GRR Martin on writing, those books, that show and other projects
April 12, 2015 6:41 AM   Subscribe

Season 5 of Game of Thrones begins Sunday night. Shouldn't you read a recent interview with creator of the books that spawned the show? Yes, you should!

Major spoilers for A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons!
posted by Brandon Blatcher (137 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
If he has time to be giving interviews.....
posted by yonega at 7:23 AM on April 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


*tap tap*

Is it on? We're live? Ok, thanks. Ahem.

STOP DOING INTERVIEWS AND WRITING IN YOUR LIVEJOURNAL AND FINISH THE GODS-DAMNED BOOKS, PLEASE.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:25 AM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


tldr

GRR, Martin.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:26 AM on April 12, 2015 [12 favorites]


He's never going to finish. The series will surpass him, then after his death some well-regarded fantasy writer will be tasked with the final novel. It'll be "A Dream of Spring - GRR Martin (with $PERSONWHOWROTEIT)"
posted by percor at 7:29 AM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Relavent

In any case, I think the discussion about diversity was...interesting. It's like he almost gets it, when he's talking about the people who were so disappointed about the casting of the Martells, and feeling for them, but then, woosh. And you also get the typical "but historical accuracy!" bit in terms of lack of POC characters-- you have dragons and ice zombies running around, but throw a darker skinned person in there, and suddenly, we're in the realm of the unbelievable.
posted by damayanti at 7:30 AM on April 12, 2015 [23 favorites]


Interesting that he mentioned American Gods.

Now, if we could just get HBO or Showtime to develop the "Preacher" graphic novels, I'd be a happy camper.
posted by Thistledown at 7:31 AM on April 12, 2015


A Dream of Spring- GRR Martin (with Kevin J Anderson and Brian Herbert).
posted by yonega at 7:32 AM on April 12, 2015 [11 favorites]


The interview is from a few years ago, so it's too late to complain about him wasting time on it.

According to his liveournal, he is doing really well with avoiding extra work in order to work on WoW. At least, he was until the Hugo debacle.
posted by tofu_crouton at 7:33 AM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


WoW?
posted by localroger at 7:35 AM on April 12, 2015


Winds of winter
posted by bardophile at 7:36 AM on April 12, 2015


Winds of Winter.

But oh god that would be terrible if he suddenly decided to get really into WoW about 10 years after its peak.
posted by vogon_poet at 7:36 AM on April 12, 2015 [7 favorites]


Oh, that's right, a book. Forgot about how those come first.
posted by localroger at 7:37 AM on April 12, 2015


Or you could watch the FOUR episodes of Game of Thrones that leaked last night and have yourself a mini-marathon.

But yeah, I'll probably read this later....after I finish watching.
posted by Fizz at 7:38 AM on April 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


I guess this would be a bad time to mention that I wish someone would film Fevre Dream then.
posted by localroger at 7:38 AM on April 12, 2015 [6 favorites]


I suddenly had this terrible vision of GRRM failing to complete the next book because he spent way too much time levelling up his night elf archer.
posted by destrius at 7:41 AM on April 12, 2015 [11 favorites]


I suddenly had this terrible vision of GRRM failing to complete the next book because he spent way too much time levelling up his night elf archer.

Give Gurm some credit, right now he is trying to complete his National Pokedex.
posted by drezdn at 7:44 AM on April 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


(Psst, the entire first half of the season is leaked online if that is your sort of thing. Don't spoil others of course.)
posted by Drinky Die at 7:50 AM on April 12, 2015


Now, if we could just get HBO or Showtime to develop the "Preacher" graphic novels, I'd be a happy camper.

AMC, by Seth Rogan, unfortunately.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:00 AM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Psst, the entire first half of the season is leaked online...

Holy crap, how did that happen?? Heads are gonna roll over that one.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:01 AM on April 12, 2015


They were sending them out for reviews, so maybe leaked from a critic somewhere. From what I hear the quality is very low so probably worth skipping.
posted by Drinky Die at 8:06 AM on April 12, 2015




On the leaked episodes; on first pass look - the primary watermark is blurred out, but I'm sure there are other more discrete watermarks in these files that might be identifiable even after the upsampling and transcoding to 720x392 (it's still looks like a compressed 480p on a 1920x1200 monitor).

Someone's reviewing career is over, at the very least.
posted by porpoise at 8:20 AM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Actually only the first 4 episodes in standard def, have leaked. (I've seen some discussion online that he first 4 episodes leaked last year too, though I didn't see them.) Anyone who watches these will probably go mad waiting a whole month for the resolution of whatever cliffhanger episode 4 ends on. It's Game Of Thrones; there's always a cliffhanger.
posted by Catblack at 8:22 AM on April 12, 2015


From what I hear the quality is very low so probably worth skipping.

Only released in standard definition, but quality is about normal for these sort of things.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:22 AM on April 12, 2015


From what I hear the quality is very low so probably worth skipping.

Only released in standard definition, but quality is about normal for these sort of things.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:22 AM on April 12 [+] [!]


Beggars can't be choosers.
posted by Fizz at 8:28 AM on April 12, 2015


I think if I finally finish these seven books, or however many it takes, I will be tired of them.
Emphasis mine. I completely sympathize with his position though, both with being a gardener of the books rather an architect of them, and to enjoying having written more than writing itself. Getting these books out is not something that can be rushed, or that would necessarily be finished much more quickly if he stopped doing anything else except sitting in front of a computer without Internet.

Handing off the show to HBO and letting them finish it is a great thing for us fans. I'd rather have a high quality TV show finish than no finish, and no finish would be better than subpar books.
posted by Llama-Lime at 8:29 AM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Well I was going to sign up for HBO Now for season 5, but it appears to be bullshit turtles all the way down if you don't have an Apple TV. You can't even sign up!

Also from looking at their website I am starting to have the sinking feeling they have no intention of ever doing direct billing... So you'll need Apple's permission to sign up, or your cable providers (haha) or whoever.
posted by selfnoise at 8:29 AM on April 12, 2015


Yea, I bet HBO can unscramble it and find out who's review copy was compromised. That person is going to jail. I'm waiting for HBO Go. 420p? What is this, 1998?

As for Martin, Ive said before, Im glad he cashed in and Im glad the story will be finished, but I don't expect to ever read the conclusion in book form.

It's just ironic that as much as he hates fan fiction, his books will be finished by what's essentially people who paid him millions for the right to write fan fiction and film it.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:38 AM on April 12, 2015 [8 favorites]


AppleTV devices are down to $69 now, and they are nifty little devices, worth the price even if you don't want HBO. I really like mine, and I already have HBO through DISH.
posted by hippybear at 8:39 AM on April 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


There's lots of cool stuff Martin COULD do, like end the series completely differently or jump ahead beyond the endpoint of the TV series (like the time jump he had planned to do originally) but I doubt it'll happen.
posted by selfnoise at 8:41 AM on April 12, 2015


It's worth noting that Martin has had a long career in TV and knows what he's getting into with HBO finishing the series. And I think Martin fully knows that the bulk of his dedicated fans are there for the joy they find in his prose.
posted by Catblack at 8:42 AM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


selfnoise- you can also get a la carte (ish) HBO through Sling TV. And the Apple exclusive, while a PITA, will be over fairly soon.
posted by wotsac at 8:51 AM on April 12, 2015


You can also download HBO Now on an ios device, create an account and then access the website.

