This page is here to list the stories of George RR Martin and how many he uses the concept of real or implied genetic manipulation of incest. This list is not in chronological publish order.
The genetic manipulation of incest and selective breeding is not a factor in most of the stories. If it is, then we see that that clan/lineage is dying out. The most we see it is in the Tuf Voyaging stories where there is a morality to playing with genetics to create “super beings” of some sort, and it comes at a cost to lives and the environment.
Let’s take a quick look at the different stories. Incest stories implied or actual are in bold…
1.The Hero– no sex or breeding mentioned at all. This is actually a really sad story.
2. Men of Greywater Station– no sex or breeding mentioned at all. There is definitely the theme of interfering with the natural order of things and the repercussions, among a few other themes.
3. Bitterblooms – as mentioned in the main post, the main clan elder titled Voice, Creg, is an overbearing control freak. It is not until after Voice Creg dies, that the people of Carinhall start to rebound in population. Also, GRRM rarely uses the same names from story to story, but this is a rare case of using the name Creg again as Cregan Karstark, and we readers all know that the Arnolf and Cregan were going to try and push incest because they wanted power and control… it is all manipulation, that is it.
The same reason why GRRM said Tywin chose to marry Joanna- power and control = GREED! Just as Tywin made the match between Tyrek and the infant Lady Ermesande just so the Lannisters can claim their lands; the way Tywin forced the marriage between Tyrion and Sansa so that the Lannisters can claim Winterfell, the way Tywin schemed with Sybell Spicer adding Jeyne Westerling to the Red Wedding element.
Q: We see marriages that are almost always between families seeking to ally themselves to one another. Given this context, it always seemed strange that the marriage of Tywin Lannister was to a first cousin, and even stranger when you consider how pragmatic and ambitious Tywin was. Or was it truly a love match?
GRRM: “Noble houses usually make marriages of convenience to build alliances. As a matter of fact, it’s a common practice not only among the noble class, but also among the middle class and even among peasants: If somebody has a piece of land, he marries his daughter with somebody who has an even bigger piece of land, in the hope that all that land will belong to his grandchildren some day.
“There is another clear motive [for Tywin], which is to reinforce the family’s bloodline. The Targayren are the extreme example of that policy: they only marry within the family to keep the purity of the blood, and that way you avoid the problem of having several candidates for the throne or the rule of the family.”
And in ASOIAF, Jon Snow automatically puts an end to it before it happens by instead taking the northern/Westerosi way and marrying Alys to Sigorn to create a new union between two houses.
And Shawn of Bitterblooms is honored for bringing in new blood:
- Devin honored her for bringing so much fresh blood into Carinhall, and later another Voice would name her for exceptional prowess as a trader.
4. In the House of the Worm – This story could count as an “implied” incest. While the yaga-la-hai are not explicitly noted as being an incestuous society, but there is enough to draw that conclusion among the limited elites. They all look the same and are supremely snobbish to any who rank “below” them (even though it is the “lowly” who provide the elite with their comforts). Annelyn even describes Caralee as looking like him in this scene:
- “Don’t you worry about the sun dying?” Caralee asked him, tossing blond curls easily as she turned to face him. She looked enough like Annelyn to be his sister-twin; perhaps that was why he wanted her so. “About the burrows growing cold?”
- The Meatbringer laughed; his thick body shook and the cape of golden ringlets danced on his shoulders. “The Manworm! You want to know, Groff, not your mindless master. Why? Because among the yaga-la-hai I am something less than a man, because among grouns I am something less than a groun. I am the first of the Third People. The yaga-la-hai decline, as do the grouns, but I go among both and plant my seed,” he looked at Annelyn “in those like Caralee, and in the groun-women. Soon there will be others like me. That is why. And to know. I know more than your Manworm, or you, more than the Great Groun. You live lies, but I have seen and heard all who live in the House of the Worm, and I believe none of it. The White Worm is a lie, do you know that? And the Manworm. I think I even know how that came to be. A pleasant tale. Shall I tell you?”
And in the end, after Annelyn comes back from his “ranging” and he is armed with his new truths, he is laughed at even though the enemy is coming to eat them… just like Slynt and co. when Jon returns and they don’t believe him, but Aemon does.And Annelyn also doesn’t desire Caralee anymore after his “third eye” opens, just as we see Jaime is rejecting Cersei as he realizes what she is.
- Afterward, he became a familiar figure among the yaga-la-hai, though he lost his flair for dress and much of his fine wit. Instead, he spoke endlessly and persuasively of forgotten crimes and the sins of bygone eons, painting deliciously dark pictures of monster worms who bred beneath the House and would one day rise to consume all. He was fond of telling the worm-children that they ought to lie with grouns, instead of cooking them, so that a new people might be fashioned to resist his nightmare worms.
