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Hiero79

Does this story actually have any fans?

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I'm an academic literary critic working in the field of modern fantasy literature. In that capacity I've written several peer-reviewed publications about Martin, including a book about how he relates and compares to other fantasy authors. I won't give the titles, because I don't want to be accused of self-promotion, but I do want to observe the one key thing I've learned from several years of research and writing about A Song of Ice and Fire: nobody is the slightest bit interested in it.

Here's my evidence:

    * Multiple conventions have declined my offer to give presentations on Martin.

    * When one convention that accepted such a proposal - a con that Martin himself used to attend and has addressed in the past - the number of people I met who had read his novels was smaller than the number of people I met who'd never heard of him. My presentation attracted an audience of four, one of whom left halfway through.

     * When I gave a colloquium about Martin at my university, two people came. One left halfway through.

     * Four journalists have interviewed me about my book. All told me they were "big GoT fans" in their initial emails. None, it transpired, had ever watched it, or were aware it was a literary adaptation; one opted not to publish the interview at all.

     * I can't get my book reviewed anywhere; no magazines or literary journals want to hear about it.

     * The host of a local soft-news panel discussion on a local radio station mentioned the launch of season 4 of GoT to his three guests that afternoon. Two didn't know what he was talking about. The third said "Thank you, goodbye" and hung up on him. 

     * When I taught A Clash of Kings in a university course in 2016, most students refused to read it. The university allows students to design their own term paper questions; only one student out of a class of 42 opted to write about Martin. She submitted a 2,000 word discussion of how attractive she thought Natalie Dormer was.

     * When a friend showed me the photos she'd taken on her holiday in Dubrovnik, I noted she'd visited the place where GoT filmed its street scenes. She ran out of the room with her fingers in her ears, shouting "I've never heard of that, and neither have any of my friends!"

     * When I gave a public lecture on Martin, it attracted an audience of eight, including my mother. One friend of mine who attended did so because, he explained, "Anything has to be better than reading that crap." He was, at the time, supervising an undergraduate thesis on Martin. 

I'm not telling these horror stories simply to vent my frustration - although I'll admit there's an element of that. I'm simply posting this in an attempt to find out if there are, in fact, any Martin fans out there. Sales figures of the books suggest so, but I'm having real difficulty locating them. To date the number of people I've met who are prepared to take even a polite interest in the story is smaller than the number of people who have actually stopped talking to me when I told them the subject of my book. There's a lot to talk about in this story on both page and screen and, having invested the time and energy I have into studying it, it would be really nice to find someone to have that conversation with. I thought this might be a good place to find those people. Any takers?

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Martin's stories are not for everybody. 

I read Robert Jordan's books before AGOT.  I was slowly acclimated to this type of fiction.  

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I hate to come across as unsupportive, but my experience with George RR's readings, and people's familiarity with and interest in his works, and the audiences for Game of Thrones all contradict what you say you have observed.

Conventions have declined your offers to speak? Nobody attends your colloquia, signs up for your courses? Nobody wants to review your book? Your friends don't want to hear you talk about Game of Thrones? Could be this is on you, not Martin?

Journalists and "soft news" radio show guests haven't heard of Game of Thrones? Yeah, there are lots of "mainstream" folks who don't have a television, pride themselves on ignorance of popular culture. You are looking in the wrong places.

On the other hand, by attempting to make a career out of bashing George RR Martin and ASOIAF, you may be inviting this apparent shunning.

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I agree that this appears quite contrary to what one would expect. ASoIaF has one of the largest fan communities in modern fantasy, and fans are constantly publishing new analyses all over the web, or indeed in academic circles. Aside from Tolkien I am not sure which series would actually be popular if ASoIaF apparently has zero interest. 

Not going to discuss show spoilers this side of the forum, but it's no secret that it was a disappointment to many, and as a result has sort of become a cultural embarrassment. However, it seems like your issues started long before the eighth season, which just sounds very strange. It was a cultural phenomenon, perhaps the last of its kind in getting off the ground as the "big show" that could become water cooler conversation before the rise of streaming services.

