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Look, George R. R. Martin Just Isn’t Going to Finish the Novels ‘Game of Thrones’ Was Based On

I don’t think George R. R. Martin is ever going to finish A Song of Ice and Fire, the series of novels that the hit TV show Game of Thrones was based on. And it’s not because he can’t finish it; at this point the only logical explanation is he doesn’t want to.

You see, the last book in the A Song of Ice and Fire trilogy, book five, came out in 2011. Next July it will be an entire decade. And I say trilogy because I like Douglas Adams, but also because Martin had only ever planned for A Song of Ice and Fire to be three books, but his project kept bloating to the point that after having written five books, the first of which was published in 1996, his story had bloated to more than twice what he originally projected it would be. No one really minded because even before Game of Thrones aired on HBO the books were massive genre hits and Martin was one of only three adult fantasy writers to have a book debut as a number one best-seller before the TV series.

And at some point he just got sick of it. The first three books released in 1996, 1998 and 2000. At that pace, you’d have expected his seventh book to debut in 2008, but the fourth and fifth books were released in 2005 and 2011, respectively.

Since the publication of A Storm of Swords in 2000, Martin has published probably five or six novels worth of material, mostly short stories about the Targaryens set before A Song of Ice and Fire. He even wrote a 700+ page history of the Targaryens that was published in 2018 and is part one of two that he plans to write, presumably before finishing the next proper novel in the series. He even wrote an entire, unrelated novel that was published in 2007.

Last year on his blog, Martin promised fans that “if I don’t have THE WINDS OF WINTER in hand when I arrive in New Zealand for Worldcon, you have here my formal written permission to imprison me in a small cabin on White Island, overlooking that lake of sulfuric acid, until I’m done. Just so long as the acrid fumes do not screw up my old DOS word processor, I’ll be fine.” Worldcon 2020 in New Zealand started yesterday, July 29th, though like Comic-Con attendance is virtual because of the pandemic. Of course, there’s no Coronavirus in New Zealand because they stayed home and wore masks, but I digress.

Why has Martin not finished his book by this firm deadline even though he set it himself? I don’t think it’s because he’s rich and has just fucked off to get laid and goof around like so many people are projecting, I think he’s just bored with A Song of Ice and Fire and found something he’d rather write about, that is the Targaryen family of the story’s past.

Martin has written more than enough pages to finish his epic series since the last book was published. They were just mostly about Dunk and Egg having adventures or the conquering of Westeros by Aegon Targaryen I.

As a writer, I can relate to that. It’s really easy to get halfway through with something and just lose focus and move on to something else. I wrote about half of a zombie western novel so long ago that zombies weren’t played out when I started it.

Here’s what Martin said about writing the newest book on his blog a few weeks ago:

Three more chapters completed this past week.   And good progress on several more.

Still a long long way to go, though.   Do not get too excited.

In my copious spare time, have been doing some editorial groundwork on three new Wild Cards books as well:  PAIRING UP and SLEEPER STRADDLES and the mosaic HOUSE RULES, where Agatha Christie, H.P. Lovecraft, and P.G. Wodehouse have a wild weekend.   They should be fun… but we are in early early days, so you won’t be reading any of them until 2022, I would guess.

(But there is lots of other Wild Cards stuff already in the pipeline for 2020 and 2021, have no fear).

Yeah, Martin hasn’t finished The Winds of Winter yet but that doesn’t mean he isn’t working. He edits and contributes to the Wild Cards book series, which is a lot of work. He just doesn’t want to write the books everyone wants him to write anymore, he’s ready to move on. And he’s got to think of a whole new ending if the Game of Thrones guys used the one he was planning on because that sucked.

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