Not a Blog

Farewell to a Marvel

November 16, 2018 at 9:49 am
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Unless you have been hiding in a cave somewhere… or down with the Mole Man in the bowels of the Earth… by now you will have read that Stan Lee has died, at the age of 95.

A good age, that.   Stan Lee lived a long life, and leaves a grand and glorious legacy behind him.   He has been part of my world for so long that it seems impossible that he is gone.

Not that I can claim to have been a friend.   I never had that honor.  Oh, yes, I met Stan a dozen times or so, at various San Diego Comic-Cons over the years.   Every time I did, it was like meeting him for the first time; he never remembered our previous meetings, and I don’t think he had any idea who I was.   It made no matter.   He was always genial and generous to me, as he was to all the fanboys who surrounded him at those cons.  And when I was in Stan’s presence, that’s just what I was: a fanboy, slightly tongue-tied and more than a little in awe.

I owe so much to Stan Lee.   He was, in a sense, my first publisher, my first editor.   “Dear Stan and Jack.”  Those were the first words of mine ever to see print.  In the letter column of FANTASTIC FOUR #20, as it happens.   My first published loc, a commentary on FF#17, compared Stan to… ah… Shakespeare.  A little overblown, you say?  Well, okay.  I was thirteen…

And yet, and yet… the comparison, when you think about it, is not entirely without merit.   There were plays before Shakespeare, but the Bard’s work revolutionized the theatre, left it profoundly different from what it had been before.   And Stan Lee did the same for comic books.  I had been reading comics all through my childhood, but by the late 50s I had started to drift away from them.   I was buying fewer and fewer “funny books” (as we called them back then), and more SF and fantasy paperbacks.   The DC comics that dominated the racks had become so formulaic and tired, they were no longer holding my interest as they had when I was younger.   I was “outgrowing” comics.

And then Stan Lee came along, and pulled me back in.   The first issue of FANTASTIC FOUR that I chanced on (#4, it was, the one where the FF met Prince Namor) caught my interest as nothing had for years.  A short while later, along came Spider-Man.   And then the rest, one by one, in an astonishingly short period of time.   The Hulk.  Thor.  Iron Man.   Ant-Man (and the Wonderful Wasp).  The X-Men.  The Avengers.   Wonder Man (who died in the same issue he was introduced).  Black Panther.   The Inhumans.  Galactus and the Silver Surfer.   And the villains… Dr. Doom, Dr. Octopus, the Vulture, the Sandman, Mysterio, Loki… and on and on.   (We will not talk about Paste-Pot Pete.   This is a tribute).

These characters had personalities.    Quirks, flaws, tempers.  The heroes were not all good, the villains were not all bad.  The stories had twists and turns, I could not tell where they were going.  Sometimes good guys fought other good guys.   The characters grew and changed… over at DC, Superman and Lois Lane had been locked into the same relationship for decades, but Peter Parker went through girlfriends like a real teenager, he graduated high school and went to college, people could and did die.

You had to be there to understand how revolutionary all this was.  Comics as we know them today would not exist except for Stan Lee.   They might not exist at all, if truth be told.

No, of course, he did not do it all  alone.   The genius of Marvel’s artists, especially Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, should never be minimized.   They were a huge part of Marvel as well.   But Lee was at the center of it all.

That letter in FF#20 was only the first of many I sent to Stan and Jack, and Stan and Steve, and Stan and… whoever the artist was on the book I was writing to.  A number were published, with my full address attached.   Other comics fans around the country saw the letters, and began sending me fanzines and letters of their own.  My friendship with Howard Waldrop began thanks to those letters… him in Texas, me in Jersey.   And after reading some of those early ditto’d fanzines, I began to write for them as well.  My first published stories.  Heroes of my own creation.  Manta Ray.  Garizan the Mechanical Warrior.  The White Raider (who, like Wonder Man, died in his first story).  And, then, a little later, heroes created for STAR-STUDDED COMICS by my friends from the Texas Trio, Powerman and Dr. Weird.   I could not draw so I wrote “text stories,” superhero stories in prose.   Which people liked.   Which encouraged me to keep writing.   And as I wrote, I did my best to write like Stan Lee.

