Not a Blog

The Adaptation Tango

May 24, 2024 at 9:05 am
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A few years back, Neil Gaiman and I did a joint event in New York City, when we were both in town.

It was a lot of fun, as events with Neil always are.   We told some funny stories, talked about books and comics, about SANDMAN and WILD CARDS and days at cons… and touched on some serious topics too.

I would like to upload  a video of the event if I could, but I am not sure one exists.   If anyone was recording us, I have never seen the tape.   But VARIETY had the best report of the session.

That was all back in 2022, but very little has changed since then.   If anything, things have gotten worse.   Everywhere you look, there are more screenwriters and producers eager to take great stories and “make them their own.”   It does not seem to matter whether the source material was written by Stan Lee, Charles Dickens, Ian Fleming, Roald Dahl, Ursula K. Le Guin, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mark Twain, Raymond Chandler, Jane Austen, or… well, anyone.   No matter how major a writer it is, no matter how great the book, there always seems to be someone on hand who thinks he can do better, eager to take the story and “improve” on it.   “The book is the book, the film is the film,” they will tell you, as if they were saying something profound.   Then they make the story their own.

They never make it better, though.   Nine hundred ninety-nine times out of a thousand, they make it worse.

Once in a while, though, we do get a really good adaptation of a really good book, and when that happens , it deserves applause.

I can came across one of those instances recently, when I binged the new FX version of SHOGUN.

Must confess, I was dubious when I first heard they were making another version of the Clavell novel.   It has been a long time, a long long LONG time, but I read the book when it first came out in the late 70s and was mightily impressed.   (I really need to give it a reread one of these days, but there are so many books, so little time).   And the 1980 miniseries starring Richard Chamberlain as the Anjin was a landmark of long form television, right up with with ROOTS; why do it over again, when that version was so good?

I am glad they did, though.   The new SHOGUN is superb.   Better than Chamberlain’s version, you ask?   Hmmm, I don’t know.   I have not watched the 1980 miniseries since, well, 1980.   That one was great too.   The fascinating thing is that while the old and new versions have some significant differences — the subtitles that make the Japanese dialogue intelligible to English speaking viewers being the biggest — they are both faithful to the Clavell novel in their own way.   I think the author would have been pleased.   Both old and new screenwriters did honor to the source material, and gave us terrific adaptations, resisting the impulse to “make it their own.”

But don’t take my word for it.   Watch it yourself.

Acting, directing, set design, costume… it’s all splendid here.  Along with the writing.

And if SHOGUN is a big enough hit, maybe the same team will adapt some of Clavell’s other novels.

Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

Here’s Egg!

May 21, 2024 at 3:27 pm
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Things are moving along nicely with our Dunk & Egg spinoff, HBO’s adaptation of my novella THE HEDGE KNIGHT.

Most of the auditions — not all, but most — are done, and we should be able to announce some more cast members shortly.   We have our Tanselle, Steely Pate, Baelor Breakspear, the Laughing Storm, a couple of Fossoways, Aerion Brightflame (boo, hiss), Prince Maekar, and the rest.   Lists are being built on Ashford Meadow.     I am told they just had the first table read, and that it went great.

And our youngest star can’t wait to start.   Here’s Dexter, turning to Egg.

Dexter Sol Ansell (Egg) getting his head shaved ahead of Dunk and Egg filming!
byu/shad0wqueenxx inHouseOfTheDragon


I love it.

THE HEDGE KNIGHT will be a lot shorter than GAME OF THRONES or HOUSE OF THE DRAGON, with a much different tone… but it’s still Westeros, so no one is truly safe  Ira Parker and his team are doing a great job.  I hope to visit the shoot come July, when I swing by Belfast on my way to the worldcon in Glasgow.    The show will make its debut next year… and if it does well, THE SWORN SWORD and THE MYSTERY KNIGHT will follow.  By which time I hope to have finished some more Dunk & Egg stories (yes, after I finish THE WINDS OF WINTER).

Oh, and we have our director as well:  Owen Harris, a terrific British director whose credits include helming “San Junipero,” my all time favorite episode of BLACK MIRROR.   Owen will direct three of our six episodes.

