It would be hard to deny our flourishing fascination with all things fantastical if you were at UC San Diego’s Price Center West, May 2, when fantasy writer George R.R. Martin (affectionately know as “GRRM”) and sci-fi writer and UCSD alumni Kim Stanley Robinson spoke to a sold-out audience of some 1,000 fans.
The event was a madhouse. The line to get in wrapped around the building and people came early vying for the best seats. Tickets were $20 a piece and sold out immediately. The proceeds will be used to support the Clarion Science Fiction Writers Workshop, held every summer on campus.
Martin, a fantasy novelist, short story writer, screenwriter and television producer, may be best-known for his epic novels in the series “A Song of Ice and Fire,” which were adapted to become HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” Now in its fourth year, “Game of Thrones” has become the television show with the most nominations in Emmy history. In 2016, it won for Best Drama, Best Dramatic Writing, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor, along with 12 other technical Emmys, for things like lighting and sound production.
Martin was joined on stage by Robinson, who is best-known for his “Mars Trilogy,” a collection of books about what colonization and life on the red planet might be like for the human species. The trilogy is a metaphor for three possible futures the State of California could experience.
The evening began with Professor Sheldon Brown, head of the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Imagination on campus, introducing the festivities. Brown got a rousing round of applause with lots of whoops and hollers. He dealt with the adulation by jokingly remarking, “This is the welcome I usually get in all my classes!” He went on to say that the Clarke Center is interested in creativity and imagination — two skills well developed in science fiction and fantasy writing, which are based on the creation of imaginary worlds.