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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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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)
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.
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