Current Mood: excited excited

Here Comes MERAXES

May 1, 2024 at 9:27 am
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Well, this is cool.

It would appear that I have my own dinosaur.

Say hello to MERAXES.

He has a big head and little bitty arms, like Tyrannosaurus Rex, to whom he is not related.

He cannot fly or breathe fire, alas.   (Though maybe that’s for the best).

He hails from Argentina.

Queen Rhaenys would have been very pleased.

I know I am.

Current Mood: geeky geeky

Howard Times Two

April 25, 2024 at 8:12 am
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If you missed seeing our adaptation of Howard Waldrop’s classic short NIGHT OF THE COOTERS when it was out on the film festival circuit, I’m pleased to say that you have another chance.   This year’s Balticon will be featuring a program of short films, and COOTERS will be one of the movies they are showing.

Balticon will be held over Memorial Day weekend (May 27-31),  in Baltimore, Maryland.










Meantime, our second Waldrop short, Steven Paul Judd’s adaptation of MARY-MARGARET ROAD-GRADER, has just been accepted for the deadCenter Film Festival in Oklahoma City.

MARY-MARGARET is on submission to half a dozen other film festivals, around the country and the world.   Watch this space for details as to when and where it will be showing.

THE UGLY CHICKENS is coming soon as well, and after that, FRIENDS FOREVER.   Dates and details to come.

Howard Waldrop was one of the great ones.   We’ve tried to do justice to his genius with these short films… but no one can match H’ard itself.   Come see the shorts, if you have a chance.   And read the stories.


Current Mood: accomplished accomplished

Women of the Press

April 22, 2024 at 4:34 pm
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Last month I zipped down to the Isleta Resort south of Albuquerque for an afternoon, to deliver the keynote speech for the 75th anniversary luncheon of the New Mexico Press Women, and to receive their Courageous Communicator Award.

That was a singular honor, and one that really set me to thinking.   Our world needs courageous communicators more than ever in these dark divided days, when so many people would rather silence those they disagree with than engage them in debate and discussion.    I deplore that… but had I really done enough, myself, to be recognized for courageous speech?

I am not sure I have, truth be told.  Yes, I’ve spoken up from time to time, on issues both large and small… but not always.  It is always easier to remain silent, to stay on the sidelines and let the storms wash over you.   The more I pondered, the more convinced I became that I need to do more.   That we all need to do more.

I started by delivering a 45 minute keynote address, on the subject of free speech and censorship.   Which, I am happy to say, was very well received (I was not entirely sure it would be).

After the luncheon plates had been cleared away and the speeches delivered, retiring NMPW president Sherri Burr handed out the awards, including the Courageous Communicator.

The text on the trophy reads, “New Mexico Press Women On the Occasion of its 75th Anniversary Bestows its COURAGEOUS COMMUNICATOR AWARD on March 15-16, 2024 to George R.R. Martin for building new worlds and creating strong, yet nuanced, women characters in his books and television shows.”

My thanks to Sherri, and to all the members of the NMWP.

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

Farewell to Melanie

April 17, 2024 at 7:08 am
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I was saddened to read that Melanie, the singer/ songwriter whose career took off after a memorable performance at Woodstock, died on January 23, at the age of 76.   Her real name was Melanie Safka.

I was not at Woodstock, alas (though Parris was), but I started hearing Melanie on the radio soon thereafter.   Never met her, never attended a concert, but I always loved her music.   She had a lovely voice, and wrote some wonderful songs with roots in both rock and folk.   “Candles in the Rain,” “The Nickle Song,” the lively funny sexy “Brand New Key” (her only number one hit, I believe) and many many more.

Including this one:

RIP, sweet lady.

Current Mood: sad sad

Casting Dunk & Egg

April 9, 2024 at 8:34 am
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VARIETY broke the story a couple of days ago, so this will be old news to many of you, but…

We have our hedge knight.

And he has his squire.

Peter Claffey will play Dunk.   He’s a former professional rugby player turned actor.   And he’s tall.   Ok, maybe not quite as tall as Ser Duncan the Tall, but still plenty tall, and with the magic of television…

His readings were terrific.   I think you’re going to love him.

