And before we go… A Quick Chat With GRR Martin (first published in SXFX Issue #1, June 1995)
Acclaimed science fiction writer GRR (George Ray-Rick) Martin was passing by our offices on his way north for the 53rd World Science Fiction Convention in Glasgow. We sent David N. Guy outside to have a quick word.
DNG: Hi, George. First I would just like to say what a huge fan of yours I am…
GRRM: Well, thank you. That’s very kind of you to say.
DNG: …which makes it all the more disappointing to me that with your new novel you have abandoned the world of science fiction for the inferior genre of fantasy.
GRRM: I don’t think —
DNG: It’s made me very sad.
GRRM: You know I’ve written fantasy [The Kings Of Sand, the Beauty and the Beast tv series] before, right? I find it very strange that anyone would not see science fiction and fantasy as both part of the same world of imaginative fiction.
DNG: But fantasy is just terrible. Made up rubbish. There’s a reason this is a science fiction magazine, you know? I just don’t understand the point of it. No one does, surely? I think C. Staples Lewis said it best when he said to [J. Reuel] Tolkien, “What the fuck is this piss, John? Get the hell out of my pub.”
GRRM: I don’t think—
DNG: You keep saying you don’t think. Well, maybe you should think! About what you’re writing. What’s the point of reading something if it’s just made up? You can make anything up. “Oh, look, we were all saved by magic!” How convenient. You could have said that at the start of the book and saved me all this wasted time.
GRRM: And science fiction isn’t made up?
DNG: It is made up but it’s made up according to rules. The rules of science. Look at the TARDIS. It might seem like nonsense, like magic — I mean, a wardrobe that leads to other worlds and other times? “It’s absurd,” you say. “It’s a fantasy!” But it is actually a very interesting scientific idea. We know space is malleable and deformable, so who is to say that time isn’t as well. And that one day we might not be able to control these forces and condense them down into something that resembles a mundane piece of bedroom furniture.
GRRM: So you believe that Doctor Who And The Last Best Religion, say, is an example of something that could really happen. Am I right in saying that you see it as a possible future, rather than an as allegory of belief? That’s very interesting. You know that Aslan is supposed to be —
DNG: A robot! Aslan is a robot. Created by Azros, The King From Beyond The Sea (And Above The Skies), using the brain of his poor son, Aslad, born without a body but with a soul greater than any of our own. And, as you well know, robots and cyborgs are not only scientifically plausible, but some would say scientifically inevitable. Unlike dragons.
GRRM: I’m not sure a dragon is any more implausible than, say, a dinosaur.
DNG: They don’t have a dragon skeleton in the main hall of the Natural History Museum, do they? They’ve got a Brontosaurus! And some sort of giant sloth.
GRRM: But dragons —
DNG: I hate dragons! Hate them. And if you like dinosaurs so much, why not make the dragons [in your book] pterodactyls instead?
GRRM: So if you imagine that every time I’ve written the word ‘dragon’ I’ve really written ‘pterodactyl’ instead, would that make you happy?
DNG: It’d certainly be better. You’d still have to explain why there’s all these pterodactyls flying around, though. Perhaps there has been a deformation of time somewhere…
GRRM: Or maybe they’re all on a distant planet.
DNG: Yes. YES! I like the sound of that. A distant planet which is being used as some sort of space zoo by a mysterious race of ancient interstellar beings to preserve all the extinct animals throughout earth history. And humans are there because we’ve destroyed our home planet through our hubris and incompetence. Yes, that sounds wonderful. Very interesting and very plausible.
GRRM: Okay. But what about all the zombies?
DNG: There’s nothing wrong with zombies, is there? They’re definitely plausible. And therefore definitely science fiction. Everybody loves zombies, surely?
GRR Martin’s The Dragon Who Just Wanted To Sleep will be released next year.
1. Written January and February, 2016
2. And first published in SXFX Magazine