Dunc reads: A personal history with A Song of Ice and Fire

Today brings the release of A Dance with Dragons, the latest edition to George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire (ASoIaF) series. This is the biggest fantasy novel of the year, and one fans have been waiting six years for – more, if you count that the last book didn’t have several fan-favorite characters.

I’ve been reading the series since the beginning, and it’s one of my favorites. I don’t even mind the waiting. (Well, only a little. As odd as this may sound coming from a Star Wars novel fan, I do generally believe in quality over quantity.)

(This post will contain no spoilers for A Dance With Dragons – I won’t have the book until this evening – and virtually none for the previous books.)

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Out this week: Robot Chicken, Invasion

It’s been a while since we’ve had any releases at all, but this week thankfully bring a few! First off, on Tuesday, you pick up the Robot Chicken: Star Wars III DVD or Blu-Ray. Hilarity we haven’t seen since Robot Chicken: Star Wars II! io9 catches up with creator Matt Senreich on why there’s no Robot Chicken Star Trek and gets an exclusive deleted scene about Princess Leia.

If you’re a fantasy fan, there’s also A Dance with Dragons, the long-awaited fifth volume of George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. (You know, the one that began with Game if Thrones Which is now an HBO series? Yeah.) But more on that later.?

Meanwhile, there’s an actual comic in stores on Wednesday. A new storyline launches with Invasion: Revelations #1.

And come Saturday, it’s also time for the annual summertime wish-it-were-cooler tradition of the Hallmark Ornaments Premiere Weekend.

Next week? Choices of One! SDCC attendees and/or San Diego natives can enter a contest to win lunch with Tim Zahn and editor Shelly Shapiro while they’re in town for the con.

Other worlds: GRRM’s A Dance with Dragons is done

Yes, George R. R. Martin finished the book. The fifth volume of A Song of Ice and Fire got a July 12th publication date last month, but he still wasn’t quite finished with the manuscript, leaving many to doubt that the long-awaited book would actually become a reality. Well, worry no longer, because Martin posted today that Kong has been slain. For those not up on GRRM’s lingo – ‘Kong’ is the book’s nickname – his editor, Anne Groell, has confirmed in plain English.

Meanwhile, HBO’s Game of Thrones TV show has been doing well – ratings held steady for the second episode, and it’s already been renewed for a second season. And you’ll certainly want to check out Time’s fourpart interview with Martin about the show, including his thoughts on how the next few volumes should be split up for filming.

Awards. Nominees for the 2011 Hugo and Campbell Awards were announced the other day, and I’m still a little in shock that two of my 2010 favoritesThe Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and Feed – are up for best novel.

Tolkien. The extended editions of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy will be in theaters this June. Individually, thankfully.

Dark Tower. And for new adaptations, it appears that Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men) has signed on to play Roland in Ron Howard’s take on Stephen King’s epic fantasy series.

Recs. Thanks to Jo Walton, I now want to give Daniel Abraham’s Long Price Quartet a swing. And while I was already planning to try Genevieve Valentine’s Mechanique, but Charlie Jane Anders’ review has made me even more intrigued.

Stick them with the pointy end: Believe it or not, but the ladies sure do love them some fantasy

HBO’s adaption of Game of Thrones premieres tonight amid a new storm of controversy about women and fantasy. What could possibly have soiled the premiere of what is probably the biggest fantasy literature event of the year? (Well, the biggest one that doesn’t involve boy wizards and horcruxes, anyway.) Why, yet more false assumptions about women and what they watch and read, of course!

It was all sparked by Ginia Bellafante’s New York Times review. Behold this bit of ‘wisdom:’

The true perversion, though, is the sense you get that all of this illicitness has been tossed in as a little something for the ladies, out of a justifiable fear, perhaps, that no woman alive would watch otherwise. While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first. “Game of Thrones” is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half.

Uh-huh. There’s plenty one can say to this, but since I am the absolute last fantasy-loving female in the blogosphere to address it, here are a few selected responses:

The reality check. Emily of The Discriminating Fangirl responds to many of Bellafante’s misconceptions. Key quote: “…How can the show require MENSA-member viewers and be too stupid/silly for HBO?”

The feminist. Sarah Louise of Bleeding Cool takes on the gender normative tone of the review. Key quote: “The main thing I find shocking about all these sweeping remarks is the fact that the piece was written by a woman. Aren’t we all supposed to be in this thing together?”

