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A Bit More (Fake) History

I had intended to write this post a few days ago, when Bantam gave me the green light, but I got busy, and we had Carrie Vaughn coming to town, and a worldcon/ Hugo deadline approaching, and all that seemed more time-sensitive, so I wrote those instead. Unfortunately, that meant the news below broke from other sources, and inevitably, all sorts of weird distortions crept in, and now the internet is rife with rumors and false reports and misinformation. Pfui. I need to set the record straight.

My friend Gardner Dozois, long-time anthologist and winner (many many times) of the Hugo Award for Best Professional Editor, has a big new fantasy anthology coming out this fall. It's called THE BOOK OF SWORDS, and it's about... well... swords. Y'know. "Stick 'em with the pointy end."

I have a story in the book. "The Sons of the Dragon" is the title. Those of you who enjoyed "The Princess and the Queen" in DANGEROUS WOMEN and "The Rogue Prince" in ROGUES will probably like this one too. It's water from the same well. A history rather than a traditional narrative. A lot of telling, only a little showing. (The opposite of what I do in my novels). But if you're fascinated by the politics of Westeros, as many of my readers seem to be, you should enjoy it. As the title suggests, "The Sons of the Dragon" chronicles the reigns of the second and third Targaryen kings, Aenys I and Maegor the Cruel, along with their mothers, wives, sisters, children, friends, enemies, and rivals. If you're read something to that effect on the web, good, that much is right.

However, there is a lot that's wrong out there as well. THE BOOK OF SWORDS is not my book. I didn't write but a small part of it, and I didn't edit it, nor even co-edit it. Gardner is one of my oldest friends and he and I have co-edited a number of anthologies together. We did OLD MARS and OLD VENUS together. We did SONGS OF LOVE & DEATH and DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS together. We did the huge award-winning cross-genre anthologies WARRIORS, DANGEROUS WOMEN, and ROGUES together. But we did not do THE BOOK OF SWORDS together.

SWORDS is all the Great Gargoo. I mean, it's not as if he hasn't edited a hundred other anthologies all by himself, before he did a few with me. We're friends, but we are not attached at the hip. I edit Wild Cards without any help from Gardner, and he edits lots of great stuff without any help from me... including THE BOOK OF SWORDS and next year's THE BOOK OF MAGIC (which will also have a story from me, a reprint).

Truth be told, I loved editing those anthologies with Gardner, and we want to do more together. We're talked about MORE ROGUES and EVEN MORE DANGEROUS WOMEN, since those two books were hugely successful, and we have definite plans for OLD LUNA and, who knows, maybe eventually OLD MERCURY and OLD PLUTO and OLD URANUS. But we're not doing any of that NOW. The anthologies, much as I loved them, were taking too much of my time, so I stepped back from them... until I finish THE WINDS OF WINTER, at least. Once that's done, maybe I can sneak another one in...

The point is, just because I had to step back did not mean Gardner had to. And he hasn't. Hence THE BOOK OF SWORDS, which I expect to be just as good as ROGUES or DANGEROUS WOMEN.

The lineup of THE BOOK OF SWORDS is an impressive one:

Introduction by Gardner Dozois
THE SWORD OF DESTINY, by Matthew Hughes
THE TRIUMPH OF VIRTUE, by Walter Jon Williams
THE MOCKING TOWER, by Daniel Abraham
HRUNTING, by C.J. Cherryh
A LONG, COLD TRAIL, by Garth Nix
THE KING'S EVIL, by Elizabeth Bear
WATERFALLING, by Lavie Tidhar
THE SWORD TYRASTE, by Cecelia Holland
THE SONS OF THE DRAGON, by George R.R. Martin

There's some amazing writers there. Some of the stories, I expect, will contend for the Hugo and the World Fantasy Award. But I wouldn't know which, since I haven't read any of them yet, since I am not the editor. Unlike, say, ROGUES and OLD MARS and the like, where I read every word, because I was the co-editor.

THE BOOK OF SWORDS is scheduled for release on October 10 in hardcover and ebook. (I don't have the cover art yet, but when I do I will post it here).

As for my own story...

Long-time lurkers on this site will recall that several years ago, when we were working on the gorgeous illustrated worldbook/ concordance that was eventually published as THE WORLD OF ICE & FIRE, I wrote a number of 'sidebar's about Westerosi history. Actually, I got rather carried away, until I found I had written 350,000 words of sidebars for a book that was supposed to have only 50,000 words of text (it ended up having a lot more that that, actually). Since I had only reached the regency of Aegon III the Dragonbane, and had largely skipped over Jaehaerys I the Conciliator, however, it became apparent that my sidebars were going to burst the book.

So we pulled them all out, including only severely abridged versions of the main events in THE WORLD OF ICE AND FIRE. The full versions, much longer and unabridged, will eventually be published in a fake history tome to be called FIRE & BLOOD (and sometimes just the GRRMarillion), but since that one is years away, I included excerpts (again abridged, though not as severely) in DANGEROUS WOMEN and ROGUES. That's where "The Princess and the Queen" and "The Rogue Prince" came from.

"The Sons of the Dragon" came from the same place. Gardner asked me for a story. I told him I did not have the time to write a story. He asked if perhaps I had more like "The Princess and the Queen" lying about... as it happened, I did. So I sent him "The Sons of the Dragon," he liked it, and there we are. (Fwiw, though "Sons" has never been published before, some of you may have heard me read it at one convention or another. I think I've read it twice, though offhand I do not recall when).

