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A Horrifying Announcement

A long long time ago, in the projects of Bayonne, New Jersey, I fell in love.

I fell in love with comic books and superheroes, thanks to Stan Lee and Julie Schwartz. I fell in love with science fiction, thanks to Robert A. Heinlein, Andre Norton, and Eric Frank Russell. I fell in love with fantasy, thanks to Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, and J.R.R. Tolkien. And I fell in love with monsters and scary stories (later in life, I'd learn to call them 'horror' or weird fiction, but as a kid, they were just monster stories to me)... thanks to a gentleman out of Providence who had died before I was born.

I first encountered the work of H.P. Lovecraft in a paperback anthology entitled BORIS KARLOFF'S FAVORITE HORROR STORIES. I knew Boris from his Frankenstein movies and from TV's THRILLER, the scariest show on television at the time, but I had never heard of HPL until I read "The Haunter of the Dark" in that volume. I had never read a story that scared me more... so of course I sought out more Lovecraft wherever I could find it (not an easy task in those days). No werewolf, no vampire, no thing going bump in the night could give me chills to equal those provided by the cosmic horrors that Lovecraft evoked in tales like "The Whisperer in Darkness," "The Colour Out of Space," "The Shadow Out of Time," "The Rats In the Walls," "The Strange High House in the Mist," and so many more. I have read a lot of horror since, some good, some bad, some indifferent... but only the best work of Stephen King has ever equalled Lovecraft, and that in a very different way.

Our world of imaginative fiction is fortunate in having several terrific writer's workshops specializing in science fiction and fantasy, where aspiring authors can hone their talents and learn from established professionals... but New Hampshire's Odyssey workshop is one of the few that gives equal emphasis to horror, to the monsters and scary stories.

I'm excited to announce that I will be funding a new horror-writing scholarship for the Odyssey workshop. Founded 22 years ago, Odyssey’s six-week program is held each summer on the campus of Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. Combining intensive, advanced lectures with in-depth feedback on students’ manuscripts, Odyssey has become legendary for the challenges it sets for students and the enthusiasm with which they meet those challenges. And all that writing, learning, critiquing, and sweat yields great results. Among Odyssey's alumni are New York Times bestsellers, Amazon bestsellers, and award winners.

It’s my hope that this new scholarship will offer an opportunity to a worthy applicant who might not otherwise have been able to afford the Odyssey experience.

The Miskatonic Scholarship will be awarded to a promising new writer of Lovecraftian cosmic horror. Let us be clear: we are not looking for Lovecraft pastiches, nor even Cthulhu Mythos stories. References to Arkham, Azathoth, shoggoths, the Necronomicon, and the fungi from Yuggoth are by no means obligatory... though if some candidates choose to include them, that's fine as well. What we want is the sort of originality that HPL displayed in his day, something that goes beyond the tired tropes of werewolves, vampires and zombies, into places strange and terrifying and never seen before. What we want are nightmares new and resonant and profound, cosmic terrors that will haunt our dreams for years to come.

The Miskatonic will be a full scholarship, given annually, and covering tuition, fees, and lodging for a single student each year. The award will not be limited by age, race, sex, religion, skin color, place of origin, or field of study. The only criteria will be literary. A panel of three judges will select the winner from among the applicants who have demonstrated financial need, solely on the basis of their story samples. Since this year's class of students has already been selected from among the pool of applicants, the Miskatonic Scholarship will be awarded for the first time next year, to a student from the class of 2018.

H.P. Lovecraft himself during his lifetime gave generously of his time and talent to many a younger writer, including Frank Belknap Long, Robert Bloch, Donald Wandrei, August Derleth, Robert E. Howard, and many more. It is our hope that the ongoing annual Miskatonic Scholarship will provide the same sort of encouragement and inspiration to a new generation of writers, for all the long dark nights ahead.