As Egg, we’ve cast Dexter Sol Ansell.   Most recently seen in the HUNGER GAMES prequel, but he’s got an amazing amount of experience for his age.   I am told he cannot wait to shave his head.   (Love that sort of commitment).

His auditions were wonderful as well.

Peter and Dexter.  They should make one hell of a pair.

Many more parts to cast, of course, but we’re seeing some great candidates.    More news soon, I hope.





Current Mood: excited excited

House of the Dragon: The Coloring Book – Free Download

April 8, 2024 at 8:24 am
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Long before the Wall fell, the Targaryens reigned with fire and blood.

From the conflict between Rhaenyra and Alicent to Daemon burning the Crabfeeder army,
explore the reign of the Targaryen Empire in Westeros with the official House of the
Dragon coloring book.

Featuring over 75 original illustrations and thick paper, this coloring book offers you a way to
relive the most dramatic moments from the show.

Preorder your copy of House of the Dragon: The Official Coloring Book now!

Available everywhere books are sold on May 7.

Interested in getting your colored pencils honed sooner? Download two coloring pages today
and create your own watch party decorations for the June 16 premiere of Season Two!

All must choose.








Words For Our Times

April 5, 2024 at 8:20 am
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Current Mood: hopeful hopeful

Delivering The Chair

April 2, 2024 at 8:58 am
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It was Robert A. Heinlein who said we can never pay back the people who helped us when we started, so we need to pay forward instead.

The last week of February saw me return to the Chicago area, for a visit to my alma mater, Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.   Not for a homecoming or a class reunion, no… but to give away a chair.   February 28 was the official investiture for Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, a fellow Medill alum (Class of ’97) as the inaugural holder of the George R.R. Martin Chair in Storytelling.

I attended Medill back in what they now like to call “the turbulent 60s”  (and no kidding, they were pretty turbulent), and departed with a couple of degrees, BSJ ’70, MSJ ’71.  I did not get back often  in the half-century that followed, alas.   Life got in the way, as it has a habit of doing.   But I always looked back fondly on my years in Evanston, and the courses and teachers that helped shape me as a writer.

I had been writing long before I arrived in Illinois, of course.   Monster stories for other kids in the projects in grade school (got a nickle each for them, enough for a Milky Way, and if I sold two I could buy a comic book) and amateur superhero stories for comic fanzines when I got to high school (Powerman, Dr. Weird, the White Raider, and Garizan the Mechanical Warrior), but it was during my years at Northwestern that I began to submit to professional magazines.   It was while I was in Evanston that I got my first professional rejection slip (from AMERICAN SCANDINAVIAN REVIEW, for “The Fortress,” a story I wrote for a history class at Northwestern) and made my first professional sale (from GALAXY, for “The Hero,” a story I wrote for a creative writing class at Northwestern).   So it seemed only fitting for me to “pay forward” to Medill for all I learned there, by endowing a chair in storytelling.

The investiture was my first opportunity to meet Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan, who was chosen over thirty other highly qualified applicants to be the first “GRRM Professor.”   It seemed only fitting that I give her an actual chair, as well, as the title… so I did.

(I considered presenting her with a full-size Iron Throne, but it would not have fit in her new office).

Cheryl has written both fiction and non-fiction.   She has been a news and fashion reporter for the Wall Street Journal, InStyle, the Baltimore Sun, and other major news outlets.  Her books include the bestselling novel SARONG PARTY GIRLS, set in her native Singapore.  She will teach both undergraduate and graduate students, organize panels and conferences, and conduct an intensive writing workshop every summer,  to help professional journalists cross over into creative writing.

“​​Storytelling is at the foundation of our school, and Cheryl’s expertise in telling her own stories and helping others tell their stories will allow Medill to build on its tradition of excellence in this area,” Medill Dean Charles Whitaker said when announcing her appointment.

Medill presented Cheryl Tan with a splendid medallion at her investiture.   (She is wearing it in the picture above).   And hey, I got one too.


It was such a delight to be back in Evanston, if only for a few hours… and to meet Cheryl Tan.  I expect that she’ll be terrific.

Current Mood: pleased pleased