"...sometimes the writing goes well and sometimes it doesn't"
January 2, 2016 3:16 AM   Subscribe

How's The Winds of Winter coming along? "The book's not done," says George R. R. Martin. His publishers said that they could turn the manuscript around in three months, which meant he would've had until December at the latest to get it on shelves in time for season 6 of the TV series. Fans are predictably grizzly. Earlier this week Deadspin put it to you that he had no pages at all. Some number-crunching posted on Watchers on the Wall back in March suggested an optimistic date of January-February 2016 (which seems unlikely now) and a pessimistic guess of early 2019. (previously, previously, and previously)
posted by raena (126 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
The silliest, most unrealistic assertion of that deadspin article is that GRRM has not just one but multiple editors.
posted by tylermoody at 3:25 AM on January 2, 2016 [9 favorites]


As a casual fan of GRRM's earlier stuff (Tuf Voyaging!), the stuff he's got famous for seems like a cash cow. There's nothing wrong with that - I bet he thought he'd get enough cash from the series to buy a nice gazebo, which is a totally legitimate reason to write some books.

But now he's got enough money to buy a house made out of gazebos, it's a bit harder to do the boring slog-work. He seems to be in the position where, even if he doesn't do the work, the project will roll on and the cash will roll in, so why bother? Why isn't the series being expanded like Tom Clancy's stuff, for example?
posted by The River Ivel at 3:26 AM on January 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


I had already stopped watching the show mid season 5 because I was not enjoying how much the show was diverging from the books. Now I am wishing I has never read the books at all so I could just enjoy the show.

I've never been the book fan that demands the next installment, I understand writers can't create on demand. This whole thing is just depressing. I totally understand not dealing well with deadlines, but why would you impose such a crazy one on yourself?
posted by Requiax at 3:48 AM on January 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


Bah. Kids today have no patience. Back in my day, we'd be all like, "Please, Mr. Upton Sinclair, may we have a sequel to King Coal?", and he'd be all like, "Leave me alone, I'm dead." We had to wait 59 years for the sequel to come out, and incidentally, it did so eight years *after* his death -- so, so much for that excuse for not writing, is all I'm saying.

Anyway, it wasn't very good.
posted by kyrademon at 4:05 AM on January 2, 2016 [81 favorites]


The weird thing is how prolific he was before. Hollywood changed you, man.

(That said, I'm totally okay with this. Audiences don't have a right to demand new work, period.)
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:31 AM on January 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


I suspect age plays a part. In my youth, I could write all day (and all night!). Now, in my dotage, I can barely muster the energy to finish this sent
posted by valkane at 4:41 AM on January 2, 2016 [79 favorites]


Do what you need to do, GRRM.
posted by Joey Michaels at 5:00 AM on January 2, 2016


Of course audiences have the right to demand new work. They don't have the right to compel it, but they can certainly demand it.
posted by Nothing at 5:01 AM on January 2, 2016 [14 favorites]


He's just ... over writing these books, right? He's got other stuff he wants to do but he can't because of the millions of people (justifiably) demanding he finish this series first.

I would like a book resolution to the series, but the last two books were such a slog, and I imagine anything produced under these circumstances will be even more so. I kinda wish he'd just hire someone to finish them for him.

Not to mention the fact that by the end of A Dance With Dragons he had written himself into about 8 corners.
posted by lunasol at 5:21 AM on January 2, 2016 [10 favorites]


I think it's okay for people to be pissed. The whole "not your bitch" thing comes off smug. It is not unreasonable that the series should be done by now, especially given how obvious it is at this point that it should have ended not long after A Storm of Swords. But you know what? Life is hard and writing is hard, and GRRM has given at the office, and if he wants to enjoy a long victory lap, fuck it. Some JJ Abrams of fantasy will eventually finish the series, and even if that doesn't happen, we'll all get over it. It's a book about dragons and shit. I don't know.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:25 AM on January 2, 2016 [16 favorites]


It's a story of dynastic families, isn't it? There really isn't an end to that sort of thing. Even if they are slaughtered to extinction, there's the story of the power that replaces them. Politics doesn't end.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:26 AM on January 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


He's just ... over writing these books, right? He's got other stuff he wants to do but he can't because of the millions of people (justifiably) demanding he finish this series first.

I seem to recall another guy back in the 90's who also wanted to do other stuff but the obsessive fanboys wouldn't leave him alone and demand he fill in the missing parts of his popular series.

You just better hope that Martin doesn't stick Jar Jar Binks into King's Landing just out of spite.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 5:38 AM on January 2, 2016 [24 favorites]


Also, I have to say that this makes me very appreciative for Justin Cronin and The Passage Trilogy. It's still a trilogy! The last one is done and out to the publishers!
posted by lunasol at 5:39 AM on January 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


I pretty much noped away from the show after the whole Sansa/Ramsay fiasco. Gratuitous rape + character derailment = NOPE.

As for the books - there's always fanfic. TBH I think I'd be devastated if there was no more ASOIAF fanfic, much more so than if there was no more canon. I've learned my lesson when the HORRID - as in far worse than ADWD could ever be - Land of Painted Caves in the Earth's Children fandom.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 5:40 AM on January 2, 2016 [8 favorites]


I can understand why he doesn't, but if I were in a similar position, I'd bring in a ghost-writer. Then we could solve crimes together.
posted by drezdn at 5:53 AM on January 2, 2016 [8 favorites]


I think it's okay for people to be pissed.

They should do what I've done, and write their own sequels. I'm up through volume 34, A Leaping with Lannisters.
posted by AdamCSnider at 5:57 AM on January 2, 2016 [36 favorites]


Followed by M is for Mayhaps?
posted by drezdn at 5:58 AM on January 2, 2016 [9 favorites]


Also, I have to say that this makes me very appreciative for Justin Cronin and The Passage Trilogy. It's still a trilogy! The last one is done and out to the publishers!

This is surprising to me, tho I guess dude had a contract? The Twelve read to me like Cronin was getting fucking sick and tired of it, and that sort of explains the ending.
posted by angrycat at 6:00 AM on January 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


He's been pretty clear, his process is his process, and that process is slooooooow especially the longer and more complex the series gets. (And I award him props, he leaves good trails of breadcrumbs and things tie back in together; a lot of fantasy epics don't do that because the authors fly by the seat of their pants and don't know where they're going until they get there.)

Anyone who's not reconciled to his pace by now may need to find another series to geek out about for a while. Not in a mean way, just in a "getting worked up won't help, I am worried about your stress level, maybe enjoy something already completed and drop back in in eight years?" way.

I'm pretty sure when the last one comes out I'll have to reread the whole series anyway because I'll have forgotten so much by then.