George R.R. Martin


Mark J. Crandley
Apr. 26th, 2017 07:18 pm (UTC)
Great idea
Congrats. I hope this is helpful to some excellent talent for the future. And I love seeing how Lovecraft creeps into your work. One of my favorite meta aspects of the ASOIAF.
Apr. 26th, 2017 07:33 pm (UTC)
Speaking of HPL
While this isn't really related to the Scholarship (sorry if off topic) one of the best Lovecraftian Horror themed properties I've ever seen is a game called Darkest Dungeon. This trailer of the game gives me chills every time I watch it.

Chris Huggins
Apr. 26th, 2017 07:36 pm (UTC)
Oh Bloody Hell Sir! You had me worried for a moment there! Wonderful idea and masterfully expressed.
Russ Nickel
Apr. 26th, 2017 07:50 pm (UTC)
It's so great that you're doing this!

I'm lucky enough to have made it into Odyssey for this year, and I couldn't possibly be more excited. Makes me happy to know that it'll be easier for other writers with need to attend in the future!

Williamjames Hoffer
Apr. 26th, 2017 07:51 pm (UTC)
Truly Startled
The subject line scared the crud out of me. A "horrifying announcement" from GRRM! Oh no! Thank goodness I kept reading. Wonderful news. Thanks again for you paying it forward. I wonder how many will get the HPL reference in your "mood" setting. I would also dearly love to know if your worlds are Lovecraftian, but I suspect your answer will always be: "Keep reading."
Apr. 26th, 2017 07:53 pm (UTC)
This is so cool! Mr Lovecraft managed to scare me to death (well, nearly) by The Whisperer in Darkness when I was 15. As a result I had been avoiding horror for ages until I came back to HPL at the tender age of 38 thanks to you, Mr Martin. I just couldn't miss HPL's influence in your work and I told myself why not. Have been delighted with HPL ever since. Still scary, but I'm not 15 anymore so I can appreciate it. :-) I hope for many worthy candidates for the Miskatonic scholarship. :-)

As for influences - Iron Islands are a given, but I always wanted to know - was The Stone City influenced by HPL, too? One of my faves by you, wonderfully eerie with a touch of Kafka.

Edited at 2017-04-26 07:54 pm (UTC)
Apr. 26th, 2017 08:08 pm (UTC)
Stone City was definitely more Kafka than Lovecraft.
Apr. 26th, 2017 08:16 pm (UTC)
Kafka was hard to miss, but once the scene moved underground it felt lovecrafteque :-)

Thanks for replying!
Apr. 27th, 2017 04:41 am (UTC)
Stone City reread
I am in the middle of a Stone City reread and this story always gives me a tight squeeze internally. This is one of the few stories where after I read it, or a bit of it, I have to avoid my family for a while or I may lash out at them.
Apr. 26th, 2017 08:10 pm (UTC)
For a second there, I thought
your DOS computer somehow caught on fire and you lost a few months work.

P.S. Wicked workshop--get it?--, and I LOVE the fact that the scholarship goes to the BEST applicant.
Apr. 26th, 2017 09:32 pm (UTC)
All the horror-ful things up here in NH
I've been listening to an audiobook of some Lovecraft stories in an attempt to diversify my fantasy-ish reading. My favorites so far are the ones where creepy things lurk in the New England woods, because the woods here are clearly haunted with Eldritch horrors and Robert Frost poems...and Cujo, definitely Cujo. Wishing much inspiration to your scholarship recipient. Hopefully, they will get out of Manchester and into the woods while they are here.
Apr. 26th, 2017 09:55 pm (UTC)
This is really great!
I'm an Odyssey graduate from 2014 and am so excited to hear about the Miskatonic scholarship. Attending the Odyssey Writing Workshop (http://odysseyworkshop.org) was not only the highlight of my writing career, it was the best and most helpful experience of my life. I learned so very much and am super glad to hear that other writers—who otherwise would not have had the chance to learn from Jean Cavelos and 14–15 amazing fellow writers—will now be able do so. I have no doubt that it will be a life-altering experience for each and every future recipient, as well.