It sounds like it'll be available on Roku in a few months.
posted by drezdn at 8:56 AM on April 12, 2015


You know. I dislike epic fantasy novel series intensely, but the show has grown back on me.

GRR Martin has a huge, varied body of work and while I dislike some of what's going on in the novels enough to give them a pass now (I read the first three), the man deserves a break.

Yeah, maybe he isn't writing and yeah maybe he isn't writing what you want him to write.

But unless you've got some relationship with him I didn't know about and unless the 'write more! talk less!' above is a lot more light-hearted than I take it:

You don't own him.

George, do whatcha want. You don't owe nobody nothin'.
posted by Fuka at 9:00 AM on April 12, 2015 [10 favorites]


I find that I really don't care now that the TV series will surpass the books, with GRRM's blessing and participation. It's a really modern media issue, but it seems like an obvious issue to have and to solve this way, given that film, tv, books, comics, etc. all intertwine now. Doing it deliberately with the BDFL's help will result in an awesome TV series, and book adaptations that are, in some sense, much truer to authorial intent than hiring that shithack Kevin J. Anderson to do it.
posted by fatbird at 9:04 AM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


We may not own him, true. And at the same time, he's made an implicit promise to fans--that the books will be finished. It's increasingly clear that will never happen, and I strongly suspect that TWOW has been delayed so much precisely because he knew the show would outpace the books, so no need to actually finish.

I mean yeah, he absolutely has the right to tell us to fuck off and go do his own thing. And he'd be breaking the promise he made if he did.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:09 AM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


But unless you've got some relationship with him I didn't know about and unless the 'write more! talk less!' above is a lot more light-hearted than I take it:

You don't own him.


This is all true and he certainly isn't my bitch. However, I am also not going to be anybody's bitch anymore. He poisoned the well for ALL series writers for me. I'll only start a new series now when it is over (unless the author is willing to post a completion bond). By then of course the authors likely won't make any money off me because the books will be available cheaply everywhere and for free from my friends.
posted by srboisvert at 9:10 AM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Sometimes I feel like I'm the only fan of the series that sort of doesn't want George to finish. Popular authors famously receive very poor editing, because there is no upside to infringing on secondary narratives of "authorial vision", especially if the heavily edited book goes on to flop.

Also, I read books for the journey. The specific details of what happens next is kind of the least interesting part of his books. "What happens next" is the only content in something written by Dan Brown, and it is definitely possible to read the Song of Ice and Fire like a page turner, but page turning isn't what makes the series good.
posted by GrumpyDan at 9:14 AM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


There's lots of cool stuff Martin COULD do, like end the series completely differently or jump ahead beyond the endpoint of the TV series (like the time jump he had planned to do originally) but I doubt it'll happen.

He may surprise us yet.
In one intriguing new wrinkle, Martin says he just came up with a big, revealing twist on a long-time character that he never previously considered… And it’s nothing they can do in the show, because the show has already—on this particular character—made a couple decisions that will preclude it, where in my case I have not made those decisions.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:16 AM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


He poisoned the well for ALL series writers for me.

See Robert Jordan and David Eddings did this for me.
posted by Fuka at 9:26 AM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't an issue with Martin not finishing the books ever or for a while. The series can tie things up or if the books do come out, one can read those or the Wikipedia summary. So many options these days!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:34 AM on April 12, 2015


The person whose review copy was compromised is going to JAIL?

They don't even ask you before they send you screeners. They just send them. This could have been pinched out of the mail. It could have been pinched out of the mailroom at some outlet. It could have been swiped off somebody's desk.

Whose copy it was, without more, is not going to tell you anything about anybody doing anything wrong, let alone anybody going to jail. (It could also be somebody who foolishly lent a screener to a trusted friend who foolishly lent it to the wrong other person.)

I've never had a screener get away from me (and I don't get GOT screeners), but that's certainly not because there's no way it could happen. It's not unusual for networks to send screener packages in giant boxes labeled *on the outside* with exactly what they are.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 9:35 AM on April 12, 2015 [10 favorites]


Sometimes I feel like I'm the only fan of the series that sort of doesn't want George to finish.

The Dark Tower, amirite? Circa the mid-1990s, Stephen King was in much the same boat GRRM's in now, with legions of fans looking on in fury as King published book after book that were none of them the next volume in the apparently moribund saga. Then he decided to put his all into finishing the series. And it was...I mean, look, if you read the first three, and just imagine where it might have gone from there, you'll be a lot happier.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:36 AM on April 12, 2015 [10 favorites]


The phenomenon of an adapted TV or film series outpacing the books is nothing particularly new, it happens in anime all the time. For instance, Katsuhiro Otomo actually had to come up with 2 endings for Akira: One for the film, which was completed in 1987, and one for his original manga, which didn't actually wrap up until 1990. IIRC, the same thing happened with Trigun, the various incarnations of Dragon Ball, and basically all of Rumiko Takahashi's manga/anime output.

Part of this comes from the differences in how various forms of media are produced and presented. TV series are produced yearly and serialized weekly, whereas books take the amount of time that they take and generally come out all at once -- GRRM is actually kind of generous in this regard, since he's been releasing preview chapters for the last 2+ years. I'm content to get everything at once, but if some of the whiners would just shut up and read the preview chapters, I'm sure they'd be much happier. GRRM is not a book factory, he's a writer who happens to care about his craft, as well as having a life outside of it.
posted by Strange Interlude at 9:41 AM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Don't spoil others of course

I hope people don't start disseminating them across the Internet, but there will probably be enough of the sort of person who ambushed lines outside that one Harry Potter movie out there, who love doing that kind of thing, to render that hope forlorn. TIWWCHNT.
posted by thelonius at 9:44 AM on April 12, 2015


I'm rereading the series now, and it's both better and worse than I had remembered. Honestly I don't think it really matters when he ends it, because it is a big drifty mess that could meander forever, right up until he adds a big final scene that ties things up with a bow. And even if he supplies the final book, my money is on another set of books later with his name on the front, but written by other people, because the demand will be so large.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:45 AM on April 12, 2015


Wild Cards: A Song of Ice and Fire Edition, Volume 7.
posted by Apoch at 9:47 AM on April 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


Also David Gerrold's Chtorr series.

Saying that you're going to finish a series and then just choosing not to do so is breaking the implicit promise to fans. But what Martin has done is not breaking any implicit promise -- he's steadily kept writing these books.

Another example that comes to mind is Scott Lynch's Gentleman Bastard books -- many of us utterly loved his first book (it accounts for the only fan letter I've ever written in my life) and really, really liked the second, and wondered if he'd ever write and publish the third. Of course, most people also knew that he was struggling with severe depression. But that's kind of the point -- writing is hard, the writing process is hard, and there's no guarantees a writer can make that he or she will be able to keep producing books in a series in some timely fashion. Real life can get in the way and just the problems inherent in writing a very long-form narrative can get in the way.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:47 AM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


You'd think he would take the hint from Terry Pratchett and start banging away at the word processor if he cared enough to finish the series.
posted by Renoroc at 10:03 AM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've only read the first book, and while I thought it was well done I realized the series just wasn't for me.

