Two events stand out in my life from 1977—I read the third (and what I thought of as final) book in the Dune series, Children of Dune, and I saw Star Wars at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood on a Thursday afternoon with two friends. Both moments contributed to what eventually became my Lisen of Solsta series. The first because upon finishing it, I threw the book across the room and declared, “If Frank Herbert won’t write the book I want to read, then I will.” (Upon re-reading the book, I discovered it was actually pretty good when I didn’t make my personal expectations impediments to my enjoyment.)
As for Star Wars, what can I say? The ads and teasers left me thinking swashbuckler in space. Swords and young people swinging across chasms? I was on board before I ever saw it. Months later when I set out to write “my” story (you know, the one Frank Herbert didn’t write), I chose a female hero because I thought it was time for as many Princess Leias as there were Luke Skywalkers.
Carrie Fisher died today, and I’m one of thousands, if not millions, recording their feelings for posterity about this woman who stood proud and never attempted to hide her reality. And her reality was often brutal. Standing as an icon to geek-dom while still in her early twenties, struggling with addiction and then facing the diagnosis of bipolar disorder—she could have played her little violin, and all her fans would have fallen in line to pity her. But Carrie Fisher wasn’t a violinist, and she declined people’s pity. Instead she wrote. And what she wrote!
She wrote biographical novels about her relationship with her famous mother. She wrote memoirs about life in a brighter-than-light spotlight. She wrote one-woman plays detailing her battles with the iconic life of a princess, drugs and mental disease. Rather than run away from these things, she celebrated them with humor and fearless reflection.
I suffered a few losses of my own this year (previously documented), but when I learned of Carrie’s passing, although not unexpected, I cried and realized her loss leaves me as empty as those other losses do. May the Goddess bless her on this new leg of her journey, but damn it, I had so wished to read her take on flat-lining on a plane.