When “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin visited Texas A&M University to donate a rare first-edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, he spoke of his admiration of Tolkien and the sci-fi/fantasy genre, his longtime relationship with the university and the upcoming season of the hit HBO show he inspired.
The best-selling author came to campus to celebrate the University Libraries’ acquisition of its 5 millionth volume, handing The Hobbit volume, featuring illustrations by Tolkien himself, to University Libraries Dean David Carlson before a crowd of enthusiastic fans in Rudder Auditorium. He spoke with reporters backstage prior to the presentation.
Martin, who purchased the rare volume for the university, said he’s pleased Tolkien will join many of the world’s greatest authors in the collections at Cushing Memorial Library & Archives. “There’s no doubt his effect upon me was profound and I take a strange pleasure in seeing him included in a library like this, to be a 5 millionth book with Cervantes and Walt Whitman,” Martin said. “It represents an acceptance of fantasy into the canon of world literature which I think is long overdue, frankly.”
He described his relationship with Texas A&M, forged in the 1970s when he began attending AggieCon science fiction conventions. Later in the 1990s, when his house was overflowing with papers, books and manuscripts, he chose Cushing Library’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Collection to deposit his personal collection, a fact he said people are often surprised to discover.
He said many people around the country think of Texas A&M “as a place where people shout ‘yee-haw’ a lot and of course lately it’s known for ‘Johnny Football.’
”But of course, we know that it’s more than that,” he said, adding the science fiction and fantasy collection at Texas A&M is probably one of the best three in the country and among the top 10 worldwide.
Martin also spoke of the upcoming season of the HBO show “Game of Thrones,” based on his bestselling book series “A Song of Ice and Fire.” He confirmed there will be characters killed off this season who weren’t killed off in the book. “Nobody is safe,” he noted.
Since he’s still writing the book series as the HBO show airs, he said he does feel somewhat guilty killing off characters in the book. “It’s harder since the TV show started, because as a producer I get to know the actors and then when you kill somebody, it’s not just a character, it’s your friend the actor, you’re putting them out of work,” he lamented.
“One of the actors I became friendly with over the last few years is Sibel Kekilli, the wonderful German actress who played Shae. The first time I met her, she said ‘please don’t kill Shae, don’t kill me!’ And of course I had already killed her 10 years ago! And I knew her death was coming and I felt so guilty about it. But she’s forgiven me since.”
The new season of “Game of Thrones” premieres April 12 on HBO.
The first-edition of The Hobbit will be on display at Cushing for a few weeks before being shelved alongside other notable Tolkien volumes.
Media contact: Lesley Henton, Division of Marketing & Communications at Texas A&M University;
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