Ian Thomas Malone

A Connecticut Yogi in King Joffrey's Court

books Archive

Friday

3

April 2015

1

COMMENTS

Authenticity Sets Outlander Apart From Other Historical Dramas

Written by , Posted in Blog, Pop Culture

Like many, I was skeptical of Outlander when Starz announced it was picking up the series. The comparisons to Game of Thrones were inevitable, though Diana Gabaldon’s time traveling historical romance series bears little in common with George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire. Starz could’ve easily tried to make itself another Spartacus, which wouldn’t have been fair to the source material.

We’re in a pretty unique era for fantasy dramas and period pieces with Outlander having its feet in both genres. Probably the only valid comparison between Outlander and Game of Thrones is that they’re both fantasy shows where fantasy isn’t a predominant driving force in the narrative. Time travel sets the plot of Outlander in motion, but it’s hardly a show about time travel just as Game of Thrones is more of a political story than one about dragons, white walkers, and faceless men (also worth noting that Gabaldon and Martin have appeared in two anthologies together, one of which was edited by Martin).

In retrospect, it was foolish to have ever doubted Ronald D. Moore, who managed to take a cheesy Star Wars knock off and remake it into one of the greatest shows of the 21st century with Battlestar Galactica. Moore pays all due respect to Outlander’s source material as he did with BSG, all whilst creating a show that sets itself apart from a very crowded field.

Outlander is a beautiful show to watch. The scenery almost plays like an infomercial for Scotland’s tourism department, filming on locations that really make you feel like you’re in the 1700s. Though only about half of the principal cast are Scottish, the accents could fool just about anyone.

The other thing that really sets Outlander apart is the reservation with which it handles its freedom as a premium cable show. It could have all the sex, gore, and foul language it wants and yet it’s pretty tame by cable standards. Moore knows that while those can be used to draw attention to a show, you don’t have to have nudity in every episode to make a compelling drama.

We’re living in a great time for shows like Outlander. The fact that the show is drawing plenty of hype when Game of Thrones’ own return come just a week after is a testament to its quality. Many of the posters advertising the show have a picture of Jamie along with the phrase “some like it Scot.” Very rarely does an advertisement hit its mark with such accuracy.

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Monday

27

October 2014

0

COMMENTS

Thoughts on George R. R. Martin’s 92Y World of Ice and Fire Talk

Written by , Posted in Blog, Game of Thrones

Last night I attended a talk regarding The World of Ice and Fire with George R. R. Martin at the 92Y in NYC. The event was crowded, though not sold out, and Martin supplied an evening of observations concerning the world of Westeros and the kind of work that goes into creating a book like this. For this article, I wanted to highlight some of the parts of the event that stood out.

Martin was quick to distance the moderator’s suggestion that The World of Ice and Fire was his answer to Tolkien’s The Silmarillion, reminding the audience that the GRRMillion is still to come. Instead, Martin compared TWOIAF to the numerous illustrated fantasy series that have come before. He also discussed the process that went into making a book like this, crediting Elio Garcia and Linda Antonsson with the initial rough draft before deadlines at years of delay and excessive word counts clouded the picture.

Martin also talked about the difficulties he found when it came to revealing certain parts of the history that haven’t been covered in the books or the novellas. Summerhall was specifically singled out as an event he wanted to save for a future book and orchestrated a careful dodging of the event. He did say that both Garcia and his editors persuaded him to include more new material than he initially intended.

While there was no mention of The Winds of Winter, the notion that there will be seven or eight Tales of Dunk & Egg was reaffirmed. D&E actually got a surprising number of mentions, including an illustration of Ser Duncan the Tall fighting as a member of the Kingsguard. The GRRMillion was also talked about many times, though it appears to be at this point largely theoretical.

Mentions of Game of Thrones were kept to a minimum. At one point, the moderator suggested that this was intentional. Martin was complimentary of the show’s decision, including the placing of the Eeyrie’s moon door in the floor rather than the wall. The show served as a contrast to the artwork of TWOIAF, which was able to capture Martin’s own vision in a way that television simply cannot realistically achieve.

All in all, it was an enjoyable evening that supplied more information than was to be expected from that type of event. Questions like “who is your favorite character” were excluded and the general tone didn’t shy away from spoilers though there were few to be had. Martin is a living legend and it was a treat to see him in person.

