A Plea

Robert Jordan died this afternoon at the age of 58. Once, a few years back, I took a crack at his fantasy epic, The Wheel of Time. I had a hard time getting into the first book. On a trip to the bookstore, I looked at how many books were in the series (nine at the time, with no end in sight) and decided that I just didn't have the time or energy for it all. Still, that's just me, and Jordan leaves behind a vast legion of devoted fans and an uncompleted 12th-and-final book in the series. It's a great loss not just for his family and friends, but for all those fans, too. I'm sure that Jordan dearly wished to be able to finish that last book, both for his own satisfaction and for his fans.

I learned of Jordan's passing from George R.R. Martin's LiveJournal "Not-a-Blog." And this brings me to my real point. George - I write, as if he's reading this - I implore you, I beg you, please work hard on the remaining volumes of A Song of Ice and Fire. Please try to eat right and get some exercise and visit a doctor regularly. The disease that struck down your friend Robert Jordan was, as I understand it, a one-in-a-million thing, unpredictable and unpreventable. Even so, try to stay healthy, George.

Also remember that as much as all fantasy fans and fantasy authors are enamored of Tolkien's famous turn of phrase, "This tale grew in the telling," that isn't license to let absurd bloat creep into your stories. Your Song was, by your own reckoning, originally intended as a trilogy, which soon turned to five, then six and now a projected seven books. Don't make it eight, George, please. Your loyal/devoted/addicted readers love this story, not least for its epic scope, but stories are only as good as their endings. It follows, then, that a story without a proper ending can't be much good at all. This goes for all authors of fantasy and science fiction, really. "Epic" is a wonderful quality, but remember that readers need a great ending just as much as they need a captivating beginning and an exciting middle.

Your loyal readers are just dying to find out what happens to Dany, Jon and Tyrion in A Dance with Dragons, let alone how the whole shebang is going to end. Don't leave us hanging. Pause every now and then to think about those people who have stuck with The Wheel of Time since 1990 and are never going to get exactly the conclusion that your friend Robert Jordan imagined. Surely, Jordan must have left behind enough material that a reasonably satisfactory pastiche of Book 12 will ultimately be produced...but those devoted fans are never going to know for sure what Jordan's Book 12 would have been.

Work hard, George. Your loyal fans want to see "A Dream of Spring by George R.R. Martin" on their shelves - not "...assembled by others from the notes of George R.R. Martin." Please.