George Raymond Richard Martin (born George Raymond Martin, September 20, 1948) aka "Evil Santa", "Fiction's Most Notorious Serial Killer", or "The Great Bearded Glacier" is an American author and screenwriter. He is most famous for his Fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and owns and runs the Jean Cocteau Cinema.
His short story With Morning Comes Mistfall was nominated for a Nebula Award in 1973. He also wrote numerous Science Fiction short stories known collectively as "The Thousand Worlds." He has also written political fiction and Horror.
In the 1980s, he wrote screenplays for television series, including The Twilight Zone (1985) and Beauty and the Beast (1987). He often ran into trouble due to failure to consider the reality of how his scripts could actually be filmed within budget, which eventually led him back to books. He is also an editor on the Wild Cards cycle. His short story Nightfliers was adapted into a feature film.
In 1996, he published A Game of Thrones, the first installment in the Door Stopper Fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire. The series has been acclaimed by critics, readers, and fellow authors alike. He is currently working on The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in the series. The rights to a live-action TV series were acquired by HBO, and the smash hit Game of Thrones was born, with a total of eight seasons airing from 2011 to 2019. Martin himself is credited as the co-executive producer for the series and has been quoted as saying going on set was like walking into a dream and has said in an interview that "my God, they got it right". A prequel series, House of the Dragon, has been ordered since, based on Fire & Blood.
Martin is well-known for his cordial relationships with his fans. Some say it detracts from his working pace. He keeps a regular Blog, titled Not A Blognote , where he keeps readers up to date on his projects, life, and favorite football teams; he also frequently comments on politics, both the internal politics of the speculative fiction world (see: his extensive commentary on the "Sad Puppies") and general American politics (he is a proud liberal Democrat). He also is a frequent guest at conventions, where he will happily hand out Shrugs Of God and occasionally invite some fans to private dinners. However, he is firmly opposed to Fan Fiction of his works, as he feels it weakens his copyrights and is bad practice for aspiring writers. Fan Art, however, is acceptable.
There is a great deal of controversy over his writing schedule (or lack thereof), particularly the long gap between A Feast for Crows and A Dance with Dragons, leading to a Broken Base of those that felt he should finish the damn books already and those that felt the quality is well worth the wait. Neil Gaiman himself has chimed in on the issue, summing it up as "George R.R. Martin is not your bitch." Whether or not the completion of Winter will heal the breach in the base probably depends on the quality of the book and how long the next one takes. Some other fans worry about it possibly becoming an Orphaned Series, as Martin has said in the past that in the event he dies before finishing the story, he has left instructions that all his notes and any unpublished manuscripts be destroyed.
A word of warning: don't tell him to write faster and for God's sake don't sing a song about it!
Also not to be confused with Beatles producer Sir George Martin (his death in 2016 provoked many a brief panic from fans skimming the news headlines, you can be sure).
- Thousand Worlds universe.
- A Song for Lya (1974)
- Dying of the Light (1977)
- The Way of Cross and Dragon
- Nightflyers (1980), adapted into a feature film in 1987 and a TV series in 2018.
- Sandkings (1981), adapted into the two-part pilot episode of The Outer Limits (1995).
- Tuf Voyaging (1986) A collection of short stories about Havilland Tuf, who's gained control of an Environmental Engineering Cool Starship.
- Night of the Vampyres (1975)
- The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr (1976) (Roger Zelazny described this as "one of the few stories by someone else which I wish I'd written.")
- Meathouse Man (1976)
- Windhaven (1981, with Lisa Tuttle)
- The Ice Dragon (1980)
- Fevre Dream (1982)
- The Armageddon Rag (1983)
- The Skin Trade (1989) - Optioned for film by Mike the Pike Productions.