These days, in interviews, I am often asked which writers influenced me most when I started out.   There were a lot of them.   For SF there were Heinlein and Andre Norton and Eric Frank Russell, for fantasy Robert E. Howard and JRRT and Fritz Leiber, for horror the inimitable H.P Lovecraft.   Later on, when I was older, there was Jack Vance and Ursula K. Le Guin and Roger Zelazny and Samuel R. Delany and Alfred Bester, and later still William Goldman and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

But the greatest influences are the earliest influences, I think, and at the beginning there was only Stan Lee.

Comics have had a lot of great writers in the half century since the Marvel Age began.   Neil Gaiman, Len Wein, Alan Moore, and more and more and more… the list goes on and on.   But if not for Stan Lee and the worlds and characters and style he created, their own careers and accomplishments would have been very different, if not impossible.

Let me close with one last letter of comment.

Dear Stan,

You did good work.   As long as people still read comic books and believe in heroes, your characters will be remembered.  Thanks so much.   Make Mine Marvel.

George R. Martin
35 East First Street
Bayonne, New Jersey

 

 

 

Current Mood: melancholy melancholy

Wild Cards Comes to Hulu

November 15, 2018 at 1:02 pm
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By now most of you… well, those of you who visit other areas of the internet beyond my Not A Blog… will already have heard the news: Wild Cards is coming to Hulu.   And not just with a single show, either.   We are developing two pilots to start with, but the eventual dream is to have three, four, five, six… many… series out there streaming.  As long time fans know, Wild Cards is not just a series story, but rather a world, a whole universe, with a half century of history, hundreds of stories, thousands of characters.

I am late to the party as far as announcing this, I know.  (What can I say?  I’m busy).  So let me link to just a few of the news stories that broke yesterday when Hulu and UCP went public.

https://deadline.com/2018/11/wild-cards-2-tv-series-george-r-r-martin-books-hulu-andrew-martin-1202501424/

 https://variety.com/2018/tv/news/wild-cards-george-rr-martin-hulu-series-1203027787/

  https://io9.gizmodo.com/george-r-r-martins-superhero-franchise-wild-cards-is-c-1830422891

 

Andrew Miller will be scripting the pilot(s) for Hulu, and will serve as showrunner for the series.   A huge fan of comic books and supers in general, and Wild Cards in particular, Andrew has been living and breathing Wild Cards for the past few months, and devouring the books one after another.

Melinda M. Snodgrass, a founding member of the Wild Cards Consortium and my assistant editor on the series since the very beginning, will also be an executive producer and part of the writing staff that is being assembled even now.  Melinda, of course, is no stranger to television, having been a writer/ producer on THE PROFILER, REASONABLE DOUBTS, and (of course) STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, where she wrote the classic episode “Measure of the Man.”   In the Wild Cards universe, she is best known as the creator of Dr. Tachyon, Noel Matthews the Double Helix, Franny Black, and Dr. Finn.

I will be an executive producer on the show(s) as well, though my on-going exclusive deal with HBO and the various book deadlines will preclude me from having any sort of day-to-day involvement.  But with Andrew and Melinda on board (and possibly more Wild Carders as well), Hulu will a great team.

Our dream is to bring you the best “supers” show (not really superheroes per se, Wild Cards fans know that our characters are not much inclined to dress up in spandex to fight crime) in the history of television.

(You have to dream big, or what’s the point?)

These are early days, so there’s still a lot to be done, but watch this space and we’ll keep you informed.   It ought to be a wild ride.

 

FIRE & BLOOD draws nigh

November 14, 2018 at 4:54 pm
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FIRE & BLOOD, the first volume of my history of the Targaryen kings, will be published on November 20.

We will be launching it on November 19 with a big event at Loew’s Jersey in Journal Square, a grand old movie palace at the heart of Jersey City, just north of my old stomping grounds in Bayonne.   Judge John Hodgman will be hosting the event, and we’ll have signed books for all.

Alas, alack, if you’re just hearing this now, you’re too slow.  I’ve just been informed that the event is SOLD OUT.

