George RR Martin: ‘Science fiction has conquered the world’

This Irish Times article gives a little background into Martin’s life and what inspired him growing up. Raised in public housing, Martin found escape from his bleak surroundings in the soaring fiction of Robert Heinlein and other science fiction authors.

It would seem Martin’s fortunes have changed.

When asked about the near-fanatical devotion sci-fi readers feel about their favorite authors, Martin replies:

“Science fiction, for much of its history – and this goes back to before I was born – was not considered reputable,” says Martin. “It was seen as cheap gutter entertainment. I was a bright kid, but even I had teachers say to me, ‘Why do you read that science-fiction stuff? Why don’t you read real literature?’ You got that kind of snobbism.”

I remember one of my favorite English lit professors catching heat from his peers because he had us read Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, now considered a classic. And Vonnegut himself got zinged a few times in his career for writing sci-fi stories.

But as Martin says, times have changed.

10 thoughts on “George RR Martin: ‘Science fiction has conquered the world’”

  1. I regularly recall agents submission details stating – science fiction and pornography need not submit… It wasn’t all that long ago, either. And I was ALWAYS thought weird for liking science fiction – a blonde girl???

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      1. It was simply regarded as a trashy genre, which I always resented as I think it’s probably one of the most adventurous and demanding of all reads – if you wish it to be so.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. …hmm. I?m wondering if that might be a bit nation-culture specific. Ie, ‘Brave New’ has been on ‘best of’ lists of lit works in GB… maybe since it was published. Then the aspects of context… ie, ‘flatland’ or ‘alice in’, not to mention ‘inferno’… can certainly fully be called scifi. or scifi-fantasy (Dante), or some of Calvino’s work, etc. Of course, I wasn’t exposed tp any of the before mentioned in the conservative north coast community schools I went through. But at least my HS AP lit. teacher didn’t mind my listing ‘Peanuts (Schultz. Charlie Brown, ecc.,)’ as a great work of literature. (one could open a fairly stratified discussion on how systems and institutions work, social in this instance, in maintining order or orders outside of awareness – less work – and defend themselves or their own expression. Objectively, lit. genres are more industrial than real, I think. It does, after all, depend on intent.)

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  3. I remember this kind of attitude to sci-fi when I was growing up – it’s rubbish, it’s comic-book, it’s not real literature. But of course a lot of sci-fi was just as skilfully written, the characters as carefully drawn, as anything considered ‘literature’ – I am thinking Robert A. Heinlein, particularly, but there were a lot of others. I think sci-fi has been mainstreamed since, and I think the reason was the social impact of Star Trek and Star Wars, largely from the 1970s. This made the whole genre acceptable – it wasn’t seen any longer as the refuge of the socially dysfunctional who couldn’t handle the dimensionalities of real life and real story-telling. It had become cool.

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    1. Matthew,

      No doubt Star Trek and Star Wars made SF mainstream in modern times. Star Trek, with its not-too-subtle takes on the events of the 60s, and Star Wars, borrowing from ancient myths and Campbell’s Hero’s journey, made the genre both relevant and respected.

      Liked by 1 person

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