- A Song of Ice and Fire series:
- A Game of Thrones (1996)
- A Clash of Kings (1998)
- A Storm of Swords (2000)
- A Feast for Crows (2005)
- A Dance with Dragons (2011)
- The Winds of Winter (forthcoming)
- A Dream of Spring (forthcoming)
- Tales of Dunk and Egg series - set in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire
- The Hedge Knight (1998)
- The Sworn Sword (2003)
- The Mystery Knight (2010)
- Shadow Twin (2004, with Gardner Dozois and Daniel Abraham)
- Hunter's Run (2007, expanded version of the novella "Shadow Twin," with Gardner Dozois and Daniel Abraham)
- Songs of the Dying Earth (2009, editor, with many others)
- The Twilight Zone (1985)
- The Last Defender of Camelot (1986) - writer (teleplay)
- The Once and Future King (1986) - writer (teleplay), story editor
- A Saucer of Loneliness (1986) - story editor
- Lost and Found (1986) - writer (teleplay)
- The World Next Door (1986) - story editor
- The Toys of Caliban (1986) - writer (teleplay)
- The Road Less Traveled (1986) - writer (story and teleplay), story editor
- Beauty and the Beast (1987)
- Terrible Saviour (1987) - writer
- Masques (1987) - writer
- Shades of Grey (1988) - writer
- Promises of Someday (1988) - writer
- Fever (1988) - writer
- Ozymandias (1988) - writer
- Dead of Winter (1988) - writer
- Brothers (1989) - writer
- When the Blue Bird Sings (1989) - writer (teleplay)
- A Kingdom by the Sea (1989) - writer
- What Rough Beast (1989) - writer (story)
- Ceremony of Innocence (1989) - writer
- Snow (1989) - writer
- Beggar's Comet (1990) - writer
- Invictus (1990) - writer
- Game of Thrones
- Pilot - writer (story), producer, creator
- The Pointy End (2011) - writer
- Blackwater (2012) - writer
- The Bear and the Maiden Fair (2013) - writer
- The Lion and the Rose (2014) - writer
Works by Martin with their own pages include:
- Dying of the Light
- Fevre Dream
- The Armageddon Rag
- The Ice Dragon
- A Song of Ice and Fire series
- Tales of Dunk and Egg series
- Tuf Voyaging
Other works by Martin contain examples of:
- Ant War: "Sandkings" is about a species of warring, antlike creatures sold as pets. It doesn't end well.
- Anyone Can Die: Has become infamous for this. Honest Trailers affectionately describes him as "fiction's most notorious serial killer." He states this is because he wants the reader to never be able to know what happens next through established Sorting Algorithm of Mortality conventions or tropes like The Good Guys Always Win.Q: Why doesn't George RR Martin have a Twitter account?
A: He'd kill all his allowed characters within a month.
- Author Usurpation: Whenever Martin's work is mentioned, the discussion is usually about A Song of Ice and Fire and nothing else.
- Bio-Augmentation: This is the Hat of the planet Prometheus in the "Thousand Worlds" short stories. Through genetic engineering, the Prometheans are bigger, stronger, faster, and mentally they are always "three steps ahead", to quote a Promethean character from "Nightflyers". It's theorized that they live longer than non-augmented humans as well.
- Black-and-Gray Morality: While there are no clear-cut heroes and villains can be understandable, when a character is unquestionably bad, he will be as vile as possible (usually enjoying rape, murder - and if it's a Cruel and Unusual Death, even better! - and torture). Characters like Ramsay Bolton, Gregor Clegane and Joffrey Baratheon are noted as some of the most utterly evil and despicable characters in modern fiction. The exception is Windhaven, which runs on White-and-Grey Morality.
- Bubble Boy: Royd Eris, the captain of the ship in "Nightflyers", is this trope in space. He was born on his ship and has never set foot outside it, and when he takes on passengers (which is rare), the section of the ship that they are allowed into is totally cut off from his own section.
- Dark Fantasy: His stories deal with huge amounts of moral ambiguity, honorable heroes suffering and/or dying when outmanoeuvred by ruthless villains and playing for drama a great many established fantasy tropes along the way.
