Tag: george r r martin

George R. R. Martin’s thoughts on fantasy in the Authors@Google talk

I mentioned in the previous post that I watched a live webcast of George R. R. Martin at Google yesterday and it was fascinating. I’ve written of how Martin made me a fan of epic fantasy with his Song of Ice and Fire series. During the Q&A session yesterday, he said something that I found to be insightful about fantasy that touches tangentially on a dialog that Michael J. Sullivan started and to which John Ginsberg-Stevens responded.

In his post “Fantasy as Fantasy“, Sullivan argues that “the more traditional ‘hero’s quest’ being abandoned for greater ambiguity that critics call depth.” John Ginsberg-Stevens responded with his guest post, “Fantasy, Imagination, and the Hero” which looks more closely at what we mean by a “hero” in fantastic fiction. I had these posts in the back of my mind when I was watching Martin talk yesterday. He was asked at one point about the women in powerful positions in his fiction. As part of his response to this, he talked about his interest in good people and leaders regardless of gender.

He said that the flaw he saw in much fantasy was the fact that a morally good hero was necessarily a good leader. He pointed to Tolkien, for who he has the utmost respect. In The Return of the King, Aragorn is a good man who battles evil and ultimately gains his rightful place as king. There the story ends. What Martin wondered is: despite being a good man, was Aragorn a good king? “What was his tax policy,” Martin mused.  Was he capable of making pragmatic decisions as opposed to strictly morally just ones (not always mutually exclusive, I’ll grant you). We never see this and so we are left with the unspoken premise that morally good men (or women) make good leaders.

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