It's interesting that he was self aware enough not to go into journalism, although ... Daily deadlines either would have cured him or killed him. I wonder which. The emotional torment of learning to meet frequent deadlines for a newspaper makes a lot of fiction writers less precious about first drafts ... Get it on the page and we'll fix it later. Others just completely emotionally collapse from deadline stress.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:10 AM on January 2, 2016 [8 favorites]


I had already stopped watching the show mid season 5 because I was not enjoying how much the show was diverging from the books. Now I am wishing I has never read the books at all so I could just enjoy the show.

I haven't read any of the books and I hated Season 5. My girlfriend said it was compressing like 2.5 books into one season and I said, "I can tell."
posted by Peevish at 6:15 AM on January 2, 2016




Once again, George R. R. Martin is not your bitch.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:30 AM on January 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm fine, total patience, as long as the last chapter has an intense showdown between Danys and Bran and a couple other houses when there is a glowing sparkle right between them all and when it clears Captain James T Kirk appears and comments to Spock "We really must try to find the rest of the lost colonies sooner".
posted by sammyo at 6:31 AM on January 2, 2016 [8 favorites]


The HBO people have made it very clear that GRRM has given them plenty of material to allow the show writers to finish the TV series. As noted above GRRM does seem to have a definite destination in mind. And I'm sure there are plans to have someone else finish off the books if GRRM kicks off before his muse kicks in.

Personally, I still want someone to make a movie out of Fevre Dream.
posted by Bringer Tom at 6:43 AM on January 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


Once again, George R. R. Martin is not your bitch.

he's HBO's bitch - he's put himself in a position where they're going to continue the series whether he gets around to writing it or not
posted by pyramid termite at 6:45 AM on January 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


#include <grrm_is_not_your_bitch.h>;

Now I've got that out of the way, can I just maybe mention that each volume of this series is, like, on the order of 250,000-500,000 words long?

Let me put this in perspective: some folks think I'm a fairly prolific writer. I average 1-2 normal-length novels per year; they're typically 100-130,000 words long. Each volume of AGoT is a trilogy in drag. Ahem. I have a trilogy coming out in 2017; it took me two years to write and it's almost as long as one of George's books. To put it in perspective, George is racing along by normal novelist standards (unless you're, cough, Seanan Mcguire, who just plain terrifies me).

On top of writing these monoliths, George is busy doing other things. He edits the Wild Cards series, consults with the TV show, and his publisher sends him on grueling round-the-world signing tours (and if you don't know what a signing tour entails, imagine working 14-16 hours a day for four months, with a day off every two weeks, and if you're George you're 67 years old with all the aches and pains that entails).

Frankly, I'm astonished he can churn them out as fast as he does.
posted by cstross at 6:49 AM on January 2, 2016 [120 favorites]


If it helps, think of the show as Martin's ghostwriter. They're damned well going to finish the HBO series, even if the next book never comes out. And since Martin himself gave them the general outline (or at least a plausible outline), you can even call it canon if that makes a difference to you. And even if Martin dies (weird fascination over this aside), then whoever the publisher hires to complete the book series will have the show bible and Martin's notes as guide.

You'll get your complete story, you'll get your books. At this point people are just complaining about the order in which they get satisfied.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 6:57 AM on January 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


The silliest, most unrealistic assertion of that deadspin article is that GRRM has not just one but multiple editors.


Certainly there's been very little evidence of one.
posted by cromagnon at 7:00 AM on January 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


And even if Martin dies (weird fascination over this aside), then whoever the publisher hires to complete the book series will have the show bible and Martin's notes as guide.

I thought Martin said he wasn't going to allow that ?
posted by Pendragon at 7:09 AM on January 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


To echo what cstross said, I've noted before that GRRM and I write at roughly the same pace, in terms of words produced. I just put mine in several books while he puts his into a single one. He's writing at a perfectly good clip. It's just the books are so friggin' huge.
posted by jscalzi at 7:09 AM on January 2, 2016 [64 favorites]


Oh, GRRM's publication pace got you down? Gather round here, younglings, while I tell you of David Gerrold's War Against the Chtorr books. Gerrold was, at peak output, getting the things out there at about half to three-quarters the rate that Martin does, but the six years ASOIAF fans spent keening for the fifth volume looks pretty risible to WATC readers: we have been waiting since 1993 for the fifth book in the series. And Gerrold is four years Martin's senior.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:24 AM on January 2, 2016 [17 favorites]


Now I've got that out of the way, can I just maybe mention that each volume of this series is, like, on the order of 250,000-500,000 words long?
[...] I average 1-2 normal-length novels per year; they're typically 100-130,000 words long. [...] I have a trilogy coming out in 2017; it took me two years to write and it's almost as long as one of George's books.


Let's look at GRRM's actual numbers: A Clash of Kings and a Storm of Swords together weigh in at about 750k words, and together took 4 years to write for 187k words/year, which is pretty impressive. But then A Feast for Crows took 5 years for 300k words, for 60k words/year. A Dance with Dragons weighs in at 422k words, and took about 5.5 years to write, for about 76k words/year.

If he's writing at the same pace as the latter books, and we assume Winds of Winter to come in at 450k words, then it should take maybe six and a half years, putting the estimate at 2012+6.5 = middle of 2018. So the 'pessimistic' 2019 publication date seems to be actually the realistic one.

So if anything the problem is not that GRRM is being uncharacteristically slow, but that the tentative early 2016 publication date was hugely overoptimistic.
posted by Pyry at 7:29 AM on January 2, 2016 [15 favorites]


The silliest, most unrealistic assertion of that deadspin article is that GRRM has not just one but multiple editors.

He's consistently referring to "my editors and publishers" himself, so its not entire clear how many they are.

Myself, I don't care much about Martin's books (he does seem to be a great guy, though). But I'm a bit worried to see both cstross and jscalzi pop up here, though, since I'm eagerly awaiting your next books. You're not procrastinating on the interweb, are you?
posted by effbot at 7:39 AM on January 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Game of Postponed
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:44 AM on January 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


And since Martin himself gave them the general outline (or at least a plausible outline)

Is that true? I see that get bandied about a lot on the internet, but the only thing I've ever read about it from the showrunners or GRRM is that he told them how it ended. And endings are important but there's a million ways to get to the same ending.
posted by lunasol at 7:54 AM on January 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


I figure it'll end about like the old (in web terms) comic, Avalon.
posted by Wolfdog at 7:55 AM on January 2, 2016


He seems like he has lost interest and motivation for the hard and often boring work of putting words on paper. I kind of wish he could hire one or two eager young MFA graduates to help churn out the last book to simply get it done and be able to spend his time on the parts he actually enjoys.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:06 AM on January 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


> and when it clears Captain James T Kirk appears

Anything as long as it's not a holodeck adventure.
posted by anti social order at 8:10 AM on January 2, 2016


Look, people need to come to terms with him never finishing the books, because that's the most likely outcome at this point. The first book is 20 years old this year, he's averaged over 4 years between books, heavily distorted by the first 3 being completed within 4 years. The "fourth" and "fifth" book(s) took 11 years to make to the shelves, and was arguably a complete trainwreck. This is exactly what happened with books 4 and 5, more and more excuses, delays, overly optimistic projections, etc. The only thing that has changed is now he's way more famous, with even more demands on his time, distractions, whatever, and a shitload more people watching and waiting. This was completely and totally predictable from the moment HBO picked up the TV rights.