- Dead Man's Hand: Referenced in The Armageddon Rag, which focuses on the fictional 1960s rock band Nazgûl. One of its songs, "Prelude to Madness", contains the chorus:Queens beat aces every time, yeah!
Dead man's hand, dead man's hand!
And Charlie is the joker in the deck!
- Description Porn: A firm believer in the power of description, Martin once explained why he chooses to go into full descriptions of whatever a character is experiencing at any given time, be it Food Porn, Torture Porn, Scenery Porn, or actual porn, is because he wants to immerse the reader in the experience.Martin: "It's a vicarious experience, which has always been my goal as a writer. If I'm gonna describe a feast, I don't want to just say 'Yes, and then they feasted.' I want you to smell the food, to taste the food, whether it's delicious food, or bad food, or whatever, I want you to smell the particular things. If it's a joust, I want you to be caught up in who's gonna win the joust. If it's a sex scene, I want you to get hot and bothered. I want you not just to read my work but to live my work."
- Downer Ending: Hardly any of his works end in any other way.
- Fanwork Ban: Averted. While Martin doesn't outright ban fanworks of his series altogether, he has been very vocal about his dislike for them outside of fan art and discourages other authors from allowing its practice. His reasoning being that it causes copyright concerns and his belief that it's harmful to aspiring writers due to them using pre-existing characters as a crutch rather than creating their own, which is integral to the writing process.
- Faster-Than-Light Travel: The "Thousand Worlds" Science Fiction setting has mankind spreading across a swathe of the Milky Way in faster-than-light starships, but communications between planets in different star systems can only be accomplished by plain old snail mail. "Nightflyers" mentions an information packet that was in transit from a distant world to the protagonists' planet for twenty years.
- Fed to the Beast: In "Sandkings", the main character gets into the habit of feeding people to his new pets, the eponymous insect-like alien monsters.
- Freudian Trio: The three surviving members of the Nazgul in The Armageddon Rag; the sleazy drug-addicted paedophile Rick Maggio is the Id, the intellectual, morally-atuned and slightly pompus Peter Faxon is the Superego, and Gopher John is the Ego.
- Grey-and-Gray Morality: George has made a point of presenting morally ambiguous characters in a setting where clear cut notions of right and wrong are hard to come by. The murkiness of war, politics and the negative impact it has on those outside of the social elite is a central theme in many of his works.I like grey characters; fantasy for too long has been focused on very stereotypical heroes and villains.
- Heavy Mithril: The plot of The Armageddon Rag revolves around a broken up band named Nazgûl, whose music is in this genre.
- Humans Are Cthulhu: "Sandkings" features tiny aliens sold as pets, who worship their human owner until he mistreats them.
- I Love the Dead: "Meathouse Man" is centered around the eponymous Meathouse, a brothel where the prostitutes are brain-dead bodies, fitted with implants so that they move and react according to the desires of their customers.
- Infernal Paradise: "A Song for Lya" presents an alien world where the locals, the shkeen, live in medieval squalor, with no advancement of any sort for thousands of years. They also host disgusting parasites called "greeshka" which shorten their lives and retard their intellects. However, when "Joined" beings die, their minds are preserved in a psychic union which is so pleasant that just the telepathic spill-over to the living Joined is enough to make them indifferent to achievement and personal hygiene; they join this "Union" by going into a network of caves outside their sacred city, finding a giant greeshka, lying down on it and waiting for it to consume them. The bad part is presented as being the shkeen belief that anyone who does not die in the Union is utterly alone.
- The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday: "Wo and Shade, Importers" in "Sandkings". It has a number of curious goods inside, but the story's protagonist (a rich jerkass who loves dangerous pets) is only interested in the eponymous Sandkings, tiny insect-like creatures that form armies and war with each other, creating castles adorned with sculptures of their owner's face as if in worship. The story mentions that Wo and Shade have shops on multiple planets, and Martin intended to use them again in other stories, but, well, didn't.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: He's talked about how one of the earliest writing tips he got was to give each character's name a different first letter, to make them easier to remember. He responded, "But I'm planning to have more than 26 characters!"
