I know Sandkings is an older podcast, but I had some time this weekend and reread some classic science fiction. One of the stories I read was Microcosmic God by Theodore Sturgeon, and this story had to have been an influence on George R. R. Martin. The protagonist is a genius who creates an artificial race in a tank, continually mass murders them to force their evolution, gets established as their god, ruthlessly exploits them - and he's the hero of the story!
This story came out in 1941, back when we still thought colonial exploitation was cool. Aside from a hint at the end that this is going bit us one day, there's no indication that there's anything wrong with any of this.
If Martin wrote this as a reaction to sturgeon and was trying to deals with the ethics of the situation more than some cool technology, that seems to me a very good corrective.