The Stagecoach Foundation, founded by George R.R. Martin to help provide education, support, and facilities for film and television production aspirants in New Mexico, has a fundraising raffle going on right now that features a rather neat prize: a customized Vespa 946 scooter themed after House Stark, and signed by GRRM himself.
A one-of-a-kind, this Vespa 946 is inspired by the legendary 1945 MP6 that started it all with the classic design language (in fact, the name “Vespa” comes from the company founder’s response to the MP6 prototype that it looked like a wasp). With the additional Game of Thrones-inspired Stark detailings, such as the direwolf sigils and the leather-and-iron effects (unclear if it’s from paint or vinyl wrap), it’s a striking and unique vehicle.
The raffle runs through December 28th.
After a whirlwind of travel to Ireland from Sweden, then back for two days before going to Northern Ireland, I’m sufficiently recovered to try to (briefly) cover the amazing time Linda and I had at Dublin 2019 and that I then had at Titancon, the 2019 Eurocon. I probably spent more time chatting with George since ... hmm, maybe 2015 when George visited Sweden and Åland. Much to report, but I really, really want to try to be succinct. So as a general overview, I’ll just say it was fantastic, filled with meeting old friends from the Brotherhood without Banners fan group and making new acquaintances from the ASoIaF/GoT sphere. Many discussions were had—on the SF/F genre, on the Hugo awards past and present, on Worldcon bids, and of course on various matters related to ASoIaF.
(Photo courtesy of Joey Yu, the inaugural winner of George’s Terran Prize writer’s scholarship.)
The first significant event with GRRM was the Wild Cards trivia panel with a host of writers: Walter Jon Williams from the original writers and roleplayers was teamed with Carrie Vaughn, the much-in-demand Wild Cards trivia guru and writer Kevin Andrew Murphy was teamed with Charles Stross and Mary Anne Mohanraj, and Peadar Ó Guilín was joined by Paul Cornell. It was very amusing!
It’s just two weeks to the Dublin 2019 Worldcon, and three weeks to Titancon, Eurocon 2019, and there’s a lot of things to see as both conventions have now published their schedules. Below, we’re going to list appearances, events, panels, and so on featuring George (who actually has one public event taking place before Worldcon) as well as Linda and I, and others who have worked with him in adapting or illustrating his work at one time or another, or otherwise have some connection to the larger universe of Martin’s work. Among these others are the artists John Picacio, Charles Vess, and Raya Golden, actor Miltos Yerolemou
Over at Not a Blog, George R.R. Martin has shared thoughts on the close of Game of Thrones, how it might be compared to his plans for the final two novels in A Song of Ice and Fire, and more. Well worth a read as a reminiscence and commentary for those who wonder about these things. It’s been a long road for George, for everyone who worked on or covered the show, and for the tens (hundreds?) of millions around the world who’ve watched it.
I had the great privilege to accompany George and Parris to a visit to the set as the first season filmed (the image above comes from that visit, George and I moving down a dark hallway in the Paint Hall studio, led by Bryan Cogman to one of the several sets in that colossal space).
The Unseen Westeros art exhibit was a great success in Berlin, and the media who visited it during its run are still producing content. While the one we’re embedding below is mostly in German, it gives a great view of the ambiance of the location and artworks, and also happens to feature me providing some commentary starting at the 6:50 mark:
There are still some limited supplies of the art book and art prints, for those interested
This year’s European science fiction and fantasy convention is Titancon, based in Belfast, Northern Ireland; it runs from August 22nd to August 25th. Founded as the world’s first Game of Thrones-focused convention, it has for years now provided fans a chance to meet notable authors and actors. As a full-on Eurocon, however, this year’s Titancon will be the largest ever, and will feature scores of authors, artists, and creators. And to mark such an occasion, Titancon has just announced—after a long silence—that they have secured George R.R. Martin as their guest of honor.
