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George R.R. Martin is my. . .

March 9, 2011

Any George R.R. Martin fans still around? I used to be a fan until I grew tired of reading messages on his website and blog telling us about his travels around the world making appearances at conventions, his book and TV show recommendations, his fawning over the New York Giants, his promotion of the new books he was editing and the tie-in products to the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series he was selling, and his touting the upcoming HBO series of “A Game of Thrones”, instead of actually writing and finishing the series.

Like many anxious fans, I believed that Martin had both a responsibility and an obligation to finish his series. Neil Gaiman disagreed. In response to a letter from a fan asking about an author’s responsibility to deliver product, and whether or not Martin was letting him down by not finishing his story, Gaiman blogged a response in May 2009 saying that “George R.R. Martin is not your bitch.” Gaiman’s argument was that buying a first book in a series is not a contract with the author. Sometimes writers need to step back and recharge their batteries and do other things; the bottom line being that the writer is not working for the reader. I disagree, but who am I to argue with Neil Gaiman? I just quit reading him.

George R.R. Martin’s first book in the “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, “A Game of Thrones”, was published in 1996. Book two, “A Clash of Kings”, came out in 1998 and was followed by book three, “A Storm of Swords”, in 2000. The series was the best epic fantasy that I’d ever read: the writing was great, the plotlines were fantastic, the characters unmatched. Fans were hooked and happy. Then the drought came and output dried up. Reliable news about the future of the series was scarcer than a snowman in the desert region of southern Westeros. Book four, “A Feast for Crows”, which turned out to be just half a book since it didn’t continue the storylines of all the characters, wasn’t published until 2005. The long awaited book five, “A Dance with Dragons”, after a number of false starts, is finally scheduled to be released this year on July 12, 15 long years after the release of book one. That’s good news, but is it cause to be happy? There are still two more planned books scheduled in the seven-volume series, so you do the math to estimate when Martin will finally finish his tale. My most optimistic estimate is 2021, or 25 years after the start of the series.

So, is George R.R. Martin my bitch or doesn’t he owe his fans anything in terms of production?

12 Comments leave one →
  1. March 9, 2011 12:59 pm

    I’ve just begun reading A Game of Thrones for the first time. 150 pages in and I’m already hooked. So yeah. I’m a fan.

    Gaiman’s words were, in my mind, a little on the cranky side. But he’s got a point. Is Martin supposed to be our bitch? No. Not unless you believe writers are supposed to write for everyone but themselves.

    Should he finish the series out of appreciation for his fans? Ideally, yes.

    However, I’d much rather have him take his time, feel passionate about what he’s writing, and give us something truly worthy of a read than to waste everyone’s time with something his heart’s not in currently.

    For perspective, Jean Auel wrote the Earth’s Children series (Clan of the Cave Bear, et al) – 6 volumes – over the course of 30 years.

    Clan of the Cave Bear was released in 1980.
    Valley of the Horses was released in 1982.
    The Mammoth Hunters was released in 1985.
    The Plains of Passage was released in 1990.
    The Shelters of Stone was released in 2002.
    The Land of Painted Caves was released in 2010.

    The last 2 books? Utter crap. But she finished them for her fans…unfortunately.


    • Michael Fishman permalink
      March 10, 2011 8:35 am

      What bothers me the most about Martin is that he’s so smug on his blog, almost to the point of rudeness, when he talks about where he’s at with the story. He’s like, “Get off my back, will ‘ya?!” It wouldn’t bother me if each book were a standalone, but I think if an author starts a series they have an obligation to finish the series.


  2. March 9, 2011 1:15 pm

    Did you read the full text of the Neil Gaiman post and the factors that influenced him when he wrote it (he was losing one of his animals and the subsequent posts show just how distressed he was?). I think even he realised that his tone was sharper than it would usually have been and he did have a valid point to make in the post – writing is creativity and it can become very hard for a writer to end such a long saga.

    (Still reading?!) I am as frustrated as the next reader by George R.R. Martin’s dragging out of this tale but I’ve somewhat wearily come to accept it happens in fantasy / sci-fi all the time (Kate Elliott and Tad Williams are coming to mind). I think Mr Martin has a moral obligation (if not a publishing contract) to complete the saga, for the sake of the thousands (millions?) that have bought his books in good faith – and that will begin to buy his books again when the TV show airs.

    Is he our bitch because we’ve bought a little piece of his creative soul? I rather suspect we’re his for wanting more!