But ever since writing has become more and more of a full-time occupation for me, the most firm conclusion I've come to regarding GRRM is this: everyone complaining about how he should be writing his books instead of doing this or that and/or who complains that the books aren't coming fast enough can fuck right off.

I get that most (if not all) of the jokes in this thread are just jokes, but a great deal of the chatter in GoT fandom isn't. I have no sympathy. At all.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 10:18 AM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


kittens for breakfast: The Dark Tower, amirite?

That's... an interesting example, especially as you specifically cut off the series at the third book. Most of the anger at King that I've seen has to do with his author insertion starting in the fourth book; were there people angry at him for, I dunno, not having a more clever resolution to the "riddling Blaine" cliffhanger? (I didn't have regular internet access for much of the nineties, so I wasn't really plugged into King fandom at the time.) Not that I would care much if they did feel that way; I thought that Eddie's solution was elegant and clever, and if there was some such fandom consensus that King should have come up with a real riddle that Blaine couldn't solve, well, I'm pretty skeptical of the idea of almost any fandom consensus in any fandom, ever, since it usually boils down to the people who shout the longest, the most emphatically, or the most persistently in one online forum or another, and/or are members of the biggest cliques online or at conventions. Thus you get this groupthink--which may not even be from that big of a group, relative to the actual larger fandom--whose beliefs get enshrined as "fanon", and for whom any perceived error on the part of the actual creator (such as, say, two characters hooking up late in a series, an event that has little influence on the actual plot) is blown up into something on the order of, say, Dave Sim actually seeming to lose his mind in the later years of Cerebus.

Which brings me to GRRM. The reactions to the delays in getting the books out strengthens a hypothesis of mine that the people who bitch endlessly about GRRM going to conventions or going to see a movie or doing anything with any given minute of his waking life other than hammering away at his charmingly antique word processor have a belief, that seems rather common among any number of fandoms, really, and that they persist in this belief regardless of things such as the posted interview above or the shared experience of numerous creators in all sorts of different media, and that belief is this: that ASOIAF already exists, in some form, and all GRRM has to do is just sort of whack off a chunk of it and publish it. They might deny it, because it's sort of nuts, but I think that that's what they truly believe in their heart of hearts, and that any delay in publishing the next installment is pure passive-aggressiveness on GRRM's part, and, moreover, that if an installment varies from the fanon that they already have in their heads, particularly WRT their pet characters, that's more "proof" that GRRM hates the fans.

There's an old anecdote that I've read more than once about Michelangelo saying that he created the famous sculpture of David by taking a big block of marble and removing all the parts that weren't David; it's not true, but I think that the concept is satisfying enough to a certain sort of fan that they really want to believe that the next installment is guaranteed, and that it will be just as satisfying, if not more so, as the previous ones. That it's more a matter of mining--just going to the right spot, grabbing a shovel, and digging it out of the ground--than it is an organic growth process, involving numerous factors not in the author's control (such as King's accident) and that results are not guaranteed, or simply may be extraordinarily different than even what the author thought. The latter isn't as satisfying to that sort of obsessive fan, and they've got plenty of people online to reinforce their mindset, so they keep barking at the creator to pick up the fucking shovel.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:26 AM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Part of the fan irritation at GRRM has to do with the fact that he keeps promising ~ exciting new characters ~ and ~ great new plotlines ~ when people just wish he'd FINISH THE FUCKING PLOTLINES AND CHARACTERS HE ALREADY HAS.

But no, instead, 211 pages 'On Dornish Custom and Ways', 512 pages on 'Brienne Wanders The Riverlands This Has No Point Because Lady Stoneheart [SPOILERS] Lolololol', and at least 1,000,000 iterations of Tyrion wondering where whores go.
posted by joyceanmachine at 10:48 AM on April 12, 2015 [9 favorites]


It's just weird to me that people are freaking out this way about a series that started less than 20 years ago and is pretty much guaranteed to produce a resolution one way or another. Fans of Rosemary Kirstein have gotten a book or two of the Steerwoman series in every decade since the 80's (and she isn't well.) Fans of P. C. Hodgell have been patiently following along with the God Stalker Chronicles since 1982 (and she keeps falling off horses.)

These authors are in their 60's, just like GRRM. So call me when your guy falls off a horse, you know?
posted by kyrademon at 10:59 AM on April 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


That's... an interesting example, especially as you specifically cut off the series at the third book. Most of the anger at King that I've seen has to do with his author insertion starting in the fourth book; were there people angry at him for, I dunno, not having a more clever resolution to the "riddling Blaine" cliffhanger? (I didn't have regular internet access for much of the nineties, so I wasn't really plugged into King fandom at the time.)

Speaking only for myself, my disenchantment began not with the resolution to the Blaine story, but with the epic flashback that made up 90% of the fourth book. The series loses momentum in favor of a lengthy look back that...doesn't tell us a whole lot, and is kind of overwritten besides, but mostly just doesn't advance the story at all. At least the McKean plates are nice!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:06 AM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, YMMV and all that. I thought that the Hambry part of Wizard and Glass was very important, maybe not in terms of advancing the main plot but in showing the transformation of Roland from the callow, just-passed-his-test young gunslinger into the essentially broken man that he is at the start of the series. Maybe the main question that the series had to answer had nothing to do with the main sequence of events, but rather with, simply, why did Roland care so much about getting to the Dark Tower itself? (I mean, aside from saving all of creation.) To bring it back home to the original subject of the FPP, a big series like Dark Tower or ASOIAF has to have a lot more going for it than just the plot if I'm going to invest that much time and headspace in it over that much time, and WRT ASOIAF, I'm really a lot more interested in seeing how Brienne's heroine journey turns out than I am in whether R+L=J.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:58 AM on April 12, 2015


I keep hearing everyone say that Author X doesn't "owe" their readers anything.

In one sense, that's true. In another, there's an implicit promise when you set out to create a series -- and it's almost an explicit promise when you say that the entire series has a specific "end" and that the whole, as envisioned, is "one story."

If he were writing episodic series and saying "any one could be the last, so long as I keep getting ideas" there wouldn't be anyone acting as though they are owed anything -- at least nobody rational could assert that.

But if you, as an author, undertake such a series, you are expecting your readers to invest in an incomplete product -- on the implicit or explicit promise that your product will be completed. If you do not make reasonable efforts to keep your productivity moving forward, you are reneging on that implicit promise.

In the case of GRRM, his promise has been explicit. He has never claimed at any point to reserve the right to just stop. He has always said the whole plot was "one story" and he had a vision for the complete series.

I would say that George has made a commitment to his readers. Every incoming dollar he's received from the series is not a quantum of the entertainment value that his novels have had in and of themselves, but represent also an investment by his readers to afford him the time to finish his work. It's not like he has a day job and without sales he might never realistically be able to finish -- he has rather vast wealth now, and that wealth is a manifestation, at least in some small part, of an investment that his readers have made to tell him "Look: you need not worry about income or your next paycheck or your next mortgage bill, we've taken care of that; please continue."

So no, George isn't our bitch. But on the same token, his readers have invested real money, a very very large amount of money, to afford him the luxury of not needing competing priorities.
posted by chimaera at 12:08 PM on April 12, 2015 [7 favorites]


Love the books, love the show. Martin doesn't owe me anything.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 12:11 PM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


You don't own him.