The show WILL finish the story, unless it takes a multi-year break to let him catch up. Since HBO would never let that happen, fans need to consider the show canon at this point, and IF the books ever see the light of day, be happy and consider it a bonus. Just hope that at least some of the open questions get resolved without 16 chapters of wandering around in the woods and pining for where whores go.
posted by T.D. Strange at 8:13 AM on January 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


effbot: George has multiple editors and publishers at different companies in different countries. Hint: translation rights. Hint: UK-Commonwealth vs. USA/NorAm rights.

Also, at any given publisher I've got about three different editors (at minimum): the commissioning editor who buys and schedules the book and provides high-level guidance, the copy editor who does line-level typo-spotting and grammatical corrections and spots minor inconsistencies, and the managing editor (who is not an editor at all but a project manager to drives the production cycle). Not to mention the proofreaders and typesetting bureau ...

NB: the whole "is not your bitch" thing could be written for you. My response to complaints about my writing speed these days is usually along the lines of, "how come you're not working 100 hours a week overtime so that you can afford to buy extra copies of my next book to give to all your friends, bitch?" Like it or not, creative work is draining. The books get written at the rate the author can sustain. We certainly don't drag our heels deliberately; we don't get paid our full advance until we deliver an acceptable manuscript and it's scheduled for production! Trying to force things out too fast is a great way to drain the well, which results in the product sucking. And trying to outsource the work to sharecroppers doesn't work so well either (which is why most novels are single-author affairs).

If the publisher say they can edit, typeset, check, and manufacture and distribute one of GRRM's doorsteps in 12 weeks, it basically means it's a maximum priority drop-everything-else crisis job for them, and the day he delivers the MS they will go onto overtime work to get it out the door. The normal MS-to-chunks-of-paper-in-stores cycle for a publisher is 12 months, and some parts of the process can't be accelerated (printing ink on paper, binding, shipping pallets loaded with cartons full of dead trees); turning around the equivalent of a trilogy in a matter of weeks will suck up so many of their resources that there will be knock-on delays to the entire schedule for everyone else.
posted by cstross at 8:13 AM on January 2, 2016 [32 favorites]


I get where the 'Gurm is not your bitch' stuff is coming from, I really do. At the same time, he made an implicit promise which he has failed to live up to. Books 6, 7, and 8 (originally planned for 7 but then there was that split) are never going to be published in his lifetime unless someone sits him down and introduces him to his new ghostwriter.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:18 AM on January 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


FFFM: ... Or unless he kills off a bunch more characters and simplifies the multi-stranded plot thread enormously!

No, seriously: I'm writing the climax to book 8 of one series and preparing to rewrite book 9 of another series in the first half of this year. Both series run between 900,000-1,000,000 words in length, i.e. 2-3 of GRRM's books, and it gets really hard to keep all the different plot threads moving synchronously. How many viewpoint characters is GRRM juggling? (I don't know: I loved all his earlier books but I just don't get on with high fantasy.) That's your answer.

NB: In series (a) I de-complexified things by running two and a bit nuclear wars in book 6. In series (b) I pruned the dramatis persona list by throwing a really remarkably violent office party. GRRM just has wedding receptions—not much leverage there!
posted by cstross at 8:32 AM on January 2, 2016 [21 favorites]


cstross, since you're being so forthcoming about your strategies, could you say if you'll ever return to the Singularity Sky universe, which I loved, or why you dropped it for the newer series?
posted by anotherpanacea at 8:41 AM on January 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


(I guess this is where I regret not adding a smiley when being silly about serious things on the internet :-)

(TBH, I'm happy enough hearing "I know what to do next" from an author who's written some stuff I liked a lot, with "I know what to write next" and "It'll be roughly in the same genre as (good book in genre I know the author does well)" as extra bonuses. From there on, I mostly rely on serendipity to make me notice that new book is out, when the time is right.)
posted by effbot at 8:46 AM on January 2, 2016


bad news, anotherpanacea, charlie has said he will not write a sequel in that universe.
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 8:51 AM on January 2, 2016


Okay, I did read that some time ago, but I realize that I don't really understand it. He's not writing another sequel (or letting it become a series) because of the talking cat? Or because it's not for the American market? I mean I am an American and *I* liked it.

To be clear: I started saying above that audiences don't have a right to demand new work. People should write what they want and what will make them a living. Just curious what doomed that series.
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:06 AM on January 2, 2016


In my daydreams, he disavows books 4 and 5, then concludes the series with a final book as incredible as books 1 through 3.
posted by Jackson at 9:07 AM on January 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


Hm, in my hurry to post I didn't find the right article. In another blog post, Charlie spells out in more detail what he thinks is broken in the Singularity Sky / Iron Sunrise world:
There are problems with this set-up. In particular, there are problems with the evolution of the ACME General-Purpose Space Opera Universe™ from "Singularity Sky" into "Iron Sunrise". SS was quirky but not brilliantly plotted — a lot of crap ended up on the cutting room floor (equal to 140% of the final word count of the finished novel). IS was a more conventionally-plotted novel ... but I made a huge blunder in introducing the ReMastered and their Unborn God. By implication the UB is another Eschaton-level GCV-based AI. It's locked in conflict with the Eschaton, attempting to edit history into a shape in which it, rather than the Eschaton, is the dominant entity. The events of IS are set in the foreground of such a war between time-travellers, and I think I got some of the details badly wrong — at the level of how the events would appear from within.

Want to see that kind of conflict done right? Read Palimpsest (in my collection "Wireless") — in which I revisit time travel with fifteen years' more thought.

Having broken the Eschaton universe, there's no way to go forward (which is why any future space opera you see from me will feature a new setting — I have plans).
posted by the antecedent of that pronoun at 9:24 AM on January 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


While we're evaluating authors' work paces, Charlie, do I remember your saying your production was too fast? I think you were on two books a year for a bit and it seemed crazy. Something about contracts.
posted by grobstein at 9:26 AM on January 2, 2016


Now I've got that out of the way, can I just maybe mention that each volume of this series is, like, on the order of 250,000-500,000 words long?

A friend of mine did 950k of writing this year alone while holding down a full time job.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:27 AM on January 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think HBO is only planning another couple of seasons after the one that starts to air this coming April. The television series is definitely going to have an ending before the books get there and it would not surprise me in the least if there are done before WoW appears.