    • Michael Fishman permalink
      March 10, 2011 8:40 am

      No, I only read Gaiman’s one blog entry for that day when he answered that fan’s question. He mentioned his dog in that posting but said nothing about the animal’s health other than that the dog was happy to see him. I didn’t read any follow-up postings he made.


  3. Fordy permalink
    March 9, 2011 1:26 pm

    And some other news for the Publication Date of “Dance with Dragons” – when Martin announced that publication date on his website last week – he also added that he’s technically not finished writing it yet – but figured he’d finish in time to meet that publication date …

    I haven’t read the series beyond book 2 – I decided to wait until after the entire series is published first.

    Of course part of that is also tied into eagerly awaiting the conclusion of the Wheel of Time series, as I saw the same sort of delays occuring between books (rising from a year – to 2 years and so on), until the untimely passing of Robert Jordan. But with all of the notes, and his wife being the editor of the series – it’s back on track with the final novel to be released between November 2011 to March 2012! So feel free to hop on that train and read a complete epic series from start to finish! (I can even send you a bunch of the books in the series if you need them!)


    • Michael Fishman permalink
      March 10, 2011 8:42 am

      Thanks for the offer, DA! Have you ever read/heard of “The Malazan Book of the Fallen”? It’s a ten volume series and I guess the 10th and final book is coming out soon or just came out not too long ago.


      • Fordy permalink
        March 10, 2011 4:03 pm

        I hadn’t heard of it until they started a reread on; it’s in my “Check it out” pile of books. (And |I think the last one came out March 2nd?)


  4. March 10, 2011 8:24 am

    hmmm… as annoyed as I am with GRRM’s bullshit, I don’t think he’s our bitch. he’s got other projects, like wild cards, that he’s more interested in working on.

    the corrollary being I’m under no obligation to sustain my interest in SoIaF, since I’ve got better things to read and promote on my website and via word of mouth.

    Yes, I LOVED Game of Thrones. it was one of my gateway drugs into epic fantasy. I’ve probably read it three times. I was so unimpressed with the 4th book that I suggested people NOT read it until they had book 5 in hand. And I’ll believe book 5 exists when I have it in my cold dead hands.


    • Michael Fishman permalink
      March 10, 2011 8:48 am

      When I read, “…that he’s more interested in working on.” it made me wonder if he’d even have those things to work on without his fans and would he have a boatload of fans without A Song of Ice and Fire? The only other Martin book I’ve read was “The Armageddon Rag” and I didn’t think it was that good.


      • March 13, 2011 6:01 pm

        over the years he’s done a lot of short fiction, share world stuff, a lot of editing, and i think some TV work. without the fanbase of ASOIAF, i think he’s still be doing all that stuff, he just might not be travelling as much, have an assistant, that kind of thing. he’d just be one more author who can barely make ends meet from writing. I’ve read two of his short story collections, Dreamsongs I and II, and his short fiction is his best work, in my opinion.


  5. May 24, 2011 10:06 am


    I would not agree so much with this “he’s our bitch” side of things, but I do think he has dragged things on long enough. Much like “The Wheel of Time” in fact. He sees the series has become a money spinner and is spinning it out for as long as he can and just like Jordan my money is on him passing away before finishing it. There is no way he has this thing plotted out, or if he has it hasn’t been plotted correctly. For “Feast for Crows” to suddenly go from a single volume to a two parter, that is a big indication that it has gone from “The story I must tell” to “The story that I can get money from.”

    If it goes on much longer I will do what I did with Jordan, abandon the series and read the summary on Wikipedia.


  6. Eric permalink
    May 19, 2012 11:38 pm

    It is unfortunate when you have a series end abruptly beforeit should. For example, Stieg Larssons Millenium Trilogy has exploded in popularity over the past few years, but when Larsson died in 2004, he had completed only 3 books in a planned 10 book series. What was to become of Lisbeth Salander will never be known. I would very much like to see Martin enjoy the finality of putting his epic series to rest before he is laid to rest, but if he feels he needs to take his time in order to write such an ending that he can be proud of and his readers will enjoy, he can take all the time he needs. If Ice and Fire takes the same route as Larsson;s Millenium Trilogy, Life will go on and not knowing what happens to fictional characters in a fictional world should have no impact on a persons personal life anyways. Besides, there’s always another book to read (Unless it’s The Twilight Saga or 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy hahaha!!)

    Winter Is Coming!


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