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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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SedarGames
Dec. 28th, 2016 10:20 am (UTC)
It will end soon. Don´t worry.
billackochplat
Dec. 28th, 2016 01:10 pm (UTC)
Its really sad...
pseudohistorian
Dec. 28th, 2016 02:06 pm (UTC)
Much like yourself, it's hard to know what to say about this year that can add to what everyone has already said about how bad it's been, and the fear of what's to come in the future...

If nothing else, at least we know we're not alone in those feelings--so many of us want something better for the world than what 2016 has brought--and perhaps we can take some solace in that.
Discarded Soul
Dec. 28th, 2016 02:12 pm (UTC)
Most sad about Carrie Fisher's passing... As someone with mental illness, she was someone who truely inspired me...
Also, not to forget, Vera Rubin... :(

Indeed there's been too much death in 2016... And the year is yet to end!

May 2017 be a lot brighter and joyous!

(Many apologies for my English! Still learning!)
underhermask
Dec. 28th, 2016 03:43 pm (UTC)
Icons vanishing
This year has been really hard with the icon deaths. There's even a man in South Carolina that has started a kickstarter to keep Betty White safe. The good news is that we have so much of these iconic works that were left behind, we can always crack open a book or watch a film, or even listen to an album. That little bit of solace must count for something.
starkdad
Dec. 28th, 2016 06:52 pm (UTC)
Richard Adams
Thanks for the mention of Richard Adams - a great author and man (he fought at Arnhem as a UK paratrooper). I've read Watership Down to all my kids (always worth a re-read) what characters and what physical and mental courage. Deserves to be mentioned with Storm of Swords and Return of the King for just those qualities.

Nice that Rogue One seemlessly lead into New Hope causing many including my family to rewatch Ep. IV. Got to revisit Ms. Fisher in the glory of her youth going toe to toe with Vader. Got to see her a few years ago at DragonCon. What wit what style...not replaceable.

Lets not condem 2017 yet - might see a long awaited book release...

TomT

euphoricmisery
Dec. 28th, 2016 07:00 pm (UTC)
2017 is the Year That Was Promised!
2016 feels like we hit rock bottom on so many different levels, from the loss of a great number of beloved public figures to detrimental shifts in domestic and global politics. Surely there is no further down we can fall in 2017. There is only one direction to go from here: UP! Surely. Surely...
sdschaffer
Dec. 29th, 2016 02:21 am (UTC)
Re: 2017 is the Year That Was Promised!
I keep thinking of the addict's conception of 'rock bottom', of hitting a point so low you feel you can go no further without actually dying and therefore finally decide to turn your life around. I gain some comfort from the thought that this is our 'rock bottom', the moment when we see just how far we've fallen and muster up the will to change.

But no, I don't think we've hit bottom yet. And I'm terrified at just what 'rock bottom' will look like for us, and if there will be any coming back if we hit it.
noybusiness
Dec. 28th, 2016 07:06 pm (UTC)
I just saw Rogue One for the first time. I teared up at the final scene. It's all the more poignant now. In a bizarre way it presciently became a tribute to Carrie Fisher.
olliethehound
Dec. 29th, 2016 05:12 am (UTC)
I feel the same way. I saw the film the very night before she passed away, and when I saw that scene it really touched me. "Hope" was her line, and all I could think was wow, what a great tribute. She has to pull through this. Unfortunately, she did not. But it's incredible that her memory can live on forever in her amazing iconic role and various other things.
danihinze
Dec. 28th, 2016 07:36 pm (UTC)
Beautiful message today.

From a great man.
inwinterfell
Dec. 28th, 2016 08:32 pm (UTC)
Upside Down World
Recent events have me feeling like a character trapped in the darkest timeline trying desperately to claw her way back into the prime.

I honestly logged on here just to make sure you were alright. Outside of fiction, I'm not one to assign anthropomorphic qualities to intangible concepts like snippets of time, but 2016 is certainly tempting me otherwise.
Frances Marion Platt
Dec. 29th, 2016 12:04 am (UTC)
Totally agree about Richard Adams' books being overlooked too often. I wonder how many people skip reading Watership Down under the mistaken impression that it's a children's book about fluffy bunnies. It's amazingly dark, and Shardik is downright brutal in its detail of the torments of the protagonist's captivity (even GRRM himself never depicted a group of kidnapped children with chains pierced through their ears!) He was a very fine writer whose work will endure.
Rilind Sahiti
Dec. 29th, 2016 12:22 am (UTC)
This year was awful with so many people that we love dying and terrible things happening everywhere. Was 2016 written by you Mr. Martin?
sdschaffer
Dec. 29th, 2016 02:14 am (UTC)
Carrie Fisher's mother, Debbie Reynolds, just died.