It sounds like if people are taking a course on modern fantasy and have zero interest in even discussing ASoIaF, then they are all taking it to pass a semester. 

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Posted (edited)
23 hours ago, zandru said:

Could be this is on you, not Martin?

Thousands of people have participated in this forum and in other blogs, websites and social media discussions of ASOIAF and the HBO program over the years. People buy t-shirts, board games and embossed beer glasses. In other words, there is enormous interest in the work of GRRM, and in the ASOIAF story line in particular.

I am interested in literary analysis of the series, and I do find that there is a much smaller slice of interest in this approach to the stories. People want to talk about swords and armies and bastards but not about the hidden meanings of masts or the parallels and fine distinctions between crones and crowns. If I were trying to make a living off my (possible) insights and interpretations, I would probably be frustrated as you are. Since I am usually just posting things here because they interest me and a few other people, I don't worry too much about the number of people who take an interest.

The response to your work may be further reduced because you are targeting an academic audience instead of sharing your ideas in an online forum where interested fans tend to congregate.

My family affectionately tolerates my ASOIAF passion - they know that Christmas gifts from me may include a card with an excerpt from the books. I gave my niece an obsidian dagger with an ugly wooden handle. I gave my nephew a hoodie that says, "Champion," along with Joffrey's "Who else will challenge our tiny champion?" speech from his wedding feast. I gave my brother the Knight of the Seven Kingdoms book, which he read while his wife was out of town because she does not like the show or the books. Many members of my family have read the books and they like them, but they do not share my passion. If I lived closer to these family members and forced them to listen to my book ideas more often, they might start running from the room screaming every time I tried to bring the conversation back around to ASOIAF.

I can't speak to all of your examples - journalist interviews, soft-news radio show - without knowing more about the circumstances.

Maybe people are avoiding engaging in deeper discussions because they find it boring to be led through the material by someone much more deeply and passionately engaged in the material; perhaps they like ASOIAF but cannot engage with the lecture or your book because it is too "high brow" for their interests. I have been playing around with an outline for a college course or a book group reader's guide. I find that one of the challenges is to try to see the books from the perspective of someone who may have read them once or who saw the show and is now, finally, picking up the books. It is difficult to dial back my thoughts about what is interesting to me and to try to highlight things that would be of interest to a first- or second-time reader.

Edited by Seams

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I thought this thread was going to be about...........all the threads that seem to point to the fact that there are many people with differing takes on the story and characters, before we even get into so called 'hate' threads.  I didn't realize it was more about the OP's problems with drumming up interest in their take on the story?  It seems the long lasting interest in the books pre abomination, during and even after, indicates that there are fans.  Maybe it's me, I thought an examination of what IS the actual story of the books and does it have any or many fans........some interesting ideas for perusal.

Then again, I do like a good joke thread, too, so, who knows? 

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No I hate these books.  I only spend time reading online about stuff I hate.  I also buy tonnes of copies because I hate my friends and give them ones for every excuse I can find.  I have a lot of money and a lot of friends so I may be the guy that's skewed those sales numbers you're looking at.  Can you believe that they're making my idiot friends yet another hardcover illustrated edition of Storm of Swords?  I can hardly wait... They're going to really hate that one., I mean they hated the original hardcover I sent them and didn't like any of the paperback editions (I'm gonna miss all of those TV show inspired covers) so I'm sure they'll go nuts over the pictures of people they don't read about.

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I'm an academic too. That's just the life we lead. Four people showing up to a talk? Normal. Disinterest in your work? Welcome to the club. Eyes glazing over? Yeah, sometimes. Few people are going to be as interested in the subject matter as you will be, in face-to-face interactions in everyday situations. Most of the fans are spread out all over the world, and even then you might have casual fans who don't necessarily want to dissect the literary tropes or do a comparative literary analysis of fantasy authors. 

