Phyllis Eisenstein, an award-winning fantasy author who convinced George R.R. Martin to include dragons in his story, has died at the age of 74.
Hugo award-winning fantasy author Phyllis Eisenstein has died at the age of 74. Eisenstein was the author of novels like Born to Exile (1977), In the Hands of Glory (1981), In the Red Lord’s Reach (1989) and more.
Eisenstein was also known to critique the works of fellow authors. She famously inspired George R.R. Martin to include dragons in his A Song of Ice and Fire series, as Martin recalled to the French magazine Lire in 2015 after it asked him if he’d ever hesitated about adding more fantastical elements to his story:
Yes, I have doubted a bit. At first, for example, the story was not going to include dragons, and it was an old friend, Phillys Eisenstein, who convinced me to do so.. I do not regret! But even then, I knew that this book must be less supernatural than my previous stories. I added some magic because I think it empowers the story, but I don’t like stories that use it a lot, where the hero is trapped but only has to use magic power to get out. It’s downright ridiculous. So I decided to use magic only cautiously. But I didn’t want to confuse readers into thinking that this was historical fiction. That is why the Others appear in the prologue: you know that you are in a strange world, where the supernatural exists. After that, I could go to a more “historical” plot, with a series of chapters without magic elements.
A Song of Ice and Fire and Game of Thrones both stand out amid other fantasy fare because of their comparatively light touch when it comes to the actual fantasy elements. That said, they wouldn’t be the same without the dragons.
Eisenstein is survived by her husband, with whom she worked on a couple of her books. If you’re not familiar with her, feel free to check out some of her work.