Not a Blog

Calendars Are Coming!!

February 28, 2013 at 4:45 pm
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Got some exciting news for those of you out there who still use calendars… ((yes, yes, I know we have this interwebbie thing now, nobody needs to hang paper on their wall any more to know what day it is, calendar sales are way way down, I don’t care, I am a dinosaur and a proud dinosaur and I LOVE calendars, so there))

The 2013 Ice & Fire calendar, with its spectacular artwork by Marc Simonetti, has done very well indeed, thank you. (And I hope all of you remember Marc when it comes time to make your Hugo nominations for Best Professional Artist).


The 2014 Ice & Fire calendar, illustrated by the amazing Gary Gianni, is almost complete. Those of you who were at Chicon may have seen some of Gianni’s paintings at the Brotherhood Without Banners party, since he was kind enough to display half a dozen of them exclusively for the BWB and their guests. He’s working on the twelfth and final painting now, and we expect the calendar to debut at this summer’s San Diego Comicon.

Martin 2014 3

Which means that is time to get cracking on the 2015 Ice & Fire calendar, and we’ve done just that. I am absolutely thrilled to announce that the artwork for the 2015 calendar will be provided by a man who truly needs no introduction, the Hugo-award-winning artist extraordinaire DONATO GIANCOLA.

If you are one of the six or seven people in fandom unfamiliar with Donato and his artwork, I suggest you remedy that lack immediately by paying a visit to his website at

Needless to say, I am a huge huge fan of his painting. This will not be Donato’s first visit to Westeros. Years ago, he did a gorgeous painting of Melisandre of Asshai as the cover for the special Westeros issue of DRAGON magazine. Ever since, I have been wanting him to do more… and now at last it seems I’ll get my wish.

Oddly enough, only a week ago or so I was in DC, enjoying the amazing exhibition of Pre-Raphaelite art that has just opened at the National Gallery. Looking over Donato’s on-line gallery with that so fresh in mind, it occurs to me that his own paintings could have fit right in with those of Millais, Hunt, Rossetti, and the other stalwarts of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

My friends at Bantam tell me that Donato is already hard at work, “far into reading the entire series, studiously taking notes, making thumbnails, etc.” I expect we’ll see some gorgeous things from him.

He has some tough acts to follow, of course. But hey, he knew the job was dangerous when he took it. I expect he is equal to the task.

And I must say, I am very pleased and proud with what our annual Ice & Fire calendar has become. Michael Komarck (2009), Ted Namisth (2011), John Picacio (2012), Marc Simonetti (2013), Gary Gianni (2014) and now Donato Giancola… if you love great fantasy art, it doesn’t get much better than that.

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Hugo Recommendations – Best Novel

February 27, 2013 at 10:26 am
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The first of March already… damn, where does the time go?

Only thirty-one days till the third season debut of GAME OF THRONES on HBO.

And only TEN days till Hugo nominations close! So let me make a few more recommendations for your consideration, boys and gals. Resuming with “the Big One,” the Hugo for Best Novel.

I cannot claim any great breath of knowledge of this year’s top contenders. While I read constantly and voraciously, my bookshelves contain all sorts of things, not just the current year’s SF and fantasy. Looking back, now that Hugo time is at hand, I find I read a lot of history and historical fiction last year, some non-fiction, a number of mysteries, and a bunch of older books, published in 2011 or 2010 or 1999 or 1953 or whenever. None of which are eligible for Hugos. I have also dipped into (but not always finished) a bunch of bound gallerys and ARCs of as-yet-unpublished novels that may be eligible for awards next year, but not this year.

Which is not to say that I did not read anything in the field this year. I did, and some of what I read I liked a lot.

Last year I recommended the first book of James S.A. Corey’s Expanse series, LEVIATHAN WAKES… and a lot of people agreed, since LEVIATHAN was nominated for a Hugo (to the evident annoyance of one prominent writer who was not) and actually finished third in the final voting, two places ahead of my own A DANCE WITH DRAGONS, which fact Ty does not hesitate to bring to my attention on a regular basis. ((“James S.A. Corey,” of course, is actually the pseudonym of my assistant Ty Franck writing in collaboration with my friend Daniel Abraham).

Well, in 2012 the second volume of the Expanse series, CALIBAN’S WAR, was published. And far from being a victim of sophomore slump, that bastard Jimmy Corey seems to have done it again. CALIBAN’S WAR is even better than LEVIATHAN WAKES. It’s old-fashioned space opera, the kind of SF that I cut my teeth on, a real page-turner set in a vividly imagined solar system, squarely in the tradition of Heinlein and Asimov and Rocky Jones, Space Ranger (lacking only Pinto Vortando), superlatively written. Books like this were what made me an SF fan to begin with. CALIBAN’S WAR was the best pure SF I read in 2012, and I will be nominating it for the Hugo.


