Unfortunately, 2016 is not done with taking away another beloved celebrity. This time, the passing of Carrie Fisher is hitting genre fans directly being given her genre creds in Star Wars.
Fisher was truly a trailblazer in her role as Princess Leia Organa in the very first Star Wars film 39 years ago in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. These days it may be easy to overlook Leia’s (and Fisher’s) influence not just in the world of science fiction but in popular culture. As the spunky and strong-willed princess from the planet Alderaan, Leia defied the stereotype of a hapless damsel in distress. Although she was held prisoner onboard the Death Star for most of the film, from the start she was someone who could stand up to Darth Vader. In future Star Wars films she more than held her own with her male co-stars and proved beyond a doubt that she was a strong woman while being kind and gentle during special moments. Undoubtedly, Leia as portrayed by Fisher paved the way for other legendary women in science fiction like Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor, and much more.
Of course, Fisher showed different facets of Leia (as well as iconic hairdos and outfits) in other Star Wars films, especially a more romantic (The Empire Strikes Back) and even sexier side (Return of the Jedi). We last saw the former princess as a military leader in Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Fisher will appear for a final time as Leia in the upcoming Star Wars Episode VIII. What will happen to the character for the unfilmed Episode IX is anyone’s guess but most likely she will be written out of the film. Even though Rogue One: A Star Wars Story showed that it is possible to digitally recreate the character using the actress’ likeness it may be seen as poor taste given her recent passing.
Outside of Star Wars, Carrie Fisher struggled with fame and had problems with drugs and having a bipolar disorder. But she channeled the pain from those experiences to write several well received fiction and non-fiction books, the most famous one being Postcards From the Edge. She also appeared in many other films like The Blues Brothers, When Harry Met Sally…, and The ‘Burbs. She also wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation of Postcards From the Edge and contributed to other screenplays like Hook, Last Action Hero and even the Star Wars prequels. Before she died, Fisher was returning from a book tour promoting her latest book, The Princess Diarist, which was a memoir of her time filming the original Star Wars films. As we all know, during her flight home to California, she suffered a cardiac arrest and sadly never recovered. Her passing away hits many home given her relatively young age (60) and her resurgent fame with the renewed interest in Star Wars. Even though Carrie Fisher is no longer with us we can and must still celebrate her contributions to sci-fi and pop culture, which will always be there.
On the whole, the tragic passing away of too many people this year, whether famous or personal, reminds us to cherish them and their contributions to our lives as we continue on our journeys.