Michael R.R. McLaughlin (http://www.theherosagas.com/)
Apr. 26th, 2017 10:18 pm (UTC)
As a former graduate of Odyssey, I thank you!!!!
Apr. 27th, 2017 01:00 am (UTC)
Thank you
As an Odyssey graduate (Class of 2001), I would like to say thank you for helping to support the program. I learned far more about writing during my 6 weeks at Odyssey than I did in the previous 4 years of college.
Apr. 27th, 2017 03:25 am (UTC)
I have read a lot of horror since, some good, some bad, some indifferent... but only the best work of Stephen King has ever equaled Lovecraft, and that in a very different way.

Which work of King's are you thinking of as equal to Lovecraft?

I have a strange relation to horror fiction nowadays. I still enjoy it, but I have a hard time being genuinely scared by it.

When I was a kid, though? The mini-series IT had me traumatized for days, thinking every time I took a bath a monster clown would pull itself from the drain and drag me off into the sewers to be devoured.
Craig Dickson
Apr. 27th, 2017 03:38 am (UTC)
George, are you familiar with the work of Thomas Ligotti? I find him to be one of the few horror writers who have really gone beyond Lovecraft. His vision of the universe as a sort of annihilating nothingness is very distinctive. Stories such as his Lovecraft homage "The Last Feast of Harlequin" and "The Night School" draw very near to the heart of nightmare, I think.
Apr. 27th, 2017 09:32 am (UTC)
The Flesh King
Speaking of horror; I was just watching the "conversation" you had with Stephen King on YouTube, and man, you've managed to drown me in confused nostalgia; Flesh Gordon! Mentioning it zapped me back to 1986, I was 5 years old, and really loved the 1980 Flash Gordon film, at the time even moreso than Star Wars cos I didn't have a copy, but Flash had been on BBC1 recently so I'd recorded it, and watched it every morning before school. Anyway, one day on my way home I stopped off at the sweetshop(candy store?)/newsagent, that also rented out videos; and imagine my horror and confusion at the sight of Flesh Gordon to rent!
The cover was a picture of the dick-shaped rocket, and on the back was a still of the characters sucking the boob-shaped G-Force protection devices during lift-off.. So, for months I would stop off at this shop and hide in the back, examining the video box, I was fascinated, and reviled, and also whatever the 5 year old's version of turned on is, all at once!
Anyway, my point being; I had completely forgotten about this whole experience til just now; but isn't nostalgia such a crazy feeling, I've been sucked back in time to that confusing dingy sweetshop, 5 years old again. Which in itself is kind of like a flashback in a Stephen King novel; my hometown Sheffield is a pretty crap, surreal and run down place like Derry, too...
Have you actually seen Flesh Gordon? Is it as lurid and perverse as I'm remembering, or just a bit of fun; adult fun obviously? (Why it was on a shelf I could see and reach is beyond me, shame the box wasn't!)
That's all, anyway.
Apr. 27th, 2017 05:37 pm (UTC)
Re: The Flesh King
I saw FLESH GORDON when it first came out, a zillon years ago. It's pretty much what you'd expect: hokey campy 70s softcore.

My friend Tom Reamy, a brilliant writer who died way way too young, worked on the film as a propmaster.
Apr. 27th, 2017 08:54 pm (UTC)
Re: The Flesh King
Haha wicked, he would've been in charge of the boob G-force things then; nice work if you can get it
Apr. 27th, 2017 11:20 am (UTC)
I already have a life and a career and a scholarship, but I wish I could apply for this specifically so that I could legitimately claim to be "a Miskatonic scholar".
Apr. 27th, 2017 01:56 pm (UTC)
Love story
I too fell in love with fantasy and SF when I was a youngster. Tolkien hooked me when I was in primary school - after finishing the Hobbit, I had to beg my mother to borrow the Lord of the Rings novels from my local library, as the librarian thought that I was too young to read them. They were in the adult section of the library.
I moved on to read many fantasy and SF stories, including ones by Heinlein, Asimov, Adams, McCaffrey and King, as a teenager/young adult. Then for some reason, I moved away from fantasy and SF for many years before your A Song of Ice and Fire series hooked me again.
I am certainly interested in reading some of Lovecraft's stories, based on your recommendation.
Love the picture of you from the past, George!

