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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

George R.R. Martin presents library with five-millionth volume


Tanner Garza — THE BATTALION

Clad in his signature hat and armed with his sense of humor, George R.R. Martin, author of the popular book series that inspired the HBO hit “Game of Thrones,” presented University Libraries with its five-millionth volume on Friday.
Martin presented Texas A&M, which houses his personal repository in Cushing Library, with a first edition copy of “The Hobbit” by J.R.R Tolkien.
Martin, author of the “Song of Ice and Fire” series, has had a longstanding relationship with A&M, founded after his visit to AggieCon in the early 1970s.
“I have a lot of friends among the Texas science fiction and fantasy writers, have since the 1970s, and sometime in the 1970s or 1980s, I don’t quite recall now what year it was, they invited me to come down and attend an AggieCon,” Martin said. “I enjoyed it, I came back for a number of years in a row, I was a guest a couple of times at AggieCon and during one of those visits, I don’t recall which one, I was given a tour of the special collections.”
AggieCon is the oldest student-run multi-genre convention in the United States, begun in 1969 by Cepheid Variable, an A&M organization dedicated to supporting science fiction, fantasy, horror and other similar genres.
During one of Martin’s visits to A&M, he was given a tour of the library, where he was impressed by its volumes and prestige. In 1992, a van was sent to collect several boxes of manuscripts, drafts, letters and more.
“This collection, particularly of science-fiction and fantasy, you know I noticed a lot of other items, but for me, where I come from, the science-fiction fantasy is really outstanding, it’s probably one of the three best in the country and one of the 10 best in the world,” Martin said. “It’s pretty amazing and I’m glad to be a part of it.”
Martin began writing at a young age and wasn’t an overnight success, even going so far as to take real estate courses after realizing the challenges. His advice to young writers echoes the struggle of making a career of writing.
“Well I have a lot of advice for anyone who wants to write,” Martin said. “One of them is keep your day job. Or get a day job. Writing has been very, very good to me, but it’s not a profession for anyone who needs or values security. It’s a profession for people who are a bit of a gambler and are ready to have highs and lows and triumphs and failures.”
He said that if a writer is really passionate about writing, though, then the rest should fall in line naturally.
“If you’re an intelligent, capable young person who has many interests and can pursue many different careers, it would probably be best to pursue a different career,” Martin said. “I think writing is not a rational choice. Writing is a choice that you have to make — you can’t not write. There’s something in you, these stories in you, that you have to get out. And even if nobody would buy them or want to pay you a cent for them, you would want to put down those stories … I think most writers are like that. It’s not a rationally selected career path. It’s something that’s inside you, that’s part of you.”
Martin said writing is such a part of his life that he plans to continue doing so for the rest of his life.
“I’ve been meeting some friends here who are my age and they’ve recently retired from their careers,” Martin said. “Writers can’t retire. I could never retire. I’ll be making up stories until I die. I’ll be halfway finished with one, because the stories just keep coming. Yes, I write them slowly — I know that — but they’re still there and I’ll continue to write them for all time.”
During the presentation Martin read an excerpt from “The Hobbit” and reflected on the influence that fantasy and science fiction has had on his life. He touched on how he draws inspiration from history and from the past. Martin explained that, to him, preserving literature and culture is crucial.
“Even in our modern centuries … we’re losing stories,” Martin said. “All of this is incredible [tragedy] to me. That’s where I think libraries, like the great Library of Alexandria, are the fortresses of our civilizations. The stories that we tell each other, the stories that we grow up on, the stories that help shape our values and shape our lives, we still love and remember. This is the stuff that should be preserved.”
Martin further said it doesn’t matter if the volume is supreme literature or pop culture, it needs to be preserved equally.
“All of it should be preserved,” Martin said. “Not just the stuff that we deem high culture, but popular culture and ordinary culture and ephemera and juvenilia, preserve all of it because we don’t know what we’ll want 50 years from now, what’s going to be important 100 years from now, or whether indeed 1,000 years from now, Stan Lee will stand next to Shakespeare.”
The first edition copy of “The Hobbit” will be on display in Cushing Library starting March 2.

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