I do wonder how much of GRRM's heart is in the series now... The first books are great but they never recovered from the abandoned narrative time jump at the end of book 3, when GRRM was planning to skip several years to allow the child characters (and dragons) to grow up. He had it all set up at the end of book 3, with his characters placed in various holding positions of 'ruling' and 'training'. However when he started writing the next book he says he couldn't handle the carry on without flashbacks or backstory or whatever to cover what had been going on during the time jump so abandoned a load of writing and started again (one of the reasons it took six years for). But perhaps as a byproduct of all that is books 4 and 5 have so much pointless wandering or characters doing essentially nothing in them and I got the feeling it's just harder and harder for GRRM to write the series.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:27 AM on January 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


When people talk about how sure they are that future books will exist it feels a lot like Chabadniks in the mitzvah tank talking to me about the messiah.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:33 AM on January 2, 2016 [8 favorites]


"Printer is coming."
posted by ArmandoAkimbo at 9:35 AM on January 2, 2016 [21 favorites]


anotherpanacea: definitely not, absolutely never. And here's why. (It's an FAQ.) However, I get to start a shiny new new space opera next this year, for publication circa mid-2017 ...
posted by cstross at 9:47 AM on January 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


poffin boffin: There's always someone faster than you are. I view a bad year as under 200,000 words (like, oh, 2004 or 2015) and a good year as over 300,000 words; maximum ever was 2013 with 370,000 words. Whereas Harry Turtledove routinely wrote 850,000 words a year, and Seanan Mcguire admits to 2.2 million words/year (she is a multi-pseudonym author; what's remarkable is that she has multiple pseudonyms that win Hugo awards while sustaining that output level). Note that to write 2.2Mwords/year means emitting a daily average of 7000 words; just reading her output would mean gulping down the equivalent of a 500 page book every month.

Note also that if you're doing this for a living you're not just emitting words—you're emitting structured prose that conforms to certain quality requirements and design patterns, then following it up through the copy edit and page proof stages, and undertaking promotional activities that take you away from the keyboard. Me, I can't write when I'm out of my personal space/office/man-cave—which means 3+ months of the year. Seanan, and others, can apparently work on the road, work while they're eating, work while they're sleeping. Some of us aren't so lucky. (Hint: the operative word is work.)
posted by cstross at 9:53 AM on January 2, 2016 [20 favorites]


For those asking, I'm writing two novels this year but neither one is scheduled for '16. Tor wants time to plan marketing, and I'm down with that.

My major release for '16 will be an audiobook novella entitled "The Dispatcher." No set date but it's on schedule for release this year. It was written last year (finished in August, in fact), which goes to cstross' point that there's more that goes into work coming out than just us typing up words on our end.
posted by jscalzi at 10:01 AM on January 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


Just be glad y'all aren't fans of the Mockingbird Trilogy by Harper Lee.
posted by drezdn at 10:03 AM on January 2, 2016 [27 favorites]


Note to cstross. As someone who was ecstatic over Iron Sky I am saddened that there will be no more but very excited to see what space opera comes next. I'm more worried about jscalzi. Sooner or later he's going to be taping bacon to those scamper beasts and productivity will grind to a halt.

I was harboring a hope that GRRM was ready to roll out Winter in the new year but I can accept that. I'm working on my own steampunk/weird west fantasy trilogy and jebus people, this shit is hard. Even with an open schedule (work always slows up this time of year) there's only so much writing you can do per day before your brain turns to sludge. And then there's all the tangents for research and reference, my guitar sits in the corner screaming for sustenance, I got a basement I'm trying to resurrect, six cats/two dogs/sick wife to maintain. It's not a question for me of how little George does but how the fuck he manages at his age to do so much.
posted by Ber at 10:21 AM on January 2, 2016


All the waiting will be worth it if only the Rhaego-the-fetus-travelled-back-in-time-and-was-born-as-Tyrion theory referenced in the Deadspin link turns out to be true.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 10:22 AM on January 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm a writer but not a novelist. The faith one must have in one-self to write a novel astonishes me. To embark on a trilogy? Inconceivable! To be a Robin Hobb, with trilogies upon trilogies? Some enchantment must be at work.

My 14yo is a big Brandon Sanderson fan. Sanderson is a prolific and disciplined writer, and basically has the next two decades of his work planned. In the Mistborn universe, he's planning three trilogies, each set in a different era. My kid loves this idea, the way Sanderson acknowledges that the universe he's building will change over time, just like the real world does, rather than being one of those static fantasy universes where nothing has changed for a thousand years or more. I love that Sanderson has progress bars on his website for the things he's currently working on.

Not everyone can be Brandon Sanderson, to be sure. But his is one way to be a writer, and one I admire.

A thing I have enjoyed in the social-media era is access to the process of writers like Sanderson and Our Own John Scalzi, people who are committed to their work and doing it well, but who are also very pragmatic and business-like about it. I learned to be a writer via an MFA program populated almost entirely by queer people setting out to change the world and tell the stories of people whose stories had never been told. This is important work, indeed. But the snobbish attitude of such people toward writers like Sanderson, Scalzi, Stephen King, and so on gave me a very distorted view of what it meant to be a writer, and it took me a long time to work my way out of it.

Stephen King's book On Writing is a good read, and one thing I appreciated about it was his defense of a popular and prolific romance writer—I'm thinking Danielle Steele but may be misremembering. He said something like, "For decades, she's been regularly producing books that make her fans happy."

I forgot my point.

Oh! Something like, I appreciate writers who are dependable, but I understand that it is difficult to be a dependable writer. I am amazed when someone sets out to write a series of books, and surprised that so many of them succeed. Therefore I have no unkind words for George RR Martin. At the same time, as a person whose favorite series (the Aubrey/Maturin books) ended abruptly when the author died halfway through a new book, I have great sympathy for those who are frustrated by the ongoing delays, and I hope for their sake that the next book, when it comes out, fulfills all their expectations.

Glad to read up-thread that Justin Cronin's third book is coming. I liked the first two very much.
posted by not that girl at 10:29 AM on January 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


csstross: However, I get to start a shiny new new space opera next this year, for publication circa mid-2017 ...

I love space opera. There can't be enough of it in the world for me. So thanks in advance.
posted by not that girl at 10:38 AM on January 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


Tbh at this point I'm more invested in Dunk and Egg than the Starks and Lannisters. (The Hedge Knight was my intro to Westeros.)

One good thing about GRRM taking his time is that I can read other novels with GRRM-style world building and backstory. Check out my fave from last year, The Traitor Baru Cormorant.
posted by infinitewindow at 10:40 AM on January 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


In the days before the internet I found the one of the charming, decades old Anthony Villiers "trilogy" in a used bookstore and zipped through it, found the other two and read them. It ends on a cliffhanger teasing the next novel ("Who would want to kill a nice guy like Villiers?") and I spent literally years checking the "P" section of used bookstores every time I walked in hoping to find what happened next. Of course eventually I learned that was it. A bit disappointing but I figured it was like a TV series that got cancelled before it got bad.

