On Frigga’s Day, just before the tenth moon, in the year two thousand and thirteen, a secretive meeting known as Capclave convened for its annual conference of Sci-Fi and Fantasy writers in the dreary far reaches of Mary’s Landing, along the coast of the mighty Adlantric Sea.

Digital ravens had been dispatched with e-fliers to proclaim the news: Lord George R.R. Martin would be the Guest of Honor. Nearly 34 score were in attendance on that rain-soaked weekend; sorcerers of imagination, conjurers of verse, wizards of the page – “writers” as they termed themselves. And a few of their friends.

Lord George could certainly draw a crowd, but not because he was anointed by some ceremony, nor was he heir to any throne. What made George admirable was that he was exactly like those gathered to see him – a humble fantasy writer – with only one minor difference… he had used that selfsame artistry they all practiced to achieve the highest decoration of literary distinction: an HBO mini-series.

To be respected for one’s craft is the shared dream of writers and artists everywhere, after all.

One such artist, Kevin Kelleher of Dodge, Son of Stephen, Son of Leo, trekked to Mary’s Landing with his companion, Laura of the Greater Dee’Cee Metropolitan Area, to see what Capclave was all about. He brought a stack of business cards and the only remaining unsold copy of his book, Chronicles of Gilderam, Book One: Sunset, along with his own personal copy, which he was rereading in preparation for writing the sequel.

A great deal of learning awaited him there. The conference was divided into panels, each like a mini master class on a particular topic, with up to six or seven occurring simultaneously. They were typically an hour long, and ran continuously from morning until late at night for three days.





The Capclave mascot Dodo 

 “Where reading is not extinct”



There were topics explored by experts as esoteric as “Aircraft Carriers in Space!” wherein Naval Analyst  Christopher Weuve gave a studious explanation of what aircraft carriers are in reality, how they’ve been portrayed in popular science fiction, and how most of that crossover makes no sense whatsoever. There was a deep conversation and workshop of the fictional portrayal of warriors and war (common tools of Sci-Fi and Fantasy) presented by three actual Marines, Janine K. Spendlove, Ron Garner, and Brian Shaw – all of whom are accomplished writers beyond their various tours of duty. There was an incredibly serious discussion of different magical systems used in storytelling, tips and tricks regarding publishing and profiting abounding, and the insightful opinions of a doctor of particle physics, Catherine Asaro, on the accuracy and technical details of Faster-Than-Light space transportation… among other sundry topics.

In the early evening of Frigga’s Day, Lord George gave his first appearance: a reading from a short story (for George that can be anywhere from 30,000 to 80,000 words) due to appear in an upcoming anthology. The great conference room, filled to the brim and hushed like a morgue, listened intently to the sing-songy, whistle-ridden leprechaun-speak of the author’s voice.

At its conclusion, George rose from his table on the stage and started for the hall – hotly pursued by a swelling drove of writer/fans. He didn’t make it far before he was beset by them, who, in their introversion, calmly and quietly swarmed Lord George with camera phones at the ready. For a group of fantasy zealots, this lot was surprising well-mannered. Lord George graciously and most generously shook the hand of every single one of them, and posed for pictures.

It was only a few short minutes before Kevin of Dodge found himself stubble-to-beard with the Exemplar of Literary Success, the man termed the American Tolkien, a self-described scribe of fake histories… Lord George of Jersey.

“How did you like Iowa?” Kevin asked as he approached. He had earlier discovered that George had lived in Dubuque, Iowa, for a spell in the seventies and eighties, teaching writing. “It was nice,” George answered. “I’m from Iowa,” said Kevin. “Can I get a picture?” He agreed:


“Can I give you my book?” asked Kevin of Dodge, proffering his brightly-colored novel to Lord George. “Sure.” “Here, let me sign it for you,” said Kevin. They opened the book to its first page, and there saw Kevin of Dodge’s writerly signature and seal. “Looks like you already signed it,” observed George. “So I did. Well, there you go. And might I say…” then Kevin proceeded to spew forth a rapid spate of unrehearsed and obsequious – albeit honest – compliments about what George’s writing meant to him. George thanked him, and then turned to next person in line.