Here's the deal with series writing. I think there is a promise made by the author when a book has "book 1 of..." on the front cover that the author has a clear idea of where the series as a whole is going when they start. That a lot of authors don't does not undercut the implicit promise, and Martin is too much of an old hand at writing to not know this. He should not be coming up with new plots and characters in book 5 of a closed series -- he should save those for a new work and develop the one that the readers of the current series have already invested in. It's unprofessional. Jordan is guilty of the same thing -- the Wheel of Time was pitched as a trilogy when it was first released, and it seems to me like it should have stayed at that length.

Jim Butcher's Dresden books are a great example of a writer who started a series without a clear idea of where it was going, and the books from about 6-10 have a lot of painful plot thrashing to get the story pointed in a sensible direction (see also Kim Harrison), but Butcher at least had the excuse that he was clearly writing an open series that did not have a definite end point when he started. He was not promising the audience a neat long plot, just exploration of a particular world.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:16 PM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


throw a darker skinned person in there, and suddenly, we're in the realm of the unbelievable

SNL went there: Lannisters represent, cuz.
posted by fuse theorem at 12:22 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


joyceanmachine: "But no, instead, 211 pages 'On Dornish Custom and Ways', 512 pages on 'Brienne Wanders The Riverlands This Has No Point Because Lady Stoneheart [SPOILERS] Lolololol', and at least 1,000,000 iterations of Tyrion wondering where whores go."

This is hardly fair. You're forgetting the promising new chapters of Deposed Dragon Shits Herself Empty on the Plains.

Fuka: "You don't own him. George, do whatcha want. You don't owe nobody nothin'."

He's spent enough time barfing up this assertion that it's probably his current main output. It's a shame, of course, because it denies him the accountability of actually finishing his work. It's a rare profession that allows people to Just Stop Producing and have that be OK. I'm not arguing with the idea that We Don't Own Him, but I don't think he's in command of what he's doing with his writing any more.
posted by boo_radley at 12:45 PM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Deposed Dragon Shits Herself Empty on the Plains

New user name of the week!
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:53 PM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


How could it be that rampant piracy of GoT is still happening even though HBO did exactly and precisely what the pirates said they wanted, an affordable HBO subscription with no requirement to have a cable subscription? It's almost as if all that talk was nothing but post-hoc rationalization of the Get Free Shit mentality.
posted by Justinian at 12:55 PM on April 12, 2015 [7 favorites]


I haven't watched the series, so am almost totally unqualified to comment, but it would seem to me including a hugely diverse cast from the start is one way to firmly establish this is fantasy, and interesting because of it. Random characters being Asian or black, without comment or explanation, would be really interesting.

Hell, make it so what we consider "race" is just normal variation, and what we consider identifying physical traits (skin, eye, hair color, for example) are only vaguely passed along to offspring--that it's entirely possible for two ultra-Caucasians to have a baby we would call black. What does society then find as a substitute for its othering?

The historical explanation is pretty much a cop-out, especially as our "historical" record is so selective anyway.
posted by maxwelton at 12:55 PM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


GenjiandProust: " New user name of the week!"

Should have been "Deposed Dragon Queen". We regret the error.
posted by boo_radley at 12:56 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


an affordable HBO subscription with no requirement to have a cable subscription?

That's only if you have an Apple TV. Otherwise you can get fucked, apparently.
posted by selfnoise at 1:02 PM on April 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


I don't profess to have any ownership of either his series or his future output. But I think that GRRM suffers from a classic problem of writers, which is that he loves his own creations so much that he can't edit them out. I can think of many instances in the series when he could have put aside ENTIRE PLOT LINES, and the books would have been so much the better for it.

That said, I'm sympathetic to George, because I've been known to love my words too much to take them out. No one wants to kill their children.

But for the good of Westeros, my god, man! KILL THE IRONBORN.
posted by readymade at 1:02 PM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


How could it be that rampant piracy of GoT is still happening even though HBO did exactly and precisely what the pirates said they wanted, an affordable HBO subscription with no requirement to have a cable subscription? It's almost as if all that talk was nothing but post-hoc rationalization of the Get Free Shit mentality.

It's currently pretty limited as far as I can tell. Apple TV or iOS device or Optimum broadband. Would not surprise me if there are some geographic restrictions too. And even so, the ability to get four episodes ahead is going to tempt any big time fan, even people like me who pay for a basically every channel cable TV package.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:02 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I haven't watched the series, so am almost totally unqualified to comment, but it would seem to me including a hugely diverse cast from the start is one way to firmly establish this is fantasy, and interesting because of it. Random characters being Asian or black, without comment or explanation, would be really interesting.

It's the type of story where hair color identifying someone as a member of one family or another is an important plot point. Not really a good choice for that sort of thing, though overall it's a great idea for the fantasy genre to go in that direction.
posted by Drinky Die at 1:04 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


>> [GRRM] poisoned the well for ALL series writers for me.
>> See Robert Jordan and David Eddings did this for me.


I'll say this: I really feel the "Finish the damn books!" crowds, and I also really get the "He's not your bitch" point of view. I started the first book quite late, after AFFC was already in the works, and I remember the grumbling even back then about how it was taking so long.

Somewhere in the middle of AGOT, probably where so-and-so lost his head, I had this startling realization: I didn't care if this series was never finished! I enjoyed the hell out of the first four books, and the much delayed ADWD was a bonus - a bit of a plodding bonus, but bonus nevertheless. It's been great.

If he finishes more books, I'll be glad to read them. If he doesn't, I'll just have to fill in the story in my own head. What we have already has been a wonderful gift, entertainment surpassing anything I expected going in.
posted by RedOrGreen at 1:06 PM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


You (stupidly) need an ios device to sign up, for now, but after that you can watch anywhere. 5 hours to go...
posted by ftm at 1:06 PM on April 12, 2015


Yep, you can watch HBO NOW on anything, including just in your browser like Netflix. It's really easy.
posted by Justinian at 1:09 PM on April 12, 2015


I don't have an iOS device. Is there a way to sign up without some kind of sneaking mission?
posted by selfnoise at 1:17 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm apparently one of the only people who doesn't have a family member with an HBO-Go account I can borrow, so I've been considering the HBO-Now option. But the current incompatibility with Roku is tipping me away from it -- I'm ok with the monthly fee, but not with needing to buy a new device in order to watch it on something larger than my laptop.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:29 PM on April 12, 2015


How could it be that rampant piracy of GoT is still happening even though HBO did exactly and precisely what the pirates said they wanted, an affordable HBO subscription with no requirement to have a cable subscription?

That and an Apple TV will get you episode one, tonight. If you want to fight piracy, provide a better service than the pirates.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:02 PM on April 12, 2015


The long predicted goalpost shifting has started!
posted by Justinian at 2:12 PM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


[Justinian, maybe let's not steer the thread full-on into a debate over piracy and how people act in other discussions of piracy? Bit of a derail from the GoT/GRRM stuff.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:18 PM on April 12, 2015 [6 favorites]


Shocked at how awkward and tin-eared the initial interview questions are.
posted by waxbanks at 2:22 PM on April 12, 2015


Silenced by Big Piracy!!! Help!!

