From Ray Richmond, who is contributing to Deadline Hollywood’s TCA coverage:

The cast and producers of HBO’s hotly-anticipated fantasy series Game of Thrones (launching on April 17) met critics late Friday afternoon at the TCA gathering in Pasadena. And the question of the day seemed to be why fans of the genre are so ardent in their passion and obsession not only with Thrones but seemingly every sci-fi/fantasy project of similar ilk.

In the case of Thrones, the author of the book series on which the series “A Song of Ice and Fire” on which it’s based — George R.R. Martin (who is also a co-executive producer and writer for the show) — believes the answer is that there simply isn’t very much of the genre to go around in terms of cinema and TV. “There’s relatively little of it out there,” Martin reasons. “TV is full of lawyer shows and cop shows and situation comedies. But fantasy has largely been restricted to books for a long time. And those people are very hungry to find this stuff on television.”

Martin, himself a colorful character who resembles a mash-up of Santa Claus and Captain Kangaroo,  went on, “The success of the Lord of the Rings films shows the enormous appetite there is for this stuff out there. Of course, it’s always question of how well the project is done.”

Currently working on the fifth book in his Song of Fire and Ice series, Martin — whose TV credits include work as a writer-producer on the 1980s CBS series Beauty and the Beast — said one of the reasons he made his books so complex and rife with character and plot and devices is that he never dreamed it could be made into a movie or televidion series. “I have hundreds of characters and giant battles and castles, and I figured that was fine because it would never be made into a series, anyway. You just never know.”