If Martin never finishes this will fall into the same category, but with the silver lining that I can pick up the TV series to finish off the story. At this point I would be totally unshocked if it turned out that GRRM thought this was going to be a trilogy, it got away from him, and he's actually perfectly happy having HBO writers finish it off for him so he doesn't have to spend the next decade of his life writing millions of words on something that he's no longer excited about.
posted by mark k at 10:57 AM on January 2, 2016


The whole "I didn't like the last two books so OBVIOUSLY neither did GRRM and that's why it's taking so long, he's checked out on dumb ol boring ol Westeros" doesn't hold water for me as a theory. Why not hire a ghost writer or bring in other authors above the board at that point and work on books you'd rather write, instead of slogging through and dealing with the constant drag of all these fans demanding that he's accountable to them? I think it's clear he still cares quite a bit about the series.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:09 AM on January 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


Seanan Mcguire admits to 2.2 million words/year (she is a multi-pseudonym author; what's remarkable is that she has multiple pseudonyms that win Hugo awards while sustaining that output level)

One, it's a good measure of how disconnected I am from genre fiction that I have never heard of her (or any of her pseudonyms) despite her publishing and winning awards at such an amazing pace. To write at her pace would mean writing over 6000 words a day for 365 days a year, and a lot more once you take into account days off.

Two, I hope GRRM gives her a call, because she obviously has the capacity to finish his series in her spare time.
posted by Dip Flash at 11:24 AM on January 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


Some day I'm going to set up a business helping authors not fuck up their public communications. I don't have a problem with Martin, his schedule, or his blog generally, but he's awful when it comes to setting schedule expectations. For a while there he was being good, but... Jesus, man, it'll be out when it's out, stop saying anything to the contrary. That's, like, community management rule #1. (For context: I worked in the MMO business for a number of years, and "when is x bug going to be fixed?" and/or "when is the expansion coming out" are routine questions.)
posted by restless_nomad at 11:48 AM on January 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


On balance I dislike aSoIaF and have refused to read beyond the third book, but I believe GRRM is an inspired writer in the sense that in order to write, he must first allow or cajole his brain into a fever dream-like state in which he literally sees what will happen next and writes it down, and that when he's done this enough times and put the pieces together, he has another book.

But the ability to do such a thing is rare in the first place, is very demanding physiologically, and tends to consume the brain that hosts it like an underground coal seam fire -- and I wonder whether anyone could continue to do it in age.

Good luck, fans.
posted by jamjam at 12:09 PM on January 2, 2016


Here is proof that A Dream of Spring will be written eventually.
posted by homunculus at 12:16 PM on January 2, 2016


The only writing deadline I ever faced was my dissertation... 2 weeks to go, nothing finished, freaking out... And here's what my advisor said: It's easy, you just divide the number of days you have left by the number of chapters you still have to write. There's your plan.

I realize that wasn't creative writing, and ideally it's the opposite of fiction... I'm just saying, if there had been nobody around to tell me this, I'd still be in grad school 5 years later...

It seems to me that the problem with creative writing is that being successful means you'll end up being in charge of things that editors are for. And you'll fuck it up (the priorities if not the actual result).
posted by kleinsteradikaleminderheit at 12:23 PM on January 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


Another thing people forget, GRRM has said that Game of Thrones was started in 1991, which means it took him at least 5 years to do the first one, and he's also said that portions of the 2nd and 3rd books were written during that time as well. So the first 3 books really took more like 9 years for him to write, not 4. He's not writing any slower than usual for him (excepting conspiracy theories that he's not writing at all), what's changed is the level of scrutiny, and his ongoing inability to stop making the situation worse on himself. He never should've suggested anything about a publication date, and he was fooling himself in thinking there was any way he could ever stay in front of the show.
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:28 PM on January 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


Martin will never finish the series and, given books 4 and 5, I'm perfectly okay with that. HBO will finish it for him.

This season is going to be epic and I eagerly await Elio's tears.
posted by Justinian at 12:28 PM on January 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


Oh and I read something about how the showrunners intended to tone done the sexual violence in the series given the reactions to last season. So people for whom that is the major objection to the show might be pleasantly surprised in the coming year.
posted by Justinian at 12:29 PM on January 2, 2016


I view a bad year as under 200,000 words (like, oh, 2004 or 2015) and a good year as over 300,000 words; maximum ever was 2013 with 370,000 words.

Can't really conceive of this. I can do 100k-150k a year (but that doesn't mean I can get all those books published). The last few months I've been churning out some freelance words. 85k in two months. My hands are starting to constantly ache from typing/RSI stress. People act like writing isn't hard on your body but it's pretty damn hard to sit there and write and write and write.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:51 PM on January 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh and I read something about how the showrunners intended to tone done the sexual violence in the series given the reactions to last season. So people for whom that is the major objection to the show might be pleasantly surprised in the coming year.

Complaints Over Rape in Game of Thrones Have Led Creators to Change Their Approach
posted by homunculus at 1:00 PM on January 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


Complaints Over Rape in Game of Thrones Have Led Creators to Change Their Approach

"But we're now also working on an adaptation of Phoebe Zeit-Geist, so it's all kind of a wash."
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:05 PM on January 2, 2016


Well I hope he takes his time on this and whittles it down to the essentials. The last book was a bloated monstrosity that had a particularly low plot-advancement-to-word-count ratio.
posted by Ansible at 1:07 PM on January 2, 2016


[looks around, acknowledges the "GRRM is not your bitch" but still cackles you all are realizing GRRM was too busy publicizing and not writing]
posted by Samizdata at 1:18 PM on January 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm totally sensitive to the notion that GRRM isn't anyone's bitch and all, but I feel like that specific push-back has almost become worse than the entitled whining that spawned it. Martin doesn't owe anyone new books, but neither do his readers owe it to him to be happy with the slow pace of his continuing / wrapping up the story they've invested their time and emotional energy into.

Also, I've come to the point where I think GRRM and George Lucas are both object lessons in the inherent problems of having any kind of giant, epic universe or story led by a single creator. If you go by word count (instead of number of books), how many people have attempted to single-handedly write a story as long as ASoIAF? How many have actually stuck the landing? Does the answer to this perhaps indicate that all involved would be happier with a team approach?

(I don't think it's a coincidence that the movie that is single-handedly reviving Star Wars as a franchise is the first one since basically ESB that had a big team of people [writers, director, new actors, etc] who seem to have been given a fair bit of individual input and control, versus continuing on assuming 1 person could be the creative conduit for every decision on a story spanning now 7 movies)
posted by tocts at 1:27 PM on January 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


I feel like the ultimate lesson here is, trying to write a work of this length with a strong narrative through line and continually adding characters that demand separate resolution is a terrible idea. Just don't do it!

Write a series of connected novels with standalone plots, or write a series that focuses more closely on fewer characters, or write a series that is more about mood and theme than about who lives and who dies, whatever.

