A shaky trip around the 2020 sun.

I’m not an “American First” (and maybe because I read science fiction) I’m a “Terran First”. I’m a human being first. And I have this sympathy for other human beings no matter what side of the giant ice wall they happen to be born on.— George R.R. Martin

I know that sitting and reading book series analysis isn’t the hippest thing to do anymore, but I wanted to take some time to thank the 350+ combination of you who follow along and take the time to read my jambles and jumbles. I am seriously humbled that you think enough of what I put down to want to follow along and to keep reading. Thank you!

But why aren’t you doing recordings, Leech? Well, I have been asked by a small few, but I am nervous in speaking engagements… and the fan mail would be too overwhelming for me to handle. However, I decided to take up the offer with my friends at Game of Owns at the beginning of 2020. Two really smart and fun people who make the type of podcasts that are like sitting with friends. What did I talk about with GOO? Why, Martinworld, of course (and a few other ramblings). Give it a listen and like here.

Some other writing accomplishments I eeked out the time to complete include:

Now on with the fun stuff… rankings! This has been a weird year. Essays (or rather ‘messays’) that I wrote years ago suddenly rose in ranks, and a few posts  or transcribed stories that I assumed would be a hit for Martinworld fans didn’t score so well. So, what was the big Top Ten for 2020?:

  1. Jon, Val, and Nymeria relived.
  2. Jon Snow, the Wolf and the Bear.
  3. Aerea Targaryen: Creeping Eruptions.
  4. Jon is the Sun’s Son. Sorry Quentyn.
  5. Downfall of a Dynasty = Incest.
  6. When was Val introduced? (A WIP page… Martinworld is huge)
  7. My time with GRRM at Balticon.
  8. “Oh, you think he’s dead, do you?”– GRRM
  9. Inherited features of firstborn Targaryens.
  10. Greenseeing Means Enlightenment.
  11. Honorable mention to Sowing Red Dragons as this has recently come to roaring life.

As always, I try to spread the love around to others in the fandom who are creating some amazing analysis and essay works. I have updated the ‘Sharing is Caring’ page with new contributors and artist, as well as listed a few awesome finds from this past year. Please check it out and let me know who you would suggest for add-ins.

I also want to take a minute to reintroduce readers to SandraM of Storm Cloud Rising and her essays about Sansa Stark. You can find her on Tumblr and Twitter, as well as this blog:

“I think that for science fiction, fantasy, and even horror to some extent, the differences are skin-deep. I know there are elements in the field, particularly in science fiction, who feel that the differences are very profound, but I do not agree with that analysis. I think for me it is a matter of the furnishings. An elf or an alien may in some ways fulfill the same function, as a literary trope. It’s almost a matter of flavor. The ice cream can be chocolate or it can be strawberry, but it’s still ice cream. The real difference, to my mind, is between romantic fiction, which all these genres are a part of, and mimetic fiction, or naturalistic fiction.” –George R.R. Martin

Blackfyre sword
Blackfyre sword, most likely in the crate that Illyrio hands off to Tyrion’s crew before he meets Aegon VI.

What’s going on in ASOIAF world?

As we patiently await The Winds of Winter (yes, I keep the faith), there are some other stirrings that soon to ferment in 2021, 2022, and beyond.

First, if you are eager to meet other actual human beans that share your love of this ASOIAF-Martinworld universe, check out Con of Thrones and/or Ice and Fire Con. As of this writing, I have tentative plans to make it to Ice and Fire Con in 2021.

Then there is the mother of conventions that is the 79th Annual WorldCon that will be held in Washington, D.C. this summer 2021 and is officially titled DisCon III. Read more about this event here. This is one of the events I am planning on attending and I cannot wait!

Oh, and the Dance of Dragons show will go on. Get yourself some #HotD updates here with House of the Dragon on HBO.

What are your plans? Chat it up below or in the Twitter-hole.

Aside from the larger fandom functions, what I am working on includes: what the Gilly-Fire-Hand scene with Jon means, what is slavery in Martinworld (which includes ASOIAF) and how does he handle it, finally getting to transcribe and book club Sandkings, and maybe one day this year I will transcribe and book club GRRM’s BEST STORY EVER, Meathouse Man.

Fattest Leech Meathouse Man Love

“The best fantasy is written in the language of dreams. It is alive as dreams are alive, more real than real … for a moment at least … that long magic moment before we wake.

Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plywood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habaneros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end. Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minas Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot. Fantasy flies on the wings of Icarus, reality on Southwest Airlines. Why do our dreams become so much smaller when they finally come true?

