his mother's fictional world of Pern, which first gained fans back in 1968 with Dragonflight. The basic premise of the series is that colonists from Earth have long ago settled a distant planet. Over time, they have lost their technological knowledge, which could prove useful when the planet is periodically overwhelmed by a deadly life form that destroys all organic matter. The "thread," as the organisms are called, originate from a red planet whose orbit comes close enough to the colony that the alien life can migrate planet to planet. To fight off this plague, the early colonists genetically engineered a native life form that now looks very much like a fire-breathing dragon. The dragons, which are mentally linked to select humans called dragonriders, help the people burn the threads before they can cause damage. In Dragon's Kin, a mining disaster changes the lives of several young people, including Kinder, whose family is killed and who must live with master harper Zist, and Nuella, a blind girl who is made to work with a watchwher named Kisk. Watchwher's are animals related to the dragons, and most people don't consider them overly intelligent. Nuella, however, learns through Kisk that they indeed have many capabilities, including the secret of seeing in the dark. It is this secret that helps Nuella and Zist discover who is behind the mine disaster. Because the setting is somewhat limited compared to the other Pern novels, Infinity Plus reviewer Marianne Plumridge remarked that the novel "is a charming addition to Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern universe, but lacks the usual sweeping epic setting of its predecessors." A Publishers Weekly writer noted, significantly, that fans of the series "will notice no seams" in the transition from mother to son.
The younger McCaffrey took a solo flight with Dragonsblood, an installment in the series that shifts back and forth in time. Part of the action occurs not too long after Pern's original settlement, when the dragons have been recently engineered to fight the thread. The rest of the plot takes place about 450 years later, when the dragons are suffering a mysterious illness that might be caused by the breaking down of their manipulated DNA. Declaring the book to be "genuinely spellbinding," a Publishers Weekly contributor felt that Dragonsblood "fits beautifully into the existing history" of Pern. Todd "McCaffrey convincingly spins a dramatic, thoroughly captivating tale," reported Sally Estes in Booklist.
Mother and son worked together again to produce Dragon's Fire. A crisis faces Pern when the firestone needed by the dragons to burn the thread is running low. A young miner named Cristov vows to find a new supply to mine, but the miners, many of whom are "shunned" people who have been cast out of society for various crimes, are unaware of their vulnerability to a coming storm of thread. Estes, writing again for Booklist, declared Dragon's Fire "another successful McCaffrey mother-and-son collaboration." Todd McCaffrey said on his Web site that he plans to compose many more Pern novels, as well as new book "series, films, and even TV series."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 15, 1999, Patricia Monaghan, review of Dragonholder: The Life and Dreams (So Far) of Anne McCaffrey, p. 594; September 15, 2003, Frieda Murray, review of Dragon's Kin, p. 181; November 1, 2004, Sally Estes, review of Dragonsblood, p. 444; June 1, 2006, Sally Estes, review of Dragon's Fire, p. 6.
California Bookwatch, October, 2006, review of Dragon's Fire.
Entertainment Weekly, January 28, 2005, Gilbert Cruz, "The Son Also Writes," p. 88; August 18, 2006, Stephanie Vallejo, review of Dragon's Fire, p. 141.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2003, review of Dragon's Kin, p. 1160; November 15, 2004, review of Dragonsblood, p. 1072.
Publishers Weekly, November 29, 1999, "December Publications," review of Dragonholder, p. 57; October 13, 2003, review of Dragon's Kin, p. 61; November 8, 2004, review of Dragonsblood, p. 40; June 5, 2006, review of Dragon's Fire, p. 42.
School Library Journal, June, 2000, Susan Salpini, review of Dragonholder, p. 176; August, 2006, June H. Keuhn, review of Dragon's Fire, p. 123.
Agony Magazine,http://trashotron.com/agony/ (March 22, 2005), Stephanie Cage, review of Dragonsblood.
Infinity Plus,http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/ (February 16, 2007), Marianne Plumridge, review of Dragon's Kin.
SF Site,http://www.sfsite.com/ (February 16, 2007), Cindy Lynn Speer, review of Dragon's Kin.
Todd McCaffrey Home Page,http://toddmccaffrey.org (February 16, 2007).