I feel like Martin is like Shelby Foote, except he has to make up the history he's weaving somewhat insanely into a character-driven narrative. And now because of the show he has no way to stop. But this is what he should do! Stop!
posted by selfnoise at 1:30 PM on January 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


I wound up sitting across from GRRM at dinner during Worldcon this summer. Amazon put together a big dinner for its imprint authors (like me), and he was included. Somehow I got one of the magic seats at his end of the table. Worth noting: I'm not a GoT fan; read the first book, thought it was good but not my thing, never wanted to watch the show. But I certainly know what a big deal he is to people.

So here's the thing: if a guest to either side of GRRM got up, even for a second, BOOM, that seat was filled by someone else who just wanted to talk to George for a minute, which several times ended up being like ten or fifteen. The author on GRRM's left side got up to go to the bathroom and then didn't get to sit back down next to his wife for the longest freakin' time because of this. If it wasn't a fellow writer, it was an editor or somebody's plus-one.

I almost wanted to say to him, "Hi, I'm not a fan, if you need a chance to decompress around someone who isn't gonna gush over you, I'll be your wingman," because more than a celebrity author, I saw an ordinary guy who has to deal with a ton of pressure pretty much all the time. He was very, very happy to talk about things that had nothing to do with himself or his stories. (I originally included a couple of things he said in this comment, but on second thought maybe getting quoted from something he said at some random dinner is exactly the kind of thing he gets too much of, even if it is harmless.)

FWIW, I should also 2nd what cstross and jscalzi say above: he's writing at a good clip. Do you want the product done now, or do you want it to be good? He has made his readers happy this far. Maybe they ought to trust his judgment.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 1:46 PM on January 2, 2016 [17 favorites]


It's still weird to me that a doorstop fantasy novel has become popular in a serious mass way that, really, nothing since The Lord of the Rings had. Even The Wheel of Time, popular as it was, was popular in smaller circles than A Song of Ice and Fire. People totally outside of "fandom" as it's been perceived since the '50s have flocked to it in a way that, to be honest, is sort of beyond me. I can admire the worldbuilding on some level, but it's such a crapsack world and the plot is so terminally unpleasant that I just don't enjoy it.

But doorstop fantasy is inherently an anti-popular genre for just this reason. The worldbuilding and plot grow so intricate that the author can't wrap it up in a satisfying fashion in "just" another book or two, and the task of writing becomes arduous. It's a fannish thing, but the sudden mass appeal of this doorstop series has inverted the rules. Rather than just a hardcore fandom it's actually a mass audience demanding more, but writing these books doesn't work like that.

And yet this is what there's a market for in fantasy. Sigh.
posted by graymouser at 2:05 PM on January 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


And even if Martin dies

based on current theories of mortality this is probably gonna happen
posted by Sebmojo at 2:10 PM on January 2, 2016 [5 favorites]


Martin doesn't owe anyone new books, but neither do his readers owe it to him to be happy with the slow pace of his continuing / wrapping up the story they've invested their time and emotional energy into.

I've spent my own time complaining about the speed at which [book series I like that is not GoT] gets published, because yes: I'm invested in it, I love it, I want to read more of it. I get sad when [author who is not GRRM] publishes other stories because I don't like them as much. I wouldn't go up to these authors and say it, but I don't feel like doing it is wrong -- even doing it online, as long as it's not in their space/deliberately inviting them in. (So, not on their website/blog/whatever, and not linking them on tumblr/twitter/whatever, but sure, not hidden away in password-protected sites.)

And I am sure that these authors know that people feel like that, and it's entirely reasonable to whine in private about this, because it's pretty annoying, even when it's done politely.

You can't have it both ways -- you can't get a massively engaged audience who just doesn't care when the next book comes out. It's not possible. And if they're coming up to you and being rude, then have at it, but when they're just kvetching somewhere online, turn off your google alerts and ask your hound dogs (sometimes other writers, sometimes your spouse, your editor, not uncommonly fans) to let it be.
posted by jeather at 2:17 PM on January 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


It's still weird to me that a doorstop fantasy novel has become popular in a serious mass way that, really, nothing since The Lord of the Rings had.

Geek Stuff has won the battle for acceptance in popular culture. Sure, maybe things will change again someday, but all these geeky things that used to get Gen X-ers shunned in high school are cool across lots of demographics. And again, one shouldn't underestimate the impact of getting a story onto the screen; far more people now know and understand the Avengers characters from the films than those of us who know them from comics. You don't get beat up on or mocked anymore for knowing your fantasy novels or for having feelings about Harry Potter. Not like it used to be, at least.

I frequently sub at a fairly affluent high school where That Which Is Trendy holds a pretty strong influence. The bulk of the student body clearly cares about what fashion and what musician is cool. All the usual social politics, right? Shortly before the holiday break, they had a week-long spirit week that was--I shit you not--Star Wars themed. Thursday was "I Am Your Father" day where you were supposed to dress up like your dad.

Geek culture is now mainstream, and GoT has a big chunk of that audience.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:28 PM on January 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


Geek culture is now mainstream, and GoT has a big chunk of that audience.

For me, at least, the victory is somewhat Pyrrhic; I like fantasy but generally of sorts not represented by ASoIaF and now see that marginalized. (I mean, look at my screen name.)

Like I said, though: doorstop fantasy is inherently anti-popular. The genre is built on its complexity and inaccessibility. As such, writing the next volume inevitably means increasing that complexity, to the point where wrapping it up is never going to satisfy the people you've attracted along the way. A Song of Ice and Fire is sort of the malign end state of this form of fantasy novel: a series so convoluted that it takes multiple 1000-page books to move anything along, that has managed to become popular because it's complex and inaccessible, and the demand for more outstrips the ability of the author to deliver.
posted by graymouser at 3:04 PM on January 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Oh wow, cstross favorited my comment! Let me fanboy out for a second and reiterate that I loved The Annihilation Score as well and have been recommending both The Laundry Files and jscalzi's Colonial Union novels to my reading buds.
posted by infinitewindow at 3:05 PM on January 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm content to wait until he finishes the books at his own pace. I'd actually prefer it if, after TWOW, he wrote a few more Dunk and Egg novellas before working on ADOS. And that way I've got both ADOS and Half-Life 3 to look forward to when I'm in a nursing home someday.
posted by homunculus at 3:32 PM on January 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


Do you want the product done now, or do you want it to be good?

Sadly, if DwD is anything to judge by we don't get either of those things. I lost hope for the (written) ASoIaF novels around, oh, 2008.

Anybody else have the SubPress/MM limited editions? Or want them? :P
posted by Justinian at 3:43 PM on January 2, 2016


Bran wargs into the main dragon, burns Kings Landing. Work backwards from that climax, can't be too difficult right?
posted by Liquidwolf at 3:43 PM on January 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure where people get the idea that he's tired himself out of writing. He's not putting 100% of his time on the book I want him to finish most, but World Of Ice and Fire was really good and I wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did. I'm a sucker for the amount of world building and backstory he's put into his universe.