We read fantasy to find the colors again, I think. To taste strong spices and hear the songs the sirens sang. There is something old and true in fantasy that speaks to something deep within us, to the child who dreamt that one day he would hunt the forests of the night, and feast beneath the hollow hills, and find a love to last forever somewhere south of Oz and north of Shangri-La.

They can keep their heaven. When I die, I’d sooner go to middle Earth.”
George R.R. Martin

Want more GRRMspreading?

I have started a book club re-read for the older works of George R.R. Martin for purposes such as research, scholarship, and teaching. I own all copies of material that is used for this book club. If you have not yet read a story listed, please check with your local bookstore for your own reading material to purchase (Indie Bookstore Finder or Bookshop.org). The full list of GRRM stories outside of the A Song of Ice and Fire series that I have read can be found on this page here.

books sculpture write reading

It takes a while to transcribe and then note each story for research purposes, even the really short ones, so the main book club page will be updated as each re-read is added. Make sure you subscribe for updates.

If there is a story in particular you would like to ask about, feel free to do so in comments below.

If you prefer to listen to a podcast that gives synopsis and analysis of stories written by George R.R. Martin, please consider the new group A Thousand Casts to accompany your ears. Twitter or Podbean.

  1. Bitterblooms– In the dead of deep winter, a young girl named Shawn has to find the mental courage to escape a red fiery witch. Prototyping Val, Stannis, and Arya along with the red witch Melisandre.
  2. The Lonely Songs of Laren Dorr – Discarded Knights guards the gates as Sharra feels the Seven while searching for lost love. Many Sansa and Ashara Dayne prototyping here as well.
  3. …And Seven Times Never Kill Man– A look into a proto-Andal+Targaryen fiery world as the Jaenshi way of life is erased. But who is controlling these events? Black & Red Pyramids who merge with Bakkalon are on full display in this story.
  4. The Last Super Bowl– Football meets SciFi tech with plenty of ASOIAF carryover battle elements.
  5. Nobody Leaves New Pittsburg– first in the Corpse Handler trio, and sets a lot of tone for future ASOIAF thematics.
  6. Closing Time– A short story that shows many precursor themes for future GRRM stories, including skinchanging, Sneaky Pete’s, catastrophic long nights…
  7. The Glass Flower– a tale of how the drive for perfection creates mindlords and mental slavery.
  8. Run to Starlight– A tale of coexistence and morality set to a high stakes game of football.
  9. Remembering Melody– A ghost tale written by GRRM in 1981 that tells of long nights, bloodbaths, and pancakes.
  10. Fast-Friend transcribed and noted. Written in December 1973, this story is a precursor to skinchanging, Bran, Euron, Daenerys, and ways to scheme to reclaim lost love.
  11. The Steel Andal Invasion– A re-read of a partial section of  The World of Ice and Fire text compared to the story …And Seven Times Never Kill Man. This has to do with both fire and ice Others in ASOIAF.
  12. A Song for Lya– A novella about a psi-link couple investigating a fiery ‘god’. Very much a trees vs fire motif, and one of GRRM’s best stories out there.
  13. For A Single Yesterday– A short story about learning from the past to rebuild the future.
  14. This Tower of Ashes– A story of how lost love, mother’s milk, and spiders don’t mix all too well.
  15. A Peripheral Affair (1973)When a Terran scout ship on a routine patrol through the Periphery suddenly disappears, a battle-hungry admiral prepares to renew the border war.
  16. The Stone City– a have-not surviving while stranded on a corporate planet. Practically a GRRM autobiography in itself.
  17. Slide Show– a story of putting the stars before the children.
  18. Only Kids are Afraid of the Dark– rubies, fire, blood sacrifice, and Saagael- oh my!
  19. A Night at the Tarn House– a magical game of life and death played at an inn at a crossroads.
  20. Men of Greywater Station– Is it the trees, the fungus, or is the real danger humans?
  21. The Computer Cried Charge!– what are we fighting for and is it worth it?
  22. The Needle Men– the fiery hand wields itself again, only, why are we looking for men?
  23. Black and White and Red All Over– a partial take on a partial story.
  24. Fire & Blood excerpt; Alysanne in the north– not a full story, but transcribed and noted section of the book Fire & Blood, volume 1.

If you want to browse my own thoughts and speculations on the ASOIAF world using GRRM’s own work history, use the drop-down menu above for the most content, or click on the page that just shows recent posts -> Recent Posts Page.


Thank you for reading the jambles and jumbles of the Fattest Leech of Ice and Fire, by Gumbo!

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