(You can still get an autographed copy from the bookstore at my cinema, the Jean Cocteau.   The JCC has a newly designed website, by the way.  Check it out at https://jeancocteaucinema.com/  The new design is supposed to make ordering books easier.

We’re still uploading many of the signed book in stock, fwiw — we have a lot, so that will take a while.   But all of my own titles, new and old, are available.  We also have autographed books by NEIL GAIMAN, while the supply lasts.  Neil dropped by to sign a few hundred copies for us a couple of weeks ago, while passing through the Land of Enchantment.   And we have Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER novels as well, which recently finished second in the Great American Read.  This week the JCC hosted author events with LEE CHILD (creator of Jack Reacher) and CIXIN LIU (of THREE BODY PROBLEM).  Their books are not up yet, but will be soon.  Watch for them.. along with titles from John Scalzi, Mary Robinette Kowal, S.M. Stirling, Melinda Snodgrass, and many many many more).

Wild Cards Take Texas

November 6, 2018 at 7:30 am
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The Jokertown Mob is heading for San Antonio, along with Rubberband, Rustbelt, and the Amazing Bubbles.

And yes, they will be in your favorite bookstore TODAY.   It’s publication day for TEXAS HOLD ‘EM.

TEXAS HOLD ‘EM is the final book in the America Triad, and the twenty-seventh volume of the overall series… but no, it’s not necessary to have read the first twenty-six to enjoy this one.   It’s a stand-alone, like MISSISSIPPI ROLL and LOW CHICAGO.   This one is lighter in tone than most Wild Cards books: a bit of a romp, if truth be told, blending Wild Cards action with a touch of screwball comedy.

The lineup this time:

Caroline Spector “Bubbles and the Band Trip”
Max Gladstone “The Secret Life of Rubberband”
William F. Wu “Jade Blossom’s Brew”
Diana Rowland “Beats, Bugs, and Boys”
Walton Simons “Is Nobody Going to San Antone?”
Victor Milan “Dust and the Darkness”
David Anthony Durham “Drop City”

The spectacular cover is by Michael Komarck.

You can get TEXAS HOLD ‘EM from your favorite local bookstore on online retailer.   If you would like to snag an autographed copy, we will have some available from the bookstore at the Jean Cocteau Cinema.   (The JCC also has autographed copies of many of the earlier Wild Cards books available, most of the signed not only by myself but by several contributors as well).

 

 

Current Mood: pleased pleased

Football, Fire, and Other Stuff

November 5, 2018 at 2:47 pm
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Tomorrow is the official publication day for TEXAS HOLD ‘EM, the latest original mosaic novel in the Wild Cards series.   Grab one from your favorite local bookstore or online bookseller.   If you want an autographed copy, those will be available from my Jean Cocteau Cinema bookshop.

FIRE & BLOOD comes out on November 20.   There are two sources for autographed copies of that one: preorder from the JCC, or attend the launch event in Jersey City on November 19, at Loew’s Jersey in Journal Square.   We’ve sold more than a thousand tickets for that event and the rest are going fast, so act soon if you want to come.   The theatre is expecting a sellout.   Please note: personalizations and other inscriptions are not available either from the JCC or from Loew’s, just straight signatures.   No use asking, I just can’t personalize that many books, it would take forever.   Please understand.

That’s the cover of the trade hardcover from Bantam Spectra above, fyi; this is the edition that is being offered at Loew’s and the JCC.

Many other editions will be coming out on November 20 as well, however.   Some cool covers on those as well.

Here’s the cover for the Brazilian edition:

Here’s the British cover for those of you in the UK, from Harper Collins Voyager:

Here’s the German edition:

 

Feuer und Blut – Erstes Buch von George RR Martin

And this one is the Gary Gianni cover, for the Subterranean Press limited edition:

Speaking of the JCC… our November 12 NIGHTFLYERS premiere is now SOLD OUT, sorry.   We still have seats (and books) available for Lee Child on November 11 and Cixin Liu on November 14, however.  Reserve a book (and a place) now if you would like to attend, those two may sell out as well.

