The Many Works of Anne McCaffrey

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10/15/2005  "Freedom of the Race" (short story)
by Hans van der Boom

In January 2003  DAW books published an anthology titled Wondrous Beginnings. Internet promotion of this book read:

The writers included in this volume are a real "who was and is who" in the field of science fiction, from such masters of science fiction's Golden Age as: Murray Leinster, L. Sprague de Camp, Hal Clement, and Arthur C. Clarke, to a number of today's hottest-selling and award-winning authors such as Anne McCaffrey, Gene Wolfe, George R.R. Martin, Orson Scott Card, Lois McMaster Bujold and Stephen Baxter.

How and where did these writers get their start? Now you can find out by reading the stories that began their careers, some well-known classics, others long unavailable. Each story includes an introduction by the author--or in the case of Murray Leinster, by his daughter--which offers insight into the genesis of both the particular story and the individual writer's career. And all of them serve as fascinating examples of just what makes science fiction the popular genre it has long been and still remains today.

So, what was Anne McCaffrey’s “wondrous beginning”? Well, first of all let me tell you that Anne doesn’t think her beginning (read: her first published story) wondrous at all. But then, she became a helluva writer later on and frowned upon her very first try which she thought wasn’t up to her (later) standard...

Nevertheless The Montclair Times newspaper of August 13, 1953 published an article headed: “Anne McCaffrey Johnson Writes Prize-Winning Magazine Story” Anne's husband, H. Wright Johnson was immensely displeased with her writing, but mostly because he thought of science fiction as having no literary value - which is why Anne was and always has been published under her maiden name of McCaffrey. The Montclair Times reporter wrote: “being a Princeton man, Mr. Johnson takes a somewhat dim view of his wife’s flights into outer space. He is not quite sure whether to be proud or dismayed at his wife’s breaking into print.

This very first published story by Anne was “Freedom of the Race”. It counted a thousand words and was published in the magazine Science Fiction Plus in October 1953. Anne’s original title for it, “The New Freedom”, was rejected and changed by the editor. With this story Anne won a $100 prize (in 1953!). The magazine at the time cost only 35 cents (US). It was accompanied by one black and white illustration by Peter Poulton and appeared on page 20. The story tells of aliens (martians) who have subjugated Earth and are attempting to use Terran women as surrogate mothers for their race. it doesn't work out the way they planned though... (won't give away the plot).

I don’t know the exact number in which Science Fiction Plus was printed but would be very much surprised if it was more than a few thousand.

As of 10/15/2005, just one copy was found for sale online for  US$40.  If you just want to read the story you'd better just buy a new or used paperback edition of Wondrous Beginnings.  For tips on locating copies of this or other items, email Cheryl (address in page footer) or post a message at A Meeting of Minds.

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Anne McCaffrey 1967-2007, all rights reserved, and used by permission of the author.

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