One of the conversational points that regularly comes up during our Collection Development committee meetings when discussing weeding is the notion of “having a complete run” being meaningful.
I’m a native of our current dispersed and distributed information environment. I couldn’t care less about having a complete run for its own sake. Comprehensive access? I’m all for it. Volumes 1-216 on the shelf? Eh. Depends on the title. Some of my colleagues, here and elsewhere, disagree, as they should, if they believe in a different set of guiding principles about libraries than I do.
But today, as I’m prepping the agenda for our next meeting while also checking news feeds, I saw that Robert Jordan has died. He lost his battle with amyloidosis — he was fighting some long odds, and, sadly, he didn’t win.
Death is always a tragedy, and a loss, but right now there’s an entire marginalized segment of our society screaming in grief and horror (so much so that the official Jordan blog is crashed due to server traffic). Fantasy readers are all a-buzz over Jordan’s death — not because they knew James Rigney, the man behind the pseudonym, personally, or because the genre will never be the same without him, but because… he didn’t finish writing the series.
What’s it mean to Wheel of Time fans that the “complete run” can never be had?
From the perspective of the library absolutists who say that the complete run matters, what’s it mean if the run was never completed? Do the preceding 11 books not matter, since 12 was never written? Is the run complete even if it contains no conclusion, resolution, or ending?
I know. Geeky musings. Barely relevant. But as a librarian who thinks about collecting every moment of the day, and a fantasy geek who was really intensely in love with the Wheel of Time (right up to about book 6, where it all started going downhill for me…), these things are relevant to me.
And James Rigney, aka Robert Jordan, will be missed. He was a giant in his field, who redefined fantasy for many readers of my generation. Thank you, sir, and may you rest in peace.