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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.
(Deleted comment)
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!!
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