Ahem, anyway, yeah waxbanks the questions are bad. But that's fairly typical for something like io9. Sure, I wish somebody would ask actual interesting questions. How about mentioning Dying of the Light or Fevre Dream? How about Sandkings? How about something about the themes running through Martin's work or even about cultural appropriation or Orientalism with the Dothraki or anything.

Instead we always get "So where do you get your ideas?", more or less.

The number of good interviewers can probably be counted on one hand. Which is unfortunate since the number of interviews is rather a lot bigger than that.
posted by Justinian at 2:36 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


(yes, they come close to the Orientalism bit in this interview... which is the best part for exactly that reason... but it's still rather superficial).
posted by Justinian at 2:37 PM on April 12, 2015


Kevin J Anderson and Brian Herbert

I had the same though, but these two manage to even out shit George Lucas, Russel T. Davies, and Steven Moffat in the writing department. I have a hard time imagining what horrible thing any of these writers would do with GoT.

I've read all the books but frankly, though they got worse and worse and really couldn't give a shit if another book or two is written or not. The show is entertaining enough and frankly, will probably make for a tighter story.

Surprised to hear how HBO has handled their HBO Now service so awfully. I mean, Jesus Christ, I have a browser to purchase Internet Services and they want me to download another application, iTunes, just to get their show? No way. Horrible initial roll out. Does not bode well for the future. And Apple TV is about the worst piece of shit media device for your television out there. Support for a variety of video formats is lacking in the extreme. Does it even support 1080i/1080p yet?

HBO. Look at Netflix. Easy to purchase, very reasonable price, no need to for iTunes, and available outside the U.S.

Yep, you can watch HBO NOW on anything, including just in your browser like Netflix. It's really easy.

How? What countries? Could not do it with just a browser. Says it must be either through iTunes, which is fine if you're into annoying malware like software, or through a broadband provider, of which there is currently only one.
posted by juiceCake at 2:58 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Fevre Dream was really good.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:07 PM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also, speaking of, it's been like six years and I'm still bitterly angry -- seriously, that's no exaggeration -- at Kevin J. Anderson for his Saga of Seven Suns series. Those are the worst set of books I've read in my adult life and you're wondering why in the hell I read them if they're the worst set of books I've read in my entire adult life. Well, it's because the ideas were good, the basic story was good, and the ideas of the characters were good. As long as I wasn't reading the books, I found I wanted to know what was going to happen next and I cared about the characters. When I was reading the books, though, I felt like what I was actually doing was reading someone's outline of a really good book and not the book itself. It all felt very Potemkin. So I kept fucking reading and kept feeling deeply annoyed while I was reading. Through seven books. It was insane! They were terrible! If he'd had an actual writer write those books, they'd have been really good. I think Kevin J. Anderson is a menace.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 3:18 PM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


Fevre Dream was good. Armageddon Rag was definitely OK. Martin's short stories are often very good. Wild Cards is a terribly mixed bag, where it's hard to tell whether the predilections of some prolific contributors or editorial weakness is to blame (the Thieves' Guild books had much the same problem). Beauty & the Beast was a fun show whose ending let down a lot of its fans pretty badly (and my impression is that ending was Martin's decision). I find the Game of Thrones novels impossible to get into -- I've made three separate runs at it and have bounced off the writing within 30 pages -- I don't know if Martin has gotten more sluggish as a writer as he has aged or whether the ponderous bulk of the task he has set himself has flattened his earlier, more delicate prose instincts, but I am perfectly happy to get the story from HBO rather than making yet another doomed attempt at the books.

By the way, my favorite spoiler for GoT (no spoilers, really) is in the group interview on the final disk of Season 4 -- they are talking to all the actors whose characters have died during the season, and there is a moment when they talk about when they learned they would die -- mostly while reading the scene, I gather, but one was approached by a fan who said

Fan: "You're X!"
X: "Yes."
Fan: "You play Y on GoT!"
X: "Yes."
Fan: "You have a great death coming up real soon!"
X: "..."
Fan: "..."
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:26 PM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


FWIW, my guess on the Apple thing is that HBO is deliberately limiting the market for HBO NOW while they work out the kinks and develop a customer-facing service. Remember, HBO has never in its entire 35 year history had to deal directly with individual customers. You don't go from nothing to a working service of that type at the drop of a hat. So they're easing into it.

Probably better to go slowly than to screw the pooch on their big day (which is today).
posted by Justinian at 4:27 PM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


I will be extremely surprised if HBONow doesn't crash on the GoT premiere. Hell, the internet might crash.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:54 PM on April 12, 2015


For the next few months you have to sign up for HBO Now with an "itunes account" but all that requires is an itunes capable device (itunes app on a mac/pc, iphone, ipad, whatever) to do the signup. Then it works fine in any reasonable browser so far as I know. We've tried it in Firefox on Mac (Mac Mini, not an Apple TV) so far (don't really use our windows laptop anymore). So, like, it's not "Apple TV only" or any such nonsense. Yes, it requires an itunes account which requires an email address and a credit card and (merely temporary) itunes "app" access.

With GoT and John Oliver we essentially couldn't justify not just paying for it now that it easy. Of course, we're an Apple household so we use itunes all the time. But in a few months you won't even need that. As Justinian noted, Apple exclusive is probably just to make it easier to have a customer-facing system.
posted by R343L at 5:04 PM on April 12, 2015


Actually, somewhat obnoxiously, after "buying" -- actually signing up for a 30 day trial -- for HBO Now, HBO prompted us to create an account specific to them separate from Apple/iTunes. While that is obviously intended to be long-term our "relationship" with HBO, at the time it was kind of annoying since it made it an extra step.

Brandon Blatcher: Hasn't HBO been streaming GoT in previous seasons for cable customers? I.e. they had at least some of the infrastructure already there and one benefit of being "the most pirated show" is they probably have very good ideas on the "unmet" demand. With some modeling, they probably have some of the best estimates for capacity needed at launch any internet launch has ever had. They also probably don't have to deal with too many last second signups specifically for GoT since a large majority of those who were just waiting for an easy way to pay will have made their account as soon as HBO Now went live.
posted by R343L at 5:08 PM on April 12, 2015


(The 'is our bitch' locution is unfortunate, I think. )

Can't wait for tonight!
posted by persona au gratin at 5:49 PM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm still peeved at Chaucer for never finishing the Canterbury Tales. And don't get me started on Spenser.
posted by librosegretti at 5:51 PM on April 12, 2015 [5 favorites]


As someone who's looking forward to HBO NOW as soon as it's available outside of Apple, I'm curious about whether NOW and/or GO will crash tonight. GO crashed hard for the True Detective finale, but that's not the only time. But that was a year ago, and my hope is HBO's got the kinks worked out.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:53 PM on April 12, 2015


I kinda feel like something went wrong for GRRM's writing process after book three. Maybe the books became too much of a hit, I don't know (I didn't take them up until about two summers ago), but whatever mojo he had powering him through the first three seems to have dissolved away somewhat. So now he's not as motivated and driven as he was, and for whatever reason he keeps throwing in new sections of the world and new characters, a good chunk of which we just wish we didn't have to hear about (DIE ALL IRONBORN BUT THE SISTER, DIE), or just kinda seem outta nowhere (another Targaryen?) or end up being pointless (Quentyn "Dragonbait" Martell) or start with potential and then it bleeds away (everyone in Dorne). Meanwhile things continue to suck in Meereen and Tyrion just keeps getting into bad shit and not making it to Dany and.... well, things are wandering around like a drunken whore and the world needs to shrink, not enlarge at this point.

