"George R. R. Martin --
A Giant, Shackled By Dwarfs"
Jordan S. Bassior
Some people were surprised and others saddened when George R. R. Martin came out against the Sad Puppies 3 campaign to restore control of the Hugos to the fans, and expressed (some) support for the Scalzi cabal which is currently trying to control the nominations and voting. I was not surprised, though I am still saddened, because George R. R. Martin is a great author, the sort who could succeed in the field even if the Haydens of Tor opposed him.
ASoIaF is an extremely good series, the sort of thing that will be read for pleasure a century or more later. It’s notable for the author’s grasp of the premises that (1) not all enmities can be neatly divided into good vs.evil, and also (2) nevertheless, some enemies truly are evil.
However, George R R Martin has problems being even remotely objective about anything more recent than the War of the Roses. He came into his writing career trying to avoid service in Vietnam (literally, he wrote a story, "The Hero" (1971) in part to convince his draft board that he was anti-American) and thus cast his own personal honor with the Left of that time and the political vagaries of its future.
Its future has now led him to a place where they hate his masterwork in a way which he could not have predicted, because of the shifts in the politics of the feminists which now make him “evil” for having rape in his stories (even though not having it would be to absurdly whitewash medieval warfare and undercut one of the main themes of his story, “war is hell”) and furthermore makes him automatically suspect for his race, sex and sexual orientation.
And, because he started his career with an act of semi-betrayal of his own country, one which only became okay because the Left won in the 1970’s, he can’t detach himself. I think he lives in fear that the Left will turn on him, which is sad, because he’s a giant of writing and world-building talents. Dwarfs such as Jemsin and Bradford should be in fear that he will turn on them, rather than the other way round.
Such is the way in which the crimes of one’s past may shackle one decades later, even if one apparently escaped scot-free. And the sad thing? I think the reason this shackles George R. R. Martin is that he is a good man — he understands honor, which is why he can be restrained by the awareness that if he breaks free, he will have to accept that he did something dishonorable.
The worst of it? A draft is itself against Natural Law, it was one of the ways in which America let what it to be imagined military necessity harm its own core principles. This is a delayed price we are paying for the way our own government abused the rights of Americans from 1939 through 1975, albeit in a very indirect fashion.