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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.


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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 :(
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)
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
Dec. 30th, 2016 09:52 am (UTC)
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!!
Dec. 31st, 2016 01:57 am (UTC)
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!
Dec. 31st, 2016 10:07 am (UTC)
Be careful what you wish for.
What if 2017 is worse than 2016?

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."
Dec. 31st, 2016 04:53 pm (UTC)
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.
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...
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...)
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