SDCC 2014: George R.R. Martin Joins Fellow Fantasy Writers

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While this years Comic-con was home to big name movie previews and comic book news, we can't forget where it all starts - with the writers.

The panel, titled “Rulers of the Realms” featured fantasy writers at the top of the industry; George R.R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire), Diana Gabaldon (Outlander Series), Lev Grossman (The Magicians Trilogy), Joe Abercrombie (Half a King), and Patrick Rothfuss (The Name of the Wind). Each author has been recognized for their skill at world-crafting, their multi-book series, and  each of them have had or plan to have their works translated to the screen. The authors were asked for their astute recommendations, and here are the books they recommend you add to your “To Read” list.

George R.R Martin

Perhaps the most well known face on the panel, Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire is the inspiration for HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones. Martin will be taking a break from his involvement in the show for the coming fifth season, instead spending his time on the next chapter in the series, The Winds of Winter.

Martin’s recommendations lean toward the classics, which is not surprising given the well known authors own writing style.

“Well, I’m going more to the classics here. I assume you all know the classics of fantasy, and if not, you should certainly repair your education by reading Robert E. Howard, Tolkien, Fritz Leiber and especially by reading Jack Vance. He was not as well known as the other three, but in my mind, he’s the fourth great pillar on which epic fantasy rests” 

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Martin’s other recommendations include the George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman series for “great historical books, with a lot of humor and sex and adventure,” and The Conquering Family: A History of the Plantagenets by Thomas B. Costain. “Some of his books have been made into bad or mediocre movies,” he adds.

Diana Gabaldon

With her most well known series, Outlander, occupying its own popular booth at the con this year, Gabaldon has plenty to celebrate. After years of promises, her beloved series has been adapted for the screen and Outlander the series will air on STARZ August 2nd.

A writer of historical fiction herself, Gabaldon’s suggestions lean more in the direction of the paranormal mystery. Her Outlander series is lightly dusted with paranormal elements woven naturally into her stories.

“For people who likes series, I recommend Phil Rickman. He writes a series of what are ostensibly crime novels, and their central character is an Anglican vicar, Merrily Watkins. She’s a widow with an obnoxious teenage daughter, and she is also the official exorcist for the Diocese of Hereford. And there is a strong supernatural element that weaves through the books, along with a lot of other stuff.”

Her recommendation for an individual book is Christopher Brookmyre’s Pandaemonium, which she says is “just the most brilliantly constructed and imaginative book I’ve read.”

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Lev Grossman

The author of the best-selling book The Magicians, and book critic for Time Magazine recommended two books, one of which has yet to come out.

“Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. When I heard she was writing a non-Jackson Brodie book, I threw my hands up in disgust. But I went and bought it anyway, and it was fantastic. Just an unbelievable tour de force.”

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The second book, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer, is set for an August 5th release date,

“It’s his first book and comes out the same day as my book (The Magician’s Land). Don’t buy his, buy mine. But you might catch his paperback because it’s unbelievably brilliant.”

Grossman’s Magician’s is currently being developed for television by the Syfy network.

Joe Abercrombie

Author of Half a King, the first in The Shattered Seas trilogy, Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy has been rumoured to be in development back in 2008, when Ben Affleck was rumored to be involved, and again in 2013. As of yet, no film has materialized, though the author did sign a 4 book deal with Gollancz, the oldest SyFy and Fantasy publisher in the UK, and has several projects in the works. Abercrombie’s single recommendation came with a special invitation to a very specific group of people,

“Jeff VanderMeer’s book, Annihilation. I love him as a writer; he does very weird fiction, very hard to categorize. Usually his work is excellent for lovers of fungi, so if you like mushrooms — possibly intelligent mushroom — he’s the writer for you.”

Patrick Rothfuss 

Known for his work The Kingkiller Chronicles, set to be a trilogy with the release of The Doors Of Stone, his current project, Rothfuss is gaining notoriety. It was announced in March that 20th Century Fox has optioned the television rights to the Chronicles series.

While Rothfuss is known for his fantasy work, his suggestions are somewhat more varied,

“In respect to the world building, I gotta mention Tim Powers. I was excited to pick up a Tim Powers book, and six pages in I thought, ‘Did you write a spy novel?’ And then eight pages in, I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah.’ [smiles] It’s set in this world, and he starts with the Bible and Shakespeare … and eventually, there are djinn protecting the borders of Russia, and I was like, ‘Wait wait wait, I know this is probably not true and this is true. Where the hell did you make that connection?’ It’s amazing. It’s called Declare,”

The authors series recommendation, a historic biography, may come as a surprise,

“I’m also reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder books (the Little House series), and they should actually be named The Adventures of Pa Ingalls: Pioneer Badass. You’ll learn a lot about world-building there, too. I live in Wisconsin, and I have learned things about pioneer Wisconsin reading these books. I’m like, ‘Wow, I guess I can make cheese now.’

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1015901 Laura Ingalls Wilder signed book cover SDCC 2014: George R.R. Martin Joins Fellow Fantasy Writers


Images: Plume Books, Abacus, Mulholland Books, Harper & Brothers Publishing

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