Anne McCaffrey was the finest, most accomplished and brightest human being I ever met, or could meet in any universe. She had the biggest heart of all, touching and helping so many people.
      My first memory of Anne: in the elegant bar-with-indoor-swimming-pool of the Novacon hotel in '78, a charismatic, silver-haired vision in a deep-turquoise gown strode into sight; and I asked the nearest person: "Is that Anne McCaffrey?"
      After hearing yes, I said: "I have to meet her."
      By two o'clock in the morning, it was just the two of us in the bar, and I was captivated by her warmth and intellect; and my life was altered forever. Her final gift to me came floating across the decades, when I was guest of honour at Novacon ten days before her death. Our mutual friend Rog Peyton related something Anne told him that weekend in 1978: a message I will carry always.
      To visit Dragonhold (both the second and third incarnations) was to experience a near-mystical air of peacefulness permeating a busy hold filled with people, horses, cats and love.
      And books, of course.
      My debt to Anne is surpassed only by my love and admiration. She touched so many hearts because she employed emotion in her stories; and she accomplished that because she felt for other people: sympathy and empathy beyond imagining.
      Her story The Ship Who Sang was a eulogy to her father. She could never read it without crying.
      Neither, now, can I.
      Bless you and thank you, Anne.



Novacon is almost here! I'm heading off tomorrow. My key contributions to the con as guest of honour, besides chatting to absolutely everybody, will be a GoH speech which I'm calling Stuff (as in, I will talk about Stuff, guaranteed), and a Paul McKenna-style workshop-with-a-difference called I Can Make You Write. (It'll just be for a short, entrancing spell...)

Haven't blogged recently, so I haven't mentioned how much fun I had at Bristolcon. Ta loads to Joanne, MEG and Cheryl, and the various friends I met up with, including Steve W, Justina Robson, Martin Sketchley, Michaela, Fluffy Mark, Mike, Jonathan W and Trish Sullivan, who was going to beat me up in the bar, but then took pity.

Next year, I'm Bristolcon's GoH, along with Gareth Powell. But for now, it's Novacon time! (Every attendee gets a chapbook containing a 13000-word novelette called Study In Shadow, written by me.) See you there...