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R.I.P. Robert Jordan

The world of high fantasy is poorer today.

James Rigney, better known to fantasy readers as Robert Jordan, has passed away. Although he had been fighting amyloidosis for several years, the news of his death still came as a shock to many, including me. He was so optimistic and determined that you had to think that if anyone could beat the disease, it would be him.

Jim was a good and gracious man, a pleasure to share a platform or a pint with, and his contributions to modern fantasy were many. His huge, ambitious WHEEL OF TIME series helped to redefine the genre, and opened many doors for the writers who followed.

He was also unfailingly generous towards other fantasists, always ready to offer them support and encouragement. My own ICE & FIRE series might never have found its audience without the cover quote that Jim was so kind as to provide, back when A GAME OF THRONES was first published. I will always be grateful to him for that.

The last time I saw Jim was at an Archon in Collinsville, Illinois. It was before his final illness. He was the convention Guest of Honor and I was the Toastmaster, and I introduced him by telling the audience that actually we were the same person. It was a gag that Jim himself had suggested in the Green Room beforehand. While I was doing the intro, and claiming credit for all his books, he slowly entered, walked up silently behind me, and stood looming over me, glowering like Zeus. We got a great laugh.

I had some great dinners with Jim and his wife Harriet there in Collinsville as well. We talked about other writers, editors, publishers, all the stuff that writers always talk about... oh, and a little about our own series as well... and Jim and Harriet invited me to visit them if I ever made it down to Charleston. Sad to say, I never did.

RIP, Jim. You will be much missed.


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Oct. 15th, 2007 02:37 am (UTC)
This makes me very sad. I have never read the Wheel of Time series, or any of Robert Jordan's other work, but it is always a sad thing to see such a prolific fantasist die before they have finished the series they have sunk much of their life into. While many people have badmouthed Robert Jordan, and while even some of his fans have a love/hate relationship with him due to the length of his works and the gaps between installments, he seems to have been a true gentleman and largely responsible for helping to reinvigorate the fantasy genre. You won't usually hear elitist snobs speak well of him, but he seems to have written well enough and spun good enough stories to have had so many people read him. I think I will read his books, sometime... possibly quite soon. I have been told to wait until it the WoT is finished, which I hope it will eventually be. But in any case, as late as this comes, I must give my condolences and best wishes to Mr. Jordan's friends and family. If there is an afterlife, I hope to find Mr. Jordan in it, seated in the corner of a pub like a bard of old, telling how the story really ended.

It is always sad to see such a man as him die, someone who has done so much and yet still had so much left to do. It makes you think about mortality, and the limits of humanity, and about how we cannot take anything for granted in this world anymore, if ever we truly could. Rest in peace, good sir... you'll have plenty of time to tell us all how it turned out later. I am sorry that I never got to see you in this life, or read your books before you died. Farewell.
Oct. 25th, 2007 02:47 pm (UTC)
Descanse en Paz.
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George R.R. Martin
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