Not a Blog

Virtual Drafts and Computer Football

April 28, 2020 at 2:47 pm
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I had a few nice days watching the NFL Draft.   Both the Giants and Jets did quite well, I think.   Not many exciting skill players drafted for either team, admittedly, but they both picked up building blocks to fortify their offensive lines, which I think is key.  Games are won and lost in the trenches.  Of course, even though the talking heads have all been busy “grading” each team’s picks, no one will really know anything for a year or two.   The history of the draft is littered with sexy “can’t miss” college stars who totally flamed out in the NFL.  See Vernon Gholston, Blair Thomas, Eric Flowers.   The list is long.   So… proof, meet pudding, let’s wait and see.   But I am hopeful.

What was really fascinating this year was the format.  Instead of thousands of screaming fans gathered together in New York City or Chicago or (as planned this year) Las Vegas, and the draftees parading up on stage to get a hug from the commissioner and a jersey, the NFL went virtual.   But that was fascinating in its own way.   We got to see the homes of the coaches, players, and talking heads, from Kliff Kingsbury’s palatial digs to the commish in his basement man cave to the very modest apartments of some of the young men being drafted, we got to see their families, their pets, the pictures on their walls…

… and their bookcases.   For whatever reason, a lot of the commentators  sat in front of bookcases.   I could not help peering at the titles on their shelves, being a writer and all.   Alas, I failed to spot any copies of my own books on anyone’s shelves.  But Marshall Faulk seems to be a big fan of Harlan Coben, and on other shelves I spotted Edgar Allen Poe and Philip Roth.   A lot of football books too.   Many ex-players and coaches had ONLY football books visible behind them.   Which still trumped the guys who owned bookcases, but (seemingly) no books.   Just pictures, trophies, footballs.

I hear that next year, if COVID-19 is no longer a factor, the NFL may combine elements of this year’s draft with the traditional format.   That would be cool.  This was the most viewed draft in history.   Maybe because the country is desperate for SOMETHING sport-ish to watch.

I was impressed at how well the virtual draft worked.  Very few technical glitches… though the time lapses were noticeable from time to time, as commentators waited to make sure the previous speaker had finished.   This bodes well for the forthcoming virtual worldcon, I think… hope… pray.   It proved it can be done.   Of course, ESPN and the NFL channel have considerably more resources and expertise than fandom, but still…

It still remains to be seen whether we will actually have an NFL season this year.  Which puts me in mind of a story I wrote back in 1971, called “The Last Super Bowl.”   Eventually it saw print in GALLERY magazine, surrounded by naked Girls Next Door  (none of them actually lived next door to me, I should hasten to add).   Computer sports were still a dream back then (PONG would not appear in my local bar for several more years), but they were coming, so I donned my prognosticator’s hat and predicted that by the far future year of 2014 computerized football would have become so much more exciting than the real thing that actual football would go extinct.

Well, that didn’t happen.   Turns out we were wrong about the flying cars, the household robots, the cities on the moon, and a whole lot of other things as well.   Never mind about that, though.

Maybe this is the year that my predictions come true.   If the virus does not relent, and we have to cancel the 2020 NFL season… why not go with an ALL VIRTUAL season instead?  We know who is on each team, we know who they drafted, we can MADDENify the entire league and play out the schedule week-by-week on television, with SFX and animation.   MADDEN has the player stats.   The actual coaches can sit by their own computers and call the plays and the defenses.   The play-by-play announcer and the color guy can sit by their screens and do the commentary, just as if they were talking about a real game.  And we can all watch our favorite (virtual) teams.

Hey, the networks need something to televise, after all.   And all us hopeless football addicts need something to watch, besides reruns of SuperBowls past.   And maybe, if we go all computer, the Jets will finally get back to the SuperBowl.   I wrote “The Last Super Bowl” only two years after their last (and only) appearance, as it happens… and I put them in that bowl, against the Green Bay Packers.

 

Current Mood: mischievous mischievous

The Dragons Are Here

October 29, 2013 at 10:14 am
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It's publication day!

The long-awaited mass market paperback of A DANCE WITH DRAGONS hits the bookstores today.  (Yes, we know you folks in the UK, Australia, South Africa, Ireland, New Zealand, and like places have had the UK mass market for ages, thanks, you can stop gloating now).

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And yes, the paperback of DANCE does include a sample chapter from THE WINDS OF WINTER.  A lot of folks have been clamoring to know which one, and now it can be revealed: we've included the first Ser Barristan chapter from the novel-in-progress, wherein we glimpse the beginning of the Battle of Meereen.  I hope you will all enjoy it.