I liked Dunk and Egg too, but those stories don't seem to know what they are. They basically read like Young Adult fiction except they reference whores all the time for no good reason. If he had toned it down slightly he may have had a decent YA hit. Not that he's hurting for money or opinions.
posted by Gary at 3:52 PM on January 2, 2016


Gary, the big problem I have with Dunk and Egg is that so far Egg keeps using his goddamn regnal ring to get Dunk out of a jam. Egg needs to do something to save Dunk's life besides showing off jewelry or shouting "get him, see, he's right there" during a pitched battle. Still, they're good stories for all that, and probably the closest thing to YA that GRRM will write about Westeros. The big question for the series—will teenage Dunk tell his royal protégé Egg the truth about not being a true knight?—is about as YA as a writer can get.

Not gonna lie, I was bummed when I bought those two anthologies GRRM co-edited only to find no "She-Wolves of Winterfell" or "Village Hero" between the covers. But not bummed enough to wail and moan. There are other stories to tell (or to be told!).
posted by infinitewindow at 4:21 PM on January 2, 2016


I love you, Metafilter. Reading the comments above I thought, "Oh great, more opinions from people who claim to be authors...wait...what...they seem to be making valid points." And then I read the usernames. Mind blown.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 4:59 PM on January 2, 2016 [1 favorite]


The 'not your bitch' thing annoys me. I don't personally care in regards to ASOIAF, since the books aren't my cup of tea, but the fact is that all the authors whining about how it's such an imposition to expect someone to finish the story want it all one way. If readers acted rationally in the face of the smug 'I don't owe you anything', they would wait until the 'epic, intricate story' was finished before buying anything... which means that the first books of all those ambitious -ologies would tank and then the authors would be whining about how bookstores won't buy future books.

Sure, no one can or should make authors finish books they promised, but people who brought books (and kept the author in money) on the promise that they would get a conclusion have every right to be pissed at their failure, and to say so publicly.
posted by tavella at 5:29 PM on January 2, 2016 [9 favorites]


but people who brought books (and kept the author in money) on the promise that they would get a conclusion have every right to be pissed at their failure, and to say so publicly

tbh i mostly agree with this but, and i realize this is highly unusual for me, at the same time i just can't really be bothered getting cranky about it, i guess? there are so many other things for me to enjoy reading instead.

honestly if he wanted to spend the rest of his life writing 1D/star trek crossover fics i'd be like do whatever floats your hilarrible pon farr boat, dude
posted by poffin boffin at 5:35 PM on January 2, 2016 [2 favorites]


What blows my mind is that if he turns in one of these massive, sprawling novels, and Penguin-Random House promises to have it out three months later... they're publishing without an editorial round.

There's no doubt they'll do line edits, copy edits, maybe even pass pages. But there's no time in that schedule whatsoever for a thoughtful, considered read by an editor, an editorial letter, notes... but really, why bother? I cannot imagine that that train would stop for any editorial reason (short of GRRM typing shitchunk shitchunk shitchunk for the last 500 pages.)

The length of his books boggle my mind. Writing in YA, I average about 200,000 words split between three (or four) projects during a year, and that's my balls-out-fastest and still achieving revisions. Not to mention, I don't tour, and this is my day job. I'm not the slightest bit surprised that he's behind considering how long his books are, how often they have him on the road, and the necessity of a human being doing stuff other than typing.

But it does completely blow my mind (and says quite a bit) about how big these books are that P-RH can be like, just give us the manuscript, we'll have it out three months later-- and actually make it happen.
posted by headspace at 5:35 PM on January 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


god what if he's secretly writing rarepair yuletide fic
posted by poffin boffin at 5:35 PM on January 2, 2016 [7 favorites]


Bran wargs into the main dragon, burns Kings Landing. Work backwards from that climax, can't be too difficult right?

I'm still going with: the humans continue to dick around and squabble internally, Whitewalkers destroy three quarters of Westeros, out of control dragons destroy the other fourth, everybody dies, 10,000 years of Walker/Dragon warfare follows.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 5:55 PM on January 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


I love a bowl of Bran Wargs in the morning.
posted by Wolfdog at 6:27 PM on January 2, 2016 [6 favorites]


Shortly after I retired, I decided to stop reading "the first of a new trilogy" or whatever number a series is supposed to be. Now I wait until all are out before buying and reading a series, because chances are that I'll die before all the books are published. I just started Ancillary and I feel so lucky to be still alive to enjoy this one!
posted by francesca too at 6:46 PM on January 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


what if he's the person who wrote that hamilton/catboy!jefferson thing that i wish to have professionally expunged from my memory
posted by poffin boffin at 7:21 PM on January 2, 2016


Reading this thread makes me feel strangely relieved that I create obscure art that no one really cares about.
posted by speicus at 9:23 PM on January 2, 2016 [4 favorites]


Good for George! I hope we get a good book one day. It's only fitting that all the [book spoiler] tags should be balanced out by [show spoiler] tags.
posted by irisclara at 10:55 PM on January 2, 2016


I got the TLAs above confused, but GCV Global Causality Violator is actually an excellent name for a GCV.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 2:12 AM on January 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


I try not to be irritated with GRRM for not being finished, I focus that energy on being pissed at the friend who loaned me the first three books in 200x without telling me that the series wasn't finished yet. You bastard, Russell.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 2:40 AM on January 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


Stephen King took over 15 years to write the first four Dark Tower books and then, after another six year wait (and a car accident), pushed the last three books out in eighteen months. And look how that turned out!

Badly.

GRRM should take as long as he takes and I'll enjoy the TV series.
posted by crossoverman at 3:37 AM on January 3, 2016 [6 favorites]


I'm not sure where people get the idea that he's tired himself out of writing. He's not putting 100% of his time on the book I want him to finish most, but World Of Ice and Fire was really good and I wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did.
World of Ice and Fire blew my mind -- not because it was great literature, but because it was miles beyond what I expected. By all accounts, at least one of GRRM's hardcore fan coauthors on that project is a horrible shit, and it's a setting gazetteer for God's sake. Even with Martin contributing by some accounts 250,000 words (!!!!!!!@#$!$#!$@$), it still could've/should've been a novelty.

But in ASOIAF, 'backstory' and 'mythology' are never just that, and the 'worldbuilding' matters in subtle ways throughout the novels -- in terms of clues to deep overarching mysteries scattered around the texts, GRRM's fandom is a bit like Lost's (with the crucial difference that ASOIAF isn't incoherent hollow melodramatic pap).

(This is why I don't rate the TV series anywhere near as highly as its fans -- the first thing Benioff and Weiss threw out, for perfectly good reasons, is the subtly ramifying 'worldbuilding,' the net of conspiracy and politics that binds the various plots and time periods of the story together. And for me, the scope of the novels, the sense of vastness and depth, is what generates 'adventurous expectancy.')