Kevin wandered away with a feeling of accomplishment. Now George R.R. Martin had a copy of his book. George R.R. Martin had his book. He owned it. It was his. Whether or not George ever read it was out of his control, but just that he accepted it was enough. Kevin of Dodge, the young writer from the Mid-Westeros, could leave Capclave a happy writer indeed.

george holding my book











But the saga of Kevin and George does not end there. A few hours later, while passing the hotel bar, Kevin sighted George having a drink with a few colleagues at a table. After using his waiterly training to judge the proper amount of Guinness left in George’s glass to warrant an early refill, Kevin bought two beers. He carried one to George and said, “Might I buy you this beer?” “Oh, thank you,” said George, and they clinked glasses.

Then one of George’s consort spoke up, “Well, what about the rest of us?” she joked. Laura joked back with an offer of shots, which was well received by the cheery bunch. So then this happened:









The shots were brought to George’s table and distributed amongst everyone there seated. By the grace of Lady Stephanie and her twin sister, Lady Sondra, Laura and Kevin were granted a seat at the table between them and one Lord David Axler of House Bannister, Castellan & Steward of Lamprey Pyes; Maester of Bee Stings, and quite a jocular fellow.

hanging with george 1








George’s old friend was there as well, Syr Gardner Dozois, a legend in the world of Sci-Fi/Fantasy writing, accompanied by his wife, Lady Susan of Casper, yet another writer. Gardner is a seriously funny guy, though all record of his wit from that night has been washed away by drink and laughter.

Kevin and Laura caroused with the congenial bunch until, one by one, they all retired – exhausted by a full day of festivities and in need of sleep for another two yet to come. Kevin would retire too, and dream resplendent dreams of a world full of hope and possibility. The next day he would wake and dutifully return to Capclave excited to take more notes from the experts in his field, and it seemed nothing could get in the way of his inevitable literary successes….

Until Kevin reached into his backpack to retrieve his book, and found instead the fresh copy he had brought to give away. After a panicky search of the only other possible locations, Kevin had to face an uncomfortable reality: he had given Lord George his copy of Gilderam. The author’s personal copy. The first one he had ever received from the publisher. The worn, beaten, ragged copy he had carried for half a year. And the one which, to Kevin’s horror, he remembered he had scribbled out lengthy passages of for a reading he’d given months ago.

Should George ever try to read it, and – gods forbid – should he actually enjoy the damn thing enough to get as far as page 70, he would encounter massive “edits” where some ass had X’ed out huge swaths of paragraphs for no apparent reason. Some of them were probably crossed out so well as to be effectively redacted.

The reader’s confusion alone would be sufficient cause to throw the book into a fireplace and foreswear the author’s name forevermore…. George could not be allowed the chance to read that book. But how to swap it with the new one? George was slated for further events, but Kevin had no guarantee that he’d be available to speak to him, and the discussion of “Sorry I gave you the wrong book, but would you mind running back up to your hotel room and switching it for me?” didn’t strike him as a very graceful strategy.

Saturn’s Day came and went. All went well at the conference, and Kevin and Laura managed to acquire an invite to this exclusive whiskey-tasting party hosted by the the most generous teetotaler in the Seven Kingdoms, Lord Master Howard Beach:

whiskey tasting party











More writers and their interesting friends were met. The Day of the Sun arrived, and Kevin groggily and now rather hung-overly returned to Capclave for its final day. After much deliberation, Kevin decided to write George a short letter explaining the mishap, and in it he urged George to retain his original, but to beware of and forgive the defacement of its pages.

After the conclusion of the last panel, Kevin of Dodge fled to George’s final engagement, a signing, expecting to find the man at the end of a miles-long line of fans. Instead, George was seated with two other people at his signing table, and the vast conference hall was largely deserted – the event had already ended. They were merrily chatting when Kevin approached.

“What am I signing?” asked George, fishing for the proper pen. “Nothing,” said Kevin. “I just wanted to give you this,” and he handed him the calligraphied note. Seeing he had more opportunity than he’d expected, Kevin went on to explain what had happened, and thereby rendered the note redundant.

“Oh, that’s no problem,” quoth George. “Write down your address and I’ll send it back to you.” Kevin gave him the proper copy, and added his address to the note. “You’ll have to excuse us now,” said George, “we were in the middle of talking about the female anatomy. I’m sure you understand.” And Lord George returned his attention to his friends at the table.

Verily, Kevin of Dodge understood.

As he and Laura returned to their island home in the State of the Empire that night, Kevin recounted all of the blessings he’d encountered at Capclave. The friends, the stories, the teachings…. But far above them all, one thought dominated the rest: “George R.R. Martin has two copies of my book….”