Tuf Voyaging (listed 5-12)- none of the Tuf stories deal with incest specifically. They do, however, deal with plenty of moral issues such a genetic manipulation and ecological disasters, and being careful of what you wish for because you might just get it…
5. The Plague Star
6. Loaves and Fishes
8. Second Helpings
9. A Beast For Norn
10. Call Him Moses
11. Manna From Heaven
12. Starlady – no incest, but plenty of open relationships and prostitution between all races and genders.
13. Nightflyers – This is more to the “implied” end of the spectrum. The main guy, Royd Eris, was created for the purpose of a future romantic relationship. The mother (a fire/Targaryen protoype, who flies around in a ship made of three eggs) ends up dying and second-lifing herself in to a crystalline ruby jewel, but before that, the notion of incest doesn’t go over very well and is rejected from the start as Royd never had sex with his “mother”, and he is not technically her son.
- They had boarded starships before, all of them, but never like this. Most ships docked flush against the station, but the craft that Karoly d’Branin had chartered for his mission was too large, and too singular in design. It loomed ahead, three small eggs side-by-side, two larger spheres beneath and at right angles, the cylinder of the driveroom between, lengths of tube connecting it all.
- “Serious,” he said, “but not dangerous. Hold three is a complete ruin, hanging from my ship like a broken metal eggshell, but the damage was confined.
And Melantha is an “improved model” because she comes from two smart scientist people from Prometheus. Here we see open/non-monogamous relationships again. This is that sexually strong feminist thing that GRRM favors writing about.
- By the third week out she had sexed with all four of the men on board and two of the other women. Even in bed she was always active, exhausting most of her partners. Royd watched her with consuming interest.
Here Royd explains his origins as a lab created partner to his “mother”:
My mother did not worry about how often she and her crews returned home. Her ships were her home. She seldom visited the same world twice if she could avoid it.”
“Adventurous,” Melantha said.
“No,” said Royd. “Sociopathic. My mother did not like people, you see. Not at all. Her one great dream was to free herself from the necessity of crew. When she grew rich enough, she had it done. The Nightflyer was the result. After she boarded it at Newholme, she never touched a human being again, or walked a planet’s surface. She did all her business from the compartments that are now mine. She was insane, but she did have an interesting life, even after that. The worlds she saw, Karoly! The things she might have told you! Your heart would break. She destroyed most of her records, however, for fear that other people might get some use or pleasure from her experience after her death. She was like that.”
“And you?” the xenotech said.
“I should not call her my mother,” Royd continued. “I am her cross-sex clone. After thirty years of flying this ship alone, she was bored. I was to be her companion and lover. She could shape me to be a perfect diversion.
She had no patience with children, however, and no desire to raise me herself. As an embryo, I was placed in a nurturant tank. The computer was my teacher. I was to be released when I had attained the age of puberty, at which time she guessed I would be fit company.
“Her death, a few months after the cloning, ruined the plan. She had programmed the ship for such an eventuality, however. It dropped out of drive and shut down, drifted in interstellar space for eleven years while the computer made a human being out of me. That was how I inherited the Nightftyer. When I was freed, it took me some years to puzzle out the operation of the ship and my own origins.“
“Fascinating,” said d’Branin.
“Yes,” said the female linguist, “but it doesn’t explain why you keep yourself in isolation.”
“Ah, but it does,” Melantha Jhirl said. “Captain, perhaps you should explain further for the less improved models?”
“My mother hated planets,” Royd said. “She hated stinks and dirt and bacteria, the irregularity of the weather, the sight of other people. She engineered for us a flawless environment, as sterile as she could possibly make it. She disliked gravity as well. She was accustomed to weightlessness, and preferred it. These were the conditions under which I was born and raised.
And we read a few times how Royd is choosing Melantha, which makes the mother-ship jealous, but this makes Royd nervous with fear, because every time in the past that he has tried relationships with outside people, the mother-ship kills them.
“I watched you copulating.”
She smiled. “Ah,” she said, “I’m good at it.”
“I wouldn’t know,” Royd said. “You’re good to watch.”
Silence. She tried not to hear the steady, faint dripping off to her right. “Yes,” she said after a long hesitation.
“Yes, Royd,” she said, “I would probably sex with you if it were possible.”
“How did you know what I was thinking?” Royd’s voice was suddenly frightened, full of anxiety and something close to fear.
