Martin, George R R

Tagged: Author | Editor

(1948-    ) US editor and writer whose career can be divided into four overlapping parts, in more or less chronological order: as a writer of sf; as a writer and producer for television; as an editor of original Anthologies; and as a dominant creator of dynasty fantasy. He began to publish work of genre interest with "The Hero" for Galaxy in February 1971, and his success was thereafter rapid. "A Song for Lya" (June 1974 Analog), a novella about a human convert to an alien Religion whose Eschatology is based in Biology, won the first of his four Hugos to date; three others followed for "Sandkings" (August 1979 Omni), which also won a Nebula, "The Way of Cross and Dragon" (June 1979 Omni) and "Blood of the Dragon" (July 1996 Asimov's). He won a second Nebula in 1986 for "Portraits of his Children" (November 1985 Asimov's), and a Bram Stoker Award for The Pear-Shaped Man (October 1987 Omni; 1991 chap). Other notable early stories include a short series about an unusual form of interstellar Transportation begun with "The Second Kind of Loneliness" (December 1972 Analog), and another begun with "Override" (September 1973 Analog), about the commercial exploitation of Zombies. Perhaps because of his training as a journalist and his employment in the mid-1970s as a teacher of journalism, Martin in his period as sf author seemed most comfortable with stories which are fast-paced and economical. "Nightflyers" (April 1980 Analog), a Horror in SF story set aboard a spaceship and involving a Computer impressed with human Psi Powers, is another outstanding novella, very unevenly filmed as Nightflyers (1987).

His first solo (and most significant sf) novel, Dying of the Light (April-July 1977 Analog as "After the Festival"; 1977), is a vivid Planetary Romance set on a drifting planet which, while passing close by a sun, has been the site of a huge festival; some short stories are set in the same universe. Windhaven (May 1975 Analog as "The Storms of Windhaven"; exp 1981) with Lisa Tuttle, also a Planetary Romance, is set on a lost colony planet that has reverted to feudalism. Fevre Dream (1982) is a tale of Vampires and Mississippi steamboats whose realistic treatment owes as much to sf as to supernatural fiction. The Armageddon Rag (1983) is a thriller in which the kind of outcome imagined in Norman Spinrad's "The Big Flash" (in Orbit 5, anth 1969, ed Damon Knight) – an apocalypse triggered by ritual murder – is aborted in the nick of time. His most substantial sf project is the series collected in Tuf Voyaging (coll of linked stories 1986), about the problem-solving exploits of an ecological engineer whose "seedship" – a vast Starship containing a multi-species cell library plus extensive Cloning and Genetic Engineering facilities – is a relic of the bygone Galactic Empire.

In the late 1980s Martin moved into television, first writing for the new The Twilight Zone series (1985-1987) and then becoming heavily involved with the development of Beauty and the Beast. In parallel with these enterprises he launched Wild Cards, a set of Braided tales placed in an Alternate History – though the premise of the Wild Cards sequence is rather more sophisticated than most such in Comics – starring Superheroes; the possibility of trademark infringement forced the substitution of the term "Ace" for "Superhero". This Shared-World anthology series (Martin prefers the label "mosaic novels", on the grounds that individual volumes are more coherently organized than in most such anthologies) currently (2010) extends to at least eighteen volumes, beginning with Wild Cards: A Mosaic Novel (anth 1986; vt Wildcards 1987). Martin earlier edited the notable New Voices series of Anthologies of novellas by the nominees for the John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer (of which he was himself one), beginning New Voices in Science Fiction (anth 1977; vt New Voices I: The Campbell Award Nominees 1978), New Voices II (anth 1979), New Voices III (anth 1980), New Voices 4 (anth 1981) and The John W. Campbell Awards Volume 5 (anth 1984).

His most ambitious project may be his most recent, the intense and extensive Song of Ice and Fire sequence of Fantasy novels set in a taxing Secondary World [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below], and comprising to date A Game of Thrones (1996), A Clash of Kings (1998), A Storm of Swords (2000), A Feast for Crows: Book Four of A Song of Ice and Fire (2005) and A Dance with Dragons (2011) [for further details see Checklist below]. Though the sequence is essentially fantasy-based, Martin has set his harrowing dynasty drama on a planet more specifically described than in most fantasy epics; the ten-year winter which afflicts the huge cast inexplicitly (but unmistakably) evokes a solar system understandable in terms of Physics (> Great Year). Song of Ice and Fire, originally designed to occupy four sizeable volumes, has expanded enormously, without any slackening of tension or pace.

Martin is a vigorous storyteller with a flair for vivid imagery. All of his collections – A Song for Lya and Other Stories (coll 1976), Songs of Stars and Shadows (coll 1977), Sandkings (coll 1981), Songs the Dead Men Sing (coll 1983; cut 1985), Nightflyers (coll 1985), Portraits of his Children (coll 1987) and Quartet: Four Tales from the Crossroads (coll 2001) – contain striking work. His own output declined for some time, during his years of concentrated editorial work, but new stories continue to appear. Everything he writes conveys a sense – not entirely common – of great energy fully under control. He is a 2012 recipient of the World Fantasy Award for life achievement. [BS/JC]

see also: Aliens; Asimov's Science Fiction; Astounding Science-Fiction; Black Holes; Crime and Punishment; Dinosaurs; Fermi Paradox; Gothic SF; Heroes; Hyperspace; Music; Omni; Seiun Award; Skylark Award; Superman; Television; Yinhe Award.

George Raymond Richard Martin

born Bayonne, New Jersey: 20 September 1948

died

works

series

Song of Ice and Fire

individual titles

  • Dying of the Light (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1977) [hb/Haruo Miyauchi]
  • Windhaven (New York: Timescape Books, 1981) with Lisa Tuttle [hb/Vincent Di Fate]
  • Fevre Dream (New York: Poseidon Press, 1982) [hb/Barron Storey]
  • The Armageddon Rag (New York: Nemo Press, 1983) [hb/uncredited]
  • Tuf Voyaging (Riverside, New York: Baen Books, 1986) [coll of linked stories: hb/David Willson]
  • Shadow Twin (Burton, Michigan: Subterranean Press, 2005) with Daniel Abraham and Gardner Dozois [chap: date of prior ebook release not known: hb/Michael Kormack]
    • Hunter's Run (London: HarperCollins, 2007) with Daniel Abraham and Gardner Dozois [rev vt, much exp, of the above: hb/photographic: Tony Sweet/Getty Images]

collections and stories

works as editor

series

New Voices

Wild Cards (not all title variations have necessarily been recorded)

individual titles

about the author

links

Previous versions of this entry

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