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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The loss of two legends

If you haven't heard, Robert Jordan, author of the best-selling fantasy series The Wheel of Time, died Sunday afternoon. This comes on the heels of Madeleine l'Engle's death on September 6, just ten days earlier.

For me, this is a sad, sad thing. The Wheel of Time is one of the best fiction series I've ever read, and currently my favorite. I started reading it about the time The Lord of Chaos was out, around 1995. I remember how quickly I read them all...and how quickly I re-read them. That's no small thing, considering that each book-and there are eleven in the main series-is at least seven hundred pages, and two are over a thousand! I've since read every book at least two times; some I've read as many as five times.

Madeleine l'Engle, however, goes back much further. I'm thirty-four; when I was a kid there wasn't exactly a wealth of science fiction and fantasy literature for us. Basically, it was Madeleine l'Engle or C.S. Lewis's Narnia books. And like many sci fi and fantasy geeks "of a certain age," A Wrinkle in Time was my introduction to the genres. I say "genres" because it blends the two, using science to explain its fantasy elements.

Even today, I love her work. Of course, I can read through them just a bit faster now... But my husband has never read them; can you believe it? He went to school to get a library degree, and he's getting a teaching certificate so he can work in a school library media center...and he's never read A Wrinkle in Time. Simply amazing.

But Robert Jordan and Madeleine l'Engle had something else in common: both were openly observant Christians. Jordan was a "High Church" Episcopalian (his words); coincidentally, l'Engle appears to have been an Episcopalian, too. So while the lose for science fiction and fantasy fans is great, it's even greater for us Christians among them.

It's comforting to know that, regardless of the suffering they experienced at the end of their lives, both are free of pain and sorrow right now, and living a life of joy in heaven. So I grieve for myself and for this world, and most of all for the families they left behind.

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