Have you been to Worldcon?

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Posted (edited)

I do exist. And there is a friend who started it when he borrowed me Path of the Dragon. I also seriously infected another friend, so there are at least 3 fans on this planet. Two people from my work read asoiaf after they started to watch tv series, but I don't consider them fans, they did no rereads, so conversation about the story is like talking to ser wynton stout.

I guess it is very hard to find too many fans of a fantasy series in a random place like university or school. there is a good chance people there can read, but why this?

 

Edited by broken one

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I understand the OP's frustration...but, asking "Does this story actually have any fans?"  On this board?!  LOL!  I mean, on the main page it shows nearly 170,000 members!  Now, I get that many people frequent this board for other reasons than ASoIaF but, in practically every case, their interest in it is what originally brought them here.  Also, I'm pretty sure not only the US, but the world, was completely captivated by the phenomenon that was GOT (my own profound disappointment with it notwithstanding).  It absolutely swamped "Pop Culture" for a time and has forever entered our lexicon.  Just as one small example, I am at this moment watching an episode of Jeopardy! that has, I kid you not, all answer categories being related to ASoIaF!:P

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7 hours ago, Seams said:

The response to your work may be further reduced because you are targeting an academic audience

This. 1000x this.

7 hours ago, Seams said:

My family affectionately tolerates my ASOIAF passion - they know that Christmas gifts from me may include a card with an excerpt from the books. I gave my niece an obsidian dagger with an ugly wooden handle. I gave my nephew a hoodie that says, "Champion," along with Joffrey's "Who will be my champion?" speech from his wedding feast. I gave my brother the Knight of the Seven Kingdoms book, which he read while his wife was out of town because she does not like the show or the books. Many members of my family have read the books and they like them, but they do not share my passion. If I lived closer to these family members and forced them to listen to my book ideas more often, they might start running from the room screaming every time I tried to bring the conversation back around to ASOIAF.

And this too. Likewise in my family, except that most liked the TV series rather than the books. I read more books than any 20 other members of my family put together I think, excepting kids. Certainly none of the others share my passion for ASoIaF, though a couple sometimes want to check up something when they are confused. They've tended to get eye-glazed in short time though. :blush:

10 hours ago, Hiero79 said:

I'm an academic literary critic working in the field of modern fantasy literature.

I have no idea about you personally, but the academic and journalistic fields seem to be rather myopically self-obsessed as a generality. With GoT's success, GRRM has moved to the realm of pop culture, so its no surprise to me that academic circles now largely profess no interest, even to the point of not having heard of him.
Journalists? Most are way to stupid to have much knowledge of anything they are involved in - their focus tends to be finding the next thing, or story, or interest, not actually knowing anything.

And here, mocking these people I display my own biases, to be mocked in turn by some no doubt. B) But at least I'm self aware. ;)

 

As an aside, I'd say that even here, perhaps the most concentrated group of extreme fans, only a small handful (20?) are actually interested deeply in the sort of work you described.
For myself, I'm generally interested in reading about that, but take a heavy grain of salt with it. Its not the way I think (in case you couldn't tell!) on my own, but I can recognise and respect it - so long as it doesn't go 'off the rails' (IMO of course) and run contrary to the actual text.

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This one is more mainstream.  His previous works, like The Stone City and Tuf Voyaging are not going to be choice reading material for the average consumer of fiction.  They are strange.  A lot of people who could enjoy Game of Thrones were not drawn to his books if they were basing their opinion of him from his early stories.  Readers like that never gave this a chance.  This is actually his most mainstream work.  

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14 hours ago, Hiero79 said:

To date the number of people I've met who are prepared to take even a polite interest in the story is smaller than the number of people who have actually stopped talking to me when I told them the subject of my book.

If people are actively ignoring you, it might be a sign you're talking about ASOIAF a bit too much.

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Posted (edited)

Folks, be polite. When you work hard at something but feel like you're not getting anywhere, it's obviously frustrating. Have some empathy.