Suffice it to say, Titancon’s organizers have for years been interested in bringing George to Belfast. This will be a rare opportunity for fans to take part in a European convention where George is in attendance, and in a location that has won global attention as the home of Game of Thrones. We’ve had the pleasure of having visited several times (including attending a previous Titancon), and think there’ll be a lot of interest for fans of George, of fantasy and science fiction, and of course of Game of Thrones. For one thing, the touring exhibition will be in Belfast, and for another just a week prior Dublin will be hosting the 77th Worldcon (which George will also be attending—as will we!).
There’s quite a lot to see in Northern Ireland for those interested in Game of Thrones tourism, as we’ve covered before. George at Titancon just makes this August all the more tempting a time to visit.
We knew something was up awhile back when a fact-checker for the New York Times contacted us with some questions for an article that was in the works by Charles Yu. That piece has now been published, a lengthy profile and interview with George R.R. Martin about his work with a special focus on A Song of Ice and Fire and the world Martin has built in the process of writing the novels. Westeros gets mentioned, as does the Wiki of Ice and Fire and the Brotherhood without Banners fan group, which is terrific.
As a companion to the piece, the NY Times also published a Q&A with GRRM with questions from fans. Some questions are silly, but some interesting ones as well, including one on dieties and the conflict with the Others that led George to immediately pass on answering before the question was even out.
Unseen Westeros is an ambitious project by a group of matte painters and visual effects artists who have all worked on HBO’s Game of Thrones. With the approval and support of George R.R. Martin, German publisher Penhaligon, and Westeros.org, the artists have produced scores of paintings depicting locales from The World of Ice and Fire, many of them first introduced in that book.
Suffice it to say, it’s very flattering to have been a part of something that has inspired so many artists. Linda and/or I are likely to attend one or more of the days of the exhibition, and we may have some more to announce in that regards down the road. We’ve seen quite a bit of the art, and suffice it to say these artists are all extremely talented, and it’s remarkable to see how they bring some of the many fascinating, strange, or epic locales described in the world book to life.
The exhibition is targeting January 23rd to January 27th, with an impressive venue—a former powerplant in Berlin—for the art to be displayed in. Of course, all these things cost, and the project has a Kickstarter to help cover the costs (which they itemize). Supporters to the Kickstarter can get anything from a credit on the backers’ wall at the exhibition to an album from official exhibition music composers Wolf & Moon and on through a limited edition art catalog or even (at the 2500+ euro level—two of those are gone, already!) an original painting.
Keep an eye out on our Youtube channel, as we’ll be making a video or two responding to some as-yet-unseen artwork to give everyone a taste of what’s to come!
As we’ve noted in our recent Game of Thrones news roundup, Linda and I were away to Northern Ireland this past weekend on a trip sponsored by Tourism NI to see the Winterfell Festival at the beautiful Castle Ward estate that served as a filming location for Winterfell and much, much more. It marks my fourth visit to Northern Ireland, and each time has been a pleasure from the very first visit to look at the set and watch some of the filming with George to the previous visit thanks to Tourism NI to see the beautifully carved Doors of Game of Thrones, and now on to this one.
We’ve captured a lot of photos and video footage from the junket, just over 30 gigabytes. Keep an eye out over the coming days for posts and videos featuring some of the iconic locations, and even actors—we met with Mark Addy and Ian McElhinney when they were there at Castle Ward, and filmed a lengthy interview McElhinney held before an audience that we’ll publish soon.
And as it happens, some of the treasures are still coming—such as the following treat from Boyd Rankin, weaponmaker-extraordinaire responsible for many of the iconic weapons on the show who also served as Mikken on season 1 on the show (he says it was his well-worn, slightly charred leather apron that was cast) . We’ve already shared a couple of photos on our Instagram from seeing Boyd at Castle Ward, featuring an image of the original Longclaw before it was burned, bear’s head-pommel and all, and another of a new memento for us in the form of a knife made for season 4 that was never used…. but this is a bit different.