I read more fantasy than SF last year. Understandably, as the publishers send me just about every epic fantasy they are putting out for blurbs. This is a golden age for fantasy, and there’s some great work being done. 2012 was no exception. I enjoyed Saladin Ahmed’s THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON, an old-fashioned sword-and-sorcery adventure with an Arabian Knights flavor, rather than the usual “medieval Europe” setting. There was a new Joe Abercrombie as well, and though I didn’t feel RED COUNTRY quite measured up to last year’s THE HEROES, Abercrombie is always worth reading. No new Rothfuss last year, though, and nothing by Scott Lynch… or that Martin guy, for that matter.

My favorite fantasy from 2012, all in all, was the second volume of Daniel Abraham’s Dragon’s Path series, this one entitled THE KING’S BLOOD. Like Jimmy Corey, Abraham just keeps getting better and better. It has been said, and truly, that Dragon’s Path is perhaps not so innovative as Daniel’s first fantasy series, the Long Price Quartet… but innovation is not the only value worth consideration while weighing a work of art. The world of Dragon’s Path is considerably larger, older, and more colorful than that of Long Price, the characters are just as well drawn, the prose as rich and evocative, the plotting full of devious and delightful twists and turns. Abraham belongs in the first rank of today’s fantastists, I think, right up there with Abercrombie, Lynch, Rothfuss, Robin Hobb, and the like. And THE KING’S BLOOD deserves a Hugo nomination.


Those are my favorite SF and fantasy novels from last year. What were yours?

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Hugo Recommendations – Best Dramatic Presentation

February 26, 2013 at 10:22 pm
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Fair notice at the outset: I have a horse in this race.

“Dramatic Presentation” is Hugospeak for “television and film.” Yes, technically these categories also include stage plays, radio broadcasts, puppet shows, albums and CDs, and all the other media in which drama is presented… and from time to time, a nominee emerges from these areas. But rarely. Mostly it is television and film.

Up until a few years ago, there was only one category, and television series and feature films competed against one another for the award. The films almost always won (no, not always, ALMOST always). Then in 2003 the category was split, and now we have Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form and Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form. Which makes things a bit complicated. It would have been considerably simpler just to have gone with Best Film and Best Television Episode, but that would have excluded all those radio plays and puppet shows and dance recitals, so the Ghods of Hugo determined in their infinite wisdom to do it this way.

What separates a “long form” from a “short form,” you ask? Length, mostly. Works longer than 90 minutes go in Long Form, those shorter into Short Form.

That seems reasonably clear cut, and indeed it is, at least for films. A television series is a bit trickier. The rules stipulate that individual episodes of a series (provided they run under 90 minutes) should be nominated in Short Form. But it is also possible to nominate an entire season of a show… or, indeed, the entirety of a show in the case of a miniseries… in Long Form. However, the rules do not allow any series to be nominated in BOTH Long Form and Short Form. If one or more individual episodes receive sufficient nominations to appear on the Short Form ballot, but the entire season in nominated in Long Form, then the Long Form nomination stands, and the Short Form nominations are disqualified.

And that is precisely what happened to HBO’s GAME OF THRONES last year. Season One was nominated, and indeed eventually won the Hugo, in Dramatic Presentation – Long Form, finishing ahead of four feature films (the only television series ever to win in Long Form since the categories were split in 2003). Three episodes from Season One had also received sufficient nominations to make the final ballot in Short Form, but those were removed because of the Long Form nomination (elevating the next three finishers to places on the ballot).

The same issue presents itself this year. If you liked what Dan and David and HBO did with the second season of GAME OF THRONES, there are two possible ways to nominate the show for a Hugo. You can nominate GAME OF THRONES – Season Two in Dramatic Presentation – Long Form, or you can nominate your favorite individual episode or episodes in Dramatic Presentation – Short Form.

FYI, for those who might want to go the latter route, our episodes last year were:

1 “The North Remembers” directed by Alan Taylor, written by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
2 “The Night Lands” dir by Alan Taylor, written by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
3 “What Is Dead May Never Die” dir by Alik Sakharov, written by Bryan Cogman
4 “Garden of Bones” directed by David Petrarca, written by Vanessa Taylor
5 “The Ghost of Harrenhal” directed by David Petrarca, written by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
6 “The Old Gods and the New” dir byDavid Nutter, written by Vanessa Taylor
7 “A Man Without Honor” directed by David Nutter, written by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
8 “The Prince of Winterfell” dir bv Alan Taylor, written by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss
9 “Blackwater” directed by Neil Marshall, written by George R. R. Martin
10 “Valar Morghulis” directed by Alan Taylor, written by David Benioff & D. B. Weiss

You do need to know the title to nominate an individual episode in Short Form.