14. This Tower of Ashes – no incest, but a failed relationship… and weird white spiders.
15. And Seven Times Never Kill Man! – no sex or genetics at all. This is about religious and racial superiority of the Steel Angel dragons coming in with fire and burning out the indigenous, and the pyramids with Bakkalon having mind control over its worshipers.
There is, however, this one line that leaves open the possibility that Arik may have been in some sort of inter-species relationship with the bitter speaker Jaenshi female. Arik “cloaked” the bitter speaker. The cloak is a mix of grey Jaenshi fur and Arik’s red hair. The second quote, (which is like the ASOAIF scene of the free folk paying homage to Jon as they pass through the gate), we see earlier in the story what that could mean here:
- The bitter speaker stared at her. “Arik deathcloth. Gave.” Ryther nodded, abstractly. She had it now, hanging just above her bunk; a strange small thing, woven partly from Jaenshi fur and mostly from long silken strands of flame red hair. On it, gray against the red, was a crude but recognizable caricature of Arik neKrol. She had wondered at that, too. The tribute of a widow? A child? Or just a friend? What had happened to Arik during the year the Lights had been away? If only she had been back on time, then . . . but she’d lost three months on Jamison’s World, checking dealer after dealer in an effort to unload the worthless statuettes. It had been middle autumn before the Lights of Jolostar returned to Corlos, to find neKrol’s base in ruins, the Angels already gathering in their harvests.
- Other workmen came and went as the morning turned to afternoon and the afternoon to dusk, setting their craft before him. He looked over each piece carefully, taking some and declining others, paying for what he took in salt. Before full darkness had descended, a small pile of goods sat by his right hand; a matched set of redstone knives, a gray deathcloth woven from the fur of an elderly Jaenshi by his widow and friends (with his face wrought upon it in the silky golden hairs of a pseudomonk), a bone spear with tracings that reminded neKrol of the runes of Old Earth legend; and statues.
16. The Way of Cross and Dragon – it has been a long, long time since I have read this one. There isn’t any sex at all in this one, as it is more about the creating of “gods”, and that to have worshipers is control, and lots about heresy and religion distorting the truth.
17. Dying of the Light – plenty of relationship issues in this one, but none of them are about genetics or incest as a way of success. Polygamy and poly-amorous relations are a huge theme. Here you can see a situation that is parrallel to the current situation in the Night’s Watch. This society has a armaggedon-like collapse and the sexual tendencies are arranged based on sorrow and necessity, with women being available, yet kept safe underground like we see in Mole’s Town. In A Dance with Dragons we see Jon sending various Free Folk people to Mole’s Town to keep them safe.
- Jamis-Lion wrote that sin had finally passed from High Kavalaan when the eyn-kethi were safely locked away from the daylight, back in the caves from which they had issued, where their shame could not be seen. Vikary wrote that the Kavalar survivors had fought back as best they could. They no longer had the technological skills to construct airtight sterilized chambers; but no doubt rumors of such places had drifted down the years to them, and they still hoped that such places could be proof against disease. So the surviving women were secured in prisonlike hospitals deep under the ground, in the safest part of the holdfast, the farthest from the contaminated wind and rain and water. Men who had once roamed and hunted and warred with their wives by their sides now teamed with other men, both grieving for lost partners. To relieve the sexual tensions-and maintain the gene pool as best they could, if they even understood such things-the men who lived through the Sorrowing Plague made their women sexual property of all. To insure as many children as possible, they made them perpetual breeders who lived their lives safe from danger and in constant pregnancy. The holdfasts that did not adopt such measures failed to survive; those that did passed on a cultural heritage.
Other changes took root as well. Tara had been a religious world, home of the Irish-Roman Reformed Catholic Church, and the urge to monogamy died hard. The patterns appeared in two mutated forms; the strong emotional attachments that grew up between male hunting partners became the basis for the intense total relationship of teyn-and-teyn, while those men who desired a semi-exclusive bond with a woman created betheyns by capturing females from other holdfasts. The leaders encouraged such raidings, Jaan Vikary said; new women meant new blood, more children, a larger population, and thus a better chance of survival. It was unthinkable that any man take exclusive possession of one of the eyn-kethi; but a man who could bring a woman in from outside was rewarded with honors and a seat in the councils of leadership and, perhaps most importantly, the woman herself.
Also, here again we see GRRM using a “gathering” as a means to relationships and protection of people and such. This “gathering” idea is also seen in Bitterblooms and even in ASOIAF.
- Vikary cradled his beer mug between two large hands and drank from it thoughtfully. “That is simple enough,” he said. “I am a highbond Kavalar of the Ironjade Gathering, bonded to Gwen Delvano by jade-and-silver. My betheyn was sent to Worlorn by vote of the highbond council, so it is natural that I am here too, and my teyn. Do you understand?”
