Suzy McKee Charnas and George R. R. Martin

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Suzy McKee Charnas and George R. R. Martin

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1Thoroughlyillread
Set 15, 2011, 6:49pm

Say, I've got a question for the cognoscenti here. I'm a longtime fan of Charnas's Holdfast Chronicles. I just finished reading George R. R. Martin's first novel, The Dying of the Light, and noticed so many similarities I ended up wondering whether Charnas had written Walk to the End of the World in response to it.

Does anyone happen to know? (Is it the kind of thing everyone already knows?)

2dukedom_enough
Set 16, 2011, 7:30am

Charnas' Walk to the End of the World is from 1974, Dying of the Light from 1977, so the dates are wrong for that.

What similarities do you see, Thoroughlyillread?

3Thoroughlyillread
Editado: Set 16, 2011, 5:47pm

Oh! I misread the copyright page in Martin's book, thought it said 1971. Should have been wearing my specs.

These were the similarities: Martin's world is also in an advanced state of decay, and the settlements are called Holdfasts. The main culture he invents is military and rather Spartan, like Charnas'. Pairings between men are the norm, though Martin's vision of this is rather more romantic than Charnas'. There's a lot of high drama and poetry about the bond between them. Women are slaves, either as individual property (in which case they are possessed by both men), or held in common by the whole Holdfast, in which case they spend their lives underground, breeding in caves. That seemed very close to Charnas' house pets and breeding-houses.

In addition Martin makes special point of saying that "mother" is not a meaningful concept for the warriors, and that the young men are raised en masse in foster houses--also like the men of C's Holdfast. And finally he tells a myth-like story in which women are "discovered" by the planet's Adamic couple, hiding in a cave from a rain of (presumably nuclear) fire. That reminded me of the histories of both the Free Women and the fems . . .

Thanks for responding, by the way!

4dukedom_enough
Set 18, 2011, 10:15am

Hmm, interesting. I didn't notice that when reading the Martin, way back when. Sounds like there may indeed have been some sort of comment intended by Martin. I don't know much about him, actually. Will have to search sometime. Thanks!

5Thoroughlyillread
Set 18, 2011, 9:07pm

I've been mulling it over all weekend. I think Martin is saying something about masculinity, about the paradoxes facing men who recognize the justice of feminist protest but whose only honor derived from loving and protecting the object-women of their dreams.

I didn't think his solution was very satisfying (don't want to say more, lest I spoil your re-read!), though it made emotional sense. But he took the question seriously and it was still a pretty good book. I loved the gloomy, rotting planet.

6avaland
Mar 2, 2012, 8:49am

Sorry to have missed this discussion last year. I'm also a big fan of the Charnas books, but I doubt you could catch me reading a Martin...:-)