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A Bad Year Gets Worse

Death, death, and more death... this year just keeps getting worse and worse.

There is not much I can say about the death of Carrie Fisher that a thousand other people have not said already. She was way too young. A bright, beautiful, talented actress, and a strong, witty, outspoken woman. Princess Leia will live as long as STAR WARS does... probably forever...

And the world lost one of its great fantasists today as well: Richard Adams, the author of WATERSHIP DOWN. Gardner Dozois ranks WATERSHIP DOWN as one of the three great fantasy novels of the twentienth century, right up there with LORD OF THE RINGS and THE ONCE AND FUTURE KING, and I agree. A truly amazing book... and one that somehow always seems to get forgotten when fans discuss the great fantasies. Maybe because of the talking rabbits? No idea...

Adams was a wonderful writer. Yes, WATERSHIP DOWN was his masterpiece, but it was by no means his only great book. He wrote two terrific epic fantasies with human characters, SHARDIK and MAIA, both of which are criminally underrated, as well as an erotic ghost story, THE GIRL ON A SWING. His other "animal book," THE PLAGUE DOGS, also has some wonderful sections... though it is such a dark, depressing, angry, gut-punch of a novel that I can't say I 'enjoyed' it.

Adams was not 'one of us,' in the sense that he was never a convention-goer or part of our genre fantasy community, which may be why he was never honored with a life achievement award by the World Fantasy Convention. Nonetheless, he deserved one. I've been suggesting him for that honor for at least twenty years... in part because I wanted to meet him. Now I never will. That's sad (though not as sad as PLAGUE DOGS).

A wonderful actress, a great writer. The world is poorer tonight.

Please, let this wretched year come to an end.

Comments

( 69 comments )
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John Nelson
Dec. 28th, 2016 12:29 am (UTC)
I loved MAIA. I rember the feeling of being drenche in detail, like I was suddenly in a hologram because his words were so immersive, I could see the scenes in perfect 3d. Which is exactly how I felt when I read your books, as I thought "GoT Reminds me of that Richard Adams book with the immersive amount of visual details"

The Carrie Fisher thing feels like a family member died.
bauhausfrau
Dec. 28th, 2016 01:11 am (UTC)
I loved it too! And can definitely see similarities between GoT and Maia.

The Girl on the Swing is marvelous too.

A sad day indeed.
Krystal Crouch
Dec. 28th, 2016 12:46 am (UTC)
Well said sir.
e_darius
Dec. 28th, 2016 12:47 am (UTC)
this year
Sadly, winter has only begun. It will last years, and the years will be worse than this one by orders of magnitude. We will look back upon this as one of the last "good" years, I'm afraid.
Kim L. Kinsey
Dec. 28th, 2016 12:56 am (UTC)
Sadly, I think 2017 will be more of the same...
GRRM, I think that you and I are both old enough that a lot of people we are either fans of, or know personally will be passing away from now on...

'Sorry! :(
Sean Hall
Dec. 28th, 2016 01:07 am (UTC)
Vera Rubins, trailblazing astronomer - the discoverer 'of dark matter' also passed away.
Laura Beaumont
Dec. 28th, 2016 01:09 am (UTC)
I feel especially bad for Carrie's dog. Pictures of them are guaranteed to make me cry an ocean. :(
nimnod
Dec. 29th, 2016 03:56 pm (UTC)
Gary. I always liked their alliterative names.
Losing My Black Lab - sourbillytipton - Jan. 2nd, 2017 09:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
cmelanson
Dec. 28th, 2016 01:19 am (UTC)
Totally agree
Watership Down was always one of my favorite books. I have four house buns, along with two fosters. That book always held a special place in my heart and is probably responsible for my great love of the bunnies. He was a wonderful writer.