On other fronts… the Giants did not lose this week, because they did not play.  A mercy.   The Jets played, and lost.  Badly.   The score was close, but the game was painful to watch.   The defense played hard and looked good, as they have in several other games, but the offense could not move the ball, and our kid quarterback Sam Darnold threw four interceptions.   Darnold threw too many INTs in college, the biggest strike against him leading up to the draft, and he appears to be repeating that pattern in the NFL, which does not bode well for Gang Green’s future.   I don’t care how good a quarterback’s arm may be, if he throws INTs he will kill you.  Nothing hurts worse than a turnover.   Darnold was hailed as the new Joe Namath, but I would have settled for a new Chad Pennington… Chad was deadly accurate, and did not throw INTs.   Sam needs to stop doing that, or the future will be as painful as the past.   Oh, and what the hell is going on with the center?  All those bad snaps… c’mon, coach, isn’t there another center on the bench?  One who can deliver the snaps into Sam’s hands rather than three feet over his head?

As for the G-Men, Eli is getting a lot of blame, but not all of it is deserved.  Look at his numbers.   He is still throwing for a lot of yards, and Odell and Saquon are both playing great.  Our other receivers cannot seem to catch the ball, however, even when Eli delivers it right into their hands.  And the O line, shockingly, impossibly, seems to playing even worse than last year.   No QB can perform well when he is being sacked on every drive.   There are too many stupid pre-snap penalties as well.   The Giants seem to start half their drives at 1st and 15th rather than 1st and 10.  That doesn’t help.

Oh, I should also mention… HBO has informed me that the Jane Goldman pilot is not (yet) titled THE LONG NIGHT.   That’s is certainly the title I prefer, but for the moment the pilot is still officially UNTITLED.  So… mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa.  Elsewise, the pilot is coming along well, with casting falling into place.   I could tell you more, but I am not supposed to.   We also have a couple of other successor shows still in development, but I cannot tell you about those either.   Sorry.   And some exciting things are happening with the Wild Cards television series, but I can’t talk about those.   Nor can I say much about WHO FEARS DEATH, based on Nnedi Okorafor’s wonderful novel.   Hush hush, it’s Hollywood, they like news to come through officially approved channels out there.

That’s all in television.  In feature films, one of my best known short stories is being developed, and another of my best known short stories may soon be under option for a big movie… and my team is doing its best to set up another of my novels with an actor I adore and a director I worship… but those are not yet ready to be talked about either, so all I can do is tease.   Consider yourselves teased.

I CAN plug the Meow Wolf documentary at least.   That will be opening on hundreds of screens nationwide by month’s end, be sure to catch it if it turns up near you.   It tells the whole history of the crazy bunch of wild dreamers who call themselves Meow Wolf, and I turn up in there as well.

I better go.  Lots more to do today.   Believe it or not, I am working hard on a lot of things (yes, including WINDS), even though I am not allowed to talk about most of them.   Eventually, I hope, you’ll all be able to enjoy the fruits of my labors.  I hope…

Current Mood: busy busy

Next Tuesday get out and VOTE!

November 4, 2018 at 7:57 am
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Current Mood: awake awake

Long Night Casting

October 30, 2018 at 4:31 pm
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Casting is now underway for THE LONG NIGHT, the first of the GAME OF THRONES successor series to ordered to film.

HBO has just announced the first cast member: NAOMI WATTS is coming on board as one of our stars.

For more details, check out https://variety.com/2018/tv/news/game-of-thrones-prequel-pilot-naomi-watts-hbo-1202977630/

I could not be more excited.   Welcome to Westeros, Naomi.

Jane Goldman scripted the LONG NIGHT pilot and will be running the show.   She and her team are busy in London right now, neck deep in casting, and I expect some more names will be announced soon.

Meanwhile, there are still a couple of other possible prequels in active development.   I can’t tell you the subject matter of those projects, no, sorry, wish I could.   The readers among you might want to grab a copy of FIRE & BLOOD when it is released on November 20, though.

And speaking of FIRE & BLOOD, tickets are going fast for our big launch at Loew’s Jersey on Journal Square on November 19.   If you’d like to join us, snag one soon and come join me and John Hodgman for an evening of talk about Westeros, in a classic old movie palace.

 

Current Mood: excited excited

NIGHTFLYERS Coming Your Way

October 26, 2018 at 4:24 pm
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NIGHTFLYERS, the new SyFy series based on my 1980 novella of the same name, is heading for your home screens soon.