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Sunday

19

October 2014

1

COMMENTS

The Importance of George R.R. Martin’s Anthology Work

Written by , Posted in Blog, Game of Thrones

“Finish the book” is a phrase that’s become intrinsically linked to George R.R. Martin in the wake of Game of Thrones’ success in 2011. The long wait for The Winds of Winter has many fans angry, though it’s worth noting that the delays are neither surprising nor unprecedented. Five year gaps have become the norm with A Song of Ice and Fire and that was before Martin became one of, if not, the most famous author on the planet. But Martin hasn’t been away from writing while he’s traveled the world giving interviews and attending launch parties.

Since A Dance With Dragon’s release in 2011, Martin has scripted four Game of Thrones episodes, served as the coeditor of five anthologies (also a contributor to two), and as a coauthor of The World of Ice and Fire, which comes out next week. He’s also released several TWOW chapters, though it’s still pretty unclear as to how far along he is with the book. For a man in his sixties who famously detests writing on the road, that’s a pretty heavy workload.

As expected, his work on other projects takes a backseat in the media to ASOIAF. That’s what happens when you author a worldwide phenomenon. While anthologies don’t create the kind of buzz that garners much mainstream attention, it can be easy to overlook the value of the work he’s doing on them.

Martin’s rise to fame is much different from other celebrity authors like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling, who achieved mainstream success quite early on in their careers. Martin’s first novel was released twenty years before A Game of Thrones, which in turn was released nine years before A Feast for Crows debuted at number one on the New York Times Best Seller list in 2005, placing him in the upper echelon of fantasy writers. That being six years before GOT premiered on HBO, showing us the long and unusual journey he took to stardom.

So what does this have to do with anthologies? Let’s look at Robert Silverberg’s Legends, the anthology that housed The Hedge Knight, the first Tales of Dunk and Egg novella. It’s certainly possible to make the case that Legends has the most star power of any fantasy anthology ever written with contributions from King, Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind, Anne McCaffrey, Orson Scott Card, Terry Pratchett, and Raymond E. Feist among others. Legends II includes Terry Brooks, Neil Gaiman, and Diana Gabaldon, adding to the series’ immense name recognition.

The funny thing about Legends in the year 2014 is that Martin wasn’t even famous enough to be featured on the front cover when it came out in 1998. He didn’t get that accolade until the sequel in 2003. To your average consumer, Martin would likely be placed second behind King if the book came out today for the first time.

The success of Legends contributed to the fortunes of the lesser-known writers, who benefited from the exposure that they received from being featured alongside established names like King and Jordan. Many copies of A Game of Thrones still feature Jordan’s stamp of approval. While that’s something that’s easy to overlook, that sort of quote can be a tremendous boost for unknown writers.

Which is why Martin’s work on anthologies is not only important to the literary world, it also shows his true character. This is a guy who busted his ass for decades to get where he is now. But he didn’t make his fortune without some help and he remembers that. Pay it forward at its finest.

Martin’s name recognition changes the lives of the authors in his anthologies. His name headlining collections like Dangerous Women and Rogues is huge, even for the writers featured on the back of the book, like Martin once was. The literary world is as large and dense as Westeros and it’s very difficult to get exposure for books if you’re an unknown. Being featured in an anthology with someone like Martin’s name of the cover is practically a gift from R’hllor himself.

While “finish the book” is a catchy phrase, it’s important to remember that Martin is a man who achieved his dream late in life is and doing what he needs to do to get his creative vibes in order. That process serves as a tremendous benefit to the literary world as a whole, which needs people like Martin to champion works that might otherwise go unnoticed.

The wait for The Winds of Winter is certainly annoying and perhaps even more so now that the show is starting to catch up with the books, but there are still plenty of other Martin related works to enjoy. Who knows, you might even discover a new author. Anthologies might not be what the masses want from Martin, but he’s doing work that represents his continued devotion to maintaining interest in books as a whole. As Tyrion once said, “a mind needs books as a sword needs a whetstone, if it is to keep its edge.”

Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this article, there’s a Game of Thrones category under the blog section. I also have a Facebook page and would appreciate a “like” if you feel so inclined.

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Monday

25

August 2014

1

COMMENTS

Five College Dialogues is Available

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The moment we’ve all be waiting for is finally here. Five College Dialogues is available from Amazon and Touchpoint Press’ online bookstore in paperback and e-book. I found the release date to be quite fitting as most colleges are getting back into the swing of things right about now. It’s the perfect time of the year to explore the ins and outs of college life.

I’m also happy to announce that two sequels have been commissioned. Five More College Dialogues and Five High School Dialogues will continue The Chief’s mission to encourage students to critically examine both their decisions and their environments in a comedic yet sincere fashion. Work on FMCD is going well and I’m on schedule to have it ready to send to TPP by October.