- Madness Mantra: "The Skin Trade" has a minor example, after P.I. Randi insists (despite strong recommendations against it) on examining the body of a murder suspect who died similarly to her own father. For the rest of the day, the only thing she can say is repetitions of "It was Roy Helander, and he was wearing Joanie's skin."
- Mindlink Mates: "A Song for Lya" dealt heavily with this idea. It didn't end well.
- Only Known by Initials: Full name is George Raymond Richard Martin.
- Pen Name: Averted. His middle initials really are "R. R." The fact that another famous fantasy writer had the same middle initials is just a coincidence. (They aren't even the same middle names, in fact. Tolkien's full name was "John Ronald Reuel Tolkien," whereas shown above Martin's full name is "George Raymond Richard Martin.")
- Psychological Horror:
- "A Song for Lya".
- "Meathouse Man".
- "The Second Kind of Loneliness".
- Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: When words of Sir George Martin, of Beatles fame, has passed away, people are mistaking the two and Georgy had to dispel in his LiveJournal account.
- Sapient Ship: In "Nightflyers", a sci-fi horror story, several crewmembers die suspicious deaths when they start investigating the nature of their unseen captain. Turns out the captain is real, but his misanthropic dead mother is psychically imprinted into the spaceship's system. In the end the captain is killed trying to protect his crew, but in dying manages to imprint himself into the ship as well, and the Final Girl chooses to stay on board to help him fight his mother's constant attempts to wrest back control.
- Sophisticated as Hell: A number of his characters are like this, and Martin himself is not above it. The best example of this is in the acknowledgements of A Song of Ice and Fire. The first three books open with elaborate metaphors about how writing is not a one man job. In the fourth book, he wastes no effort trying to beat around the bush and simply says,This one was a bitch.
- The Swarm: "Sandkings". Simon Kress, a rich and vain jerkass whose hobby is collecting dangerous pets, stops into The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday, and purchases four groups of the titular insectoids. The shopkeeper tells him that they will literally worship him by carving his likeness into their sandcastles, and the four "armies" will make war upon each other, for Simon's amusement. The shopkeeper also warns him to be patient, to give them time to grow and mature, and to treat them well. He isn't, and he doesn't.
- Time-Traveling Jerkass: The short story "Unsound Variations" revolves around one man inviting some former college buddies of his to dinner and using the opportunity to gloat that he invented a machine that allowed Mental Time Travel to his younger self, which he then used to sabotage their lives in revenge for a bunch of petty slights. This ends up backfiring on him big time because, when he described the destinies that he prevented them from having, instead of finally shattering whatever little hope they still held, it reignited now that they knew what they could have achieved if some petty little idiot hadn't become obsessed with revenge over stupid things like getting lesser grades than them. The Big Bad ends up accidentally killing himself by using his machine one time too many to go back and get revenge for being mocked.
- Twin Threesome Fantasy: Rockstar Rick Maggio gets to live this fantasy in The Armageddon Rag. Then it turns out the twins were underage, and he finds himself being blackmailed with photos of the event.
- Villain Protagonist:
[referring to The Sopranos] "HBO has proven that we will follow for years and years some pretty reprehensible characters as long as they're fascinating."
- On several occasions he has found himself discussing the reasons why a villain can be the main character and yet enjoyable to watch despite clearly being evil—mainly in opposition to Executive Meddling he experienced in the movie business that the main characters need to be "more heroic" out of (in hindsight unsubstantiated) fears that the audience will otherwise tune out. Martin himself has crafted some rather memorable villains in central roles who, despite being "the bad guys", retain a loyal fan base due to being interesting characters.
[On his opinion of The Lord of the Rings] "[...]A villain is a hero of the other side, [...]I think some of that is definitely what Im aiming at[...]"