Emilia Clarke has been heating up watercooler talk for five years now in HBO’s monster hit adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series, Game of Thrones. Even as a veteran multiple re-reader of all of the books in the series that jumped on the literture before the turn of the century, I never thought that I’d see the day that “Khaleesi” would enter pop culture vernacular, a thought that was smashed when I got my 8-year old niece an “I’m not a Princess I’m a Khaleesi” t-shirt and she knew what it was. Move over Arthur C, Emilia is the Clarke of both speculative and reality affections.
I was introduced to the series hiding in a public library by my house, waiting for my mom to go to work, so my parents wouldn’t know I had been suspended (this is when you could simply intercept snail mail and turn off your house phone line’s ringer for a day to avoid parental knowledge of your in-school punishments). I wasn’t a geek, then or now, but upon reflection it always made me laugh that so many of my hours of getting in trouble for being a jackass in school resulted in me reading the vast majority of books that would later become the fuel and ammo of my future initial foray into being a webmaster and operating what would become a small business.
Martin would kick off his series with A Game of Thrones, but it wasn’t the first A Song of Ice and Fire published material the general public could be exposed too. Much like other classics of the speculative fiction like Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber, Frank Herbert’s Dune and Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, it would be in a genre magazine that we’d get our first taste of a work that would have thousands if not millions spend some part of their life reflecting on R + L = J.
A month before A Game of Thrones would land in bookstores, and even before George R.R. Martin would be interviewed by just any idiot anywhere, the novella “Blood of the Dragon” was published in the July 1996 issue of Asimov’s. The story was Daenerys Targaryen-centric, offering a mash of her A Game of Thrones POV chapters, and wasn’t exactly under the radar, as it went on to win the year’s Hugo Award for best novella, and be the cover (as seen above — by Paul Youll) story of the issue. The interior illustrations are by Darryl Elliot. Not quite two decades later the popularity of Game of Thrones would give us renditions of Dany of all types across the globe and GRMM is so baller now he just releases preview chapters on his own, reaching far more people.
I’m actually unsure what Asimov’s circulation numbers were in 1996 but this is one of the more fun A Song of Ice and Fire items to hoard for me. I have collected as many galleys/ARCS as the next guy, foreign and domestic, but I have an extra affection for paraphernalia like this that was made available for public consumption – like these Japanese versions of A Song of Ice and Fire – but still feels like you are diggin’ in the crates to find. Game of Thrones is, afterall, now perhaps the ultimate shared fan experience we have in entertainment