The dragons are not flying alone, either.  Also hitting the racks (and virtual racks) this morning in both the US and the UK is THE WIT AND WISDOM OF TYRION LANNISTER, a little hardcover stocking stuffer collecting most of the Imp's best (and worst) lines from the five novels published to date, illustrated by Jonty Clarke.

This one is meant as a Christmas book of sorts, small enough to slip into a stocking (if you have very big feet).    We hope you get a kick out of it.

US edition
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UK edition
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And who knows, if our little venture meets with favor, perhaps next year we will do THE WIT AND WISDOM OF HODOR.

DANCE and WIT & WISDOM are both available at a bookstore near you, or from your favorite online retailer.

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Paperbacks Are Coming

September 14, 2013 at 5:21 pm
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Yes, it's true.  Your wait is over.  A DANCE WITH DRAGONS will finally be published in paperback, next month.

(Have you guys really been waiting?  Really truly?)

The paperback release has been delayed again and again, I know.  (Believe me, I've received a lot of emails about it).  This was done largely at the request of the bookstores.  The hardcover was still selling strongly (still is, actually), so they wanted the paperback delayed.

But no longer.  On October 29, Bantam Spectra will release DANCE simultaneously in trade and mass market paperback editions.

DWD5

And yes, the paperback will include a preview chapter from THE WINDS OF WINTER.  (Though at this point it has been so long that I've forgotten which one it is).

October, by the way, looks to be a huge month for me.  Besides the DANCE paperbacks, I also have OLD MARS coming out that month, and the MEATHOUSE MAN graphic novel, and a little Xmas book called THE WIT AND WISDOM OF TYRION LANNISTER.  But more about that one later.

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Thank You

August 11, 2012 at 11:16 pm
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The NEW YORK TIMES bestseller list for August 19 has been released. Here ’tis:

http://www.nytimes.com/best-sellers-books/hardcover-fiction/list.html

A DANCE WITH DRAGONS is on the list, hanging in there at #10 in hardcover bestsellers. Which is not news by itself. DANCE has been on the list for a long time, moving down, moving up, but never quite falling off. For 52 weeks.

That’s the news. DANCE has been on the NYT list for one full year.

I never could have imagined this, not in my wildest dreams.

Copy of DWD5

This is a terrific moment for me, of course, but it is nothing I could ever have achieved without the help of others… so very many others…

I owe them thanks.

Thank you to me editors and publishers, past and present, to Anne Groell, Scott Shannon, Nita Taublib, Jennifer Hershey, Irwyn Applebaum, to my valiant and tireless publicists David Moench and Chris Artis, and to all the other great folks at Bantam Spectra and Random House.

Thank you to all the critics and reviewers, who gave the book such outstanding notices, not to mention all sorts of cool awards. I have never had a book better reviewed.

Thanks for all the journalists and feature writers and bloggers who conducted interviews, ran contests, and helped spread the word.

Thanks to Parris, who was with me through every page, and to Ty, my acerbic assistant, who helped crack the whip and spurred me on and kept the trolls at bay. One of these days he may even teach me to say, “no.”

Thanks to the Brotherhood Without Banners. Fans and friends, AND they throw the best party at worldcon.

Thanks for all the booksellers and librarians everywhere. You’re all heroes.

Thanks to Mike Lombardo and Sue Naegle and Richard Plepler and Mara Mikilian and all the rest of the great folks at HBO, and thanks especially to Brian Cogman, David Benioff, and Dan Weiss, to Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, Sean Bean, Lena Headey, Mark Addy, Jack Gleeson, Nicholaj Coster-Waldau, Sophie Turner, Isaac Hempstead Wright, Kit Harrington, Maisie Williams, Conleth Hill, Michelle Fairley, and the rest of the greatest cast on television, and to our amazing cast and phenomenal directors. A DANCE WITH DRAGONS would likely have made the NYTimes list without the GAME OF THRONES series, but beyond doubt, it is the show that has kept the books riding high for so long. You’ve all done amazing work.

But most of all, thanks to you, my readers. You were the ones who bought the book a year ago when it first hit the shelves, and you are the ones who are still buying it today, and pressing copies on your lovers and kin, and telling your friends to buy their own copies. Luck can get a book on the list, even keep it there for a week or two… but only a long, sustained passion and great word of mouth can keep a title on the TIMES list for one solid year. So take a bow, readers. I owe it all to you.

All I can say is… keep reading. The best is yet to come.

