Okay, maybe that's not too unusual; the fact that the author made millions upon millions of dollars doing it and was listed as one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World (2012) is the really strange bit.
Anyway...I don't bring this up because I'm planning on publishing any fan fiction myself anytime soon (my fiction writing is terrible...I mean really, really bad. And there isn't all that much of it anyway). I'm thinking about it because of this Pendragon-Game o Thrones thing.
[yes, I really need a nice, succinct name for this project. I was thinking "Westeros," but I wanted to call it something that wouldn't involve folks contemplating "Easteross" and "Southeross" (or whatever it is Martin calls his other continents). Calling in "Game of Thrones" or "A Song of Ice and Fire" are, of course, right out of the running. And it seems silly to work on a project called "Seven Kingdoms" when I just published a work called Five Ancient Kingdoms. When I've got something good, I'll let y'all know]
*ahem* AS I was saying: I was thinking about "the project" and how to divide up the "world" (in this case, limited to the Westeross continent) in the same way that Pendragon limits itself to England (more or less), when I realized just how damn white this pseudo-fantasy world is. Again.
The Northlands: shaggy-haired, Cimmerian-style white people.
The West: blonde-hair, rich white people.
The Riverlands: red-haired, nice guy white people.
The Stormlands: black-haired, warlike white people.
The Reach: wavy brunette, savvy white people.
Dorne: hot-blooded, Mediterranean white people.
Iron Islands: grey-clad, Viking-style white people.
And of course the Targaryens: weird, platinum-haired white people with dragonblood (or whatever). Knock-offs of Melnibone or High Numenor or Ancient Atlantis or whatever...they're still just white people with magic and a taste for incest.
Now I realize that Pendragon is a white-whitey-white-white game ("green knights" aside) by design (it's based on literature written by white people for a white audience). I realize that Martin's main inspiration for his saga was the English War of the Roses which featured a lot of 15th century white people killing each other. I further realize that Martin's world does include "people of color;" they're just not found in the Great Houses of the Seven Kingdoms, which is kind of my whole point of adapting a Pendragon game to the setting (i.e. to use the neat saga system found in Pendragon for a non-Aurthurian campaign).
|The only "person of color" in Pendragon.|
[and why don't I just want to play/run Pendragon "as is?" Well, strangely enough, I kind of wanted a setting that was more inclusive...specifically with the idea of female warriors and female "lords"...and Martin's setting does have that. It shows a model of how to "do" it while still paying attention to all those "family concerns" (real, historical concerns that are conspicuously lacking in other games like, say, D&D) that Pendragon does so well. And, oh yeah...there are plenty of non-heterosexual movers & shakers in Martin's books, too...which is a good thing]
SO...you've got this nifty fantasy setting filled with armored knights and weird magic and that's (fairly) unconcerned about breaking the traditional sexual and sexuality taboos of medieval European fiction...and then you populate it with a bunch of white people who are mainly distinguished by hair color. Really. Not all of the families are "all bad" or "all good;" there are honorable and kind-hearted people to be found in ALL the Seven (Nine?) Kingdoms of Westeross. And villainous scum, too. And incompetent imbeciles and well-meaning types that make stupid mistakes. The whole range of humanity. They just happen to all be of a caucasian persuasion.
*sigh* Anyway, that's what got me thinking of the 50 Shades book. Maybe I need to make my own version of Westeross, where houses come in different ethnicities. I mean, I'd have to redo it from the ground up, just like Ms. James (I don't think the characters in her books are still "shiny vampires," though perhaps I'm mistaken). I couldn't just say, "okay, the Lannisters are all black" because...well, obvious reasons, duh. And I can't make 'em the stupidly naive (if O So Honorable) Starks, either. Or the Baratheons, for that matter (it's so much easier to hide a mysterious bastard's parentage or the product of an incestuous relationship when everyone's got the same skin tone).
Ugh...white folk problems. I know there are tiny violins playing all over the world for my addled brain.
Okay...more regarding actual game-related design issues later (as the current project-of-the-week continues)!