I just feel like whatever he had going has eroded, somehow. He's still trying, God love him, but I dunno if the series will ever get its shit together enough at this point. It's been a long time and he's writing with a different brain, one that really also wants to write TV episodes and go to cons and do side world adventures in the past more than the giant epic he's lost some of his mojo for. Maybe if he does the other things, they help him get his mojo back. I hope so.

At any rate, finally hitting this point in the show has finally motivated him to bear down and focus and lock himself in the house (except for Hugogate), so we'll see. I wish him all the best of luck in finishing it though.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:58 PM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


The Guardian has an interesting piece on the 'books being overtaken by the show' issue [spoilers for all books/seasons, of course].

"Still, if Game of Thrones isn’t the first bit of adaptive literature to produce source text, it’s close. Examples of adaptive works displacing the canonical primacy of their source material are vanishingly rare."

(Though I disagree with their examples of things that "Book-readers don’t know for sure..." - I'd say all of those plot points are pretty clear to a careful reader, and the example that the author gives at the start of the article is covered in the chapters we've seen from WoW).
posted by Pink Frost at 6:00 PM on April 12, 2015


I'd say all of those plot points are pretty clear to a careful reader ...

Or even a casual reader of fan sites.

This is a weird reversal of how journalists usually work these days, and makes me think he's a genuine, if casual, reader of the books.
There’s an added benefit for fans: it’s an equalizer.
That's been true since Season Two. The SO would constantly needle me for hints about what was coming up, but I was resolute (the readers' silence on the established surprises was pretty commendable (although if you see your sweetie setting up cameras… be afraid.)) But increasingly after Ned's death I found myself saying, "I have no idea" with all honesty.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:23 PM on April 12, 2015


Well the resolution on that webrip is mediocre and the color depth is total pants. Also took me three tries to see it all the way through. I'm sure I wouldn't have had that problem with HBO if they cared to do business with people who don't want iTunes.
posted by localroger at 6:24 PM on April 12, 2015


Hasn't HBO been streaming GoT in previous seasons for cable customers? I.e. they had at least some of the infrastructure already there and one benefit of being "the most pirated show" is they probably have very good ideas on the "unmet" demand. With some modeling, they probably have some of the best estimates for capacity needed at launch any internet launch has ever had. They also probably don't have to deal with too many last second signups specifically for GoT since a large majority of those who were just waiting for an easy way to pay will have made their account as soon as HBO Now went live.

The login process for "HBO GO" is handled by via cable or dish provider, so this is definitely a new challenge for HBO, handling payment from direct customers. In the past all they had to do was prove whether you are a paying customer (which they did poorly up front) and then let your cable provider know what you're watching online (I made that last part up but I suspect it's a stipulation, and it's easy enough to do).

I have no idea who is doing the HBO GO streaming but for all you know, they did an amazing job of those calculations for HBO Now, so much so that they realized they wouldn't have capacity if they made it too easy and cheap for everyone to access up-front, and this way they could test the waters using an existing "off-the-shelf" payment / licensing / activation platform (iTunes / App Store) and filter out a lot of the more hardcore techie customers who are just going to be snarky anyway, find ways to share it with their friends or borrow other accounts as soon as possible, and seriously see installing iTunes (or activating from an iOS device) as a huge insult rather than a temporary stumbling point worth trudging over if you want to test-drive the service in its infancy.

TLDR; it just "came out" and is an IT project, and like all IT projects it will not go perfectly or smoothly up-front, which is naturally a bigger challenge with more potential to flop up-front (while still correcting itself later) as a result of being directly customer-facing and involving things like customer billing and service recovery.
posted by aydeejones at 6:25 PM on April 12, 2015


and seriously see installing iTunes (or activating from an iOS device) as a huge insult rather than a temporary stumbling point

We do not do Apple in this house for a variety of mutually agreed reasons, but my wife has iTunes on her PC because she has a lot of music she can't get any other way.

I have seen iTunes.

iTunes will never be on any device I use regularly, full stop.
posted by localroger at 6:29 PM on April 12, 2015 [8 favorites]


Note: I am personally anti-installing-iTunes on anything but a MacOS device, and realize that owning any iOS device is a marker of privilege even if it's a hand-me-down or used iPad 2 from eBay, and I am the snarky type who constantly bitches about HBO GO not letting me knock the quality down, etc. Like Netflix, Youtube, and now Hulu and Amazon are standard-bearers for delivering quality streaming video while adjusting the quality to handle bandwidth fluctuations, but HBO GO often runs better on a mobile device than on my PC unless my connection is stellar. So I didn't mean to mock any hardcore techies except in that self-deprecating way, because if I didn't have HBO at this point through DirectTV I would be waiting for pure "web-based enrollment" rather than iTunes myself.
posted by aydeejones at 6:29 PM on April 12, 2015


I just realized iTunes is kind of like the new AOL (AOHELL AMIRITE), in terms of being bloatware that is increasingly irrelevant, just sort of exists to make you use it for certain things that can be handled better elsewhere (except on a MacOS device), and installs all sorts of services (or "resident memory hogs") that piss off knowledgeable and neophyte users alike
posted by aydeejones at 6:32 PM on April 12, 2015


The login process for "HBO GO" is handled by via cable or dish provider, so this is definitely a new challenge for HBO, handling payment from direct customers.

They're not doing that yet, although it sounds like collecting email addresses is a start. So far, it's the partners that are handling that aspect in lieu of the cable company infrastructure (and FWIU was a selling point that Apple made to them.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:39 PM on April 12, 2015


I just realized iTunes is kind of like the new AOL

There is a lot of truth to this. Apple may be great if you buy into the ecosystem but if you just want to dip a toenail it's pure hell, whether QuickTime or iTunes. I'm not going to make that kind of investment to see ten hours of TV. If it was really as described above, quick and easy and $15 a month plus you get Last Week Tonight? Sure. But if it's between iTunes and ShowBox, ShowBox is gonna win every time even if they are sketchy as hell. Sorry.
posted by localroger at 6:48 PM on April 12, 2015


But on the same token, his readers have invested real money, a very very large amount of money, to afford him the luxury of not needing competing priorities.

I bought mine second-hand after first reading torrented epubs; probably came to $2.50/book. Take your time, Mr. Martin.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:58 PM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


I loved the Quentyn Martell storyline. It reminded me of a choose-your-own-adventure book, except you couldn't, uh, choose, but it ended just as fatefully and with the same delicious doominess. Quentyn, you chose the wrong adventure!

I actually have no problem with the character bloat and don't really care if GRRM finishes soon or never or whatever, and I find all the "IMPLICIT PROMISE" stuff kind of weird. I mean, I don't think he can really go any faster-- I don't think his process works that way. He has committed to finishing them out loud so he's trying to be a good guy, here, but if life intervenes, so it goes.