Fans sometimes ask me which category would give GAME OF THRONES the best choice of winning. Fair question, but I don’t have the vaguest idea. It is going to be hard going either way. Last year at Chicon we won in Long Form, true, but this year the show would face much stiffer competition in that category, with both THE HOBBIT and THE AVENGERS almost certain to be nominees, and likely Pixar’s BRAVE as well. All of those films have huge followings (not to mention budgets that dwarfed our own). On the other hand, in Short Form, we would undoubtedly face one or more episodes of DR. WHO. The Doctor has pretty much owned Short Form since the categories were split in 2003, sometimes placing as many as three episodes among the final five, and winning six of the last seven in that category. So the odds against a repeat are long either way.

But hey, that’s what makes a horse race.

Of course, it is perfectly possible to nominate the show in Long Form AND individual episodes in Short Form, and let the chips fall where they may, as they did last year.

All this assuming, of course, that you think GAME OF THRONES was worthy of a Hugo nomination. It goes without saying (but I will say it anyway) that there was a lot of other great SF and fantasy films and television shows out in 2012.

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February 26, 2013 at 9:39 am
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The episode I scripted for the third season of GAME OF THRONES has undergone another title change. “Chains” is out. It was a pretty good title, but an even better one, even more apt, presented itself when D&D shuffled a few scenes between episodes, so episode 307 is now…

… no, I don’t think I’ll tell. Best wait to HBO announces all ten of the episode titles. I mean, the title has already changed twice, I would rather not have to make another post if it changes again.

I lost a title, but gained a song.

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Hugo Recommendations – Best Related Book

February 25, 2013 at 6:30 pm
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LoneStarCon 3, this year’s World Science Fiction Convention, has opened Hugo nominations for 2012.

The nominating ballot can be found here:

You do need to be a member to nominate. A member (attending or supporting) of LoneStarCon, this year’s worldcon, or Chicon 8, the 2012 worldcon in Chicago, OR LonCon, the 2014 worldcon in London. Any one of the three will do. All works first published or broadcast in 2012 are eligible. Nominations close on March 10.

What works you choose to nominate is, of course, entirely up to you, but as in past years, I would like to use my bully pulpit here to bring some worthy choices to your attention. In some categories I have eligible works of my own, so I will not pretend to be a disinterested party in those cases. In other categories, my recommendations are just that — shout outs for books, stories, and writers I’ve enjoyed during the past year.

I am going to start with the grab-bag category of “Best Related Book” this time around. This category is always an odd one, taking in all the stuff that does not fit comfortably in the other categories. Non-fiction of various sorts, mostly; art books, collections of critical essays, biographies and autobiographies, and other, stranger stuff. Not normally a category in which I have a horse in the race… but this year two of the possible candidates are books to which I contributed introductions, and a third was about my work.

Brian Cogman’s INSIDE HBO’S GAME OF THRONES is a “making of” book, of the sort generated by every major feature film and television show these days… but I happen to think Brian went way beyond the usual puffery, and produced a really terrific volume. (And yes, there’s an intro by me). Brian has been part of the HBO series since the start (he was the first person hired by David and Dan when they got the green light), giving him much greater insight into all the behind-the-scenes stuff than most “making of” writers, who are more commonly journalists brought in on a work-made-for-hire basis. INSIDE HBO’S GAME OF THRONES is a gorgeous volume too, and the boxed limited edition set with all its extras is truly fantastic, a real treat for the collector.


There were a number of books about A GAME OF THRONES (the HBO series) and A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE (the books) published last year, some as actual print volumes, others as ebooks. The quality of the criticism and essays contained therein varied greatly, to be sure. I haven’t seen all of these, by any means, and haven’t read all of those I did see (some publishers send me copies, some don’t). Of the critical books I did chance upon, however, the one that impressed me most was James Lowder’s BEYOND THE WALL.

Beyond the Wall_final prelim

As the subject of these essays, I will be the first to admit that I have a skewed perspective here. Nonetheless, I think Lowder put together a strong, balanced, and diverse collection of essays, and the quality of writing here was distinctly higher than in some similar volumes. I think I would have enjoyed reading this one even if it WASN’T all about me myself and I. Read it for yourself, and decide.

A more unusual… but equally worthy contender… for a nomination this year is another Ice & Fire spinoff: A FEAST OF ICE AND FIRE, the incredible Westerosi cookbook by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sarianne Lehrer. Great recipes, and a great looking book, FEAST grew out of their blog, the Inn at the Crossroads. And yes, this is another one to which I contributed an introduction. Seemed only fair, since Chelsea and Sarianne and their minions plied me with lemon cakes all through my DANCE WITH DRAGONS tour. A good read, and some yummy eating… and so far as I know, there has never been a cookbook nominated for a Hugo Award before. Why not make this one the first?

