George R.R. Martin Explains Lack of Gay Sex Scenes in 'Song of Ice and Fire'

Author recalls teachers who told him sci-fi would "rot his brain"

George R.R. Martin
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George R. R. Martin
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George R.R. Martin explained that the near-absence of gay and bisexual sex from his A Song of Ice and Fire series was an issue of storytelling and character viewpoints, noting the TV adaptation, Game of Thrones — which has been more forward about highlighting such relationships — does not have those constraints, The Guardian reports.

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Speaking at the Edinburgh International Book Festival on Monday night, Martin said that his storytelling is limited because he writes through "viewpoint" characters, and so far none of those characters have been gay. "Frankly it is the way I prefer to write fiction because that is the way all of us experience life. You're seeing me from your viewpoint, you're not seeing what someone over here is seeing."

Martin does have two more books left in his saga (possibly even three) and did say a shift was possible in the future, but only if it fit the story: "I'm not going to do it just for the sake of doing it. If the plot lends itself to that — if one of my viewpoint characters is in a situation, then I'm not going to shy away from it — but you can't just insert things because everyone wants to see them." Noting that fans have written him about including a more "explicit male sex scene," Martin added of his writing process, "It is not a democracy. If it was a democracy, then Joffrey would have died much earlier than he did."

The reigning king of fantasy literature also spoke about the stigma that continues to haunt the genre. While Martin said the prejudices against sci-fi and fantasy are breaking down, he recalled his early days as a reader, and the teachers who frowned at his book choices: "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.' If I'd been reading Silas Marner, I probably would have stopped reading."

As for news regarding the release of Martin's absurdly-anticipated new book, The Winds of Winter: Still nothing (though no one dared question his slow writing process in Edinburgh, perhaps anticipating the author's curt, inevitable response). Back in March, however, Martin did gift fans a chapter of the book, and in a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, he dropped a few hints about what's to come (requisite "spoiler alert" ahead), including two enormous battles that will kick off the book, increased tension at The Wall and a meeting between two fan favorite characters: Daenerys Targaryen and Tyrion Lannister.

"Well, Tyrion and Dany will intersect, in a way, but for much of the book they’re still apart," Martin said. "They both have quite large roles to play here. Tyrion has decided that he actually would like to live, for one thing, which he wasn't entirely sure of during the last book, and he’s now working toward that end—if he can survive the battle that’s breaking out all around him. And Dany has embraced her heritage as a Targaryen and embraced the Targaryen words. So they’re both coming home."