Apr. 27th, 2017 03:18 pm (UTC)
Are you coming to St. A's George?

It's right down the road from me. I'll drop by and bring you some great New England beer!
Bernhard Vienna
Apr. 28th, 2017 05:21 pm (UTC)
Great but
Isn't there a danger that the writers might go crazy?

Have you ever gone crazy while writing and was there anything that has helped you?
Apr. 28th, 2017 09:55 pm (UTC)

sorry bad english .

good idea.
i think there are not many good horror writers out there. its everytime the same stuff.

I would like to read a horror book from paul auster.he is a good writer.

the scariest book i ever read was shining. this woman in the bathtube...
The only time I put a book away.( Kings best book is Christine.)

a very great story of lovecraft is a story with this crabpeople and a guy with his dogs fighting them.

good day to you and i pe you will finish the winds of winter before ww3
starts( you know this usa and korea stuff).
Apr. 29th, 2017 04:49 pm (UTC)
It's really wonderfull that many people are getting this chance to show their talent. Pity that a lifetime is to short to even remotely enjoy all the wonderfull stories there are and will be one day.The Odyssey name is really perfect given the glourious amount of monsters in greek mythology,many encountered by Odysseus in the lost lands of the edge of the world.
I always loved monsters and creatures,whether in cartoons,books or movies,it's one of the reasons i delighted in myths and legends,sea monsters were specially terrifying but dragons were the coolest.
Anyway i would love to know: Are there any sea monsters in the world of Westeros?
What do your basilisks look like?
I really loved to read about the creatures and scary places in "A World of Ice and Fire" like Sothoryos or the farthest east. Any chance that in a future story we will see some of these creatures? (like the old ones, the bloodless men or the animals of Sothoryos)

Apr. 29th, 2017 08:52 pm (UTC)
I love reading all these comments from Odyssey graduates! and the scholarship announcement is just magnificent news!

Of interest to Odyssey graduates is "Yours to Tell:Dialogues on the Art and Practice of Writing" by Steve Rasnic Tem and Melanie Tem. Melanie passed away a few years ago, this book is transcriptions of their discussions while they were the Writers-in-Residence at Odyssey in 2005 and 2014.
Apr. 30th, 2017 10:03 am (UTC)
Regarding weird fiction and such. Found this on the net:

J.-H. Rosny occupies a position of historical importance in the genesis of francophone science fiction second only to that of Jules Verne, and corresponding in English to that of the aforementioned H.G. Wells. Though the appellation “science fiction” had yet to gain currency in either tradition when Rosny and Wells began publishing, both lived long enough to see their work absorbed into it. Dans le monde francophone, science fiction cohabits a genre ecosystem with both fantasy and a third stream, the fantastique, which remains absent from the Anglosphere as a discrete category, et c’est dans la littérature fantastique that we find much of what we recognize today as The Weird, including Jean Ray, who definitely read his fellow Belgian and found some inspiration chez Rosny. Though today both the French and English traditions catalogue “Les Xipéhuz” as science fiction and even recognize it as one of the genre’s foundational texts, we shall consider it equally as an exemplar of the Weird Tale.

I am not going to define the Weird Tale, Weird Fiction, or The Weird. Let us all agree that we know The Weird when we see it—comme la pornographie, n’est-ce pas? And I know I see it in “Les Xipéhuz,” more than ever after my recent experience (re)translating it into English.

Unfortunately, none of the prior English translations capture either the genuine weirdness and cosmic horror that pervade much of the story, or the almost sublime lyrical quality that Rosny’s prose achieves at its best, especially in the story’s opening sections and all its weirdest and darkest parts.


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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