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George R.R. Martin on Law and Fantasy Literature:

Lawprof Dave Hoffman has an interesting interview with fantasy writer George R.R. Martin on the role of law in fantasy literature. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" series is one of the major milestones in the new trend toward grittier and more "realistic" fantasy writing.

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  1. George R.R. Martin on Law and Fantasy Literature:
  2. Peter Jackson Signs Deal to Make Two Hobbit Movies:
lewis:
I recommend John Wright's Guest Law, Asimov's Science Fiction 21 (6) (June 1997) (reprinted in David Hartwell, ed. Year's Best SF 3) for an interesting legal discussion in the context of an intriguing fantasy/sf story.
12.21.2007 3:32am
Guest101:
Martin's series would be terrific if he could get himself around to actually finishing books on some semblance of a regular basis. Not sure that it's particularly relevant to the study of law, though, and unfortunately the interview is blocked by my office filter so I'll have to wait until later to see what GRRM has to say on the matter.
12.21.2007 9:34am
Felix Sulla:
Well, I wish he'd finish the books more regularly, but that being said, I am willing to wait for them if they stay at the consistently high quality level they have shown previously. I much prefer that to Robert Jordan, who started out with a good series, then started churning out what (to all appearances) was a never ending series of sub-par filler books for ten years...and then died before actually finishing the series. Anyway, the point is I do not think waiting a long time for the installments is a valid criticism of how "good" they are. Clearly, it just takes Martin a while to write. And for my money, Martin is hands down the best fantasy writer of the last twenty years or so.
12.21.2007 10:14am
hattio1:
I will agree that Martin is probably the best fantasy writer of the last 20 years. But, with the slow books, what the heck was the story with the book that was split in half. It shouldn't have taken a year for the second half of that book to come out.
12.21.2007 11:53am
tom brandt (mail) (www):
I'm a fan of Martin's also, but MAN his books are long. At over 1,000 pages each it's no wonder it takes him so long to write them.
12.21.2007 12:32pm
Guest101:
Felix,

I agree that the books themselves are excellent; my criticism (perhaps a too subtle distinction in retrospect) of the quality of the series was that it's just not an enjoyable experience to read a great book and have to wait an unpredictable number of years for the next one to come out. GRRM has had a post up on the Ice &Fire update section of his website for almost a year now saying basically that Dance With Dragons (the second half of the split book to which hattio1 refers, I think) will be done any day now, but we're still waiting. This is particularly frustrating since we've been waiting since the end of the third book to find out what happens to Tyrion and Daenerys, and apparently the Cersei cliffhanger won't be resolved until the sixth book.
12.21.2007 12:37pm
Sean O'Hara (mail) (www):
A Storm of Swords came out in 2000, the same year as Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Since then Rowling's managed to put out three more volumes and finish the series, while Martin's only done one -- and that's not even a complete book, containing only half the material he intended to put into it.

I suggest anyone who wants a gritty fantasy epic switch to Steven Erikson's Malazan -- the first book was published in 1999, and volume 8 (of 10) should be out in Britain some time next year.
12.21.2007 1:07pm
Crunchy Frog:
Guest101: I don't think the Cersei cliffhanger is much of one at all.
12.21.2007 1:40pm
Anderson (mail):
it's just not an enjoyable experience to read a great book and have to wait an unpredictable number of years for the next one to come out

Read older series, then. I well remember finishing Nine Princes in Amber, throwing the book against the wall with all possible force, and then going to the mall to buy volumes 2 through 5.

(I did have to wait as each volumen in the second Amber series came out, but in retrospect, I wish I hadn't read any of them. Zelazny's game fell off abysmally in his later years, poor man.)
12.21.2007 1:51pm
Elliot Reed (mail):
When I realized the series was taking so long to write that each time a new book came out I'd have forgotten what happened in the previous ones, I gave up. Let me know when the series is done. Also, the facts so far are empirically indistinguishable from Martin having realized that he can keep selling more books as long as he never finishes the series.
12.21.2007 2:58pm
Guest101:

Also, the facts so far are empirically indistinguishable from Martin having realized that he can keep selling more books as long as he never finishes the series.


If that were his plan, I would think he'd take the Jordan-esque tactic of churning out more books on a frequent basis without ever moving the plot along. I gave up on Wheel of Time after the seventh book, though in retrospect, even the earlier ones weren't that good. That doesn't seem to be Martin's problem; it seems like he just enjoys doing conventions and gaming more than actually writing.
12.21.2007 3:02pm
hattio1:
Damn,
I don't even remember what the Cersei cliffhanger is. And I've read each book at least twice. Cersei is the female twin, and sister to the little dwarf guy right? I got at least that much right?
12.21.2007 3:57pm
Anderson (mail):
That doesn't seem to be Martin's problem; it seems like he just enjoys doing conventions and gaming more than actually writing.

Nice work if you can get it, eh? And he evidently can.

The notion that the author owes anyone the duty to sit down and write another sequel ASAP (which I don't attribute to Guest101 btw) seems to be common, and silly. Martin has one life to live, same as all of us, and I hope he's doing what he likes to do.
12.21.2007 4:02pm
Syd Henderson (mail):
hattio1:
Damn,
I don't even remember what the Cersei cliffhanger is. And I've read each book at least twice. Cersei is the female twin, and sister to the little dwarf guy right? I got at least that much right?


And mother to one of the many, many rival kings (whose collective butts Daenerys can kick).
12.21.2007 4:11pm
Cornellian (mail):
Read older series, then. I well remember finishing Nine Princes in Amber, throwing the book against the wall with all possible force, and then going to the mall to buy volumes 2 through 5.

(I did have to wait as each volumen in the second Amber series came out, but in retrospect, I wish I hadn't read any of them. Zelazny's game fell off abysmally in his later years, poor man.)


Apparently Zelazny was quite ill in his later years, when the last Amber books were written, and that probably had something to do with the drop off in quality. He was probably rushing through them trying to get the series finished. I'd agree the first Amber series was much better.
12.21.2007 4:43pm
SenatorX (mail):
I loved the Wild Cards series he was involved in much more than his solo books so far.
12.21.2007 7:45pm
Duffy Pratt (mail):
There are two new Wild Cards books: Inside Straight and Busted Flush. I haven't picked them up yet.

Martin put out the 2nd and 3rd books after 2 year intervals. The first half of the fourth book took 5 years, and the second half (which was promised initially for 6 mos. after the first) is now at 2 years and counting. In this case, I think the slowdown comes largely from the weight of reader's expectations. He's trying so hard to live up to peoples' hopes that he's having a hard time actually writing anything. Of course, that's just my dumb pop psychology take on it.

Another modern fantasy writer who is worth reading is Robin Hobb. I started on her on Martin's recommendation (via the What I'm Reading section on his website). Her books are several cuts above the genre, and are better from a stylistic standpoint than ASOIAF. In terms of basic storytelling, and the ability to kill off anyone at any time, I give the edge to Martin.

And Hobb has some interesting property law (and quasi-admiralty law) in her Liveship books. It's not just a matter of the justice of the lord, and succession rights.
12.21.2007 9:02pm
luagha:
In apologia for Zelazny, it was not his intention to write a second Amber series. His publisher came to him with a big check and he said no. His publisher added a zero or two until he looked at his kid's college bill and said yes.

That being said, I think there are moments in the series that are brilliant and hilarious and I just wish more of that pace was sustained. Five short stories came out after the Merlin series, and they are blisteringly good - but alas those are the last by the original author.
12.23.2007 4:56am