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Dancing With LOCUS

June 18, 2012 at 12:14 am
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I’m very pleased to announce that A DANCE WITH DRAGONS has won the LOCUS Award as the Best Fantasy Novel of 2011. I wasn’t able to attend the awards banquet myself, but Ty flew out (he was also nominated, for LEVIATHAN WAKES in the SF category) and accepted on my behalf. Presumably he will even bring me back the award, if I can pry it out of his fingers.

For a full list of this year’s finalists and winners, go to the LOCUS website at:
http://www.locusmag.com/News/2012/06/locus-awards-2012-winners/

LOCUS, founded by the late great Charles Brown, is the trade magazine of science fiction and fantasy, and has been the bible for me and a lot of other professional writers for decades. Their annual awards poll draws more votes than the Hugo and Nebula Awards combined.

A DANCE WITH DRAGONS is the fifth volume in A SONG OF ICE & FIRE to be nominated as the year’s best fantasy by the readers of LOCUS, and the fourth to win. What can I say? Those LOCUS readers have really good taste.

Thanks to the good folks at LOCUS, and to everyone who voted, whether it was for me or for one of my excellent fellow nominees.

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Double Victory

February 5, 2012 at 2:10 pm
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Last night in London SFX magazine announced the winners of their annual readers’s awards, and I am pleased and proud to report that A DANCE WITH DRAGONS won for Best Novel, and HBO’s GAME OF THRONES as Best New TV Show.

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I was not able to be in the UK for the awards (though I will be, come April, for Eastercon, and signings in Bath and London), so I taped my acceptance speech ahead of time.

Thanks for everyone who voted… and to all my readers everywhere, who waited for the book so patiently, and have received it with so much enthusiasm and acclaim.

(For a full list of winners, check out the SFX website. And do be sure to play Neil Gaiman’s acceptance speech, it’s a hoot and a half.)

((Now all I need to make the day perfect is a Giants victory in the SuperBowl. GO BIG BLUE!!))

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Author of the Year

December 28, 2011 at 5:01 pm
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Who, me?

http://www.usatoday.com/life/books/news/story/2011-12-29/george-r-r-martin-is-author-of-the-year-2011/52256412/1

Hot damn.

What fine intelligent gentlefolk they are at USA TODAY.

Forgive me, whilst I blush prettily.

If I had a football to hand, I would gladly spike it.

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Ten Best List

November 20, 2011 at 1:28 pm
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What good taste the folks at LIBRARY JOURNAL have.

They’ve included A DANCE WITH DRAGONS on their list of the Ten Best SF and fantasy books for 2011:

http://reviews.libraryjournal.com/2011/11/best-of/best-genre/best-books-2011-sf-fantasy/

Jimmy Corey’s LEVIATHAN WAKES also made the list. Congrats to that scoundrel Jimmy,

I love librarians.

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Croatia Gets The Gold

September 30, 2011 at 11:55 am
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Sorry, Portugal.

When I put up the post about my Portuguese publisher winning the gold medal for being the first to release a translation of A DANCE WITH DRAGONS (see below), a number of readers in Croatia wrote me to say, no, the Croatian edition was out first. I had not seen the Croatian edition, or even a jpeg of its cover… but now I have.

They were right. Croatia was first. Portugal was second. Croatia gets the gold, Portugal the silver. (The bronze remains to be determined, so far as I know). Both Croatia and Portugal split the book into two volumes, and have thusfar released only the first half.

Here’s the Croatian cover for volume one of DANCE:

And here’s their cover for the second part, which is not yet published, but is in the pipeline and should be out soon:

Meanwhile, filming of the second season of the HBO series in currently underway in Dubrovnik, so Croatia is doubly blessed. A lot of Croatians have been hired as extras and crew, and a few have speaking roles as well.

Portugal, on the other hand, gets a visit from me next spring.

So everybody wins. I hope.

Enjoy the read, whatever language you may be reading in.

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I’m Number One…

September 15, 2011 at 9:31 am
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… in Portugal.

The first translation of A DANCE WITH DRAGONS is just out. And the gold medal for fastest translation goes to Portugal.

Mind you, my Portugese publisher splits each book into two volumes, so this is only the first half of DANCE… but even so, the first volume is in the bookshops, and I’m told it has vaulted to the top of the Portugese bestseller lists.


(cover art by Andreas Rocha)

So… which country will get the silver medal? Spain? Italy? Germany? Your guess is as good as mine, but I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, back in the States, DANCE fell to #3 on the NYTimes list last week, and this week is down to #4. But still in the top ten, nine weeks after publication.

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