It's not often I do obituary pieces, but on this day, I feel I want to.
RIP to Richard Adams - who authored two of the best fantasy books of all time (Watership Down and Shardik), and Carrie Fisher - who appeared in one of the best fantasy series of all time.
I encountered both at about the same age; I was 11 when I first read Watership Down, and 11 when Star Wars came out. Watership Down made a huge impression, because it was a strange, long, complex fantasy work complete with its own mythology, and it actually led me to read Lord of the Rings. Years later, I read Shardik, and it had a similar impression; a vast, complex, complicated view of mythology, freedom, slavery and the brutality of nature and humanity- recurring themes in Adams' work. I heard him being interviewed on BBC Radio 4 around 1994 or 1995 and the interviewer was accusing him of being a sentimentalist because his books focused on animals; Adams said 'Have you read any of my books? I mean, really read them?' And the interviewer admitted he hadn't... it is a fabulous takedown of a pompous **** by someone who possessed genuine humility and had witnessed immense cruelty and horror in his life. Very sad that Richard Adams has passed.
So too for Carrie Fisher. I never had a Leia crush, but I admired the gutsy spirit of Leia, and the gutsy spirit of Carrie. She lived a life of excess, survived it, never apologised for it, came out of the other side, wrote about it candidly, and was always refreshingly herself. Her death at 60 is a sad, sad loss, just as Star Wars is entering a new chapter of longevity.
2016 has been an absolute *******. I really do hope 2017 doesn't feel any need to outdo its predecessor.