And we see a prototype to the free folk “stealing” and how the woman is in charge. And new blood means better survival and those who bring new blood are honored (like in Bitterblooms):
- Other changes took root as well. Tara had been a religious world, home of the Irish-Roman Reformed Catholic Church, and the urge to monogamy died hard. The patterns appeared in two mutated forms; the strong emotional attachments that grew up between male hunting partners became the basis for the intense total relationship of teyn-and-teyn, while those men who desired a semi-exclusive bond with a woman created betheyns by capturing females from other holdfasts. The leaders encouraged such raidings, Jaan Vikary said; new women meant new blood, more children, a larger population, and thus a better chance of survival. It was unthinkable that any man take exclusive possession of one of the eyn-kethi; but a man who could bring a woman in from outside was rewarded with honors and a seat in the councils of leadership and, perhaps most importantly, the woman herself.
18. The Glass Flower – no incest, but the main Daenerys type girl, Cyrain of Ash, is in a relationship with a slaver Daario guy named Khar Dorian. Cyrain is now a slaver, but in a different way; she steals bodies and minds. She tries to excuse it to make herself feel better about it. Cyrain is discussed more in the Daenerys posts.
19. The Stone City– no incest, but plenty of open relationships and prostitution between all races and genders. No genetics issues at all.
20. Nobody Leaves New Pittsburgh – No incest, no real relationship stuff at all. No genetics issues at all.
21. Override – No incest, but definitely brings to light the idea that Bran is stronger than Bloodraven in his talents. No genetics issues at all.
22. Meathouse Man – no incest, but plenty of failed human relationships, “prostitution” in a weird way. Truly a sad story in the end. No genetics issues at all.
23. Sandkings – no incest, but a failed past relationship with a girlfriend. Oh, and the main guy reeealllly wants to be worshiped. No genetics issues at all.
24. A Song for Lya – no incest, but a few male-female non-related relationships, and even the mention of “open” relationships in more than one form. No genetics issues at all. We do get the very clear idea for the first time that to touch someone creates a better psi-link bond, adn to have sex with someone creates the strongest psi-link bond of all.
25. Warship – No incest, but mentions of a past relationship with someone. No genetics issues at all.
26. The Runners – No incest or genetics issues, or breeding issues at all.
27. For a Single Yesterday – Despite a huge world war that has decimated almost all of the world’s population, this one surviving group of people are not opting for incest. Instead, the hero in the end, Rob Winters, turns the struggling group around and saves it in the end. This is also another story where the Bloodraven-type man is used:
The years since then have been good ones, I guess. Winters is a better leader than I was. The timetrips never turned up any knowledge worth a damn, but the search expeditions proved fruitful. There are more than two hundred people in town now, most of them people that Winters brought in.
It’s a real town, too. We have electricity and a library, and plenty of food. And a doctor—a real doctor that Winters found a hundred miles from here. We got so prosperous that the Sons of the Blast heard about us and came back for a little fun. Winters had his militia beat them off and hunt down the ones who tried to escape.
28. Portraits of His Children – I often mention that some stories there in “implied” incest, and aside from House of the Worm being one, the character Richard Cantling in Portraits of His Children is another. This story appears to be a personal critique GRRM is applying to himself and his writing career. Martin has said the story Meathouse Man is deeply personal and it is easy to see how this story written in a similar time period could also be an introspective analysis. There is no actual incest in Portraits… , but the crazy Cantling (crazy in the way Cersei, Lysa, and Arnolf Karstak are) fantasizes in a dreamlike sequence that this painting (one of a few) comes to life and calls him “daddy” and it gets supremely weird and often emotionally difficult to read; the “show me where it hurts” scenes. All of these surprise paintings of his own book characters are being sent to him by his real-life daughter, Michelle. The ongoing issue with Cantling is that he considers his book characters his “children”, and they come to life for him, and he is “mad” and he goes to his own mental “darkling stream” journey. To cut to the end, Michelle ends up rejecting Cantling like her mother did before she died. The difference being Michelle accuses her father of rape because of a novel he wrote and published that was based on her life. Michelle has a caustic fallout with her father over the “mind rape” he causes her. It is because of these inappropriate “relationships” the main character has with his “children” combined with the dysfunction he faces in real life that he brings on a downfall of his own dynasty.
29. Weekend in a Warzone- Nope. No incest issues. Just a story about how bllodlust and war can change a man into an unrecognizable terror.
30. Nor the Many-Colored Fires of a Star Ring- No incest at all. There is a romance between two co-workers; one a loner man who likes to view everything and his supportive scientist girlfriend.