Anyway... that's the story of the story. Don't believe any other weird crap you may encounter on the web. It's Gardner's book, and it should be a fine one. You can't go wrong with Robin Hobb, Scott Lynch, Lavie Tidhar, Daniel Abraham, Matthew Hughes, and the rest of the contributors that Gargy has assembled. You'll love their stuff, I know. Maybe you'll like my contribution as well... if you're partial to fake history.


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Feb. 3rd, 2017 03:37 am (UTC)
Dear George,

All i need is a book full of Good Queen Aly, her husband, her kiddos, her dragon and all the details in between. In a world full of amazing characters, she is my standout favorite, and someone I aspire to be like. Thank you for creating such an amazing character. I hope we get more of her in the works to come.
Feb. 3rd, 2017 04:36 pm (UTC)
Dear Mr Martin:

I am very happy to know that I will read one more of your great stories shortly. I love how you psychologically analyse and evolve your characters in ASOIAF, I love the complexity of your plots and your narrative style. As many, many other fans I have read just ASOIAF, but last week I started A Fevre Dream and, of course, I will read Wild Cards in the future. You've been an inspiration and a reminder of the dreams I have. I hope that one day I can write as well as you and create characters as rich as yours, and if that day comes, you will be the first to know.
Feb. 3rd, 2017 06:52 pm (UTC)
Moat Cailin
Is there any significance to the parallels that could be drawn between the Wall and Moat Cailin. 20 well manned towers and a great basalt wall fall into disrepair and now theres only 3 decrepit towers left. It seems interesting that moat Cailin protects against invasions from the south.
Benjamin Whitney
Feb. 4th, 2017 03:00 am (UTC)
Amazing line up!
I'm happy to see that Scott lynch has a story in there! As well as his partner, Elizabeth bear! The gentleman bastards is among my top favorite series! Though I doubt this story falls in that line. Either way lynch is great! Looking forward to reading Nix, and Hobb as well! I do wish rothfuss and butcher had stories in this anthology, but I'm hoping the reason they don't is because they're working on their own wonderful series!

Ps, lets go dirty birds!

Edited at 2017-02-04 03:02 am (UTC)
Feb. 7th, 2017 07:49 pm (UTC)
Title confusion
When I saw this post I was immediately reminded of a book series generally referred to as The Book of Swords by Fred Saberhagen.

I would assume that since the actual titles of those books are "The Complete Book of Swords" and "The Lost Swords" that's why the title of the anthology can still be used?

I'm not trying to be a problem or cause issues, just interested in the legal mumbo-jumbo around stuff like this. I've never really understood the copyright protection (if indeed it is copyright, and maybe not trademark? like I said I don't really get it fully) around names on books.
Feb. 8th, 2017 05:43 am (UTC)
RE: Title confusion
Titles cannot be copyrighted. They can be trademarked, but few are.
Feb. 8th, 2017 06:47 am (UTC)
Re: Title confusion
Ok. Why is it that most titles aren't trademarked? Is it just a costly and/or pointless endeavor, or more that most authors don't really care if there is possible "name confusion" (for lack of a better phrase). Or is it more that authors are generally respectful of another authors' title so it just never really comes up?

I would imagine that from a beginning authors' side/view that it would be costly and generally unneeded unless their work became rather well known (which while possible, is unlikely), but say from someone rather well known that it might be more worthwhile, especially if they are planning a large series (as it's a lot more likely to have name recognition you might want to protect), logistically speaking.

So I suspect by kind of thinking it through from a logical sense, it's most likely to be mainly cost prohibitive for new/beginning authors, hence the reason it isn't really done often.
Feb. 8th, 2017 09:07 pm (UTC)
Re: Title confusion
Yes, trademarking is a costly and time-consuming process, requiring lawyers. And once you have the trademark, you need to defend it, which means you need keep those lawyers around and keep paying them.

Considering how little most midlist authors are paid, one could easily end up paying more to trademark a title than you received for the book.
Feb. 11th, 2017 02:16 am (UTC)
Re: Title confusion
With results such as Jurassic Park, both in novel and film versions, having a sequel called "The Lost World", a title which was already famous as belonging to Arthur Conan Doyle's own novel about an expedition to find dinosaurs...
Feb. 12th, 2017 09:47 pm (UTC)
Can you educate the uneducated on book editing?!
George, I see a lot of mentioning about editing other authors books.. can you explain what's involved with that ? Are you reading books and making grammar corrections ? Or do you read books and give ideas how to improve on a story line?
I'm only asking because I notice a lot of authors have other authors edit their books. So my curiosity of the inner circle of book writers started wondering ...
Feb. 15th, 2017 01:36 am (UTC)
Re: Can you educate the uneducated on book editing?!
Editors sometimes catch typos and fix grammar, but for the main part that's the job of the copyeditor, an altogether different position.

The editor has much broader responsibilities than that. The precise nature depends in part on what you're editing -- a magazine, an anthology, a book, a line of books.
Feb. 15th, 2017 03:56 am (UTC)
RE: Re: Can you educate the uneducated on book editing?!
I appreciate you taking the time to break it down.
I enjoy reading, but sometimes find myself just as facinated with the process of creating a book. It seems there is so much more involved than just writing a story on paper.
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George R.R. Martin
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