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A co-author of an upcoming Game of Thrones tie-in book has responded after numerous fans online threatened a boycott as accusations of racist remarks and behavior swirled.
Linda Antonsson has been a central figure in A Song of Ice and Fire fandom for years now, alongside her husband and co-author Elio M. Garcia. The duo are the founders of Westeros.org, arguably the most prominent fansite in the space, and proved so knowledgeable about writer George R.R. Martin's world that he eventually hired them as "fact-checkers" to help him keep characters, descriptions, and locations straight while writing his novels. Antonsson and Garcia eventually proved so indispensable to Martin that they co-authored The World of Ice and Fire, the official reference guide to the series, with the fantasy icon.
Now, Antonsson and Garcia have once again teamed up with Martin for The Rise of the Dragon, an illustrated reference guide to the Targaryen dynasty, which is due out later this month. But when Martin took to Twitter last week to promote the book's upcoming release, some users responded with threats of a boycott, and screenshots of some of Antonsson's past posts on Twitter and Tumblr, some dating back years, which many fans argue point to racist views. Antonsson has been highly critical in the past of the casting of actors of color in key roles on both Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon, for example, and has been known to respond to fellow fans with phrases like "feminazi" and "c***" when her views are questioned. One recent example of the controversy, in which Antonsson bemoaned the casting of Black actor Steve Toussaint as Lord Corlys Velaryon, led to her declaring: There are no Black Valyrians and there should not be any in the show."
For a thorough rundown of the accusations leveled at Antonsson, you can check out stories on the uproar at both Variety and Vulture, which lay out even more detail on the writer's history of potentially questionable remarks leveled at both the world of Westeros and the real world of fans online. Speaking to Variety about the accusations, though, Antonsson characterized it as fans digging up “cherry-picked statements stripped of context.”
“If George had indeed made the Valyrians Black instead of white, as he mused on his ‘Not a Blog’ in 2013, and this new show proposed to make the Velaryons anything other than Black, we would have had the same issue with it and would have shared the same opinion,” she said.
Martin himself has not responded to the controversy, and neither has Rise of the Dragon publisher Ten Speed Press. Still, calls from the fandom for the author to sever ties with his fans-turned-collaborators have intensified over the last week, as social media users continue to circulate screenshots of Antonsson's past statements online. Users have also continued to point to a months-old tweet from Antonsson in which she claimed that Martin only wrote "his name on a contract" for The Rise of the Dragon as a sign of disrespect for the author.
Antonsson, for her part, still insists that her criticisms and statements are only about the "world building" of the TV series, and called the claims against her projections of her opinions, rather than her "actual opinions." Whether or not Martin responds remains to be seen, but for the moment, this doesn't feel like a controversy that's going away any time soon, particularly since there are still three weeks to go until Rise of the Dragon hits bookstores.
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