As I said above, 2016 still has a few more days to take things from us.
Christopher Frazier
Dec. 29th, 2016 02:51 am (UTC)
George any death and gloom you could throw our way in the books could never "Trump" 2016.
At this point an undead army out to destroy us would probably be an improvement over 2016. Every time I think it just can't get worse someone who is a inspiration for me dies.

Seriously after 2016? I hope this is like the Cleveland Browns season and next year can't be anything else but up.
gerryhuntman
Dec. 29th, 2016 04:53 am (UTC)

And now Debbie... 😔

mojave_wolf
Dec. 29th, 2016 05:29 am (UTC)
Love Adams' writing; totally agree w/you he's one of the best fantasists and one of the best writers period. Frequently put "The Plague Dogs" in my all time top ten novels when one of those lists comes up, and always at least consider Watership Down. Also loved Shardik; have not read the other two. Had no idea he started writing so late, or that they'd made a move of The Plague Dogs.

Sad that Fisher died but Debbie Reynolds passing away a day after Carrie is just wow. It's sad, but also kind of sweet. I do not wish to survive my significant other, tho I would worry about our dogs if the second of us passed away before arrangements could be made.
mystsofmythos
Dec. 29th, 2016 05:38 am (UTC)
My heart is with the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today.

Watership Down is one of my three or four most favorite books I've ever read. I will not shed a tear for a man who lived to be 96, but I do feel a bit melancholy. We will be alright Mr Adams... and thousands like us.
noybusiness
Dec. 29th, 2016 03:44 pm (UTC)
Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher Singing Together - R.I.P. Mother and Daughter https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzjgp2XebwE&t=40m18s
cazcatharsis
Dec. 29th, 2016 06:03 pm (UTC)
I hate to say, I never read the book. But the movie, loved it at the same time as it scared me as a child. It was the animation style I think. But what a story Watership Down was. I better read the damn book.
eliminate
Dec. 29th, 2016 07:39 pm (UTC)
It is truly sad but I can't help but feel disappointed in the glorification of celebrity death this past year. Lots of amazing people died in 2015, 2014, and so on, yet they are not remembered. This was a lovely written post and I think Douglas Adams indeed contributed so much (as a reader and not a movie goer). I just hope next year brings more positivity and less dwelling on the unchangeable.

Happy New Year.
gaeln
Dec. 29th, 2016 08:19 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry to learn about Richard Adams, his Watership Down being my next to reread book. Sucky year :(
arpad
Dec. 29th, 2016 08:57 pm (UTC)
First - you're a heartless bastard - I had to check dictionary three times on the very first page - all that British farmland words hurt.

Second - you are now personally responsible for at least one more reader of Watership Down - and yes, it's good.

Thank you kindly for mentioning it. Somehow (probably by cause of being born in the USSR) I missed it completely.
Bambi Kill
Dec. 29th, 2016 10:27 pm (UTC)
Watership down for two Swedish crowns.
"Watership down" was one of the first books I read, just when I started first grade in school. I fell completely and utterly in love with Hazel, Bigwig and all the others.
That same fall, I found a copy of my own. A scruffy paperback in a box outside a flea market. Two Swedish crowns. (What a ripoff for a used paperback, back in 1989...)
Excited, I rode my bike home, fetched a couple of coins from my piggy bank - spurted back - and bought the first book I've ever paid for with my own money.
27 years later, I still have that old, shabby paperback. The pages fall out if you read it and on the first page, are 68 marks.
One for every time I've read it. I don't even know why I started counting - but I've continued the habit and still scribble a mark after every read.

Since many years back, I have several copies of the book, and prefer to read the ones that don't fall apart in my hands - but still, I go back and make that mark.
68 times read - a book about rabbits - and I don't even like rabbits.
Ariel Silberman
Dec. 30th, 2016 04:36 am (UTC)
Sad Year
Yes, this year hass been a real gut punch. Though after Rickman's death in January my heart hardened somewhat, making the others aa bit less painful. His body body of work taught me about thee complexitiy of we humans long before I even read AsoIaF. But his and all the others legacies will live on.
Ross Black
Dec. 30th, 2016 08:00 am (UTC)
Dito
Hey George, just wanted to say that I really feel your pain for Richard Adams. Water ship down was my first fantasy novel and still is one of my all time favourites.
Maia (for me) is his greatest achievement and for you to say it is " criminally underated" made me smile. Because I've been saying the same for a long time to any who would listen!
Someone once told me that to grieve for a someone's death is to not do there life justice. We must always celebrate there life and a achievements and hope to emulate there example.
Can't wait for winds man. Really.
Take care George.

Ross Black
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