Far as I'm concerned, WOIAF is essential reading for anyone who loves the series, because among other things, the novels are about the long aftermath of a 'noble' war which turns out to've been both long in coming and complicated in motivation. The generational narrative of WOIAF plays right into the novels. I figured I'd idly thumb through it; I devoured it.
posted by waxbanks at 7:01 AM on January 3, 2016 [10 favorites]


Totally agreed - it was stellar. (Although I'm annoyed that a couple of excerpts have been peddled as "stories" in the last couple of anthologies he's done with Dozois.)
posted by restless_nomad at 9:28 AM on January 3, 2016


In case anyone isn't aware, you can find a few chapters from TWOW here: Released Chapters.

Also, it seems like I may be the only person here who actually enjoyed books 4 & 5 (for the most part,) but that's largely because I read them concurrently following this chronological chapter order (though ADWD still bogs down once you finish AFFC.) I recommend it for anyone who hasn't read them yet but still intends to.
posted by homunculus at 10:31 AM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


If Martin is really as close as he implies he is, then the solution is simple: change the schedule to run the season in the late Fall. I really wish they did it that way: the whole "Winter is coming" thing would be more ominous if it was actually cold and dark out while you're watching it.
posted by homunculus at 12:28 PM on January 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


After Stephen King had his health scare, he buckled down to writing again. We all have that author who we wished would write faster. I'm still waiting for King to finish The Plant.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 1:38 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


Be careful what you wish for. Yeah King finished The Dark Tower but he also Mary Sued himself into the narrative, not just breaking the fourth wall but dropping a 20 megaton nuke on it. I still haven't read the last one. Sometimes when you force yourself to write what you write is crap.
posted by Bringer Tom at 2:10 PM on January 3, 2016 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: GRRM typing shitchunk shitchunk shitchunk for 500 pages
posted by Sebmojo at 4:04 PM on January 3, 2016


Realistically, the most likely option is that the books will be finished by whoever his literary estate hires to finish them. Second most likely is that they'll be finished in his old age via 'collaboration' with some younger author (see the late in life career of nearly every elderly and eminent SF&F author of the last couple decades.) I've been betting those odds since it became clear that he was hopelessly bogged down after Storm of Swords, and especially as the ever expanding series began to show Xeno's Authorship (the trilogy grows to more and more books, yet each book covers less of the actual plot than the one before. See: Jordan.)

Best odds of actually getting finished by Martin himself is if the TV series finishes, he decides he doesn't actually like the ending he gave them, and he get motivated to do something new. Wouldn't put huge odds on it, but seems more likely that option four, he does the novelization of the tv series. He doesn't really need the money and he seems to be tremendously unmotivated to write when he knows the ending.
posted by tavella at 5:09 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I find the fixation on Martin's age sort of morbid. He's 67, not 87, and as far as any of us know, he is healthy. (Yes, you can be overweight and healthy.) My dad's about to turn 74, and he still runs his own business, and travels so much I get tired thinking about it. I ask him when he's going to retire and he says "Eventually."

It's sad that Martin tried to finish ahead of Season 6 and failed. I don't think that means he won't finish the books. If anything, if I were in his shoes, I would still be motivated by wanting to make sure that people would eventually know what I'd intended, even if the HBO series told their version first.
posted by mishaps at 5:25 PM on January 3, 2016


I'm still waiting for King to finish The Plant.

Oh YEAH. Come on, King!
posted by crossoverman at 5:27 PM on January 3, 2016


Xeno's Authorship

Heh. This is a good turn of phrase, and one I was actually trying to formulate recently. It's a problem that seems endemic to fantasy epics, to the point where it's starting to manifest even earlier in series these days. For example, I enjoyed Patrick Rothfuss' first book in the Kingkiller Chronicles, but his follow-up in that supposed trilogy opened up so many new threads and actually advanced so few existing ones that I am convinced it's going to be 5 books, if not 7. I'd love to be proven wrong, but it just doesn't seem possible to get from the end of book 2 to any kind of reasonable conclusion at the end of book 3.
posted by tocts at 5:53 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I read a lot of Sci Fi but not very much fantasy. I enjoyed all the books (read them about 5-6 years ago, so can't remember everything), and it felt a lot more fun, and well-written than most other Fantasy I've read. Would any of you who have delved more deeply than I suggest something comparable?
posted by cell divide at 6:05 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


cell divide: "Would any of you who have delved more deeply than I suggest something comparable?"

Kate Elliott's "Crown of Stars" series (7 or 8 books, I forget) is quite similar in its structure, virtues, and vices -- alternative medieval Europe with magic and strange other races than humanity; epic and beautifully thorough worldbuilding; interesting and differentiated characters; but slightly too many characters and plot threads introduced, split into small groups, and too much time spent with "and then he went HERE, and then he spent six weeks getting THERE." If you like Martin's worldbuilding and don't mind the plot meandering parts (which I personally am willing to put up with because the worldbuilding is so good), you'll probably dig Crown of Stars. Also, in Crown of Stars, women are largely equal to men and it has interesting implications for the social and religious structure of the society, so if the misogyny of the societies in GoT bugs you, CoS may hit your sweet spot.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:22 PM on January 3, 2016 [4 favorites]


Would any of you who have delved more deeply than I suggest something comparable?

European history books? From what I hear, early 16th century Scandinavia is a pretty good match, with things like the Stockholm Bloodbath, and the real Westeros :-D
posted by effbot at 7:19 PM on January 3, 2016 [1 favorite]


I finally got around to reading that entry and wow, I feel sorry for the dude. Good luck to him.

And well, at least we get the story (some of it) finished somehow, right?
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:34 PM on January 3, 2016




very unsurprising news, but this thread was worth it for the phrase "xeno's authorship", good job tavella.
posted by skewed at 1:05 PM on January 4, 2016


Well hey, at least we got the first look at the cover for book six, right? Right? Is that Euron's horn or Sam's?
posted by infinitewindow at 2:08 PM on January 4, 2016


Game of Thrones Can't Really Spoil George R.R. Martin's Books

"Jon Snow wargs into a goat" = Game of Goats!

I never seem to get tired of that.
posted by homunculus at 5:48 PM on January 7, 2016


How Could The Winds of Winter Be Published In Only Three Months? - "Book production, from the delivery of the manuscript to the book arriving on shelves, typically takes nine months to one year, so how is it that Bantam and Martin’s non-U.S. publishers could turn around an undoubtedly massive work like The Winds of Winter in less than three months? Learn about the typical book production process below, along with how unique marquee titles like The Winds of Winter can circumvent, compress, and alter that process."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:42 PM on January 13, 2016


Martin needs to hire a Bolton as an editor. His manuscripts don't need to be cut down, they need to be flayed.

How Could The Winds of Winter Be Published In Only Three Months?

Thread.
posted by homunculus at 9:58 PM on January 23, 2016


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