Feast Finals

So… when making your nominations for Best Related Book, do consider these three. And whether you nominate them or not, do NOMINATE. You have until March 10.

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DVDs Set Sales Records

February 24, 2013 at 5:06 pm
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Here I am talking about GAME OF THRONES in the Hugos, and I realize that I have forgotten to mention that season two has just been released on DVD and Blu-Ray.

Well, yes, it has. It went on sale Tuesday. There was even a Monday midnight madness event in NYC, at the Best Buy at Union Square (which I almost dropped in on, as I was on my way from Boston to DC at the time, but Certain People would not let me off the Acela). They had a direwolf ice sculpture and everything.

And the sets are selling sales records too, I am told. Says so here:

HBO has done its usual bang-up job on these. Besides the episodes themselves, there’s all kinds of extra goodies: audio commentaries, histories, interviews, round tables, deleted scenes, dragon’s eggs. Also, several of the big retailers are offering special sets with exclusive content. The Best Buy sets have heraldic packaging and content no one else has, the Target boxes have stuff exclusive to Target, I think maybe there’s some exclusive Amazon stuff too, not sure. (Yes, I can hear the obsessive completists groaning. I feel your pain, guys).

So if you haven’t gotten your Blu-Rays yet, go ye forth and haul ye arse.

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Wild Cards To Brazil

February 23, 2013 at 5:37 pm
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My fantasy novels have been doing very well in Brazil, thanks in no small part to my wonderful publisher LeYa and some gorgeous Marc Simonetti covers… and now my Brazilian readers will have the chance to sample my other long-running series as well. WILD CARDS is coming to Brazil.

I am thrilled to announce that I’ve just signed a deal with LeYa for Brazilian (Portugese) editions of the entire Wild Cards series, all twenty-two volumes, from the original WILD CARDS to the still-in-progress LOWBALL.


I couldn’t be happier, and my Wild Cards compatriots and contributors are doing cartwheels. I hope my Brazilian fans will enjoy reading about Jetboy, the Turtle, Dr. Tachyon, Bugsy, Yeoman, Curveball, Golden Boy, Capn Trips, Rustbelt, IBT, the Sleeper, Oddity, and the rest of the Wild Cards gang as much as we’ve enjoyed writing about ’em.


(And yes, I know, one of these days I must go down and visit Brazil. I’d love to, really. Just a matter of finding the time. Maybe some year for Carnival, I hear that’s pretty wild).

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Hurrah for Jimmy Kimmel

February 23, 2013 at 11:38 am
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Jimmy Kimmel is a huge fan of HBO’s GAME OF THRONES, so last night on his late night show, he debuted the first official trailer for season 3.

Missed it? No troubles. Here ’tis.

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Lots more to come. And March 31 creeps closer every day.

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October on Mars

February 13, 2013 at 2:26 pm
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Music: Those Were the Days
Gardner Dozois and I have just learned that Bantam has scheduled our all-original retro-SF anthology OLD MARS for release on October 8 of this year. The anthology will feature fifteen original, never-before-published short stories and novelettes about Mars, story notes and author intros by Gardner, and an introduction by yours truly.

The setting will NOT be the real (but somewhat boring) post-Mariner Mars, but rather the Mars thatwe all loved as kids, the one with the canals and the dead cities and the myriad marvelous Martians.

Old Mars cvr rev

((Gotta love that retro rocket ship. I sure do)).

Here’s the lineup of stories and contributors:

RED PLANET BLUES (Introduction) by George R.R. Martin
MARTIAN BLOOD, by Allen M. Steele
THE UGLY DUCKLING, by Matthew Hughes
SWORDS OF ZAR-TU-KAN, by S.M. Stirling
SHOALS, by Mary Rosenblum
OUT OF SCARLIGHT, by Liz Williams
A MAN WITHOUT HONOR, by James S.A. Corey
WRITTEN IN DUST, by Melinda Snodgrass
THE LOST CANAL, by Michael Moorcock
THE SUNSTONE, by Phyllis Eisenstein
MARINER, by Chris Roberson

Gargoo and I had a lot of fun putting this one together, and I hope you folks will have as much fun reading it. So circle October 8 on your calendars. Old Mars is lovely in the fall.

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Coming Next Month

February 13, 2013 at 2:05 pm
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Coming in March… a new TV tie-in edition of A GAME OF THRONES for season three.

Game 2013 MTI trade

The new cover will be available on both mass market and trade paperback formats, I believe. Maybe on a hardcover reprint as well, though I am less sure of that. When I know for certain, I will pass along the info here.

FURTHER INFO. Ok, got a clarification. This new artwork will appear on the paperbacks, both mass market and trade. The hardcover will retain its present cover. Also, a repackage of A STORM OF SWORDS is also in the works, and will feature key art from the HBO series. I will post that here when it’s ready.

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