The wheel of time keeps on going

Farewell to Robert Jordan , who died Sunday from the rare blood disease amyloidosis. The local writer — real name James Rigney — sold millions and millions of books with his Wheel of Time fantasy series. He was only 58 years old.

Jordan was an important, if quiet, part of Charleston’s literary scene, instantly recognizable with his beard, hat, and glasses. But he also valued his privacy, especially since being diagnosed with the progressive blood disorder in late 2005.

The bestselling author sparked the imaginations of readers worldwide with books like The Eye of the World, The Dragon Reborn, and original stories featuring Conan the Barbarian. An indication of his amazing popularity: fans offered their bone marrow to help him fight his disease. His ideas will live on through those fans in cyberspace, where countless sites propagate the mythos he created. He is survived by his wife Harriet Rigney. —Nick Smith

Fernando Rivas Ascending

Charleston resident Fernando Rivas once said that as a writer, he could turn his hand to any subject. He’s proved that in recent years, working as a City Paper music critic, a poet, a fiction writer, and a playwright. The latter skill has led to a special projects grant from the Princess Grace Foundation. The grant should cover the costs of a workshop production of The Soul Ascending at La Mama theatre in New York, with input from director George Ferencz .

The Cuban-born Rivas is also an accomplished, Emmy award-winning musician. He’s written pop songs for radio, theme music for television stations, music for films, kids’ television shows, and theatre. Not content with writing the book, he’ll also be including original music in his show, which he describes as “quite a stretch away from my cartoon composing.”

The Soul Ascending is about as far from Rivas’ days as a Sesame Street composer as it could possibly get. It tells the story of six passengers on a doomed airliner, combining music, dance, and theatre in unique ways, says Rivas, pointing out that although he wrote the book and music for it, “it is not a book musical by any stretch of the imagination!” Rivas should know. Stretching the imagination is what he’s best at. —Nick Smith

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