Agree with the previous comment. Carrie Fisher is like a punch to the gut. She was my hero when little. I looked up to her so much. She went on to be such an accomplished author and much-needed spokeswoman on so many fronts. Her passing comes too soon and devastates so many.
Carrla Culpepper Leszcynski
Dec. 28th, 2016 01:19 am (UTC)
So terrible that we have lost yet another great icon. Watership Down was rich with detail and wonderful childhood introduction to political intrigue and societal illness. Thank you for honoring him here.
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Dec. 28th, 2016 01:34 am (UTC)
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Mark Chase
Dec. 28th, 2016 01:37 am (UTC)
It has been a horrendous year in terms of the sheer number of losses. The year started badly ... and seems to be trying to outdo itself in its last few days.

It appears to be doing its best impression of ASOIAF in terms of devastation and body count.
tiggersk8
Dec. 28th, 2016 02:17 am (UTC)
I think you summed up how so many of us are feeling today perfectly. Thank you Sir.

I still can't believe Carrie Fisher's gone. As someone said, it feels like a Family Member has passed away and that's exactly how it feels. She was such a role model for me and so many others in so very many ways. The World truly is poorer tonight.
spent9109
Dec. 28th, 2016 02:37 am (UTC)
Very saddened indeed. Only heard about Richard Adams moments ago, and while he was 96 years of age (a good, full life), it doesn't make the hammer blow of constant creative people death any easier to swallow. Sad day for film and literature fans alike.

And you're right, Mr. Martin, SHARDIK doesn't get enough love.
lizzie_borden
Dec. 28th, 2016 02:48 am (UTC)
I didn't know what Plague Dogs was when I watched it, other than "Richard Adams"...
The only other time I've cried that hard in my entire life was when my Mom died.
To say it was a gut punch is an understatement. Boy did he ever know how to cultivate emotion.
Jimmy Potter
Dec. 28th, 2016 02:59 am (UTC)
Noooo!
This is where I learned of Richard Adams's death... I'm so sad right now!!! Watership Down is my favorite book and the one most responsible for my lifelong love of reading.

I was not as moved by Carrie Fisher's death not because I'm cold hearted but rather simply I usually reserve my emotions for family, friends and only those celebrities who have had a substantial influence on who I became as a person- which I consider Richard Adams to be one because without his books I might not be the avid reader that I am and that has shaped my outlook on the world.

I've been fortunate this year in that no family or friends of mine have died(knock on wood)but I understand that for a lot of people these celebrities have been a surrogate family. I don't believe death is the end. I believe we journey onwards, whether it is Heaven, Hell, or Valhalla, or somewhere else I do not know; but may their journeys be joyous and full of love!
Matt Stedman
Dec. 28th, 2016 03:06 am (UTC)
Richard Adams
Maybe it's just me, but I don't feel sad when someone passes away at the age of 96. I feel like that's as good an age to live to as any and congratulations are in order rather than tears. So congrats to Richard Adams for gracing the world with his presence for so long! Carrie Fisher on the other hand left us far too soon :(

Totally agree that Shardik is criminally underrated. I actually read that before Watership Down. It has wonderfully flawed characters, a lot to chew on and no easy answers. Kind of like a later epic fantasy writer we all know and love ;)
dragonborngurl
Dec. 29th, 2016 02:25 pm (UTC)
Re: Richard Adams
I concur! 96 years old!! That's a good ripe age to celebrate life & accomplishments! Lucky Richard Adams, and lucky his loved ones that he lived so long and such a fulfilled life!! I hope my own 85 year old vibrant father lives to at least 96 years!!
David Levin
Dec. 28th, 2016 03:32 am (UTC)
RIP: Tom Hayden, Gwen Ifell, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Peter Vaughan.

Just to name a few who will be missed.
boomkrashhh
Dec. 28th, 2016 04:13 am (UTC)
Carrie Fisher was my first, and really only Princess.
A sad day, especially with Rogue One in theatres tying in so closely with A New Hope.
sdschaffer
Dec. 28th, 2016 04:15 am (UTC)
And we've still got a few days left. Trump isn't in office yet, so an accidental exchange of ICBMs isn't likely until January, but otherwise who knows who might die or what horrid thing might happen between now and January 1st?

Politically, 2017 is destined to be horrible, as we Americans have little left to us but to pray that Trump proves to be merely corrupt, inept and embarrassingly in over his head rather than an American Putin or Erdogan.