I wanted to thank you the reader. Whether you’ve been with me since my TV Hell days (or even before that), or if this is the first you’ve read of me, I’ve always appreciated every bit of feedback I’ve received over the years. Today is a day I’ll always remember.

I’ll periodically include updates for promotional appearances/events on the main page of the site as well as on FCD’s page. I hope you enjoy the book and thank you for reading. Namaste.Five College Dialogues_Print_5x8_front

 

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Thursday

22

May 2014

1

COMMENTS

The Troubles of Book to Screen in Game Of Thrones

Written by , Posted in Blog, Game of Thrones

As a bibliophile and a TV/film fanatic, I’ve always tried to curtail my expectations for adaptation of books I enjoy. It’s always been my belief that a good adaptation tries to capture the essence of a book rather than mimic it. Blade Runner is a good example of this. The film bears little resemblance to Philip K. Dick’s novella, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? but is excellent in its own right.

When it comes to George R. R. Martin’s epic Song of Ice and Fire, ten hours is simply not enough time to cover everything. More importantly, it would be foolish to even try even if more time was allotted. The show does cover most of the main points with min
or deviations, but that will likely change and the show progresses, even without taking into consideration that the final two books haven’t even been written yet.

There are many differences between TV and books, but the most important with regards to Game of Thrones is pacing. For a series that has hundreds of characters that covers thousands of pages, there’s a lot of downtime in A Song of Ice and Fire. We see this particularly with Daenerys Targaryen, who is given relatively little to do compared to the rest of the series’ major characters. The TV cannot have a character who sits around all season and thus deviation is required. We saw this in season two with the captured dragon plot in Quarth. People can criticize it for not being in the books, but without it we’d be left with a character who mostly roamed around with nothing to do all season.

The pacing also becomes increasingly more confusing with the fourth and fifth books, which take place over roughly the same amount of time and introduce several new POV characters. While the books can get away with this, keeping in mind that neither book received the kind of critical acclaim that the first three received, a TV show can’t. Television doesn’t just one day decide that the lead isn’t the lead anymore.

This requires the show to move certain plotlines along faster than the books do. Theon Grejoy is elevated to POV character in A Clash of Kings, only to disappear for the next two books before becoming important again inA Dance With Dragons. Game of Thrones can’t get away with this. If the producers tried to tell Alfie Allen that his character would be gone for two years, he would go find other work. Further more, people would naturally lose interest.

That’s part of what makes Game of Thrones such a groundbreaking show. Both the books and the show clearly have the Starks as the main protagonists when the story begins. The Starks are responsible for six of the eight POV characters (not counting the prologue) of A Game of Thrones, yet only three of the fourteen in A Dance With Dragons. The books show an increased effort to explore their depth and from the looks of season four, the show does as well.

As the depth expands, so will the deviation. For characters like Theon, Brienne, and Daenerys, we’re starting to get close to where they are in the series as a whole rather than just where they left off in A Storm of Swords.That’s going to anger some fan purists, who want a strict adaptation of the series. But it shouldn’t, especially since the show is going to catch up with the books sooner rather than later.

Game of Thrones should make plot decisions that work for the show and not strictly because that’s the way things happened in the book. Performances from actors like Charles Dance, Diana Rigg, and Richard Madden elevated their character’s significance and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Robb Stark may not have been a POV character, but it’s hard to argue that he isn’t a more interesting character to watch than his brother Bran.

The big advantage of having POV characters is that the reader is given access to the inner thoughts of a wide spread of characters. We get to see what the Starks and the Lannisters are thinking. In TV, we only get to see what they do. That’s not to say that the POV system isn’t without flaws either. Characters like Sansa are often passive characters in specific scenes between non-POV characters. We have to view these scenes through a biased source. The show doesn’t have those limitations.

The biggest problems with deviations occur when they don’t work. Talisa Stark wasn’t a figure of controversy, but Jamie’s rape of Cersei was a whole different story. While, “it didn’t happen in the book,” is far from the only point of objection to the latter scene, things like that are when the differences between book and show are fully exposed.

While personally, I’ll almost always prefer the book to the screen adaptation, I don’t make a comparison between the two a deciding factor. Book purists should avoid the show entirely, because anger at something for not limiting itself strictly to the confines of what came before it isn’t really fair. Books, movies, and television are all very different mediums that don’t flawlessly translate into one another and that’s okay.

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