The ally. Alan Kistler wonders where the actual review was in his Newsarama Op-ed. Key quote: “We didn’t get an informed opinion on the show. In fact, in her whole review, the story premise is barely touched on and not one character, plot point or scene is mentioned. ”

The snarky: Annalee Newitz of io9 asked (with spoilers) why would men want to watch Game of Thrones? Key quote: “Who but a woman would even be able to keep all those Stark children’s names straight, let alone all the other people connected to the Stark family?”

The full package. Amy Ratcliffe of Geek with Curves talks about what she really wants to see in the series. Key quote: “I’m not tuning into the television show to see sex either. I won’t lie – I’m not unhappy about seeing Jason Momoa shirtless as Khal Drogo, but that isn’t the primary reason I’m watching. I want to see Westeros on screen.”

The author. George R. R. Martin breaks his own rules to say something about the review. Key quote: “…if I am writing ‘boy fiction,’ who are all those boys with breasts who keep turning up by the hundreds at my signings and readings?”

And naturally, amid all this? A Today piece on how ladies power viewership for SF/F TV. How long must we have to harp on this before the Ginia Bellafantes of the world catch on?

UPDATE: Bellafonte responds. What does she take from this? ‘People on the internet are mean?’ So much facepalm.

And the rest: What is Nathan Fillion doing?

Is it… Robot Elvis? What kind of pose is Nathan Fillion doing on the cover of the new Entertainment Weekly? Topless Robot readers have many, many answers. Your reward: Looking at Nathan Fillion.

Shocking facts! A survey of 5,041 Star Trek fans found that 57% of them were female. Fascinating.

Brain a moose. Check out the manuscript for George R. R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons. Or check out the HBO features on House Stark, House Baratheon, House Lannister and House Targaryen.

You’ll laugh, you’ll cry… A funny Regretsy post involving Roseanne Barr, Carrie Fisher and (of course) a puzzling crafted object.

Your indie moment(s) of zen. Mario and a trailer for Ferris Bueller’s Day Off recut as an Sofia Coppola-esque coming-of-age film.

GRRM’s ‘A Dance with Dragons’ has a release date. No, really.

We’ve been waiting six years for the next installment of George R. R. Martin’s epic A Song of Ice and Fire series and now – finally – Entertainment Weekly has the scoop: A Dance With Dragons will come out July 12. And at more than 900 pages, it’ll probably be big enough to brain a moose.

With the Game of Thrones TV series (there’s a new trailer for that, too) debuting on April 17, I’m sure that the folks at HBO and Bantam are dancing in their respective hallways.

Though actually, I’m not even sure I believe it myself, yet. Is this real life? Someone pinch me. Is July even enough time to reread?!?

BUT! On his website, Martin says he’s not done yet. What gives?

And the rest: Anne Hathaway is The Dark Knight Rises’ Selina Kyle; X-Men prequel blitz begins

And the catsuit goes to… Warner Bros. announced today that Anne Hathaway has been cast as Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman) in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. Reaction has been mixed, but I’m willing to wait and see. (Remember when Heath Ledger was cast?) Earlier rumors claimed there’s a second female lead yet to be cast as well.

Also revealed is that Tom Hardy will play Bane, one of Batman’s newer (well, 1993) foes. Unlike Hathaway, whose performance is bound to be judged harshly against Michelle Pfeiffer’s take on the character (among others,) Hardy has much less baggage to overcome. Bane’s only film appearance thus far was in the much-derided Batman and Robin as a henchmen to Uma Thurman’s Poison Ivy.

X-Men: First Class. DC not your thing? Hero Complex visits the set of the X-Men prequel, which stars James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as the young Professor X and Magneto. (Lingering question: Will January Jones actually convince us she’s not Betty Draper, budding supervillain?) There are another couple photos at /Film. And lastly, check out the teaser poster at AICN.

Buffy. Joss Whedon talks to Entertainment Weekly about the Season 8 comics. Warning: Massive spoilers. If you don’t risk them but still feel like getting depressive about something, Blastr has seven Whedon projects we’ll never see, almost all of which look better than Dollhouse.

Harry Potter. Another round of spoil-or-not: A pivotal death scene is being changed for Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Or, see Alexis Liddell’s concept art for ‘The Three Brothers’ sequence in Deathly Hallows: Part 1.

A Game of Thrones. There’s been so much news on the HBO adaption over the past few weeks that I can’t keep up, but one thing you don’t want to miss is the latest teaser.