Speed Reads

There Will Be Dragons

George R.R. Martin's teachers warned him fantasy fiction would 'rot your mind'

There's not always much cause for mirth in Westeros, but at least author George R.R. Martin can have the last laugh about his best-selling A Song of Ice and Fire series. Martin spoke at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on Monday, reports The Guardian, and he told the audience of struggling against teachers who snubbed fantasy fiction.

"When I was 12 or 13, I had teachers take away science fiction books by [Robert A.] Heinlein and [Isaac] Asimov and say, 'You're a smart kid, you get good grades. Why are you reading this trash? They rot your mind. You should be reading Silas Marner,'" Martin said. "If I'd been reading Silas Marner, I probably would have stopped reading."

Parts of Martin's own "trash" novels are even inspired by Scotland — namely, Hadrian's Wall — and he waxed nostalgic to the Edinburgh audience about visiting decades before.

"I remember standing there on a cold October day... and I stood on that wall and stared off into Scotland, or what was Scotland, and tried to think what it was like to be a Roman legionnaire... at the end of the world," Martin said. "It was a profound feeling. But fantasy is always bigger, so when I wrote the books, I made the wall 100 times as high and a lot longer."

Apparently, the part of Martin's mind that houses imagination didn't rot away too much. Class dismissed.