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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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kidsrhymes
Dec. 30th, 2016 09:52 am (UTC)
Nisha
It's really very sad :(
Christopher Frazier
Dec. 30th, 2016 10:26 am (UTC)
Everything that can be said was said about Carrie Fisher, and inspiration to me who suffers from bipolar disorder. I really stopped worrying what people thought of me because of her when it comes to suffering from the disorder. Now I speak my mind.

But I just wanted to add Richard Adams was a hero of mine, up there with George and Stan Lee. I think I just brought up how much Watership Down meant in the comments not even three weeks ago (around that). Adams was a hero of mine. I also loved the reason who wrote the book in the first place - for his kids.
He got tired of many other fictional books, and tossed them in the corner and thought he could write something better than the same tired tropes.

I also cannot figure out why Adams has always went under the radar.

Just completely horrible. We need to kill this year and kill it with fire. Only fair after all this.

Take Care Everyone.
Mark J. Crandley
Dec. 30th, 2016 05:57 pm (UTC)
Such a sad loss
Glad to see the kinds words for the passing of Richard Adams. I love Watership Down and have since I was a child. My daughter (just turned 8) is voracious reader and I bought her a copy for Christmas. She's tearing through it with so many interesting questions popping up that I've never considered in reading it over the years. That's the sign of a masterpiece.
The story of how the book came into being is almost as good as the book itself.
And now off to the neighborhood bookstore to dig for some of Adams's other works.
Happy New Year!!
Anniefromkansas
Dec. 31st, 2016 01:57 am (UTC)
Ending
Dear Mr. Martin,
Just want to say, I've never read your books but began watching Game of Thrones when I became ill and love it. The stories of the different lands & characters are wonderful. I've prayed that I live long enough to see the end of the series because I don't want to miss seeing how it all comes out. I'm sure some of my favorite characters will die but hoping some survive. This has been such a scary time for America. I'm an old woman very worried about my country. My wish is that the end of Game of Thrones will have some victory over evil to give us hope for our world. Bless you for using your great gift of writing!
gracht
Dec. 31st, 2016 10:07 am (UTC)
Be careful what you wish for.
What if 2017 is worse than 2016?

*Gulp*
sdschaffer
Jan. 1st, 2017 06:15 am (UTC)
Re: Be careful what you wish for.
2017 possesses an enormous advantage in that we as individuals and as a citizenry can actually do things to make it better, whereas 2016 is a total and irrecoverable loss as of 15 minutes ago in the Midwest.

The message we should all be embracing: "Don't want 2017 to be as bad as 2016? Then do what you can to make sure it isn't."
cyniclclasicist
Dec. 31st, 2016 04:53 pm (UTC)
AGREED
It has been a rotten year. Carrie Fisher joins the long list of celebrities who have passed away... along with decency in politics. At least this year had a great re-enactment of the Kingsmoot... in which all America took part.

Richard Adams was a good writer, there is some pretty brilliant worldbuilding in Watership Down, these feel like actual myths. At least he lived to 96.

Best of luck with writing TWOW next year. I hope its going well, despite how awful a year this has been, and the fact that next year Real-life Euron is taking power and Brexit may be occurring... even if the deal apparently won't be worked out this decade and will probably be basically the same terms we already had.

There are at least glimmers of hope. I hope that Trump's lies are exposed as next year goes on (I doubt he'll have the same new year another blond tyrant did), and more material on his evil is released. But millions are determined to justify all he does.

Well, may the next year be better. Happy New Year GRRM.
stephenstark
Jan. 1st, 2017 05:02 pm (UTC)
worst news
Ok George, it's time for the worst news of all, your beginning of the year update...
richard_sutton
Jan. 1st, 2017 05:57 pm (UTC)
Winter has come...
A very trying year on so many levels, but we survived it (along with Keith Richards ;) ) and will be strong enough as a result, to deal with whatever 2017 thinks it can dish out. Winter has come, but there seem to be dragon glass knives and Valyrian steel blades turning up everywhere. I'm beginning to think that putting a grifter into the Whitehouse might finally remind us all that we're in it together! Best wishes for a beautiful Santa Fe Winter with lots of red and green!
kristi henricks
Jan. 2nd, 2017 05:47 am (UTC)
Well said; it has, in too many ways, been a disappointing, sad and disorienting year.

As I so often do, I'm happy to have found a new & promising recommendation in Richard Adams. My most recent GRRM-led discovery has been Flashman, a character I absolutely love.

A shame to only be finding out about this author's work due to his passing.

And on an unrelated kick in the crotch, my holiday foray into Westeros read more ominously this year.

"Though not the most diligent of princes, nor the most intelligent, he had an undeniable charm that won him many friends. He was also vain, proud, and changeable, traits that made him easy pray for flatterers and lickspittles, but these flaws were not readily apparent to most at the time of his ascension."

While the bit about these traits not being readily available to most may not apply here- which adds its own layer of disappointment- here's to hoping our vain and changeable PEOTUS does better than I imagine he probably will.
Peter Jung
Jan. 2nd, 2017 12:32 pm (UTC)
With 2016 finally gone, things look a little brighter
I mean, the Giants are solidly in the playoffs and have beaten the Redskins in an away game, and the Jets managed to crush the Bills (not that they needed much effort to get crushed, I mean, did you see those 10 points within technically zero (0) seconds off the clock?). Things could be worse. Also, look on the bright side: no Patriots on TV next weekend. (I guess I'm a "half full" person in that regard...)
Miltime8
Jan. 2nd, 2017 09:10 pm (UTC)
Cheer up!
George, in an effort to cheer you up just a little bit, I want to tell you about the campaign being run by The Young Turks (a progressive online news network). TYT is trying to raise money to fund their hiring of several investigative reporters. What has the GOT-obsessed host/owner of TYT, Cenk Uygur, dubbed these reporters he plans to hire? "the Watchers on the Wall, the Sword in the Darkness." The actual campaign is called "Watchers on the Wall." I'm not going to include any links or anything lest you think I am trying to promote the fundraising campaign. (Also, I don't care if this gets posted. I just hope you read it, since letting you know about this example of your impact is the only point.) The one investigative reporter they already employ, Jordan Chariton, has done really good work in covering the No DAPL protests and the water contamination in Flint and Indiana. You know, stories that the corporate media has long left behind or never covered.

Cenk grew up in East Brunswick, NJ, which I think is like an hour away from your own Bayonne. From what I've gleaned from your writings (including the immortal "racists clad in dead elephant skins" post), I'd say that your political views align very closely with those of TYT and its viewers. TYT also does a review show for each GOT episode. I really hope they try to interview you one day and that you accept.

Cenk Uygur also formed Wolf-PAC, a political action group with over 30,000 volunteers, whose only goal is passing a constitutional amendment to get money out of politics. They are trying to do this by passing resolutions in 2/3 of the states to call for an Article V (limited) constitutional convention. So far, they have passed the resolution in 5 states (California, Vermont, Illinois, New Jersey, and Rhode Island).

So cheer up big guy, there's reason to hope in 2017, and your work has inspired and touched more people than you will ever hear about.

Diego Hurtado Ruiz
Jan. 3rd, 2017 11:23 am (UTC)
Happy new year
Hello, George. How are you? I hope this year will be better than 2016. Happy new year!
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