Boyd happens to have been involved with the show right from the pilot, and was on hand for filming in Morocco where the original meeting and wedding of Daenerys and Drogo was filmed (that’s when Tom McCarthy was directing, and Tamsin Merchant was playing Daenerys). As fans may know, George R.R. Martin had a cameo during the filming, a cameo that was never repeated… and never made it to air, as the Dany role was recast and the whole of her sequences were reshot. There have been one or two leaked photos from the pilot since then, but none has ever shown George in his costume for his cameo…
... until now, that is. Taken by Mr. Rankin, and used with his permission, this is the first time that we know of that anyone outside of the production has seen this:
Last night, George R.R. Martin and John Picacio took the stage at the historic Fox Theatre in Redwood City for what turned out to be two and half hours of conversation and Q&A. We believe the SF in SF organization, along with co-sponsor of the event Locus Magazine, will be posting the audio (and perhaps video) of the full event at their site, but in the meantime there have been reports, and even a bit of video.
One of the detailed reports from the Q&A comes from Twitter user clintw, which we’ve threaded and posted to the So Spake Martin collection. In the course of the interview and Q&A, Martin remarks on the name of the latest Princess of Dorne, the whereabouts of the Valyrian steel sword Dark Sister, hints about the various ideas HBO is still exploring for successor shows, and more.
Worldcon 76 is coming to San Jose in August, but a couple of days prior to this the SF in SF organization has put together a special event: an evening with George R.R. Martin and award-winning artist John Picacio.
Organized as a benefit for Locus Magazine, the chief trade magazine of SF/F publishing, the event promises to feature “a discussion on literature, art, and life” between the famed writer and artist. Signed copies of their works will be available for purchase.
The event takes place at the Fox Theatre in Redwood City on August 14, the Tuesday before Worldcon. For more information, see the event site.
We’re sad to share the news that actor Roy Dotrice, whose collaborations with George R.R. Martin began with Beauty and the Beast and continued right through providing his voice to the audiobook of The World of Ice and Fire, has passed away at the age of 94. Dotrice was well known on stage and screen, and genre fans will have seen him in a host of notable shows such as Babylon 5, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and (of course) as the pyromancer Hallyne in Game of Thrones.
Linda and I corresponded with him briefly, years ago, and remember him as a perfectly gracious, charming person who seemed amazed and pleased with the enthusiasm for his recordings of the novels. He’ll be much missed.
For those in the UK, I will be appearing at the QED conference devoted to discussions of skepticism, science, and rational thinking. Specifically, I’ve been invited to take part in a panel on October 15th titled “The Science of Game of Thrones”, inspired by the book of the same name by Helen Keen. Keen will be joining us, as well as a number of other panelists. Here’s the full details from the conference site:
Do dragons actually exist? Is it possible to crush a person’s head with your bare hands? What really happened when royal families interbred? How does wildfire win wars? Can you really kill someone with molten gold?
These burning questions (groan) will be bravely tackled by our crack team of Game of Thrones experts.
Join Maesters Helen Keen, Dr Gerardo GarcÃ%ADa, and Elio GarcÃ%ADa as they discuss the science behind the Seven Kingdoms under the skeptical eye of Grand Maester Deborah Hyde. With luck and careful analysis we may at last discover the airspeed velocity of an unladen Westerosi raven.
QED tickets are still on sale, and you can pick yours up today.
We’ve been referring to this for a couple of months as something in the works, but Linda and I are now very happy to join in making the official announcement of the launch of Martin Studies International Network.
What’s that, you may ask? See the press release below to learn more:
The Martin Studies International Network is the first scholarly association devoted to the work of George R.R. Martin. It is dedicated to academics and fans of the worlds created by George R.R. Martin. Its aim is to provide George R.R. Martin’s work with the academic and expert attention it deserves.
The founding members of the Network are active members of the fan and academic communities:
Linda and I recently published a video on our Westeros.org youtube channel regarding annulments in Westeros. This is in reaction to something on Game of Thrones—Linda explains more in the video—but suffice it to say, it contains spoilers for season 7 of the series.
(And no, still not watching myself, but I know the general gist of what’s been happening so far, which is more than enough to confirm that I made the right choice for myself.)