But to be honest, I was not as impressed with the earlier books as with the later books. I feel like in the later books he's inserting a lot more speculative, fun, kind of literary history-aping material-- what is it like to justly rule a people? It is difficult. What happens when you internalize a destiny you can't live up to? Maybe you die, you neurotic. What is it like to make political decisions in a world where information is not instantaneous? Good and bad people make incorrect assumptions, do pointless things, are led on aimless adventures. I don't know, I feel like the bar for intellectualism is low in this series, so maybe I am just happy there is finally some food for thought and don't care as much about the pacing or eventual resolution.

He mentions this in the interview-- he is interested in the little peculiarities of history and fantasy writing. I also like, on the interior level, Daenerys wandering in the wilderness at the end of book 5, and the uncertainty about dragons, if they are a net positive or a net negative. That she had to lock them up because they were opposing the humane ideas she stood for. Etc., etc. I am just down with the more aimless wandering of the latter books... maybe there is almost more a sense that no one is a hero, there are just people, and people are interesting and have to make hard choices. The earlier books turned the "chosen one" ideology on its head by brutally murdering some characters, but the later books are more subtle. Some days you're the Unburnt, some days you're dying in some tall grass and glad to be alone. One minute you're changing world history, the next you've got Brutus and Cassius up your ass.

It can be frustrating though. I personally thought that Daenerys's loss of her child in the early books / the end of the Stallion that Mounted the World (lol) was like, aughh, the momentum lost, though obviously the time for her victory was not yet nigh. Maybe I just appreciate those frustrations more in the latter books.
posted by stoneandstar at 6:59 PM on April 12, 2015 [8 favorites]


>>Yep, you can watch HBO NOW on anything, including just in your browser like Netflix. It's really easy.
>How? What countries?


Not Canada, because HBO Canada is a licensed creature of Bell, who have their own great VOD service, CraveTV - available exclusively to current Bell subbers for only an extra $4/month! - which features great home-grown Bell programmes such as the Grey's Anatomy/Ghost mash-up shitpile Saving Hope, as well as the HBO stuff people would actually pay to watch.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:20 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


Quentyn, you chose the wrong adventure!

Maybe, maybe not. Rereading it, there are some curious things going on there. Especially at the end.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:31 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I just realized iTunes is kind of like the new AOL

I'd go with Facebook for that: it's the entire online experience for many people, now, like AOL was for their older customers.
posted by thelonius at 7:41 PM on April 12, 2015


ignignokt: Game of Thrones (TV) Creators Confirm the Show Will Spoil the Books.

In the same way CliffsNotes ruin books - you get the gist of what goes on (as re-written and selected by someone other than the author), but there's a lot more in the full story.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:49 PM on April 12, 2015 [3 favorites]


"I just realized iTunes is kind of like the new AOL"

RealPlayer.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:18 PM on April 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


@jenfullmoon: Yeah, okay. We can keep the badass female Ironborn. The rest, though...
posted by readymade at 8:33 PM on April 12, 2015


I am totally OK with the television show outpacing the books, and will probably just finish the television show and be happy there. For me, the television show has fixed nearly everything that makes the books hard to read: ages everybody up, adds complexity and depth to multiple female characters, edits out a lot of the padded shit in the middle . . . Sure, it's sad to see details and characters left out, but for me the tradeoff is more than worth it.
posted by schroedinger at 8:38 PM on April 12, 2015


Anything that cuts out the Ironborn is a good change. Only issue I can see is with the special horn . Interested to see how the show combines that into another plotline.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:08 PM on April 12, 2015 [1 favorite]


I am so excited because somehow I totally missed the existence of HBO Now! Thanks guys!
posted by corb at 10:11 PM on April 12, 2015


I used to read epic fantasy: Tolkein, Brooks, Eddings, Jordan, Martin, never did read Goodkin though. Anyway, one day I read Bleak House and you know what I found? Complicated plots that spanned decades and wove in and around each other, characters with strange and unique names with all of it spun together into a single book. I read Great Expectations, Olivier Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, all the while finding more of the same. Which brought me to the conclusion that the epic fantasy authors should take some time to read Dickens and work out how he does it, if only so when they plan out a trilogy it actually stays a trilogy. And I cannot imagine that the growth and personal changes that inevitably occur in the decades that they end up spending writing these series makes the process of writing any easier.
posted by Meeks Ormand at 11:08 PM on April 12, 2015 [4 favorites]


Only issue I can see is with the special horn .

A friend and I were discussing this last night, and after the last famous horn we've concluded horns in ASoIF are probably a reverse-Chekov's gun, just like all the other reverse-Chekov's guns GRRM seems to be so fond of. If they introduce it in the show at all I think that will be confirmation it's actually a relevant plot point in the books.
posted by schroedinger at 5:35 AM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Which brought me to the conclusion that the epic fantasy authors should take some time to read Dickens and work out how he does it, if only so when they plan out a trilogy it actually stays a trilogy.

Well . . . to be fair I don't know if Dickens was always terribly intentional about the length of his books. There is a lot of extra padding. He was being paid by the page (or word?), and there's plenty of points you can tell.
posted by schroedinger at 5:36 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


The number of good interviewers can probably be counted on one hand. Which is unfortunate since the number of interviews is rather a lot bigger than that.

Interviews are hard. The subject always knows more than you, is usually well prepared, and in the clickbait world people are wanting to see the "What is your favourite colour" question asked. And answered.
I cut io9 some slack.

What people don't seem to realise about GRRM: he's never finished a series, and knows he may not finish a series in his life.

And the people demanding he finish ASOIAF? Would you want to work under those conditions.
They sap his will to live.

But, in the meantime, can we get a Tuf Voyaging space opera?
posted by Mezentian at 5:56 AM on April 13, 2015


epic fantasy authors should take some time to read Dickens and work out how he does it

Or Dumas, who is wordier, but gets an awful lot of plotting into those many many pages.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:51 AM on April 13, 2015


One thing Game of Thrones does for me is fills the "need to obsess over story theories" void left by the end of "Lost."
posted by drezdn at 8:09 AM on April 13, 2015 [2 favorites]


Remember, HBO has never in its entire 35 year history had to deal directly with individual customers. You don't go from nothing to a working service of that type at the drop of a hat. So they're easing into it.

Here's a good long article about HBO's struggle to create HBO NOW. At first, the idea was to build their own tech and stream everything as a direct competitor to Netflix, but after a Rupert Murdoch hostile takeover move, inflated costs and some delays, they brought in the tech folks who built the streaming for Major League Baseball and went with a smaller vision:

HBO Go whetted consumers’ appetite for more. They wanted it on their tablets, smartphones, and gaming consoles, but HBO, which relied on outside contractors for the technology behind Go, was slow to roll it out. Inside the company, a feeling took hold that HBO should own its own technology. In the summer of 2011, HBO hired Otto Berkes, an 18-year Microsoft vet who was considered a consumer-tech visionary...

Then HBO GO crashed under the weight of the Season 4 premiere last April:

In the aftermath of the outage, Plepler was gracious, but questions were starting to rise in New York about what Berkes’s engineering team was up to. The stand-alone streaming service, which kept being delayed, was of particular concern. Berkes struggled with HBO’s culture, with communicating his vision, with explaining that software, unlike a TV series, is never done...

Then came the Murdoch bid and pressure to deliver something much faster:

The only group that hated the accelerated timeline were the engineers who had to build the app. When Berkes was told of the new deadline, according to sources, he said that he wouldn’t be able to deliver it that fast. Or that what he could deliver was a much skinnier product—"I can give you a car without doors," is how Berkes’s friend Giorgio Vanzini, a former Microsoft exec who is now SVP of product development and integration at DirecTV, describes it.