Obviously the title here is hyperbole. You know as well as everyone else that there are many, many fans of the work. It's just that there's approximately a couple orders of magnitude more who have not read or watched it and aren't particularly interested.

Personally, we meet plenty of people who, when they ask what Linda and I do and learn that we run a website about ASoIaF and have worked with the author behind GoT on various projects, will say, "Oh, I've never watched GoT; weird, right?" Which reveals that, yes, there are plenty of people who aren't interested... and that they themselves feel as if they're strange for not having seen it because it had this moment of cultural dominance and there was an impression that everyone else was watching it.

I can't speak for where you are located and the audiences you get, but Linda and I were invited to participate in an academic congress in Seville, Spain which had contributions from some two dozen scholars from three different continents, and had attendance of upwards of 100-odd people for the various presentations. OTOH, we've been invited to a number of libraries in Sweden over the last few years, and attendance can run from 4 people to several dozen, all depending on location and how well they get the word out.

I really wonder if a large part of your issue is simply the academic environment where you're located. Popular culture and fantasy in particular is mostly frowned on by academia to this day, even if you are starting to see things change slowly, and level of openness toward it is much slower in some places than in others.

Edited by Ran

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1 hour ago, Ran said:

Folks, be polite. When you work hard at something but feel like you're not getting anywhere, it's obviously frustrating. Have some empathy.

 

Yeah, but when you read comments like "The university allows students to design their own term paper questions; only one student out of a class of 42 opted to write about Martin. She submitted a 2,000 word discussion of how attractive she thought Natalie Dormer was. "

It does make you wonder if the OP is for real or doing some kind of trolling.

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23 minutes ago, Lluewhyn said:

Yeah, but when you read comments like "The university allows students to design their own term paper questions; only one student out of a class of 42 opted to write about Martin. She submitted a 2,000 word discussion of how attractive she thought Natalie Dormer was. "

It does make you wonder if the OP is for real or doing some kind of trolling.

I suspect there may be a bit of hyperbole about her exact topic, yes, but that said, undergraduate programs are highly varied in approach and quality. Allowing students to design their own term paper topics means that students may come up with some ... tenuous stuff, and depending on the policy of the program they may be able to get away with it.

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I mean to this day, if Martin attends any sort of fan convention he is undoubtably still the headliner.  He is also probably, outside of Stephen King and J K Rowling the most famous living science fiction or fantasy author.  But that probably has more to do with the HBO show than it does for reader of his actual books.  

His books are probably considered too “popular culture” for academic circles, and the size of his books are probably too intimidating for the casual readers.  Since ASOS he’s been one of the biggest authors of the the epic fantasy crowd, but epic fantasy is still pretty much a niche audience.  

Personally, I believe that most people, even the ones on this forum, fail to appreciate the genius of the ASOIAF series.  It’s basically Martin’s homage to literature and mythology while still fitting in his own idiosyncratic ideas that he developed in his science fiction writings.  And he’s able to do it in a way that still creates a page turner.  (Especially the first three volumes).

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Lluewhyn said:

Yeah, but when you read comments like "The university allows students to design their own term paper questions; only one student out of a class of 42 opted to write about Martin. She submitted a 2,000 word discussion of how attractive she thought Natalie Dormer was. "

Or maybe it was Trump University? University of Phoenix? (I should talk - I graduated from Texas A&M.)

from Seams: (my apolgies for messing up the quote function)

6 hours ago, Ran said:

100-odd people

        That's what I picture for a gathering of ASOIAF fans. ;)

Odd indeed, at whatever number.

4 hours ago, Frey family reunion said:

His books are probably considered too “popular culture” for academic circles

This factor is what kept Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit out of academic circles, until so many people had found it on their own and got enthusiastic about Tolkien. There appears to have been an unwritten rule in "Litrachoor" that if people like something, it's crap and beneath academic study.

Edited by zandru

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