SyFy has just announced that they will be rolling out the show on DECEMBER 2, on all platforms.   Netflix will follow.

A new trailer has also been unveiled.

I saw the first episode on my recent visit to LA, after the Emmy Awards (for anyone who wasn’t watching — we WON).   Yes, there are significant differences from my novella.   I always knew that would be the case; there was no way the novella, which has a very definite ending, could translate to a multi-season series.   On its own terms, though, the show is very well made; the sets and effects look gorgeous, and there’s a terrific, talented cast, and a story that even I cannot predict.  And of course, as I have said before, it was a thrill for me to finally see Melantha Jhirl portrayed  the way I wrote her.

The show is pretty scary too.  Make no mistake, this is as much horror as it is science fiction.  By design.

Anyway… check it out on Netflix or SyFy and make up your own minds.   (You’ll do that anyway, I know.   My readers are like that).

For all the details of the rollout plan, go to https://finance.yahoo.com/news/nightflyers-syfy-sets-multi-platform-170016282.html — or  your favorite TV news sources on the internet.

(And for those who want to check out my original story, signed copies are available from the bookstore at the Jean Cocteau Cinema).

 

Current Mood: bouncy bouncy

I’m Number 48!

October 25, 2018 at 4:12 pm
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The Great American Read is over, and the final standings were revealed on PBS in the season finale.

A GAME OF THRONES (well, A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE, more precisely) finished 48th.   Pretty cool.   I was in the top 50, anyway, and I edged out the FOUNDATION series and WAR AND PEACE.   Not half bad.   But really, just being on the list at all was amazing.  I mean, being included among in America’s top one hundred favorite novels out of… well, out of all the novels ever written, actually… that’s not too shabby.

Just to be in this company was enormously gratifying.  Though, like everyone else, I could have quibbled over some of the selections.  (I mean, Ayn Rand?  Really?  C’mon.  And while Mark Twain certainly deserved to be on the list, I am baffled as to why they would choose to represent him with TOM SAWYER rather than HUCKLEBERRY FINN.   Charles Dickens is a must, of course, and GREAT EXPECTATIONS is well regarded, but I would have gone with A TALE OF TWO CITIES myself.  And if they had nominated A CHRISTMAS CAROL, beloved as it is, Dickens might have finished in the top five.   I was thrilled to see so much SF and fantasy on the list, but troubled by the omission of some of our genre’s classics.   Where was H.G. Wells?  Surely THE TIME MACHINE or WAR OF THE WORLDS belonged on the ballot.   And Heinlein… if you are going to include SF at all, you have to include RAH, imnsho.  That being said, SF and fantasy came out better than some other genres.   There were a couple mystery novels contending, but no Chandler, no Hammett.   Well, I could go on and on… and you guys will no doubt have opinions as well.   All in all, I think it was a very good list, but by no means a definitive one).

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD won, and led from pillar to post, it was announced.   And my friend Diana Gabaldon finished second with her OUTLANDER series, a truly wonderful accomplishment.  Congratulations to Diana, and kudos to her fans.

LORD OF THE RINGS, which I endorsed in the season premiere, came in fifth.  Yay Tolkien!  Yay fantasy!

Millions of people voted… and more importantly, millions of people READ, and were exposed to books they might elsewise never have encountered.   This was a wonderful idea, and I hope PBS does it again in a few years… maybe with a different hundred books.   There are so so many great books out there, and anything that promotes reading and literature is to be commended.

A tip of the hat to everyone who voted.  Even if you didn’t vote for me.

Comments allowed… but ONLY on the Great American Read, literature, reading, and all that good stuff.

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

NEW Wild Cards story on Tor.com

October 24, 2018 at 11:30 am
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We’re proud to announce a brand new story from the Wild Cards World, written by Max Gladstone entitled “Fitting In” and featuring the antics of Rubberband.

Here’s a link to the full text at Tor.com with art provided by the ever impressive John Picacio

Fitting In

THIS MESSAGE HAS BEEN BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE MINIONS OF FEVRE RIVER

 

 

Current Mood: cheerful cheerful