Of course, this didn’t go over well with HBO’s leadership. The environment at the normally clubby and collegial company—where business is conducted informally on couches in Plepler’s 10th-floor office—was now "desperate," according to a source. Plepler’s message to Berkes was clear: We have to get this done. Now Berkes said he could deliver by spring, by following a revised plan, dubbed Project Maui. The tech teams in New York and Seattle volunteered to work weekends and nights to pull it off. Meanwhile, HBO executives explored alternatives...

In early November, Plepler canceled Project Maui and brought in the baseball boys to build the back-end technology for Now. "The distribution world we live in is changing daily," says Bob Bowman, MLB Advanced Media’s chief. "We deliver MLB on 400 different devices. I understand the idea that HBO should manage [its own tech], but it is a big, big investment. And it’s constant."

The company had lost faith in Berkes’s ambitious gambit to build its own Netflix. According to one insider, implementing the full plan would have cost $900 million. Sources close to Berkes insist that that number has no context and that the only way to really take on Netflix, which has a decade’s head start in streaming, is to spend real money. Either way, the grand vision that had first brought Berkes to HBO was now dead. A month after the decision to jettison Project Maui, he resigned.

posted by mediareport at 10:02 AM on April 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


HBO Now passes toughest test by streaming Game of Thrones premiere on time:

The new service, designed for people without an HBO cable subscription, looks to have performed admirably on opening night, streaming the show alongside its 9PM TV premiere...

HBO Go — the online service for HBO cable subscribers — didn't do so well. For many, the episode didn't appear online until well past its 9PM TV air time, while others reported issues getting the service to run at all...

Where HBO Go uses in-house technology to power its streaming, HBO Now uses an entirely different backend. The new service borrows the backend from MLB Advanced Media — the same company that provides the WWE Network with its streaming technology — after HBO canceled attempts to build its own streaming player late last year.

posted by mediareport at 10:12 AM on April 13, 2015


> HBO Now passes toughest test by streaming Game of Thrones premiere on time [...]
HBO Go — the online service for HBO cable subscribers — didn't do so well.


Thus proving that the suits were right in this case - their homegrown tech wasn't up to it and the MLB guys did know what they were doing. Blind squirrel, nut, etc. etc.
posted by RedOrGreen at 10:47 AM on April 13, 2015


HBO GO has always been crap for big time Game of Thrones events. I remember raging at the choppy performance when I watched the Blackwater battle on my laptop down the shore. I think that is part of why they haven't since done an episode on Memorial Day.
posted by Drinky Die at 11:06 AM on April 13, 2015


So I kept fucking reading and kept feeling deeply annoyed while I was reading. Through seven books.

You've just described both Wheel of Time and Dragon's Age, for me. Totally weird--I hate everything about what I am doing but I cannot stop doing it. I'm almost convinced that variety of shitty-but-somehow-compelling storytelling is an artform unto itself.

Friend of mine had a wee dinner party for the premiere. We had leek soup, Salad at Castle Black, roast leg of lamb with honey and cloves and stout and long peppers, goose fat roasted potatoes, and dessert (I brought that) was honeycakes with tarragon whipped cream and buttermilk-rose icing. We were nearly catatonic from the food (and copious amounts of wine (not Arbor...) and BC's Finest) before the show even started.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 3:58 PM on April 13, 2015


TL;DR: Memento mori. After reading too much Seneca, I’m meditating on death like a statistician, by counting how many of GRRM’s readers did not even survive to see the HBO show (much less the end of the book series). Rough answer: around 40,000.
posted by hippybear at 2:43 AM on April 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


On a related note: 'Game Of Thrones' Fans Develop Formula To Determine Who Might Survive Series.

"They collected data about nearly a thousand characters and ran what they call a survival analysis. They presented the results for a class project and shared them with us.
ERIN PIERCE: Women are actually much more likely than men to survive in the series.
SIEGEL: As are peasants.
BEN KAHLE: For those peasants who happen to survive, their chance of survival actually increases, while nobles tend to die off more and more rapidly near the end of the series.
SIEGEL: Apparently, they found that geography matters, too.
PIERCE: Being up in the North really seems to be a bad sign if you're looking to survive the series.
CORNISH: All right, Robert, this may mean nothing to you, but for people who follow the show like me, Ben Kahle has good news about fan fav Arya Stark.
KAHLE: She has one of the higher percentage chances of surviving - about 70 percent chance of survival. Most of the other characters are anywhere from 20 to 40 percent."

posted by jenfullmoon at 4:51 PM on April 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


while nobles tend to die off more and more rapidly near the end of the series

... how would they know that?
posted by Justinian at 5:32 PM on April 14, 2015


... how would they know that?

It's the math, man. Math doesn't lie.

Wait for the tell-all documentary A Game of Theorems...
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:47 PM on April 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


We already have a lot of algebra. R+L=J etc.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:55 PM on April 14, 2015


No, I meant how would they know that nobles tend to die off more near the end of the series given that we're not near the end of the series yet?
posted by Justinian at 6:49 PM on April 14, 2015


We're nearer the end than the beginning. I suspect it's trending.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:25 PM on April 14, 2015


You're an optimist!
posted by Justinian at 10:38 PM on April 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh come on, after we've got so far through the story what are the chances that Martin would kill off any of our beloved characters?
posted by Pink Frost at 2:18 AM on April 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Friend of mine had a wee dinner party for the premiere. We had lamprey pie?
Or you know, that other kind of pie. Popular at House Mandelay?

ERIN PIERCE: Women are actually much more likely than men to survive in the series.
SIEGEL: As are peasants.
BEN KAHLE: For those peasants who happen to survive, their chance of survival actually increases, while nobles tend to die off more and more rapidly near the end of the series.


One thing that bugs me about the how, for budget reasons, is just how brutally the peasants get it, all through the wars, and well into A Dance With Dragons.
posted by Mezentian at 5:15 AM on April 15, 2015




The screener link first appeared at IPT, which is a popular tracker but loathed by experienced pirates. Apparently someone uploaded their .torrent file from IPT to a more public tracker, which exposed everyone in IPT's swarm. They're now getting DMCA notices, and there is much schadenfreude.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 10:21 AM on April 20, 2015


Despite HBO NOW there is again record pirating! Who could have forseen such a thing!?!?
posted by Justinian at 3:16 PM on April 23, 2015


Can only speak for myself, but: I checked out HBO NOW when you first linked it here, because it seemed interesting. But I can't use it for three reasons:

1. It's Apple only.
2. It's US only. (And yeah, sure, VPN: but HBO have been emailing people outside the USA who tried this, telling them that if they can't prove that they're in the USA, their account will be cancelled).
3. No subtitles.

Whereas if I pirate.... none of those things apply.

[And I do subscribe to other things that I could pirate, like English soccer....but the quality of the streamed product is measurably worse than what I get if I pirate a torrent....so again it's not surprising if people do choose not to pay]
posted by Pink Frost at 6:06 PM on April 23, 2015


I'm sure it will be available world wide eventually but yeah, limiting it to US only is a problem for now.
posted by Justinian at 7:45 PM on April 23, 2015


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