Today, we are celebrating the birth of author, screenwriter, producer, and emotional sadist, George R. R. Martin.

Born in Bayonne, New Jersey, on September 20, 1948, Martin is the eldest of Raymond and Margaret Martin’s three children. Growing up poor, Martin became a voracious reader in order to explore in his imagination the world outside of Bayonne; in taking in all those stories, his imagination was sparked to write some of his own and so he did. As early as grade school he was writing stories—usually monster stories—and selling them to other kids for a few cents.

So, it did, George. So, it did.

In high school, Martin got really into comic books and started writing letters to the editors of various comics. As a result, he wound up entering the world of comic book fandom and began writing stories for fanzines. At sixteen, he was the first person to register for what is generally regarded as the first comic-con, which was held in New York in 1964. The following year, he received an Alley Award for his fan fiction “Powerman vs. the Blue Barrier”—which definitely makes me feel some sort of way about the fact that he now disapproves of fanfic.


After high school, he went on to earn bachelor and master degrees in journalism from Northwestern University, during which time he began writing professionally. The first story he sold was a short science fiction piece called “The Hero,” which he sold to Galaxy magazine in 1970. His stories, though, weren’t generating enough income to survive on, so he also had a gig running chess tournaments for the Continental Chess Association. Later, thanks to a friendship with George Guthridge, who Martin met at a science fiction convention, he took on an instructor position at Clarke, where he taught English and journalism courses for two years before becoming the university’s writer-in-residence. It was during his stint at Clarke that he published his first novel, Dying of the Light.

In 1979, Martin resigned from Clarke, moved to Santa Fe, and began writing full-time. During the period between moving to Santa Fe and starting A Song of Ice and Fire, he published four stand-alone novels, five short stories, began working as an editor and collaborator in the Wild Card series, and wrote screenplays for the revival of The Twilight Zone, Max Headroom (though, the show was canceled before Martin’s screenplays aired), and Beauty and the Beast (which my mom and I absolutely loved). During the same period, he was awarded multiple Hugo and Nebula awards, a Bram Stoker award, and six Locus awards.

In 1991, he began working on the series he is best known for: A Song of Ice and Fire. The first book in the series—from which the HBO adaptation draws its name—, A Game of Thrones, was published in 1996. Now, twenty-one years after the first publication in the ASoIaF series, Martin is a celebrity author and has become the subject of numerous impersonations, parodies, and even a tribute in the form of a touring burlesque show.

So, here’s to George Raymond Richard of House Martin, the first of his name; king of popular fantasy, science, and speculative fiction; writer of complex worlds; slayer of beloved characters; the unfinished (just kidding, you’re not a machine); father of the White Walkers, the Children, the First Men, and the Andals. Happy sixty-ninth name day! May you have many, many more.



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