But there's still room for hope in 2017 otherwise. The string of victories for right wing populism might wake the left up and allow the tide to at least be stemmed. It could be a great year for books or for film or for television. It could be great on a personal level for any one of us, even as the world goes mad around us.

Where there's life, there's hope. And here's to hoping for a 2017 that washes away the sour taste of this last year for all of us.

Edited at 2016-12-28 04:42 am (UTC)
imwright1979
Dec. 28th, 2016 04:38 am (UTC)
Rest in peace Princess. Out of all the deaths and bad news this year, its this one that really really hurts the most
avidreadergirl
Dec. 28th, 2016 07:16 am (UTC)
I hadn't heard about Richard Adams, Watership Down was a truly amazing book one one of my favorite examples of valor in literature is Bigwig wounded and bleeding, refusing to move aside for Woundwort and co. because "My chief has told me to defend this run."

Loved Carrie Fisher too, first because I wanted growing up to be a princess, but I also wanted to be part of the adventure, she got to wear the pretty dress and she also got to shoot guys and engineer solutions to problems and not be cowed by all the very tall guys who surrounded her.

second because as an adult I learned she was an amazing talented writer who met the challenges she was given with a wicked sense of humor.

The good thing is that we had them as long as we did and they gave us all that they gave, I'll always be grateful to both of them.

As far as 2016 goes, "Siflay harka, embler rah"
dinatale_amanda
Dec. 28th, 2016 08:27 am (UTC)
I grew up watching Watership Down, which prompted me to read it. Such a great story. The Plague Dogs...ive only watched it once - it was all i could stand since it was so sad. I never read it. I guess it's appropriate to say...my heart has joined the thousand, for my friend stopped running today. 😯
Anthony Gonzalez
Dec. 28th, 2016 08:33 am (UTC)
Honestly feel gutted by this loss of Carrie Fisher. And to think Kenny Baker died a few months ago as well. With Rogue One hitting theaters this month, a film about the Death Star plans .. Which went to Leia who gave them to R2 ..sigh.
RIP Carrie Fisher
scolaro
Dec. 28th, 2016 08:42 am (UTC)
Years ago I watched The Plague Dogs because I like animal adventure stories and Patrick Stewart did the voice of the fox. Had never heard of the book before. Bawled my eyes out that day. There are not many movies that can do that to me, especially not animated ones. I wouldn't touch the book with a long pole because of what the film did to me. With more details it would probably be even worse.
Glad to hear the author lived a full life, just like my grandfather who's also 96 (and will hopefully have a few more happy years).

Carrie Fisher was a shock. Even with a heart-attack you don't expect someone to die at that age. She was larger than life and a real lady. I enjoyed her interviews and wish I could have met her at some point. She will be missed.

(John Oliver was right: Fuck 2016)
emp_sheeptopia
Dec. 28th, 2016 09:38 am (UTC)

Watership Down is one of those books I perpetually had on my TBR list. I finally started reading it tonight. I've kept bunnies before, and always stop and talk to wild ones,* so I don't know why I never read it. I guess I thought it read "younger" than it does. I'm going to have to read his other books as well, now.


As for Carrie Fisher... I have no words. :-(


*no, they don't talk back :-)

redpanda67
Dec. 28th, 2016 10:14 am (UTC)
I could not agree more George. Two celebrities from my childhood past away this year Alan Rickman and Carrie. When I heard about Carrie Fisher I was as shocked as I was when I heard Robin Williams died a few years ago. Both died way before their time. Star Wars was a big part of my childhood growing up. The Original Trilogy along with The Lord of the Rings movies are some of my all time favourite films. I will still be watching them and the prequels (Though I don't like them nearly as as much as the originals), the animated shows and spin off films as they come out for years to come. I seriously hope they respect her memory and not try to CGI her into Star Wars 9 like they did with Peter Cushing in Rouge One.

I haven't read or seen Watership down but I have heard positive things about it.

R.I.P Carrie Fisher, Richard Adams and all the other talented celebrities we lost this year.

Oh and 2016 do us all a favour and END! FUCKING END ALREADY!

Edited at 2016-12-28 11:02 am (UTC)
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