FM4-Logo

jetzt live:

Aktueller Musiktitel:

Tad Williams Interview

Johnny Bliss

The „David Hasselhoff“ of Fantasy Fiction: A talk with Tad Williams

Tad Williams has been called the „David Hasselhoff of fantasy fiction“ because of his unprecedented success in Germany. But even George RR Martin, the author of Game of Thrones, credits Tad’s work as an influence.

By Johnny Bliss

A few weeks ago, I went for a few days, to visit a friend in the small German college town of Saarbrücken.

Finally, I thought, a chance to catch up on my sleep, do some light reading, and take it easy for a bit. After all, as nice as some of the cafés, bars and theatres in Saarbrücken are, it’s not exactly what you’d call a bustling metropolis!

Reality Check on Saturday, November 25th

Listen to a Reality Check Special with Johnny Bliss and Tad Williams, on a journey into fantasy medieval worlds and satirical future worlds.

Saturday, November 25th, 12-13, and afterwards seven days on demand.

If you miss the program, you can still stream it via the Reality Check podcast or at fm4.ORF.at/7tage.

It’s certainly not the place you would expect to inadvertently cross paths with a man whose work has been compared favourably to J.R.R. Tolkien, whose writing also allegedly inspired George RR Martin to write his acclaimed Song of Ice and Fire series (which, if you think of it, also makes him responsible for the ‚Red Wedding‘. I’m just saying), and whose acclaimed foray into science fiction, the Otherland series, managed to correctly predict some of the most disturbing aspects of 21st century life.

Yes, it’s true: Tad Williams was on a book-signing tour around Germany, and his itinerary just happened to take him through Saarbrücken while I was there. Being as I was already a fan of the Otherland series, I couldn’t really pass on the opportunity to meet him, any more than George RR Martin would pass on the opportunity to kill your favourite character.

And so, I found myself in a crowded auditorium at around 8pm on a Tuesday night with Tad Williams and a theatre full of local fans, all of whom wanted their copies of Tad’s entire bibliography to be signed. It was well after midnight - close to 1 a.m. in fact - when I finally made my way to Tad’s book-signing table, and was able to explain who I was and why I wanted to stick a microphone in his face (jeez, that came out wrong) before he left for the next town, which meant ... doing an interview right then, actually.

Tad Williams talks about his success in Germany

Luckily for me (and you, if you’re a fan), even at the age of sixty, Tad Williams is an inexhaustible fount of inspiration, storytelling, and good humour. This meant that, even as my own energy levels were flagging and my journalistic instincts were failing, he joyfully pontificated to me about all kinds of interesting literary matters, including fantasy world-building, the roles fantasy and science fiction can play in an ever-changing world, the increasingly predictive nature of satire today, and so much more.

Tad Williams talks about Fantasy vs Science Fiction
Tad Williams Interview

Johnny Bliss

Tad Williams, on Influencing GRRM

"Actually, it’s a funny story. I had read George’s work for a while, and he was already quite well-known in our field. The first time I had a chance to meet him in person was at a convention, while I was in the middle of my series that he has been kind enough to say influenced him.

“The Dragonbone Chair and the rest of his famous four-book trilogy were some of the things that inspired me to write my own seven-book trilogy.

Fantasy got a bad rep for being formulaic and ritual. And I read The Dragonbone Chair and said, ‘My God, they can do something with this form, and it’s Tad doing it.’ It’s one of my favourite fantasy series.”

--George RR Martin, 2011

I came up to him and said, ‚Oh hi, you’re George Martin. I just wanted to say I’m Tad Williams, and I really enjoy your work.‘

And he says, ‚Get the hell outta here!‘.

At first, I thought, is this a joke? Did I say something wrong, have I offended him? Because George is a little scary-looking, you know… he’s always looked like somebody’s biker dad!

And so I said, ‚I’m sorry if I caught you at a bad time, I just wanted to say hey, I like your work‘, and he goes, ‚Yeah, so get the hell out of here. Go home and finish that book, I’m waiting for the third volume!‘

A trifle ironic, in today’s situation. But so, that’s how I first met him. Later on, when he had so much success with Game of Thrones, he did say a few times that my work had influenced him."

Tad Williams, on Accidentally Predicting the Future

My science fiction series, Otherland, certainly had predictive aspects, because these are supposed to take place maybe only a half century in the future. The kinds of things I was predicting were not so much scientific inventions per se, although I was already certain that we were going to be using handheld communication devices. I would call them pads, and… actually I was very lucky, because Pads has kind of become the word that people use, so I feel very good about that!

But I never did it strictly to be predictive. Most of it was satire! It was saying, ‚Our world is only going to get crazier, based on what we’re doing now‘. And sadly, I have been pretty much proven right, in most cases. People send me articles and bits of video and things off the net all the time, with a thing appended to them saying ‚Look! It’s Otherland! Look! It’s happening!‘ and some of it is quite frightening! When I was thinking of it, I was trying to be extreme, but sometimes not even extreme enough."

Tad Williams, on Fantasy World-building

"I don’t think that you can make a world convincingly, unless you understand something about the only world that we really have to study, which is our own. So you have to know something about the rules of how civilizations work, if you’re going to make convincing ones. If you think that people in the Middle Ages had grocery stores... it’s like, no, it didn’t work that way! It’s not like us, and you can’t just come up with some equivalent.

Just the simplest subjects can take you into some really strange areas, but it’s also very useful too, because so many ideas come from that. You’ll say, ’if this is a place with a lot of metal mining or something, that will inform what kind of rocks there are there, and what kind of rocks there are, will inform what kind of geography the land has. So it’s important to have at least some idea of how things fit together in the real world, so you can start bending and twisting the rules, to make something imaginary.

I think any writer of fantasy and/or science fiction should be a mile wild and an inch deep. You don’t have to know everything, because you can look things up, but you have to know what it is that you need to know, and that’s the mile wide part. You have to be able to spread yourself out very wide, and have a little bit of knowledge about a lot of things."

Tad Williams talks about World-Building
Tad Williams Interview

Johnny Bliss

Reality Check on Saturday, November 25th

Listen to a Reality Check Special with Johnny Bliss and Tad Williams, on a journey into fantasy medieval worlds and satirical future worlds.

Saturday, November 25th, 12-13, and afterwards seven days on demand.

If you miss the program, you can still stream it via the Reality Check podcast or at fm4.ORF.at/7tage.

Aktuell:

Werbung X