George R.R. Martin, killer of characters, mourns for dead celebrities

Game Of Thrones author George R.R. Martin wrote a blog post tribute of two of his heroes: actress Carrie Fisher and Watership Down author Richard Adams.
Game Of Thrones author George R.R. Martin wrote a blog post tribute of two of his heroes: actress Carrie Fisher and Watership Down author Richard Adams.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • Recent news of high-profile celebrity deaths has led people to lash out, somehow, against an increasingly popular scapegoat: the year 2016.

Turns out Game Of Thrones author George R.R. Martin is no different.

In a blog post titled A Bad Year Gets Worse, he mourned the passing of two of his heroes: actress Carrie Fisher, 60, and Watership Down author Richard Adams.

"Death, death and more death... this year just keeps getting worse and worse," Martin, 68, wrote.

The irony, of course, is that Martin, who wrote the Song Of Ice And Fire series on which HBO's Game Of Thrones show is based, is known for killing off characters in his novels - often in (minor spoiler alert) traumatic and seemingly untimely ways.

While the show takes some liberties with its adaptation of the books, it is safe to say that the grim life expectancy a character faces on HBO's version mirrors Martin's novels.

In the fifth and most recent season alone, there were a whopping 246 deaths on the show.

Still, it seems Martin has had enough of people he admires in real life dying before their time.

"There is not much I can say about the death of Carrie Fisher that a thousand other people have not said already," he wrote on LiveJournal on Tuesday.

"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."

He also took a few paragraphs to eulogise 96-year-old Adams, who died on Christmas Eve at a nursing home in Oxford, England.

Martin said he agreed with assessments that ranked Watership Down as "one of the three great fantasy novels of the 20th century, right up there with Lord Of The Rings and The Once And Future King."

"A truly amazing book... and one that somehow always seems to get forgotten when fans discuss the great fantasies," Martin wrote. "Maybe because of the talking rabbits? No idea."

In another flash of irony, he praised several of Adams' lesser known books - while noting that he could not quite fully enjoy his 1977 The Plague Dogs. It was "such a dark, depressing, angry, gut-punch of a novel", he wrote.

He expressed regret that he never got to meet Adams.

"Adams was not 'one of us,' in the sense that he was never a conventiongoer or part of our genre fantasy community, which may be why he was never honoured with a life achievement award by the World Fantasy Convention," Martin wrote.

"Nonetheless, he deserved one. I've been suggesting him for that honour for at least 20 years... in part because I wanted to meet him. Now I never will. That's sad (though not as sad as Plague Dogs)."

Though there is no magic spell that will prevent beloved famous figures from dying come New Year's Day, blaming 2016 seems to have become a common refrain on social media.

Thousands have tweeted about the latest deaths using the hashtags #(expletive)you2016 and #(expletive)2016.

A South Carolina man set up a GoFundMe fundraiser on Tuesday to "protect (actress) Betty White from 2016".

"If we consider the body of people that are nationally known and recognised, and consider that as a certain kind of family, 2016 was a really, really bad year for the family," Dr Robert Thompson, a professor of pop culture at Syracuse University, told the New York Daily News - in an article headlined Good Riddance To 2016.

Many admired public figures and legends from the arts and entertainment industry did in fact die this year: There was David Bowie, who died in January just after his 69th birthday. Alan Rickman died a few days later, also at age 69.

Harper Lee, 89. Nancy Reagan, 94. Prince, 57. Muhammad Ali, 74. Gene Wilder, 83. Leonard Cohen, 82. Florence Henderson, 82. John Glenn, 77. Alan Thicke, 69. George Michael, 53.

And, this past week, Adams and Fisher.

"A wonderful actress, a great writer. The world is poorer tonight," Martin wrote to finish his post. "Please, let this wretched year come to an end."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 31, 2016, with the headline 'George R.R. Martin, killer of characters, mourns for dead celebrities'. Print Edition | Subscribe